Cilice

I wear my unhappinesses on my sleeve

Carefully rolled up and tucked away

Never farther than two fingers’ reach

I work, with my laughter elbow deep,

Cuffs stained with streaks of artifice

While I prevaricate- wherefrom do I secede?

As the painfully cultivated illusions recede-

I pluck my hems unconsciously

Too nervous to confess or deceive

So I hide it all, in plain sight

I wear my unhappiness on my sleeve

I save my lonelinesses for the night

Where I can, uninterrupted, keep sole company

Judge, witness, lawyer, mob, and jury

Pass my own sentences, give verdict

Justify and deny with equal practice

I weigh the twilight of dawn against dusk

Somewhere, in betwixt, sleep visits us

And all the hopes gentle pass into the void

-the cold warmth of pillow on pillow, on my side

Subterfuge borne of necessity

-but an expedient ploy

So I save my lonelinesses, for the night

And mornings come fraught

with anticipation, overwrought

with promises, potential, all these glorious things

hovering just out of reach,

but not out of thought

All these fallacies and fantasies

That I am capable of – but I’m not

I need my sorrow like monks their cilices

A reminder to self, even when not displayed

Even when rolled up and tucked neat away

I work with my laughter, loud and elbow deep

But never farther than two fingers’ reach

I wear my unhappinesses on my sleeve

.

.

.

Cilice

©️Yusra

06.09.2018

⚫️♥️⚫️

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Maudlin

I’ve been oscillating between reasons to write, and reasons not to write. My motivation for the first, the second, and both, has been my simultaneous need to feel. And the pure, sheer fear, of what I know is coming.

That if I allow myself to shake, I’ll fall apart. And nobody, not me, nor even you coming back would be able to put me back together again.

So I’ve been allowing myself some words. Mostly technical words. Dry, desiccated facts, terms and phrases that would drive a rock to boredom. I trapped every instinct pushing me to let everything screaming and hysterically laughing out, or even in words approximating it. I have been systematically, intentionally, exhausting myself to the point where my restless brain is forced to shut down by my aching body each and every night. There has been no space to feel, to think, to let any of this come anywhere the visible, palpable surface. Because it would make everything real. And I’m not ready for real. I’m not ready for the barest mention of real. Real means me having to face an endless stretch of truths.

But these lies, they sit like a hot coal in the middle of my chest. I don’t know which pain I prefer anymore.

I’m so, so alone. He’s not there. He’s not there. And that’s become the sum backbone of my existence. My days are propped up by stacks and bricks of work and responsibilities, because they are interspersed with.. nothing. Not him. Not the mention of him. Not even the fact that he doesn’t belong to me anymore. Not that I don’t belong to him. And never will.

I’ve been breathing in a handful of maudlin words. Admissions and tiny, tiny permissions of grief that I let myself briefly touch. Smear the closest letters I find onto a surface, pretend it’s poetry, and fall back into the forced, safe, nothingness. I’m craving solitude, terrified of my loneliness, and growing heartsick of the people I’m filling every inch of my day with. But the nights…

I miss him in every inch of the pale night. I cannot fathom how it can be this heavy, to carry a hollow inside. And I wonder. Which of these exhaustions will finally drive me to sleep.

I Can’t See.

It’s strange, to look at yourself in a mirror, and not know what you look like.

I’d like to think that I understand. Of all days, of all times, now when I know better, when I’m better. But I wonder, if there’s some things you never know about yourself. Ever. If you spend your life burning through your time, trying to get where you’ll be ready, for understanding or realization. And it never happens- does it ever happen? Do we ever simply open our eyes one day, and just know?

Will I?

I go days without looking at myself closely in the mirror. These are the same days that I sit in front of my old fashioned dresser and comb my hair for minutes together. It’s hip length, and tangles easy, so I used a fine toothed comb. Always over the left shoulder, and then half that time over the right, to get that one fluffy spot I can’t reach otherwise. It shines when I comb it. I take care of it.

I use three different lotions, for my face, body, and hands. I moisturize every morning and night, and always put lotion on my skin while watching a movie on Sundays. I try not to think of Silence of the Lambs when I do that. I always end up doing exactly that. The same, repetitive, calming motions every night. I stand in front of the mirror and moisturize my face, before I leave my ponytail loose, strip in front of the mirror, and get into bed.

I have three mirrors in my room.

And I have no fucking idea, what I look like.

I want to know. I fucking want, to fucking know, what I fucking look like. I’ve spent the first half of my life convinced that I was ugly, because that’s what I was taught, so earnestly, so utterly without a lack of certainty that I was ugly, ugly, ugly, that I’d never be loved. My version of rebellion was shouting at myself inside my head that I wasn’t. I wasn’t ugly, even if I wasn’t beautiful, and I was good enough. I wasn’t, I wasn’t, I wasn’t ugly. I told myself enough times to make up for every time that I was told the other.

And then I outgrew both. Those sets of understandings, of different halves of my lives. Because people came into my life who convinced me that I was both. That I was one, because I was the other. I was beautiful, because I was ugly. I was a good girl, I’m a good girl, because I can’t afford not to be. _She’s not pretty but she’s so nice!_ _I fell for you because you were sweeter than the other girls I knew. I thought that’d be enough. I’m sorry, I thought it’d be._ _My friend thinks I can do better. So I told him how intelligent you are_. _I Love you. I just can’t be with you. It’s just how things are._

And I don’t fucking blame you, any of you. Who didn’t see me any more clearly than I ever did. I don’t blame you because I don’t care anymore. You didn’t. You cared about your conveniences and your images and not about what it’d leave me with, when you trampled through my self image with your big muddy feet and out the same way. I didn’t know where I was going before, but I’m still more lost now.

