sitting on the yoga mat, thinking

I thought about cutting yesterday.

I was sitting on my yoga mat, eyes gazing, out of focus, at the plant in the corner. That tightening in my chest as I breathed in, breathed out, breathed in, breathed out.

I didn’t move. I just sat there, breathing, feeling this strange sensation as it hovered around me, like a thin, gauzy curtain.

Eventually I stood and went to the kitchen, where I started cooking and cleaning. In very little time, the feeling was gone.

It didn’t scare me. It was almost like seeing an ex on the subway, halfway down the car. You recognize him, you’d prefer not to see him perhaps, but you can sit there, coexisting quietly, until one or the other gets off the train.

***

I’m thinking of calling my therapist when I get back from this trip. Since June, I have been weighed down by the loss of my friend L, the vicious purging of her life from mine, done while I simply kept moving as though I was still whole.

This is shameful, but:

I sat with her from the first day of treatment in 2011 to her final chemotherapy at the end of 2013. I was there when her girlfriend broke up with her on Valentine’s Day. I knew her doctor’s names. I scheduled her visitors. I learned what I needed to learn to be her advocate, and to be her friend. And now, she has excised me from her life entirely. It doesn’t seem fair, which isn’t really a fair thing to say. Cancer is cancer is cancer, and sadness just is.

My feelings are many, and they are muddy and muddled in my body: puffy and thick in my throat, deep and hollow and aching in my stomach, a thin film over my eyes, a tightness in my lungs that stops my breath halfway in bursts. It is a sadness I have perhaps never known before– a unique sadness that is not depression. I have been sad before, and I have been depressed, but this is a new one– this is grief, trapped in a cage of shame, with loss holding the key, smirking at me as a I look back, lips tight, brow furrowed.

***

My home state just shut down a bill that would add the words “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to the Human Rights Bill. After nine years of work to merely get the bill to be considered, it was shut down before getting to the stage where it could be voted on. It is heartbreaking, and I grieve for the many women, men, and children who remain unprotected in the name of “religious freedom.” We are not equal until we are all granted equal rights. BY LAW. I kept thinking of the movie Selma, which is remarkable and an absolute must-see. There is a right side and a wrong side of history.

Also, this is probably the worst clip from the testimony (most were supportive of the addition of the words), which I share so we can all see what bigotry looks like, and also because my mom (who was a major volunteer working to pass this bill for years) is in it, in the red sweater. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N6tn8-oA5M

Massacre (Sing to Your Children)

Tonight I saw Jose Rivera’s new play at the Rattlestick, Massacre (Sing to Your Children). I didn’t love the play, but I absolutely respect it, and it was extra awesome because Jose Rivera was actually in the show tonight– one of the actors was out, he was around, so he decided to do it. It was pretty amazing to see someone onstage in his own play whose work I’ve read over and over in Theatre History courses.

The play begins with 7 people running into what looks like a horror movie torture chamber, covered in blood in crazy masks, carrying machetes and knives. Over the course of the first act, we learn that they have just slaughtered “Joe,” a man who seems to have taken tyrannical, bloody rule over their New Hampshire town. At the very last moment of the act, we hear three knocks on the door– Is Joe alive?!

Act II begins with the 7 actors in the same shocked position as the first ended, but now with a small man in a white suit with a red poppy on his lapel– Joe. He doesn’t really exist… yet they all can hear him… Whatever, that’s not the point.

The point is that in this second act, Joe goes one by one to each person, grilling them and exposing their deepest secrets (real or false, it doesn’t even really matter)– one man possibly raped a woman years ago in Chicago, a woman and her mother both slept with Joe, etc.

It got me thinking, though. If that happened to me, what secrets would Joe reveal about me? I tend to feel I’m pretty open on the blog– maybe not in real life but better than some. Yet at the same time, I had a pretty strong reaction of fear just thinking about what a revelation of my deep, dark secrets would mean. But what would they even be?

I still binge all the time and my binges have included boxes of donuts, entire loaves of bread and tubs of hummus? That I masturbate, and have since I was very young? That I haven’t had sex in over a year? That I’m spoiled and privileged and expect a lot from my parents, including financial support? That I wish my sister loved me, but I’m insanely jealous of her and her boyfriend especially?

Honestly, none of these things would ruin my relationships with people, I don’t think. None of these would honestly even shock my friends, probably. So why does the idea of exposed “secrets” cause this knee jerk reaction?

I’m sure it all ties back to shame, that lovely little thing my therapist and I are all about. I feel shame about pretty much everything I do, and it’s not till I completely stop, slow down, and track the reality of a situation that I can convince myself there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Joe couldn’t actually destroy my life with my secrets.
But it does feel like he could.

B.