The Worst Thing I Ever Did To Myself

I crawled out expecting the cave that once sheltered me to shelter me still.

I waited for the world within my mind to match the one without it.

I expanded in my own skin but painted it to match my mother’s eyes.

I waited for men who had the audacity to claim to know how to love me, try.

I beat my skin raw and offered it up to the sun in submission only to be burned black, too rubbery for even the foulest of mouths to chew.

I waited for permission that would never be granted, to exist as I needed to be.

I imagined a hundred lives and was a victim in almost every one. When I woke up, I was 82.

I became water, then ice. Malleable at first, then unyielding. After countless failed attempts to flow, to touch every nook and cranny, fill every space with my presence but remain see-through, I froze. Stunted, I became an amalgamation of rigidity and determination. I retracted and expanded silently within myself.

I am soot, gravel, clay. Molten lava on your back. I was tossed into the ground and commanded to grow but I became embedded into the sole of your shoe. Over six thousand miles of land and ocean, I leached. And for decades I survived in a barren land until what was whispered for years was finally shouted: I waited.

Every time the sword perforated an organ, blood gushing and oozing to coat the perpetrator in guilt – red on metal – I waited. For absolution, for freedom, for acceptance.

But today, the fat lady sings.

© Leila Chammas, February 9, 2017.

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Red Light Existential Crisis

We are born through no effort of our own, with a mind and body we have neither chosen nor own. And, all of a sudden, this thought begins to morph, slowly, into a worm that wriggles its way through the crevasses of the mind. A magnificent organ, soiled effortlessly.

It may not be an existential crisis worthy of the philosophers I studied but it is an angst that quietly gnaws away at my consciousness. Long, grey nails on a bony hand picking away at the chipped paint on my walls. Tk. Tk. A soothing activity for the hand, I’m sure, but I am experiencing exposure and vulnerability.

I’m waiting. I know exactly what for but I will never tell. I know that some of what I wait for will not come to me and I cannot simply go out and grab it. So I slowly and painfully let it go. A mourning process of sorts ensues. If I were a fisherman, I’d release my line into the ocean to disintegrate where I know the spool will accomplish more in death than it ever would in life for me. I learn, and I let go.

Still, I have not begun to live. Twenty-eight years of life and I recognize that the vast majority was spent waiting. Subtly, but still very actively, waiting. Herein lies the crisis, bringing the basis of my existence into question. I have existed for years, created without permission, plagued by a feeling of needing to earn the right to… well, exist. Something about being given what one did not ask for, whether good or bad, creates a sense of responsibility over what has been given. What do you intend to do with it? How do I laugh with Sisyphus, look Nietzsche in the eye and say, “Yes, I would live this life over”?
The angst this creates is almost unbearable – I am chained yet free. I am nothing and everything all at once. The world I have envisioned is not the one I am in. I can either disregard or honor the difference. I am both an idealist and a realist.

And then, when the feeling finally subsides, I emerge from the depths of a murky lake. Baptized through my own suffering, the feeling of near-suffocation dispels the impurities in my lungs. Breaking through the water’s surface, breathing in deeply and urgently, I realize that I will never be loved by another more than I love myself. The fault may either be mine for loving myself too much or another’s for not being capable of loving me enough. And yet this all may not be entirely true. Either way, I am often at a red light, irritated yet unphased. Curious and anxious. The waters of my own reality splashing around me, taunting me mercilessly with the thoughts that while I may very well be Poseidon, these waters may very well be godless.

© Leila Chammas, January 18, 2017.