Laugh lines. Or: How life has been treating me

I’ve been treating myself kindly.
My laugh lines used to be paths carved along the sides of my mouth
by the anxiety-ridden moments when I was so uncomfortable
that I felt the need to force a polite or subservient smile
or worse,
a laughter.
Now,
They’re carefree sculptures debossed on my imperfect skin,
forever engraved on my flawed face,
digging themselves deeper and deeper
each time I seize a new opportunity to laugh wholeheartedly,
Be it on the Thursday mornings when I would be sitting in the kitchen,
doing the dishes while mom starts cooking for the day
and my sister pokes fun at our negative formative childhood memories,
gaining some sense of closure,
Or on the drive back home following another awkward family function,
when all five of us vent our anger,
turning the unbearable helplessness into comforting togetherness.
My laugh lines speak of memorable mundane moments
which I choose to seize
every chance I get.

I’ve been treating myself kindly.
My stretchmarks used to be shameful lines
reminding me I grew up too fast for my own good,
pointing out how much I hated the transformations my teen body was going through,
shameful reminders that I was less than pretty—
or so my low self-esteem would assuredly point out
each chance it got,
Be it my 8th grade graduation when I didn’t want to show my legs out of shame,
Or the seaside trips when I would imagine burning gazes
passing an irrevocable sentence.
Now,
They’re pale engravings
pointing out my bumpy self-love journey
and how I came to realise
they are by far
the least interesting thing about me.
My stretchmarks speak of painfully self-conscious moments
evolving into freeing self-acceptance.

I’ve been treating myself kindly.
Life has been too unbearable to go on dreading looking in the mirror
at my bare body,
and picking at each unforgivable flaw.
Turns out, forgiveness is mine to give
And I will do so
Unapologetically.

– Patricia

Linear. Or: To live life at sea level

I should’ve paid closer attention in geography.
maybe then I would know why it’s impossible to wish
to live life at sea level
wherever I go.

I have no use for mountain tops, nor hills,
and I’ve known the bottom of the ocean my whole life:
safe to say I’ve had more than my fair share of
….s
..p
u
and
d
o
w
n
s…………………………………………

and that’s not what I want.

I do not care for depths,
just make me one-dimensional:
a blurry presence flat against their background,
living vicariously through them.
that would be enough.

I’ve had more than my fair share of climbs and descents.
I want to be linear.

do not curse me
with cloud nines,
nor with rock bottoms.

leave me be.

one with the tranquil meadows
morphing into virgin beaches where my feet will know to stop
at the edge of the all-too-familiar body of water.
and tread no farther.

– Patricia

24

*soft knock on the— *
Oh, uh… There’s no door anymore.

*ahem*
“I’ve come,” and swiftly passes through the doorframe.
“Oh, is it time already?”, motioning towards the chair covered in 10-month-old unwashed clothes.
“Mind your step, it gets slippery,” indicating the greenish puddle in the middle of the room,
The navel of anxiety and self-induced e.d.
Tripping over a rolled up traditional carpet: “Where do I, uh…,” and scratches head in slight puzzlement.
“Right there. No, not there. There. Next to the— Nevermind, I’ll show you,” and crosses the unlit 23-square-metre room, past a slightly red-tinted razor lying on the bare floor. “Uh, nevermind that. Thought it’d only be 23, but I guess life sure did find a way around that preconceived notion, huh? Since it’s about to become 24, might as well use up all the space, right?”, lets out a forced laugh.
“Sure, uh…”
Dusting off the cracked mirror broken in a previous anger episode: “There. All waiting for you. Have a seat. How do you like it?”
Awkwardly squeezes in between the bloody shards: “Um, is this it?”
“Yeah, I’ve been refurbishing. Trying out a new look. The old one was getting boring. Had it for 23 years, you know?”
“Yeah, um… I see.”

Studying with a scrutinizing glance: “Why did they send you? Should’ve paid closer attention. You stick out like a sore thumb.”
“Uh, why? What’s wrong?”
Scrunching nose: “Too beautiful for this house. Come on, people, keep up. I can’t possibly have you. You don’t fit in.”
“Uh—”
“Now I have to either make you fit in or refurbish all over again. Do you know how long it’s taken me to make it all work together? No, of course not. Of course they don’t care. They just send in whatever they want and expect me to bend to their will. Hmph, like that has ever worked out for them. Yeah, right. Watch me! I’ll do them one better! They’ll never send in anyone like you again!”
“Why? What fault have I?”
“Come on! Don’t you see it?” Sighing: “You’re way too beautiful for this,” gesturing defeatedly towards the messy house, shoulders slumped.

“Now I have to change either my house or you. And you’re far too beautiful to be altered… And I’m too beaten down to refurbish and remodel ALL of this”, pointing to surroundings.

“But who says you can’t have both? What if we can all stay like this?”

“Oh,” stopping in her tracks.
“I’d never thought of that…”

– My 24th birthday
24 feels too beautiful and graceful for me

Serendipity

DSC_0126

I came back to the sea on a moonlit night
And finally stopped running.
As my thirsty feet finally touched the warm, velvety waves,
A sigh of relief
Escaped my lips—
Offering to the soulless sea.

I hadn’t even realised how much I’d missed it,
Tangled up in the
whys and the
hows and the
what nows of a suffocating existence.

I came back to the sea on a strawberry moon night
And finally set myself free
of the should be’s and the
can’t be’s and the
will never be’s.

