I’d been waiting for you to ask me to come back and you never did, but this isn’t what drove us apart. I couldn’t fault you for being hurt or being proud - or both. I couldn’t fault you for not missing me the same way I missed you.
It was always my fault as much as yours because I didn’t know if you would even care to have me back when it should’ve been the clearest thing in the world. When you'd told me a million times that everyday occurences weren't the same without me around. That you missed my easy smile while buying groceries, my hand lying palm up on the sofa, ready to close around yours. But I didn't believe you. I couldn't.
I gave you time and space, so much of it that you figured out new routines. That you learned how to navigate your life without me in it, until you found someone new who smiled at you from the passenger seat. Someone new who pressed a kiss to your cheek at every red light. Someone who was of course not a new me or a different me, but still a person who filled the holes I'd left behind. I couldn't fault you for that, either.
You said you'd missed me, alright, but it wasn't the same way I missed you.
I missed you telling me to speak up. To believe in the things I said and did. I missed you making me feel like I mattered, like I deserved to be heard and seen.
It was only when I realised you wouldn't come back that I understood I'd also have to rebuild my life around the empty spaces you'd left behind. That it'd never been about your or about us, really, but about me. That even though you'd never asked me to come back, I hadn't ever expected you to. And that was my mistake: not thinking I was someone people would want to take back into their lives.
I'm learning to see my value, I really am. Even though I'm still struggling, I want to thank you for sending me on my way. For making me feel like I mattered although I couldn't appreciate it at the time. Despite the hurt and the tears, I'm glad we met just to fall apart.
learning curve / n.j.
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“don’t be upset that they showed you who they truly are, be grateful that you now have the awareness to move forward with no illusions.”
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Air stirring errantly
Heated hitting up against
Skin stripped raw heaving
Breathing then bated again
Balmy breeze akin to hands
Palms out and reaching
Fingers searching eagerly
Tickly teasing lightly squeezing
Power of persuasion sweetest
Ache making an appeal pleading
No ceasing no easing up
Soaking in the swelter of
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Understanding and pretending to understand are vastly different. Still as long as you actually make the effort, try your best to because the care is there, then that's something anyway. But making out like it touches you deeply too when really you couldn't care less is unconscionable. Claiming to get it just as long as it doesn't paint you in a less-than-stellar light says your ego calls the shots so true understanding is not something you actually get...understand?
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We don’t have any choice, but to let go. And the silence between us is the noisiest place I have ever been.
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What 2020 has taught me
1. Those things that seem like content for sci fi or pure fiction are actually things that can happen. To the entire world. Like a pandemic. And to you. Like a seizure.
2. Everyone is sad. Everyone is struggling. In different ways and in different measures. Makes no one special. But you still get to feel sad for yourself and be compassionate towards others. But it's also okay to draw boundaries because you're everyone too. Remember, not special? You're sad and trying to deal with it too.
3. Every job you have will not add value to your life. It will not teach you new things or give you people you'll want to stay in touch with. Sometimes some jobs will only be a season of your life. Even if the season lasts for over a year. It's okay.
4. You know how you thought picking a college and picking a major and picking your first job and picking a specific industry were all the career decisions you had to make? Yeah, no. It's never a one time thing. You could have a job as a marketing strategist for two years and then want nothing to do with it. And then you'll have to make another decision and work towards it. So I'd like to call it moves. It's like chess. You always have to make a move. And it always has to be strategic, yes. But the truth is in your 20s it probably won't. Even if you try. And as long as you're trying, you'll be fine.
5. You may have different sorts of friends like the one you only talk to about kdrama with or the one you met when you went book shopping alone and the friendship is all about books really. That's normal. But irrespective of why and how you became friends with them, if you consider them a friend then there has to be this basic sense of care, respect and empathy for each other. I don't care what people want to say. If you're faced with the worst trauma of your life, the least your friends can do is check up on you regularly. On text. And if they don't even do that then guess what? They aren't friends. They are acquaintances. Social media and quick promises make everyone seem like your friend. But they are not. They are just nice people who will be nice to you for specific periods and then wander away like you are a speck of dust floating in their journey.
6. You speak a lot and write and you express yourself and you’re emotionally mature but oh my god. You still hold in so much. You’ve known that at a subconscious level and over the last year people - experts - have told you that. You have also realized that you make your pain and sadness about pettier things because dealing with them, admitting about them, sharing that with your friends, is easier. You do that so that you don’t have to deal with the real stuff. Because it’s so damn painful. And you don’t know how to do it. Yet. Acknowledging is the first step anyway right? I know you’re confused about how exactly to let go of all this pain and sadness and feel lighter, and you know that talking to people really isn’t the solution, but I also know you’re smart enough to figure it out.
