The Men You Are

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I miss the way you say my name, I miss the way you look at me. I miss the way you touch my arm, I miss the way we smile. I miss the way you make me safe, I miss the way you love. I miss the way it made me feel, and it to feel to me. I miss the way they happened, and I miss the way they’re gone. But most of all, I miss the way I was with you, the way I felt for me.

For me I was contented, in your loving arms. For me I was secured, in your loving arms. For me, I was established, in your loving arms.

For me I was myself, as much as I could be. For here I am again, thanks to you at last. But it’s different this time – for now I have a past. A past you have endured, unfair to you. A past you needn’t know, unfair to you. A past you could have left, as it’s really unfair to you.

The way you make me feel is then, before the past I have. The feelings of before the past, the past you came across. For what is different so, is more than what I was. For what is different so, is who I am because.

The power you have given me, is power once and more. The power you have instilled in me, is fire I adore. The power you have fueled in me, you have no idea. No idea in what you reached in me, deep, deep, in there.

For here we are again once more, but this time – it’s different; you are able, stable, resilient, and kind. You see me, believe me, let me be me, and more. Not like the others, who saw me but couldn’t teach me; fuel me and support me.

The me you have is different, to before the past. The me you have is different, to the past itself. The me you have is me today, the me you have is me today. The me you have is me today, and it is me that is because of you, okay.

Why do I rely so much, on having you to begin? Why do I rely so much, on having you to end? Why do I rely so much, on having you to start? I clearly needed you.

A Letter to My Younger Self

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You’ll grow up in the bosom of your mum’s affection.

Enjoy it, it will be a secure attachment for the next 30 years and beyond.

Your Dad will change from a gentle giant to a demanding disciplinarian. He’ll make you work hard and will have a cruel streak. He’ll expect high standards and offer little praise.

Don’t fret. His behaviour is not to do with you, it’s to do with issues arising from his own childhood, far deeper than anything you’ll have to confront in your life. Soon, you’ll be bigger than him, physically and emotionally. He’ll become inconsequential and when the time is right you’ll cut him loose. There’ll be an unexpected bonus from your Dads ways. The working world will be easy. You’ll wonder how you can get paid for what is a fraction of the effort required to work with your Dad. This work ethic combined with your mum’s emotional intelligence will serve you well.

You’ll be soft and compassionate by nature, like your mum. This will make life at school difficult, particularly primary and early secondary school. You won’t understand aggression and will be forced to tolerate it, until you can figure out what to do about it. Your gentle nature will also make you sensitive to your Dads behaviour. It will cause you to over-invest in friends who won’t invest in you. It will cause you to treat women with tenderness and respect but they won’t always see the value in that until much later.

You don’t realise it now but this is your greatest strength. Later in life, it will enable you to form many a loving relationship, mentor people to great feats and be a leader in almost every domain of your life. You’ll come to realise that strong is sensitive. You’ll learn to spread your compassion a little more wisely. There is only so much to go around, so you’ll learn to protect yourself a little better. Your relationship with women will change. They will come to notice your strength and sensitivity. This brings responsibility. They will be drawn to you in a way you are not drawn to them, be gentle with their hearts because one day you’ll wish someone was more careful with yours.

You’ll love sport. Rugby, gaelic football but in particular soccer. You’ll be of average talent. You’ll lack the aggression required for rugby and the skills needed to guarantee your place on the soccer field. This will play on your mind. It will be added to by puberty. No matter how many sit ups you do in your bedroom you cannot fight biology and so, until you grow tall, you’ll remain chubby as your Dad will remind you. This uncertainty about your athletic identity will be compounded by a younger brother full of the talent and aggression required for sporting prowess.

Your early days on the sporting field will be difficult but your love of sport will sustain you for the rest of your days. You and your friends will follow your sports teams around the globe. You too will become an athlete. In the autumn of 2003, with your mum’s encouragement you’ll go for a run with an athletics club. The main thoughts occupying your mind will be ‘how to keep up and not be embarrassed’. What you don’t realise is that this will be the first day of the rest of your life. You’ll become an athlete in a sport where your work ethic is rewarded. You’ll suffer many injuries but your perseverance will pay off. You’ll meet a mentor, an older man, who will become one of your best friends. He will be the first man in your life to tell you that anything is possible. You’ll believe him and with every step you run your confidence will soar. You’ll make a career in sport and understanding all there is to know about it. At times you will feel as though you are living your dream – you are, well done my resilient friend, well done.

In your late teens and early twenties, you’ll still feel a little at odds with the world. You’ll struggle when not surrounded by your tribe of hard working athletic friends. Working abroad you’ll wonder why you don’t want to go the pub with everyone else, every weekend. You’ll wish you could fit in a bit better but at the same time you’ll always feel compelled to choose the alternative path of your interests.