I gazed open-mouthed at the moonlit waves,
While their soothing caress
embraced my weak ankles
that have desperately fought to keep me up and running,
to get me to my hidden-in-plain-sight haven;
While their ancient lullaby of
sunken seashells, spilled secrets and salty sea foam
landed on my starving ears;
While the strawberry moon
paved a pink path on the untainted tremor of the dark waves,
promising to keep me afloat,
calling me into the limelight while no one was in the audience
(just how I like it)
with its tender voice:
“Moonchild, come!”

There,
facing the silence of the unreachable horizon,
staring into the lifeless void of darkness,
my mind empty and ready to receive,
Receive I did:
Serendipity.

– Patricia

Petition to plain Jane

Subject: WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE ALL IN SHAMBLES

Petition to plain Jane over there with the wounded inner child

To whom it may concern,
(you know very well who you are)

It has unfashionably late come to my attention
That the precarious conditions in which plain Jane’s inner child has grown
Are, simply put, outrageous.

23 years of
self-scrutiny,
self-hatred and
feelings of personal inadequacy
with no ounce of self-compassion
while your inner child cowers away in the least tainted corner of your mind,
suffering through your self-victimization episodes
—no matter how seemingly valid—
have been more than enough.

I, the undersigned,
therefore request immediate measures be taken
to ensure the safety of the aforementioned child.

Should necessary measures fail to be immediately implemented,
I reserve the right to file a complaint with the child protective services.

Signed,
Get yourself together already before you turn into a Jane Doe
Plain and simple
Jane

feels good to be alive

I wanted to end it all yesterday,
Have some sense of agency at least over one small aspect of my life,
But then I ate an ice cream and the end of the cone had more chocolate
Than I usually get,
So
I felt overjoyed!
Feels good to be alive.

For now.

I wanted to end it all yesterday,
I’ve had it with all these 23 springs and summers and autumns and winters
And springs and winters and summers and autumns
And winters and autumns and summers and springs
Of mental illness.
But then I went outside, rode my penny board
And the smell of the linden trees after a May shower
Enveloped me in a hug.
(Heavens know how touch starved I am.)
Feels good to be alive.

For now.

I wanted to end it all yesterday,
Pull the plug on this miserable existence,
But then I rode my bike on empty neighbourhood streets,
Saw the stormy clouds get a tint of peachy cotton candy sunlight
As the sun retreated in the face of impending doom.
Silver lining for a solid 150 seconds.
Feels good to be alive.

For now.

I wanted to end it all yesterday,
Silence the impostor claiming my bones,
Cut the strings pulling me every which way,
One day up for show, faking a smile,
The next hidden away in the dreadful box
Of self-consciousness, anxiety and it which shall not be named
(The skeleton in my closet).
But then I went to the park,
Sat on a wooden bench, feet drowning in concrete,
And looked to the sky,
Heard the vivacious trills of nightingales,
And the occasional crow cawing,
Interspersed with an ever so vibrant “cuck-oo”.
Feels good to be alive.

For now.

I wanted to end it all yesterday,
But there’s still
The small things in life.
Feels good to be alive.

For now.

– Patricia

Comfort Zone

So many never-ending moments spent in entanglement
With the black onyx thorny bushes growing inside the precocious grey chamber,
Expanding endlessly and scratching the newly built walls,
Spilling sacred red on the welcome mat—
Till the fallacious flood of dark claws and crimson plasma
Drowns out any other electrically excitable tree—
Forever staining it with pain and despair.

So young and vulnerable, self-conscious before self-aware,
One too many times unknowingly giving in to the piercing syringes
Injecting intrusive vantablack venom.
Too young to yet fight back,
The thorns have long ago pierced every inch of untainted surface,
Subduing the precocious mind,
Altering reality,
Becoming one with the soul.

Now older, the I has come to grasp their meaning,
All too familiar faces with unforgettable names
Which it calls out in the void of emptiness,
And, although no longer wanting their company,
Safely retreats in their excruciating embrace,
For it is this that keeps it safe from the unknown residing beyond the wall of thorns.

Truth be told,
When the smothering fog is lifted
And a ray of sunshine is allowed to pierce through the clouds of stifling darkness,
The light is far too bright,
Hurting the eyes,
And only fleeting,
And before long,
The self sinks even deeper into the all too familiar dark embrace
Of the known.

For it is the thorns and nothing else that have always been there to hold,
Promising to never let go,
Shaping the I
With unwavering touch
Since childhood.

– Patricia

How to. Guide to best self

There once was a house with plenty of square metres—
Maybe somewhere around 23.
With a barbed wire fence made of limestone and concrete,
Not too short, not too tall: in-between.
With windows smudged with tar for precaution,
Averting the curious eyes.
With minefields for grass for whoever trespasses.
(Or tries to walk out unallowed.)

Inside, there are posters of pivotal moments,
Food to some succulent worms.
And a bed with a mattress that’s home to small bed bugs
Which come out at night for a treat.
The walls are all reeking of fresh paint and… vomit?
*sniff* Gastric juice—could use more.
4.5/5 stars: cozy, fun, love it!
Minus the still functioning doors.

Ooh, piles of dishes, all dirty and mouldy,
A chair with one leg! And… a broom?
No, no, no, that won’t do… But at least there’s no dustpan.
How else can you lie down and brood?
While dust travels slooowly but surely. towards you
To cover the mess that you are?
Good that there’s spider webs woven with wryness,
10/10 would recommend.

One-way ticket only. A bargain now, really!
Better yet—why not DIY?
Takes a lifetime to build though, but once it’s completed,
It’s all yours forever. How fun!

– Patricia