7. Talking about being smart...you know you’re different than others. Better. Special. Smarter. None of these are the right words. And you never voiced this out until this year because you knew it would make you come across as narcissistic. Some would say it’s because you’re an INFJ. But my mother once said that this may be the first time we are consciously living life but our souls are old and so our instinct and the things we know but can’t explain are because this isn’t the first time for our souls. The connections we feel with certain people, the reason we are so different from our siblings who grew up in the exact same environment with the exact same opportunities, our sense of right and wrong...it’s all because our souls learn and grow with each time and that’s why we are who we are. I think that’s probably how I can explain what I have always felt. That I am living in a different universe than everybody but I have to pretend to be in this one and dumb my emotions and thoughts down. Maybe that’s because my soul has lived through thousands of years while most around me are living their 100th life. Or maybe I’m just narcissistic, who knows?
8. You shift between talking in first person and second person but that’s because that’s how you think in your head and talk to yourself and live your life. You ask yourself things and you accuse yourself of things and you apologize to yourself and you comfort yourself. I think that seeps into your writing and the changing of the voices.
9. You always genuinely thought that you’d not be afraid of dying. And then what happened this October proved you shockingly wrong. I know it’s not so much being afraid of dying but the unbearable pain of knowing what that would mean to your family. So you have to be more prudent and less reckless with your life and the choices you make.
10. Regret is not something that plagued you but this year the realisation and pain of giving away your favourite books from your own personal collection to people you care about as a show of affection and them turning out to be ass holes or losers has hit you so hard. So, yes. No more of that shit. I really fucking want my copy of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower back. UGH. With the childhood picture of me inside it!
11. Sleeping at 5 am in the morning stops being fun or romanticised when you realise just how much harm it does to your body and mind. Literally every single disease and disorder can be traced back to a shitty fucking sleep schedule. It’s not just the hours you sleep but also the quality of sleep and the time you sleep at. So yes sleeping for 8 hours is healthy but not if that 8 hours is from 5 am to 12 pm. ‘Not a morning person’ is just another construct of capitalism and you don’t realise how many industries profit from having you believe that and staying up late or all night. Entertainment. Food. Alcohol. Pharma. Biologically and naturally you are a bloody morning person. And you don’t need 3 cups of coffee to begin your day or your phone notifications to get you to open your eyes and brain to wake up.
12. Sometimes you really have to stop taking people so seriously. I know the idea of treating people as casual friends or entertainment makes you want to fight that concept but you know what? Some people like Pineapple are ever only going to be good for that. No matter how much they ‘grow and change’. So keep them in the background for whenever you want some entertainment or drama. But please don’t clear up your busy schedule to meet them or send them gifts on their birthday.
13. If you don’t have the fruit juice or green juice within half an hour of making it then you are losing out on its most optimum health benefits. Or when you remove the white stringy stuff from oranges. That’s where all the actual nutrients are.
14. I am privileged and so are most of the people I interact with. The global pandemic has been hell for a lot of people around the world. Health wise. Financially. Losing people they care about. But I was blessed enough to be safe at home and have a job that I could smoothly do from home and not have a pay cut or 4-hour long Zoom meetings. So honestly when my friends tell me 2020 has been bad I have to stop and ask them why? Yes, the crippling uncertainty and anxiety is not something that can be undermined. But most people I know had very great positive life-changing milestones this year like moving away to another country for college or taking their first solo trip or getting married. So I have to ask them. Because I am not going to agree that everybody’s 2020 and pandemic narrative is the same.
15. Money gets spent really quickly. When I left my job earlier this year because of personal issues, I thought I had enough savings to last me a year. Full disclosure - I mean to last my personal expenses because I live with my parents. But it didn’t even last me 3 months. And so to use money wisely and buy things that provide utility than instant gratification is something to follow. Also buying one pair of really expensive but quality shoes is better than buying 5 pairs of affordable but low quality shoes that will have a very short life and force you to buy more. I know that higher price doesn’t always mean better quality but sometimes it does. And as an adult now I want to do the whole quality > quantity thing even with things and not just people.
16. Everyone in their 20s went through a crisis of what they should do with their lives and their careers and it’s not unique to the 21st century and the challenges of today. Whether it was Vincent Van Gogh in the 19th century or Sylvia Plath in the 20th, every single person, as brilliant as them went through the torture of making these decisions and living with their consequences. You may think I picked wrong examples for they both killed themselves but you know what? They were the people who really want to live more than anyone. They knew what life meant. And maybe if mental health help was more accessible back then their lives would be longer and more peaceful.
17. Telling people everything is overrated. You don’t have to talk about every single thing that’s on your mind or that’s going on in your life. The good and the bad and the mediocre. You have to be mindful about how much of yourself you’re giving away.
18. Re-watch Suits when people at work feel intimidating because the confidence + negotiation tactics that they show can actually work irl cos at the end of the day no matter in what position you’re dealing with people who have emotions and fears and insecurities and desires. You understand how to leverage that nobody can get the better of you.