You are right and they are lost. They appear certain by the strength of their numbers. In reality, they crave, at least subconsciously, your hobbies, interests and passions. These aspects of your life are what keep you physically and mentally sharp. It’s hard being the odd one out but on a Sunday morning, look at yourself and look at them. I know which one you and they would rather be. Hold tight, being the odd one out is what will make you a great leader. Remember, although you see things clearly, they cannot, so be gentle. Give more and expect less of them and your friends. They have not yet had your good fortune.

You, your mum and your brother will become the 3 best friends that anyone could ever have and by the way, eventually those sit-ups will give you a six pack.

Aren’t you the lucky one – enjoy the rest.

This article has been published as over five hundred words, only because the author is exceptional.

Isolation

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To be alone, even when you’re not. To be trapped, even when you have choices. To be happy with your own company, even when it’s not sustainable.

Fireworks, friends, drinks. All the things happening outside of this space, the quiet and tranquil space I am occupying – of my choice. How times are different. Different, but somewhat the same. The same more recently, but vastly different from before. Development, change, metamorphosis. The process of change: adjust behaviours, adjust surroundings, adjust mentality. The problem: society.

Society believes in fun, reward, quantity. The society I am living in does, anyway.

Everywhere I look there are reminders of unfulfilled people trying to live fulfilled lives, but what they are is deluded and confused, not knowing what they don’t know. Not knowing that searching [aimlessly] and avoiding [pain] are causing damage to the unconscious anxieties. Not knowing that boundaries are stable, and boredom is progression, and routine is freedom. How dare you break free from us? How dare you demand difference? ‘You must enjoy life, you must be with people, you must be out.’ Well, to enjoy is in moderation, to be with people is to be understood, to be out is when it’s worthy.

To tell you “I am good” is telling you nothing at all. To accept it is showing me nothing. I might as well be confirming nothing but my existence unless you probe further or give me more. Shake me, awake me, tell me how you feel. Tell me anything; how you hate being the new girl at work, how you and your partner want to have a child soon, how you’re troubled in work, how you had a bad day, a great day, anything more than nothing.

You hear me talk but you don’t acknowledge what I’m saying. You heard me, I know you did because you asked a related question. Why can’t you acknowledge what I said? I know you care, you show me in other ways. But why can’t you acknowledge what I am saying now? Is it because it’s too foreign? Too far from where you wanted me to be? Too confronting for your own denial? Can you not feel my hurt? My confusion? Can you not tell I am standing here showing you the world I dreamt for myself isn’t here, that you dreamt for me? Why can’t you ask me how I am doing, with depth, with meaning, with force, with love? Ask me, even at all? You hear me talk, but you cannot respond. Not in the way I need, want, thought I had. It makes it clearer why I never told you anything, because you couldn’t respond the way I needed.

I am loved, I am surrounded, I am here. But, as I shake the earth I see who withstands the force; the structures of reliability tremor and I’m left to navigate the ruins. Searching for cover and somewhere firm to stand, with only few to console me, truly.

 

 

I am

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I am fragile but can be brash. I am sensitive but I confront. I am a product of excusing laziness. I have ambitious dreams but don’t attempt them. I am fearful of failure but fearless of pain. I compare myself to others. I feel the emotional weight from others. I have to put in effort to not be running late. I am loyal until you betray me. I am compassionate until I drink too much. I am thoughtful. I am scared. I enjoy luxury but I enjoy the small things more. I forgot that I like achievement. I forgot to try. I forgot about the small things. I forgot to have restrictions. I forgot to question. I forgot to answer. I forgot to challenge.

I forgot to dream.

 

Shelley

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I am so proud of you. You have no idea how stable you have been for me. When I was faltering, you were there and you continued as you were. You didn’t let me influence you, you didn’t let me drag you in. You let me be with you – escape with you. Thank you for that.

Thank you for still being there. Thank you for still trying with me, for still asking how I am.

I’m so proud of where you are, who you are, what you’ve become. You are so strong. You are so constant. Your curiosity and enthusiasm for life is contagious but what’s brilliant is you always stay who you are. I’m so excited to see what you create of your new life, and what you achieve. I know you are on to something great here, because I can see it in your being. You are right to follow your craft, for that is life – life is living – life is too short to not.

So here I am, blanching asparagus, sitting back and reflecting on everything you are, and everything you helped me be. Good luck my friend, and see you again soon.

Losing Friendship

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I’m mad at you for not seeing me. You couldn’t see that I was changing. You couldn’t accept I wanted it, you only blamed someone else. You only saw someone else, you only saw him changing. But you couldn’t see it was me.

