Misconception

Misconception hides around the corner from me as I navigate through alleys of my heart.

Usually, it leaps out just after I pass, falling flat on the broken pavement behind me while I focus on what lies ahead.

Sometimes I feel wind move behind me, rustling hairs I’ve shaved off the back of my neck.

I don’t turn around.

I don’t want to hear sympathetic murmurings of those who think they know me.

I don’t want to see the confused gaze averted when it locks on my stoicism.

I don’t want to taste the stinging heat of shame dripping from your tilted head as you pass judgment even as you claim to be trying to understand.

I can clear the air, I guess.

I can lift the veil and show you who I am today, right now with my heart so full and my soul settled in a rhythm I wrote all by myself.

I can let you in enough to stop the rationalizing group discussions and mental gymnastics your misconception uses as a dance floor.

I can take misconception on, my sword of words ready to duel; I know in the cage where we battle I win.

I can be explained.

But you like the way misconception feels.

You like the mystery and drama surrounding unanswered questions you don’t think to ask me.

You like the way it screams at you; tantalizing blows to your core.

You like the stories you tell, connecting you to me.

So you don your misconceived mask, crouching in the shadows until I pass, never knowing there are no corners here.

I see you, Misconception.

Resume Me

I write the cover letter, attach the file and hit send.

For the hundredth time, I sigh.

My resume travels across the interwebs to be reviewed by someone who will not read between the lines. I will be drawn out and imagined as someone I will not recognize, and a door will be closed in my face because I don’t fit.

I will be classified and shaped and discarded.

I will be ignored.

The words I carefully constructed to define who I am will carry no weight on a screen.

I wonder how I define people.

Do I also see them as their experiences? Do I judge their lives by the stars that aligned the moment they were born?

Maybe I do.

Maybe my bias is just as devasting to others as the emptiness I feel when I wait for someone to open that file and draw the lines that I know do not define me based on the way my life, full of unexpected curveballs and experiences out of my control, is spelled out on one page.

I cry out, “Meet me first; hear how I view my shape before I list my virtues and wait for approval!”

I cry out to the ruffling pages of people who mean so much more than the words and the outside reflection of things they have done because that’s where they were or because that’s what they thought at that time. I await in the silence of one-page profiles of people filling the air around me, falling to the ground in a heap where they will be stepped on because their resume said that they were not worth a look in the eye.

I cry out to a world that will not hear because I speak in a tongue made for the street and trip over the one used by those sitting at a desk in an ivory tower.

I click send and I lose another line in my shape and I know that if I need to do this another minute more, I will have erased the best of me.

I am Writer

I have been pushing off my destiny for years.

I have been afraid of it – afraid of the walls that could close in on me if I ever drew a line around me – that I would somehow end up with wobbly ink straightening out to form a box that would snap shut and slowly compress me down to a shape I would resent.

I avoided my destiny because my seventh grade English teacher told me it was mine and she also criticized my hastily penned assignments and told me to take things seriously.

I didn’t learn the rules well so I thought I couldn’t play.

My commas don’t go in the correct places and my sentences run ahead of me almost as fast as the thoughts that spin through my ever-churning brain. My words read the way I think I say them: randomly strung together, coming off as less intelligent and definitely uneducated. I am a high school drop-out. We don’t become writers.

Lately, all I’ve been doing is thinking in text and I’m stuck with all these thoughts and ideas and words strung together and I have a burning desire to let it out all the time.

Writers are writers because they write.

Maybe I won’t get paid and maybe no one will ever recognize me as a writer but if I write; I am a writer.

I sit and I write and I don’t know what I will write before I write it.

There’s beauty in that.

Sometimes it is brutal and raw and makes me gasp when I read it back. Sometimes I surprise myself with something profound. Always I know that whatever it is I have written may be read and it fills me with a sort of excited dread that maybe someone out there will peer into my soul and see me.

When you see me, know that it is my destiny to be seen in this way…it is my destiny to rip my heart out for you to devour…it is my destiny to write and have my words soar out into the abyss for your amusement…your shame…your utter misunderstanding.

Defining Me

Recently a friend asked me what I was looking for.

I’ve been searching for a job for the past few months. I joined all the groups on Facebook and I tidied up my resume. I let people know I’m looking and created a LinkedIn account. I sent out my resume to a few relevant places and I called to set up an interview for a job that is in a field completely different from what I thought I wanted. I’m exploring options for working at home. I’m actively looking.

“What are you looking for?” he asked.

I didn’t have an answer.

