Friday, 8 June 2018

Secret places

As someone who tends to run away from things, I'm always trying to find refuge. I hunt for new places, hidden haunts, and I'm always searching for sanctuaries filled with strangers.

I go to piers, beaches and places protected by lights and water, always looking for somewhere to hide.

There are no maps to secret places, we just stumble upon them and keep them hidden. I've never been great at keeping a secret, except for the ones I share.

Something I'll protect is the place I've found with you, regardless of whether you abandon it in the end. It's a place where I've survived and can't be found and it's somewhere I don't run from.

They never took me anywhere sacred, so I've forgotten all about them.

I mean, that in itself is a monumental feat. By now, I'm usually speeding away from feelings and anything that can be considered gushy for fear that it'll become messy. If you ever thought Roadrunner runs fast from the coyote, you've never seen me outrun my own emotions. It's entertaining and sad all at once, as all good tragedies are.

Old habits die hard, but I've kicked the urge to leave whatever this is, because you give me no reason to. Annoyingly, I'm not as intent on ditching romance as I once believed. I hate to lose, but I've conceded this time. Don't gloat about it, please and thank you.

My new favourite place is the one I find in myself whenever you're around. I felt it that time you bought me pancakes (you don't know this yet, but I talked about it for two days), and that time the camera was turned on me. I'm someone who prefers holding a camera to being the subject in front of it, and while you worked on capturing the story we had set for you, something about your focus made me forget about the lens.

The place I find is somewhere I can't trace with red pins on maps, it's directionless and exists only between people. It's somewhere where I'm more patient, where I care less about small things and where time ticks by more quietly. I find it easy to be around you, even when you keep me guessing.

I never knew this place existed, and it makes me curious. It's a Garden of Eden in my mind where temptation turns into tectonic trembles and everything is tinted green. I've tasted something forbidden, but I'm sure this fruit won't turn to poison.

I've been chasing myself in circles for six months, unsure of what to do and much to my surprise, of what to say. Words are my only currency, and I've traded them all in except for when I write them down.

It doesn't happen often, but the cat's got my tongue. I cope with anticipation by muting myself, and fidgeting with whatever is in front of me.

Before you, I used to find comfort in nostalgia, remembering how things used to be with the not-so-great loves of my life. Memory lane was often something to be used against me, but I'm no longer manipulated by the memories of being held by men who never deserved me.

Therapy has made me realise that I often struggle to ask for the things that I deserve. Accustomed to sloppy seconds, violent lies and halfhearted efforts, I find it hard to accept when people give me more than the things I'm used to.

I hate to sound like a victim, but I'm aware of what has made me what I am. I've made terrible choices with shitty, cheating men but I've also been the cause of catastrophes. We all have crosses to bear.

I find it difficult to believe that someone treats me fairly, and it almost feels like a trap. Honesty takes me by surprise and I'm confused by respect. I don't hide a smile anymore out of fear of it breaking, and I've given up trying to cover up the blushing colours of flirtation on my face.

I don't know why you have to be so cute, or why your silence feels like safety.

I don't know why I'm charmed by the way you respond with sarcasm or apathy.

I don't know why every time you push your hair back that I'm suddenly as helpless as an unbroken, wonderstruck teenager.

I don't know why I've lost all restraint when it comes to my own rule book.

I don't know why when I write, the words look like you. I know that you see them, and I'm fearless enough to keep typing anyway. It means I have to live in denial afterwards and pretend you'll never read them, but I still string these words together.

I don't know why I notice every small thing, but I know that I like it.

Honestly, I don't know anything. I'm just letting it happen, unsure of if it's foolish or wise.

I've never had a journey with a person that's moved at its own pace, or been as frustrating as this one. Someone told me I'm making it harder on myself, but the truth is that I never ask myself why I do this. I knew you could matter, even when someone told me this wasn't how it should be.

The only person who should decide how it should be for me, is me. Actually, I'm pretty okay with the way it is right now.

Yesterday, someone told me that they were convinced I would walk away at one point, but I didn't do it. I couldn't define this, and they thought I would get bored. Now they're sure that I won't.

I know better than to make promises, but that theory has enough sufficient evidence to be the truest thing that's been said to me recently. We both know I'm sticking around.

You know that I'm relentlessly chatty, excitable and sometimes intense. You know that I create things out of what I feel, and you don't seem to mind these things. You don't need to try all that hard to find your way around me.

I've had to think a little about what came before this, remembering the things that can't be undone but also noting that everything has changed since then. I walk a little differently, not hiding behind others anymore. I talk a little louder, unafraid and uncensored. I trust myself again and I'm terrified of losing that.

I don't miss the person from before, and I don't remember loving him.

I know that he always saw me as damaged, even when I wasn't. I know that he always thought he was better than me, and that he never saw the same light that you do. I know that he never built me up, never discovered me, and never took me to secret places I needed to find. I know that I never got lost with him.

I've refused to let anyone touch me since then, but I'm not nervous of what will happen when we collide or of how you will handle me in the dark.

Slowly but definitely surely, we're getting braver and vulnerability feels less terrifying than before. I've compiled an anthology of carpe diem decisions, and collected too many fleeting moments built entirely from justifications of "Fuck it, it'll be funny."

Somehow, I've been calm for a while now.

People tell me that I'm different, and they're not wrong. I've had so much therapy, I've cried until I've hit empty, and I've made peace with the battle wounds I carry with me, and I am undeniably, sometimes painfully different. I had to be.

Some part of me is still the person I always was, but I've adjusted. There's something more balanced about me, even when I'm thrown off course. I'm still mouthy, demanding and fiercely protective of my happiness, but there's something lighter about me.

I tell them this, but they tell me there's something happier about me. Maybe some part of that is because of you, but I wouldn't like to say.

People say moving on is hard to do, and I guess some part of that is true.

The hard part came before the moving on, when I had to free the ghosts that stalked me in every footstep. Saying goodbye was hard, throwing possessions away and ripping up memories was hard.

What came after, not so much.

While it's true that I have no idea what I am doing or why I'm doing it, nothing about this makes me feel alone. There's agony in anxiety and aches in nerves, but nothing is broken. It's like that good kind of pain, the one where you manipulate muscles and force fractures back into place, it's a short snap but it's what mends the break.

With my eyes on the road and head in the clouds, I was driving home from work at the moment I figured something out.

I was quiet, which you already know doesn't happen all too often.

I felt something, and it was sharp enough to make me cry. I cried because I was scared, and I knew I would never admit it.

Necessary and surprising, it was just another short snap. I knew this one could hurt, and I had to make a decision. I decided this was one I wouldn't run from. Whether it's personal growth, my own stubbornness, or certainty that is this a risk worth taking, I'm going with it.

I've always been fascinated by emotions and the power they have over the one controlling organ in our bodies, and I've spent a lot of time learning myself. I'm very well aware that my head isn't winning this one.

Electrified and tongue tied, I've tried to write it over and over. I can't accept that I can't do this justice, no matter what it becomes. I keep trying anyway.

You know I'm less cautious than you are, but I promise I'll be careful with the things we could lose. I said I know better than to make promises, but I can keep this one. Cross my heart.