We had everything. We were everything. You could tell me things, and I could tell you things. We were everything. But, somewhere we got lost. I outgrew you as you got more lost. I was lost and you held me up. You caught me and knew how not to yell at me for you knew I would retreat. I betrayed you and you still stood by me and waited for me and let me understand for myself why I was broken, instead of convicting me for it. But then you stopped and you yelled at me and accused me. Telling me it would be a long way to fall. I had already fallen, babe. I had already fallen and you were there. You were there to catch me but this time you didn’t, you couldn’t. You couldn’t see that I was changing. I am only going up now and you are not ready to follow. You are not ready to follow because you haven’t fallen. You are lost, but you haven’t fallen. You still have your dignity, your pride, your skin. You still have it.

One day we will be together again, but my time has run out now. My time has run out and I can no longer be loyal to those who are doing nothing. Those who are still lost. And especially those who cannot see me, and who yell at me and tell me what to do. You became that. You became the person who yelled at me and instructed me on how I should behave. You couldn’t see me for what I wanted or how much I wanted change, needed change. I was just existing, just existing in the same old world of nothingness and emptiness. But most importantly you couldn’t see me anymore. You couldn’t tell I was different. Or maybe, maybe you didn’t want to. Or maybe, maybe you couldn’t because you can’t. You don’t get it. You don’t get it because you haven’t fallen and you don’t get it because you just don’t see what I see. I don’t believe that though, because we always use to see the same? So I just don’t know what happened, what changed? Why did you yell at me?

Are you afraid I am changing for him, because of your own past mishaps? What does it matter anyway, if he is helping me better? I am with him and I am changing, but I am not changing for him. I am changing for me, because I need this. I need this so badly for myself. He just happens to be there helping.

I wish you didn’t yell at me for I wanted you to come. But you can’t, not until you’re ready.

Why We Can’t ‘Do Dinner’

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I’m sorry we can’t have dinner. No, it’s nothing you have done. You don’t see what I see anymore. Well, I don’t see what you see. I see clearer now and what I see in that world is nothingness.

We can’t have dinner because I am more disciplined with my time. We can’t have dinner because you do drugs. We can’t have dinner because you were there when I was not me, and you represent everything in that world. We can’t have dinner because you’re leaving – that’s not an excuse to meet up and eat food and talk about how well I’m doing at making a change and how much you’re looking forward to going home. I already know that, so why do we need to meet and confirm it? I know you’re going to ask me about everything too; everyone is asking, wondering, what the hell I am playing at? You’re worried and that’s nice, but don’t be. Worry about yourself. We can’t have dinner because if we did I wouldn’t be changing. You would be sucking me back into the meaningless that I am trying to escape. We can’t have dinner because I don’t want to see you. I don’t want to see the version of you that smiles at me when I arrive and asks me if I had a good day. Those things are normal, I know. But it’s the weight behind it that isn’t. Why don’t you look at me as if I can rely on you, lean on you, be supported by you. It sounds irrational but it’s only reflective of how little you know and can handle. Why can’t you write me an email? Why can’t you tell me you’re hurting because your boyfriend isn’t good enough but you hurt because you wanted him. Why can’t you ask me how counselling is going?

Yes, you asked me for a walk instead. That’s better than dinner, you’re correct. But I still don’t have time. I still don’t have time for you if you can’t tell me something real. Tell me something real, I beg you. I know you’re good inside, I know you are. I know you’re just as sensitive as I am, just as lost as I was, just trying to get by. I know because you helped me get there. You helped me lose myself and at the time it was what I wanted, how I coped, but I can’t do it anymore. Ask me something real so that I can let you back in. I know you’re good and I wish you well. But please see someone. Please see someone so you can understand why you’re doing all these things, and so someday we can be friends again. I love you, but farewell.

Absent Parenting

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How would you know that I hadn’t been well? How would you know I am good at what I do? How would you know what my drink of choice is? How would you know I love swimming in the sea? How would you know I don’t like sand? How would you know you don’t need to worry about bailing me out? How would you know how adventurous I am? How would you know I can stand up for myself if I need to? How would you know that I can read social cues and not force myself on people? How would you know that people actually want me around? How would you know that I am the happiest I have ever been? How would you know how low I was before? How would you know that I asked for guidance to let you go? How would you know that I was always convinced I wasn’t part of you? How would you know I’ve never felt loved by you? How would you know the hardest bits that I have endured? How would you know what a rainbow of people I have in my life? How would you know I am not embarrassed by the things you are? How would you know I was brave enough to make this move? How would you know that I had saved and planned hard for this chapter?

