Feminism is my faith. It is the only set of values that make me believe in salvation for a person like me. Last night when she made fun of me and my feminism I fantasised about slitting horizontally my wrists, right first, then clumsily left. I bled in the muted white bath tub, I massacred it an outspoken red. If I got no blood on the carpet there would be no need to cry.
With 2016 all said and done I can honestly say that it was not my year. To be completely honest, 2014 and 2015 were not my best by a long shot either, but 2016 seemed to be a particularly painful kick in the tits as I had higher hopes for the year where I graduated from university and decided to follow my dreams and move away from my hometown. The disappointment that I feel with 2016 has transferred to a shameful disappointment in myself that I cant let go of, and this feeling has, unfortunately carried over to 2017.
2016 started with me working too hard just as I had been doing for the past three years. I was trying to complete a English literature directed study, work full time at the cinema, and also work a heavy part time and my note taking job for the university disability services. I enjoyed all of these things, but in terms of the note taking and working at the cinema, I feel that anything done in such large amounts becomes tiring and you lose perspective, I know I did. As for my directed study, I was stuck with a supervisor who did not give a shit about the directed study, or about me. This was a major issue which caused me to become angry as I did care a whole bunch about the content of my directed study, after all this was the topic that I had chosen at the end of my whole degree to focus on, this topic wasn’t just bullshit to me, it was everything.
I was burning out so fast that I didn’t see it coming.
At the start of 2016 I was living with my girlfriend (now ex-girlfriend) and as much as we have always loved each other a lot, it has never been a good love, it’s a destructive one. So living with her meant that everyday some kind of emotionally challenging situation was taking place. In the end I moved out one day when she was at work feeling completely unable to handle a second more. I am somewhat proud of my decision to give up in that situation though because I usually push and push things, I have trouble letting go.
So I finished my directed study and decided I would move to Auckland, a move that I had always wanted to do. For me, Auckland always had this magical feeling and whenever I had visited the city I felt as though I might be able to become my true self. Originally I was going to start my masters in English, but my directed study had taken my confidence, and with it, my passion for my subject. Instead I decided that the fastest route out of academia would be a year long teaching masters. So I headed to Auckland to live in student accomodation without even being accepted into the teaching program, hoping like hell that I would be, but only as a route of escape rather than passion. This was my first mistake.
First and foremost, before I go darker than an insomniacs under eye circles, my flatmates in Auckland made my life one thousand times better every single day. I lived with two New Zealanders’ who were a couple called Katie and Liam. As much as these two were unusual, I’ve never liked “usual” people anyway. Liam and I had the same sense of humour and he made me laugh and relish in the warm feeling of a kindred spirit. Katie was amazing, she was out of this world, like literally, sometimes she was completely removed from it. She had her own very unique life force, which included her own business selling succulents out of various funky jars and even out of toy dinosaurs with their backs carved out and then spray painted silver. Katie was a positive force always.
My other two flat mates were international students: one from Sweden and one from the United States. Ebba was from Sweden and we hit it off instantly, she was so confident and clever and was the first person in ages that I actually felt younger than. I could really talk to her about things right from the start and she was invaluable to talk to when I was feeling bad about my body, she was powerfully feminist. Kevin, had he stayed in New Zealand, I would like to think would be my best friend for life. We did not hit it off instantly because he was too shy and I’m not good with shy people, they bring out my inner shyness and then literally no bonding takes place. Once we got over that though we were so close, we had a lot in common, and I love him a lot. There is less I can say about Kevin. I just love him and even if I never see him again I will never forget him.
I have separate essays for every flatmate, but for the purpose of this one I will say that these four people are the only things that make me not regret moving to Auckland.
I showed up to my first day of my Masters of Teaching course and it was nothing like I expected. Embarrassment. That was the overriding feeling of my first day. We had to dance as ice breakers, and that’s just not how it works for me. The ice already has to be broken in order for me to dance in front of people. A lot of other weird things happened in the first day which just added to how overwhelming the whole situation of being in a new city and knowing no one and nothing was. By the end of the day I could not even hold it together enough to make it off campus before ending up in a toilet cubicle crying in a deep, guttural, life will never get better kind of way. I think I should have known then that it wasn’t for me.