I have no reason to be, now more than ever. I’m the closest to my ideal size I’ve ever been, have a good job, and a life ahead of me, with the chance to finally close a chapter of horrors I’d given up on leaving behind. But I’ve been so engrossed with eyeing what I want to escape, and that that walked away from me, that I never stopped to realize I had no idea who I was walking with. The face in the mirror that I wash with water, cleanse with Neutrogena, and pat dry, not rub, is a stranger, a stranger I can’t objectively decide is beautiful or ugly or completely nondescript, nothing at all. You’re too familiar for me to judge you one way or the other. You’re too alien to me for me to accept you, one way or the other. Who even are you? And when people call you beautiful, or ugly, or simply let their glances slide off your face… which one of them is lying? Do you even know?

Can you even know?

Why did you spend so much time working on your scars? You spent so much time on your arms to make up for cutting them open, hugging the scars close to compensate for making them, and then learning to love them, and all the time, you forgot to pay attention to your eyes, or your nose, or your lips, or anything people look at you, when they look at you. If they look at you.

Who the fuck are you?

Who are you?

A Confession and a Continuation: Day Eleven and Day One

The Eleventh of April, 2018.

There is no reason to start today. Therefore, I shall.

I wrote those two lines just after midnight last night, because I’d had enough of nothing. Then, almost as expected, came the ringing call with the last syllable of my name draaaaaaaaaaaaawn out, for the seventh time in twenty minutes, from the living room. My father, summoning me again, to hand him a black pen from the table four feet to his left.

The reason I stopped writing. The reason I stopped ‘stopped writing’.

Over the last year, the frequency of my posts has slowed down. The longer I am at home, the lesser time I am ‘alotted’ for myself. The nearly overwhelming feelings of uselessness, stagnation, and mental decay I struggle with, while being told how useless I am, what a failure I am, all of these words, have been taking large bites out of the words I wanted to write. The words I am kept being pushed back, and back, and further back, till they stopped trying to come out.

I stopped writing, because I couldn’t. I stopped trying to write, because I couldn’t. Even that little time of me for myself, was taken away. August became November became April. I don’t know what I have done these last few months. It was probably nothing. Because these last few months, I have felt nothing.

I have been a nothing. I think I am a nothing now. When not a complete nothing, at least a little nothing.

I turned twenty eight. I resolved my citizenship issue. I studied for exams I won’t be writing. I played surrogate housekeeper and peacemaker and resident doormat at home. I did what  I always did- take blame. Take responsibility for actions that weren’t mine. Handle the mood swings of the people supposedly my elders. I played nursemaid and resentful grateful. I played parts and roles and forgot my face when I slept at night.

This time last year, I was a doctor with no country to belong to, and no civil rights to speak of. I have to wonder, which the more nothing was. The one where I didn’t belong, and was? Or the one where I belong, but am not.

One nothing is not like the other.

One nothing was emptier.

I woke up yesterday afternoon. I was walking to the supermarket, and I stopped on the sidewalk, holding eggs and a liter of milk, and I woke up. I could feel cobwebs fluttering in my mind, regurgitating uninspired remnants of something I wish I’d written down, even if it was only some angry words of choice. Words, as it turns out, are important. I stopped speaking and that didn’t matter, but  I stopped writing, and I forgot how to breathe out. It was choking me. I woke up yesterday, and I exhaled. I sat down last night, and wrote the two lines at the top of this page. Then I was called away. Like I was called away in this moment, to call someone up, when the phone was next to him. The difference between today and every other day before this, at least in the last six months, was that I came back.

Because not writing had been hurting me so long that I’d stopped realising the source of this particular pain. Because I am my words, and maybe that’s the only existence I have, the only trace I’ll leave behind in a world where I am told that I AM NOTHING at least twice a day, where I’m so inconsequential, that I’ve taken to feeding crows for some company. I was staring at the calendar while writing checks for my father this morning, and it dawned upon me that ten days of NaPoWriMo had passed already. This is the first year that I missed it, since I started blogging. But not in its entirety. Not just yet.

This nothing’s still got something left. I warn you that it’s old. It’s everything I’ve said multiple times before, but I will say it again, even if only to say it.

I will not stop saying it. Even if takes a calendar and a dim reminder for cement bills to be paid on the fifteenth of April to do it. Every time that I forget, I will remember.

And I will write. Even if I’m writing old nothings, I’ll write.

A Little Nothing     

I am a Nothing,
or so I’m told
A waste of space that’s
twenty eight years old

I’m a big Zero
They like to repeat
I’m worth less than
the food I eat

They call me buffalo
They don’t use my name
I don’t mind anymore, I
answer just the same

My mealtimes are totalled
in calories
I’m given a thousand more
than necessary.

But like a good girl
I clean my whole plate
Wash everyone’s dishes
but not my own face

I wear wrinkled clothes and
don’t comb my hair
So that men don’t notice
a woman’s even there

I keep my voice down
I act like I’m dead
I’m quiet and bitter
I’m words in my head

I’m a little nothing
short and stout
Here are my fingers
Here is my mouth

Hands longing to be held
Lips that no longer kiss
Rusty rhyme and stagnation
A throatful of risks

I’m a little nothing
As I’m often told
An ugly little cow
forgotten fourfold

They like to pretend
that they can’t see
Except that I know
They’re afraid of me

That I’ll walk out
That I’ll realise
My chains lie in pieces
I’m in sight of my prize

I keep my head down
I work, and I watch
One day they’ll fall careless
And I’ll be gone

And I won’t even care
If they never see
I was and always will be
Something
Something free

Yusra
11.04.2018

Day Eleven of NaPoWriMo. I won’t stop writing.

I love  you all. ❤

-Yusra