How would you know all of these things?

For you have never asked. You have never listened. You have never shown interest. You have never shown you care or made me feel loved.

My doubts are born from you, all my niggles and hang-ups are from your voice over my shoulder. I’ve been scared, I’ve skirted along the bottom, I’ve stared the worst in the face. Life is beautiful, exciting, challenging, terrifying, the biggest lesson of all – each and every day. But it has to be lived, because it is fleeting and can be over in a flash. It must be savoured and every day you must find joy in something – whether that is a nice chat, a free parking space or a new little flower in bloom. For you are missing out on all of this, so coiled you are in your worries, fears and judgements.

Please don’t bother trying now; what you have to offer isn’t what I need and what I needed from you once upon a time, I no longer need. You don’t have it, I found it elsewhere. The most wonderful bunch of humans I love dearly have each offered me a puzzle piece, which put together fills the void you should have once stood in. You have missed out on so much; I am pretty decent, yet you have always focused on my failings or the worse-case scenario. I am exhausted by you, by thinking about you; you drain the life out of me. I don’t want to see you. I wish you well, I want you to find your own happiness.

Identity

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The real you. The true self. The old me. Me now.

How do we construct an identity for ourselves and have it be so true? How do we know how to do it? How do some people do it better than others? I am currently undergoing an identity reformation whereby I am confronting every facet of my life; friends, family, work, lifestyle, etc. It’s been brewing for some time now but only in the past six weeks have I really moved on it. Made some fairly drastic changes; trying to build in new habits and remove old ones. It’s a peaceful process, albeit sometimes cathartic and emotional.

Have you ever just wanted to escape from the world? Feeling overwhelmed by social media and friends and society? Ever wondered if you’re the only one feeling empty and existing in this crazy world? The key is to build your own world, not rely on the one that’s in front of you. It’s about taking control of yourself and being fearless to confront and remove anything that isn’t at standard. You are the one in control. Be fearless and true to yourself. Even if you don’t know who your true self is, follow your gut and if anyone or thing is getting you down – ask yourself why they’re there. What else do they give you, and is it worth it?

As for your hobbies and interests, if you haven’t found something yet that you feel is truly your passion – that’s all bull anyway. I read once that passion doesn’t just appear. It forms over a period of time, much like your identity. Pick something, do it enough and it will become part of you. Most importantly, other people cannot be your identity to begin with – they can only compliment you (I do not have children yet so cannot comment for parents here). Friends and partners do not make you. They come into your life because of you, but they did not make you who you were to begin with.

Identity, eh. For me, self-identity is always growing. It has to. Your identity should always grow otherwise you’re not living, merely existing in a stagnant trap of delusion.

 

Burning Bodies

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I will never forget the smell of a burning dead body. You could almost see the ashes floating up from the pit as you were inhaling the murky heavy air. There wasn’t just one either, there were about 8 fire pits all going at once. This, the edge of the Ganges river in Old Varanasi, India.

It’s an old town for sure; the whole thing is like a huge castle town with narrow streets and high buildings. It’s all stone – the buildings and floor. It’s like a maze trying to find your way around and you have to share the narrow pathways with angry cows and motorbikes coming at you at the same time. The ground is covered in crushed marigold flowers, unknown liquids, and cow dung. It’s beautifully surreal.

At the edge of the ancient city flows the Ganges river where dead bodies are brought from all over India to be cremated and gifted to the Gods. As you get nearer to the ceremony there is this thick smell that suffocates your entire body as you know you’re not smelling burning wool but burning human bones and hair. I cover my mouth and nose with my jumper and walk nearer, passing signs requesting ‘no photography’. The sign is more powerful than others as you feel like it’s the spirits asking you to refrain, rather than some business owner who wants to prohibit you making a profit. Not a single camera or phone in sight. We get closer and are asked if we want to be taken to a secret spot at the top of one of the castle-esque buildings. Of course we are expecting to a pay a fee even though the guy insists we won’t, but we follow him anyway. Sure enough at the top of the narrow staircases was a view that can only be described as heavenly; as if looking from the heavens. It was dark, with amber lighting coming from human fire pits and the orange and purple sun set behind them.

My friend and I just stand there, looking out at the view, trying to see if we can decipher body parts in the fires. We think we saw a small chest frame in one, and a skull in the another. Then we see a body being carried from out from the building beneath us, a small body wrapped in bright pink/purple silk cloth. A modern day glamorous mummy held in the air on a stretcher by four or so other men. Her fate – burned and set down the river to be freed from this world and onto the next.

I cry in silence. The chap who took us up there left without asking for a tip. We leave in silence.