But I carried on like I always do, I have never been able to justify dropping a university paper, let alone a university course. This was the longest four months of my life, everyday went by as slowly as the next and each day I became less enthused and more tired. My bulimia came back in full force and consumed my whole life so much by the end that I could not think or leave my room. This became one of the biggest reasons why I chose to leave the program for a year and move back to Hamilton. I thought that I would get a job, join a gym, eat healthy and become the best version of myself. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a job and so the rest of these best-version-of-myself dreams have become almost impossible. I find myself questioning at the end of all this: Where does my true self reside if not in Auckland or Hamilton?
So 2016 was not the best by any stretch but if I was to look at the positives they would be that I learned that living my life at such a fast pace is not actually necessary, that it’s okay to slow down. I also realised that it is okay to take time out just for you even if my taking time out seems to have backfired to the point of me living ten meters away at all times from my mother. I’m sure this part will improve itself if I ever get a job. In 2016 I also admitted for the first time that my eating disorder was taking over and that I didn’t want to live like that anymore. The best thing was meeting all my new friends in Auckland, they kept me sane and positive and I am forever indebted to them for that piece of magic.
Looking forward to 2017, these are my resolutions (transcribed from my journal):
- Radical self-love = radical self-justice
- Write unapologetically
- Say “yes”
These are so simple, but simple is all I can do right now.
p.s I’m sorry this is written to badly, as yet, I can’t seem to articulate logically the year that was 2016
I have never read anything more precious than “they called me the hyacinth girl”. I can’t imagine me, sitting in a bed full of crumbs and body odour, being compared to something so synonymous to sunshine and real life technicolour. I think poetry is beautiful, but I do not think the same of myself, and that’s okay. I don’t have to love myself, but I do have to write bullshit and read poetry. But how dear poetry make me long for something that I can never be: flowers. I want to bloom, and then I want to die. I want people to look at me for just one season, to smell me, to rub my petals between their thumb and forefinger, to be drawn to me for just one season. I find myself wondering who the hyacinth girl might be, and I can think of only one, but I am thirty kgs away and resemble nothing in danger of blooming. I just want to be looked at for one season.
My mother wondered why I would cause myself pain to have a flower drawn on my arm, but she didn’t ask me why I caused myself pain that one time I tried to kill myself. I am not ashamed of myself, and that is the biggest rebellion, my arm blooms hyacinth for all seasons. I am as addicted to beauty as I am cigarettes and being alone. I don’t want anyone to touch me, but I want to touch others. If I was the hyacinth girl, I could do that, if only for a season.
I want to walk around screaming “I am the hyacinth girl” (“I am so pretty”, “I look like I’m blooming” “Love me while I’m alive”) But I am not meant to refer to myself as synonymous to sunshine and real life technicolour. I have to live in the monochrome haze of my undying self-hatred, don’t I? I am a woman and I don’t hate myself, so I must sit and brood until I do. How dare I compare myself to a flower, how dare I be inspired by the poetry of a man.
And what does she think of me: “You’re not even a lesbian”, “You’re intelligent, but you act dumb.” “You don’t know what modernism is”, or “queer theory”, or “literary theory”.
“You don’t know about these things, because I know about them.”. You love them just like I love all flowers and the ocean, and I just want to work, but I belong to these fields and you don’t understand. I was strong by collapsing.
I fell in love with almost everyone but you. I was only a protégé, but hardly that. And I shared my crumbs and my body odour with you, and I accepted the fact that I was nothing but a man disguised as a woman that you rested your head on for two years. Sometimes I wake up calling for you but it hurts my throat and it’s bad for me so I stop.
There is something so patriarchal about a woman forbidding another woman to bloom.
Choose to eat away your feelings, stick a fork in ‘em and be full of fucking beans, push food down your feed tube, choose the stupid-ass ‘fast diet’, and believing you may eat anything while the weak person eats only vegetables (Romans 14:1-23 ), choose to humiliate yourself for three bucks worth of fast food. Choose silence, for once, you piece of fucking shit. Choose god only knows what I’d be without you, and the light at the end of the fucking tunnel, choose “you are the hot half of this couple”.
I watched the film called Dancer about a ballet prodigy called Sergei Polunin today. The film was beautifully made, I mean it was so beautifully made, in a big way. To watch Polunin dancing is like nothing else I have seen, and I find it so hard to be impressed or swept off my feet these days, but watching him dancing really shocks me. Of course though, this guy had problems with peaking too early and realising that he never really got to live or have a childhood. His main goal with working so hard and becoming the youngest male principal dancer for the Royal Ballet was to get his family back together after they had to separate to pay for his dance school tuition. It all came down on him when his parents divorced and he could see that his family was never going to be back together in the same way. He had a goal that he was working towards his whole life and suddenly that goal and all the sacrifices he had made to reach it, were pointless.
