Throughout years, a seed of exploit has been cultivated by psychological ruse. Things that sting deeper than flesh wounds, always find ways of sticking in you like resin. What you end up with is feelings. Lots of feelings that overwhelm. While some seek to sabotage, others lend to repair. Always feelings, though.
What it feels like, is a fist through your breastbone. The fist, gloved, with fragments of broken glass. The diminutive shards burrow, nesting into flesh. Deep into the hearts tender tissues. Deeper, into the brain like binary code. They rest there for eternity, as a branding.
It feels like pressure. Burning and stinging, as familiar as anything, yet unfamiliar how debilitating the blow. Swelling shut your childhood throat with antipathy.
It feels like razor blades cutting up the pit of your stomach, where you harbor its acidic guilt. It floods every inch of space inside, until it breaks the levees, seeping outward onto others. This is what you feel most distinguishes yourself from them. The feeling of spilling your guilty contents like some sort of wild Mother Nature calamity.
It feels like every bad breakup, without ever having had the relationship. The loss, the spinning and then, the suffocating. You can’t explain it, but that’s how it feels.
It feels like being harnessed in and made to watch one scene over and over. As if that one minor fraction of time is replayed on a panoramic screen. Even shutting your eyes tight– the way you sometimes do in a dream, but can still see the image you’re trying to block–does you no favors. You already know the plot by all senses. The ending leaves you at the beginning, never with a suggestion of reason. It’s not a scene of your choice. There isn’t an actor. It’s a documentary and you’re it. You’re all of eleven. A setting that never waivers: A push, a pull. A tug, stretching and flinching. Now throbbing. A few small minutes which feel like a stage performance. A two-hour play with a fumbled climax. Outside, after the mess. Scrawny, the way pre-pubescence affords. It’s that type of Spring evening, still light at the top of the sky. Peddling forward towards home. Between pale, stick legs, an unfamiliar tenderness. You perch your body just slightly over the seat so as not to aggravate it. Hotness of blood, backs of your knees damp. Youthful hair kinked by stress and humidity. Multicolored socks of that telltale innocence. Gagging on sobs, wiping at tears with the back of your palm. The spinning wheels and the wet asphalt scent. A broken spoke in your wheel. The lump in your throat which seems as if to swell up between your heart and tongue. A bit of blood is an ocean and a Red Cross emergency. Thinking of how to keep such a secret. Thinking of something that feels so wrong, but seems easy enough to dismiss. You just don’t know. How could you be expected to? The rest of your life will be spent wondering if you’re the eggshell in the room. If you’ve got to find some bit of blame to take that makes sense.
Given time, it familiarizes itself. Settles in as you grow. Something you know in and out, up and down. A thing that fits like the aforementioned glove. Like parquet flooring needs a perfect match. Both accommodating and abrasive. It was open to infection, now the lost pigment over scarring. At best description, a phantom limb that scratches at every new, glossy coat you prime. Even if you plan to excavate it, there are fossils buried safely. To be discovered years later. The flesh and the ligaments have wound tightly amongst the fossils, making extraction a delicate, painful process.
It feels as though running in reverse, in shoes without soles. With the world moving ahead on a conveyor belt. When you’re out of breath and chapped from repetition, it means you’re lagging behind again, which is always. The way a limping marathoner watches the competition grow in length ahead of him.
It feels like spots that float when you shut your eyelids. Never knowing where they go but that light initiates their presence. Closing your eyes feels like it should be safety. The offensive images are supposed to remain on the outside.
It feels like drawing a winning card, only to have it put back in the pile for you to choose again. You repeat this move, never allotted the ability to win the hand, because you’re wearing your rusted suit with battle scars to show. When they see you, they see a good that’s been handled poorly. They see a risk and a fragility. Or so it feels.
It feels like every single nightmare strung together and wrapped with electric wire. Like water in the lungs. Still there, all these years later, regardless of how much you’ve bailed out. It’s swimming in black water where nothing beneath you is reflected. It’s bleakness, without any sense of kinesis below.
It feels like wearing your insides on the outside, with special attention paid to the broken parts. Like waiting for the Mechanic to perform hypothesized maintenance. People offer to fix what they can’t, because there’s no manual. If there was, you could have stopped on the roadside along the way and done it yourself. Surely, you would have?
It feels like cleanliness is another rinse away. Every time. Like vacuuming at midnight just to satisfy the perversion. Crawling skin, it feels like that too. Might be initiated by a simple thought or word that springs to life some deep-seeded aversion. It feels like vomiting on mention. A lingering wave of nausea that swells then falls, but never ceases. Sickness when you recall. Sickness when you’re stalled in it’s debt. Sickness, mostly, when confronted with the emergence of something promising.
It feels like love is not warranted. It is not kind but twisted into neuroses that congest all compliment and adoration. It second-guesses. It pushes and pokes its way into stability. Makes “I love you” just another way to take a piece and all your pieces are left out for the taking. How could you fill love into such a cracked vessel? How could being held gently feel like being held down? Where is the cross-fade? And how could such a small part of your entire life have so many entities?
It feels like hammering your own heart, poking fingers into it. Then trying to restart it. Like soil and vine growing thick and heavy through undersized arteries. A heart that’s lead by a brain with an emotional mess of lesions.
It feels like being told to feel less to have more. It’s judgment. Placed against a stacked jury, given a gag-order while being riddled with criticism and doubt. Your argument never changes, but your heart begins to harden against it. Nobody wants to hear it. But you don’t have the choice. You’ve got a criminal in there that’s divulging the details. You’ve unknowingly taken the title of hearing it out. The investigator that gets all the gory specifics. You can’t shut it out. You’d have to be a wall, not a simple human being.
It feels like no matter the comparisons you give, there isn’t a damn thing they understand. Not a damn thing their fortune-cookie advice could simplify. It can never be absorbed entirely. It’s indelibility is manifest. These are things you know through the experience. From the other side it’s just a memory to “shut off” at will.
It makes “slut” and “whore” stinging insults– widely socially acceptable– which is contemptible. When tossing about those terms, you’re feeding something much more than a sycophant culture. It’s assuming to know the territory of another. Sexually or otherwise. It’s oblivion to the possibility of held secrets which become confused and conflicted by such slander. It’s archaic to suggest that hurled words can’t ignite past wounds. Frankly, it’s far too often.
It feels as though this will never set in. The words are italic and bolded. Too full of fanciful, far off feminist food-for-thought. A community that if you don’t belong to, is just naivety. It feels like anger tearing skin from bone, raging to be acknowledged. It’s recognizing that fair is a perception. Every act of violence in media, is accepted against women. Because it’s accepted as the norm, no one pays mind to the damage it causes. And if you’re part of the perpetuation, you’re keeping it in business.
After much time, it begins to feel encouraging, strangely so, with all it’s kept you from.
It feels as though every painting you’ve ever done is a gift from it. It feels enlightening. Being without it, would be nonchalance. This hole has festered, yet sprouted something promising. A branch of association. To take ownership of a feral estate is finally freedom. You feel connected to something. Soon, you feel like screaming out instead of into pillow. Because you came to see you’re blameless. The guilt and shame are still insisting in their own formidable ways, but you can yell out like you couldn’t before. The shame in the word, in the opinions of others, is gone. You want to invite conversation, so that no one will feel as empty as you once did. Because there are many of you. So very many.
It feels powerful.