For the past two and a half years I was a cake decorator. I didn’t think I wanted to be one or that it was something that could interest me, but I took a part-time job close to my home and it turns out I’m good at it. A few hours a week became a few days a week which became full-time and then I was at a managerial position, taking charge and overseeing operations in a business I hadn’t ever thought about.

A few years before that I opened a small drop-off daycare service in my home so that I could stay home with my two-year old. I thought I would have a few kids here and there but the parents wanted more hours and I found myself on the floor every day laughing and singing with the greatest little group of humans who went home happy to satisfied parents.

Before that I wrote an article for a magazine because my mother didn’t want to do it and then they called me to do an editorial piece.

Before that I did some part-time work for the therapeutic school I had gone to and became an integral part of the program for as long as the school was able to survive in a struggling economy.

Before that I was a failure at everything, especially at committing to drug addiction and alcoholism.

Before that I dropped out of school and roamed around looking for meaning.

Before that I had a lot of potential and no one knew how to help me actualize it.

“What are you looking for?”

What am I looking for?

I can decorate cakes because I am an artist.

I can run a daycare because I am a leader.

I can create articles of substance because I am a writer.

I can connect with teenagers because I am real.

I can overcome failure because I am a fighter.

I can search for a life of meaning because I am a believer.

I can actualize my potential because I am adaptable.

“What are you looking for?”

Maybe I should answer with an explanation about how I didn’t get a degree because of a broken system. Maybe I should say that my needs are so immediate that you can hand me a broom and I’ll clean for you if it means I can feed my kids this week. Maybe I should explain how I freeze at the thought of starting over at this point in my life when it feels like I am constantly knocking down doors only to find that the hallways opened up for me end in another concrete barrier.

“What are you looking for?”

I don’t know.

I know what I am.

I am an artist. I am a leader. I am a writer. I am real. I am a fighter. I am a believer. I am adaptable.

“What are you looking for?”

I’m looking for a job that doesn’t define me.

I am looking for me, in a job that embraces me.

“What are you looking for?”

A dream?

Unmasked

I have worn my face behind something other than my skin for so long I don’t know if I can recognize my reflection.

At first, I wore the way I felt outside my heart. I didn’t know not to do that. I didn’t know that hearts exposed make people feel uncomfortable.

I learned to hide my heart when one too many people wore it down.

Instead, I took my anger and hate and wrapped myself up in loneliness and presented me to the world.

When I couldn’t bear myself anymore, I found belief to peer out from under and I made myself shut down.

I wore a skirt and then a headscarf. I looked down and kept quiet. I blended in.

I was miserable.

I was lost.

I thought there was no one left behind the face I put on beneath the years of expectations and the demands of my past dictating each step I took.

One day, broken, misunderstood and fed up with how I was seen, I tore my hair covering off my head and felt the wind.

It was as if I tapped myself on the shoulder and turned around in surprise as I met someone I use to know.

We are getting to know each other, she and I.

I think I like her.

I am standing on a wire now, between skins. I am slowly peeling off the layers.

What I find brings me comfort and peace, even while it hurts the ones I love.

I know you wish I could accept the mask I was handed at birth and learn to embrace it.

I want you to know that I tried, I really did.

This mask didn’t fit me. I squirmed beneath it until I felt like I had died.

But I haven’t died…I have just discovered that I am alive.

The mask is coming off now…

I am about to shine.

Resentment Is

a thread

weaving in and out of lives

pulling back

into childhood

where it waits

to be addressed.

You run forward

as fast as you can

trying desperately

to rip away

from that poor

pathetic

child

who only wanted

what he deserved.

So now you sit

in resentment

and resist

the urge to cry

as that poor

pathetic

child

once again

is ignored.

Cry darling

cry

because I am here

and I am listening

to everything

you cannot say.

How Are You?

How is she? 

They ask, everywhere I go.

Sometimes I answer.

It’s hard.  They’re trying something new.  We still don’t know.

And sometimes I don’t.

Fine, thank god.

They want to know news, they want to know progress…they want to know black and white.

I confide in some.

I deflect others.

Mostly, I seethe.

I know everyone means well.

I mean well sometimes too.

How is she?

But do you really want to know?

How is she?

I don’t know.

So tell me dear, dear sister.

How are you?

I bet it hurts.

I bet it’s really bad.

I bet you don’t even know how to explain it to me.

I bet you don’t even want to try.

I bet you want to close your eyes and wake up when it’s over.

I bet you want to travel back in time.

I bet you want me to stop asking you how the hell you are.

I’m fine.

You say it always.

And I wish I could answer you honestly.

You don’t have to be.