Of course I know nothing about ballet. What I do know is that Polunin possessed and extraordinary amount of raw talent, and for a while he possessed a pure and unreserved passion for dance. What else I could see was a tortured man, a man who became a man without being a boy first, and that really resonated with me. Polunin was put up three years in dance school which meant that around nineteen or twenty he had reached the peak of his dancing career. The questions are asked: Where do you go once you have reached the top? Once you have done everything? What happens if you want to advance beyond that? For Polunin, he couldn’t go up from there and that really stifled him. What would have happened if, regardless of his talent, he was able to go at a normal pace? Would that have given him more of a chance to be a boy and to become a full and happy man?
This part of his story really resonated with me because I always wonder the same thing. If I had have done things normally, if my life had not have been accelerated (albeit one and half years) would I have had room to grow up in a more ‘whole’ way? Would have those years that I rushed through without really leaving room for mistakes, or for breathing, or for living like a stupid kid, saved me from feeling like I am less than whole now? I have spent the last months staring a my peak, and six months away from it, I opted out, I couldn’t do it because I need more than that. I need to be able to live and grow up and make up for the time that I missed.
Dancer made me think about the raw talent that people are born with. I was born with the ability to sing, to REALLY sing. I have not utilised my gift and I wonder if I’ll ever really feel happy while I am not using what I was given so naturally. No doubt, Polunin was tortured, fragmented, and disillusioned, but also he loved to dance. When he danced and did those incredible lifts he said he felt in those moments that he knew why he was dancing. When I sing, in the car, or in the shower, or when I have time alone, I feel free. When you are good at something and you are doing that something artistically and without too much control over you, that is when you feel free from everything. No body, nobody, just your barest soul.
My life is made up completely of watching movies, reading books, wandering around, hanging out with friends, and working minimally. It’s pretty much perfect right now, I am listless and directionless and for once that’s okay. I feel a little stressed about getting a full time job, but that is only because when I do I will be able to get my own apartment and start saving for travel, and I want to do that asap, but I have the whole year and I’m quite enjoying mooching off my mother.
I don’t remember being so miserable anymore, though I know that those feelings sit not too far below the surface. I want to forget that though, and I am learning to let go of the fact that everything isn’t perfect right away. What I mean to say is that I expected moving home to cure me, which it hasn’t, and that really upset me at first. But three weeks in I can tell that I am doing better, for one thing it has become far easier to look on the bright side, and that was something I had lost the knack for. I think it really is about just taking it a day at a time, doing what I please, and regaining myself bit by bit without putting too much pressure on myself.
As for the girl, we haven’t talked in the longest time, even though I know that it’s only been a couple of days. But my new technique of just sitting out the pain instead of being so reckless and selfish with it all is working out so far. I think it’s important to be able to look forward to new things and visualise a future with someone new. If we stayed together I would be consumed, and I mean absolutely swallowed whole, by old pain and that’s never going to be productive or happy, and my love would be a bitter love, dipped in half-hearted “I love you”s.
I had the opportunity to finally read Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur the other day and I have never read a more poignant poetry book in my life. The words written in this little black and white book are still bouncing around in my brain , still reprimanding me, still making me feel less lonely.
But I realised too that I can’t keep on being the one in a bumpy relationship who thinks that she is entitled to act as she pleases because she has been hurt. I sometimes feel so strongly that she is the love of my life, and that I always need to “try it out” just to make sure. I feel like I want to just hang out with her because I like hanging out with her but that’s not fair. She doesn’t want me as a friend, she wants all of me, she wants to be together. I didn’t used to think that the two were so different but now I know that they are worlds apart and it’s selfish to act otherwise.
I have been the abused, but I have also been the abuser and as the time passes I am coming to be the latter more and more and I don’t need to end up like that. I need to have the nerve to let her go with grace, and I am being selfish contacting her time and time again when she is obviously weak to me right now. It’s so messy and I still carry so much anger about the time I spent together with her, how pathetic I became, how little, how weak, how repulsed by my own existence. I should not be part of the reason why she should feel that way.