19. You belong to yourself. No matter how much you love someone or how much they have done for you or how much you owe them - you belong to yourself. You can’t live your life for someone else. Everyone belongs to themselves first. No relationship, no promise, no circumstance should make you feel like you have to give up your life and make it all about them. If and when the time comes to die for them, go ahead. Take a bullet. Donate that kidney. Write them in your will. But live your life for yourself. And let them live theirs.
20. Twenty three was a challenging year. When it started you claimed the age 23 sounds boring and insignificant. Guess it proved you wrong. It hurt so much now. But that only means you’ll look back on it later and see how it added so much wisdom and resilience to your being. It doesn’t mean that it makes all the bad things that happened to you okay. Or that you should be grateful to them. Fuck no. It means that you should be kinder to yourself because at the end of the day, your mind and body find it in themselves to deal with whatever is thrown their way. They have your back. It’s time you learn to sit straight.
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Sadness is sitting in a symphony of silence searching for the something she gave me in the song of her laugh.
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“I’m afraid I’ll never know true intamcy. Never know the curve of someone’s face. The places they would go if they could. I am afraid I will always be someone’s friend, sister, comrade, brother in arms but never another’s wayside.”
-m.n. | “Will I find solace?”
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You echo in my ears,
I hear you so loudly,
You are my greatest fear.
Led me on in devious ways,
You make my nerves frayed.
A nightmare so vivid,
Yet can’t let go of you.
You haunt and like a poltergeist,
I'm caught hostage,
In your arms or at your hand,
It seems I’m a slave,
Bound to stay at your reach,
your voice strangles me tight
intimidating anxiety and fear in me,
I hallucinate as I breathe heavy
The voices reverberate and I drown,
Underneath the noise comes mental illness,
Every thought that is profound,
Sanity wrapped up and thrown away,
I see nothing but darkness.
You’re the mistake,
I don’t know to rectify.
~ @roman---empyre and @therendingflame
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“Because of the movies, I thought love was supposed to be ground-breaking. Love was supposed to take your broken pieces and put them back together. Love was supposed to be your other half. But see, I did my healing, and I was already whole before I loved you. I’ve found our love is a much quieter thing. Love is having a rough day and coming home to a cup of tea ready for you on the table. Love is being wrapped in a blanket before you even process you’re shivering. Love is a million different moments, some loud, some soft, but all chanting the same thing.”
—you are loved, you are loved, you are loved (10/4/2021)
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Sometimes you just have to cry over the things and people you've lost over the years. For the opportunities you missed and the times you messed up and situations you could've handled differently. Cry over words that got lost in translation and over the innocence you lost. Mourn the person you were and the unspeakable things you did in anger. Let the tears flow and the memories hold you. And when you're all cried out, pick yourself up again and look to the person you are becoming. Embrace them and remember that even if you are not exactly where you want to be right now, you have enough time to get to know yourself and change. Making peace with the ghosts of your past is never wasted time.
ghosts of the past / n.j.
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“when you measure your growth by your own growth and no one else’s, you allow your flowers to bloom at their own pace and open space to attract the peace that comes with being unbothered with what doesn’t concern you.”
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I am not owed
Tied up in a neat
Bow, that would only be
Lip service I know
Though a goodbye would be nice
I will make my own
You have every right
To become a wall of cold
Stone; I will not attempt
To breach, to chip away,
To tear you down
But I have the right
To build a fortress against you
Don't reach for me again
Chance after wasted chance
To have my love yet wasn't
Enough...so these walls go up
You cast the first stone
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Cut losses another persona
Non grata nonstarter
Faintly traced, sketchy
Blurred out of bounds
Purple pulsing bruise
Periphery full of folly all
Around surround sound of
Silence an ear-splitting shout
Stand down and back
Blearily blending into
The blank-faced crowd
Safeguard your colors
Before they bleed out
Photo taken and edited by my incredibly talented friend @sherrylephotography inspiring these words from me, @autumnsunshine10
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Don’t lose yourself, while loving someone.
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I want to be wanted in the same manner that I want things
Not able to deny the craving
Not willing to dismiss the goods I've been saving
And not fond of leaving a good thing waiting
I love to be consumed and enjoyed, waited for and savored
But I am human, not dessert
I'm an experience, not a flavor
I'm not here solely to satisfy one later after they've had their fixing of what fills them
I ain't nothing but bones now with little flesh to offer
And I still want to be wanted, hunted like prey for what's left of me
Knowing I could ask for much more than someone else's desire
I could desire something for myself
Yet I'm wanting to be wanted
Like how I want my fix of sugar
Or my dose of poison
I'm wanting to be the cheapest form of desire
Like an addiction
And how pitiful when I could wish for so much more
But I think I've witnessed how much people love what they crave, what they fiend for
I've witnessed how they discard what they claim to care for
But we always cling to desires that bind and tether us
Desires that give less than they take
We're so reluctant to really choose
So we fall into longing
We submit to yearning
And we tell ourselves, "I want this. I want you."
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The space between the ribs is hollow. As a heart beats it must softly echo. Love, come listen closely, you'll likely hear your name.
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