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Self-Defense Class
Wednesday. 6.19.19 1:13 am
I go to barre for the therapy.

It's a new spot; my old place, near my old apartment, had so many long-time barre students that it was sometimes intimidating to try to fit into class. They were always welcoming and kind, it was never the vibe they gave off...they could just do so much more, and that chunk of me that still compares would feel just slightly lesser as a result.

This new place has attracted all the people new to barre, and you can see it when they look around, stare for too long at a move, smile awkwardly when I turn and look... It's a lesson in retrospect: If you're comparing, you're too busy watching everyone else to get deep into the rhythm of the class.

What I like about barre is...everything. I like that they dim the lights, I like that we follow the rhythm of the music when we move, I like that the instructors remind you throughout:

These next deep breaths are for you!
Thank yourself for making the choice to come here tonight, for making the choice every time you come and put everything you have into this!
These 20 seconds are for you, so you're not going to leave this position until it's over! You've come too far today to give up on this now! Ten seconds and you're done!

What I learned from years with R is that I am definitively not my own knight in shining armor. I make choices that hurt me and pass them off as acceptable decisions based on x, y, and z, and then I don't sleep, and I don't eat well, and I cry a lot, and I miss work. As such, I need to be reminded often that I'm supposed to be thinking about my own heart and my own needs.

"What's on the platter?" one instructor likes to ask, while we're sitting there with mini kettlebells propped up on our hands like platters. "Money? A promotion? A vacation? New jewelry?"

"Me," I have to keep thinking. "Me, me, me, me, me, me, me."

And when my arms hang loosely by my sides, afterward, under directed cooldown, I really do thank myself.

She doesn't have that strong of arms, yet, after all.

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Friday. 6.7.19 2:57 am
On the way home:
He sings along to the worst radio music. It is bad. I'm totally swooning. Getting back to our home city feels like a letdown.

On the beach:
We take nearly-identical scowling candids of each other, which we'll later send to each other, which will make me deeply proud of (sort of) choosing him. We also take our first couple photos (they're OK). We brought barely a thing with us, but I really don't mind, because I get to hang out with him all day.

He picks up shells for both of us. I don't need a shell to remember this particular trip.

In bed:
I wake up and we're both piled onto one side of the huge bed, sleeping closely together. He's snoring (quietly). It's endearing. He hates it.

On the walk:
11 becomes midnight becomes 1 becomes nearly 2. We watch a thunderstorm across the bay; you can't hear the thunder, but the lightning is clear as day. He tells me he loves me. I feel like the bay and the thunderstorm, all at once. We walk in the middle of the road, because it's so late and the area is nearly deserted, and I point out all my favorite houses and restaurants while he reads plaques on the buildings.

On the ride down:
He worries about the fact that he didn't bring any music. We don't even turn on the radio; we just talk the whole way down.

The first day:
I'm wearing a red dress and my shoulders are tense as we walk into the parking garage. His hand on my hip feels like a death sentence. I walk ahead of him towards the car and he takes my hand, just pulling me back to him a little, and something in me snaps, and I'm kissing him as a person who has lived deep inside of me for too long.

She's out.

The very first day:
He walks in late and sees me there. "Who the fuck is that?" he thinks, and spends the rest of the shift saying my name and trying to flirt with a cactus. Even with all my prickly indifference, I look at him and marvel at how beautiful his eyes are. We walk back together.

The next day, I'm walking across the hall to find a knife, and find him standing there in the hall. His face drops into sheer horror when he sees me.

He has a note for me. In it is his phone number.

I go get a knife before sitting down to read it.

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The Rose-Giver
Monday. 5.27.19 2:27 am


"I love you," he rumbles, still waking up and wrapped tightly around his exhausted girlfriend.

Grinning: "I love you more."

"I've loved you longer." This particular truth is jarring, in the way it's jarring to come out of the cold and have your hands enveloped by warm, soft, steady hands.

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Sunday. 4.28.19 10:35 pm

Today, my ex-fiance cleaned his things out of the apartment we shared, and turned in the last set of keys. Goodbye, 515. Goodbye, R. After he was long gone from the unit, the city, the state, he texted me and was kind, and gentle, and understanding.

"I'm always going to love you," he'd told me a month ago, sitting on the wooden swing, looking over the park where we'd both spent some of our childhoods--right there, but...


I knew I'd always love him, too, a good chunk of me, and told him as much. As much as our histories had aligned, we'd lost each other in there, somewhere. We both knew this, long before the day had ever come. We both wanted to hold onto each other, onto that safety, onto a raft.

This afternoon, he told me we could use today as the jumping-off point. No contact. When we broke up, he'd resisted, but today he told me that he'd taken me off of his social media, and that he was OK with however long I needed to heal from everything.

How long we all knew this moment was coming. How long I knew. How long, I'm sure, all of you knew.

It will take me a while to contact him again.

Yesterday, I drank coffee on my porch, enjoying a bright and warm spring morning. I washed dishes in my sunny kitchen, and listened to music, and danced, and smelled the (literal) roses. In the early evening, after moving things from my car to my (second floor, no elevator, shoebox) apartment, I ate dinner with the porch door open, listening to the steady hum of activity from the units around me. I drove to the rose-giver's apartment, and ate Pop Tarts in his kitchen after...well.

He piled blankets on top of me, this morning, and I woke up, later, to him opening his patio door, the smell of coffee and bacon filling the space. He has eyes just exactly like the ocean, I swear to god, and they were so happy to see me awake, I just...

If you've ever had someone fall into your life right when you don't need a single fucking person interrupting your healing, you know exactly how I felt, when I met him. Newly single and barbed all over, I was wary of myself, wary of the possibility that I might fall into the same patterns as before and never move forward in my life. After a few days of trying and failing to shake him (from pursuing me, from my own brain, you pick), I promised him 5 less barbs a day. I'm somewhere around 100 barbs fewer, and haven't found any reasons Why Not, yet (as hard as I've tried). In fact, I've found an enormous amount of reasons why he and I would work, and it's all easy like it's never been easy for me, and hard in ways it's never been hard, before.

I'm dating other people, now, too, and I'll admit I'm very into a couple of the people I'm seeing. You know how I am about a poetic entrance, though. Some things never change. And when I'm with someone who just...brings all of me out, like this...well, I guess I'm inspired.

As for healing... I'm in therapy, and it's been going very, very well. I started seeing my therapist in...January? February? Now I'm down to once every two weeks, and might transition to even fewer trips in the next couple months, progress allowing. This week's homework was to complete a self-assessment form on how well I'm functioning as a human, and signs seem to point towards "OK."

I felt some grief in the last texts, today, but not much. It was kind of like remembering a recurring dream and just feeling glad to be awake. My therapist says I might be angry, soon, and I feel it like a nippy, wet gust in the thick summer heat. I know I'm angry, and I'll feel it, and I'll probably express it in a mixture of healthy and unhealthy ways, and then I'll process it.

And I'll keep being OK (or better).

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