In which the city of L.A. and most everyone in my life for the last 11 months becomes the “thee” in Sonnet 29
In my old life, I meditated extensively upon joy. I had long since lost any grasp that I had any right to it. (I have written this somewhere, I don’t rightly recall if I posted it here, and I’m not diligent enough presently to search.) This meditation was an exercise in self-loathing contortion to convince myself that joy was not in my constitution. Bodily and spiritually, I was not made for that. This may have been conditioned by criticism lobbed in my direction: “Just be better, why can’t you just be better?” There was no act nor any rites I could perform to become better, or do better; that was nonsense and useless.
I daydreamed about living by myself, or would fondly remember my apartment from before: the awful pink carpet, the cork on the walls, the noise on the street at night. Other things that aren’t romantic but were still driftwood to which I clung. I didn’t think of it as wish-making. It might have been something akin to regret, but regret meant I made a bad decision, regret means I didn’t do my life how I wanted, and other things that can sound like the whole thing was my fault. It’s something in the middle, where I feel I might at least claim: “this isn’t at all what I thought it was going to be.”
There are apologists for C/NC, the same as anything controversial. There are people I used to know who would gladly tell me there is no way I can construe my relationship as detrimental by design because at some point I consented to being in it. I should take responsibility for perceiving everything wrong. I should not at all feel badly done by because by consenting, I gave up that right. In any other case this is called victim-blaming and is considered very poor form. But these are people for whom C/NC is not a daily struggle to stay alive.
And that sounds like one motherfucker of a dramabomb.
I’m not hyping this. I usually wanted to die and when beset with serious panic or oppressive anxiety, that want-to-die turned into full-blown “how can I kill myself best”.
I tried prayers to who knows what and chants and aromatherapy and yoga and working a lot and not working at all and psychiatry and art and counseling and tarot and spell casting and slam poetry and sluttery. I tried growing my hair long and using henna and wearing skirts and dresses and having long fingernails. I tried homemaking and writing journals and gardening. Some fellows in C/NC dynamics told me I should devote myself to acts of submission. People suggested I address the person to whom I was married when I prayed. To be more beautiful (yep), to speak softly, to take up a brand of femininity. Don’t think about/for myself, but then totally and vehemently disavow that I was a doormat. “Suck it up, buttercup” was a favorite meme. I whispered this over and over to myself; I stopped using first person possessives. I had long discussions with other C/NC types about joy in suffering, that through prolonged agony I would be transformed and made into the very reflection of the person to whom I was married, my will aligned with his, and thereby attain some measure of satisfaction (if he allowed me this). People whispered to me that I was just so mind-fucked and how I ought to take pride in this.
Nothing soothed at length. Nothing fully stopped my heart churning and my stomach aching. There were moments of relief. These never involved the person to whom I was married or his girlfriend, who had teamed up (ganged up?). Shortly after we all got together as a polyfamily, his girlfriend revealed she was not really poly and not at all bisexual, and made it plain that she rather I was not part of the tiny society she had made up with the person to whom I was married. (This once included her threatening my life. When I said how uneasy this made me, the person to whom I was married told me to shut the fuck up about that and get over it; that I should assign my concern to her well-being, because people with homicidal tendencies more often commit suicide. I wish I was kidding. I totally wish to all the best most beautiful sunsets that I made this up.)
I am nearing 11 months in L.A.. Ten in this apartment. My shoebox utopia, where I write on the walls in chalk, and put up postcards and love notes with thumbtacks. Where I burn incense and keep the place clean, and throw shit away that I don’t need, or opt not to buy shit in the first place. Where my recycling to trash ratio is probably 7:1 and I have switched to cloth instead of toilet paper. (I still keep TP for visitors.) Where, un-criticized, I move towards zero-waste and embrace minimalism. Where I eat in such a way that my body says thank you, and it never involves lying to myself about how american cheese is actually good nutrition, or that if I ate 2 lbs of mashed potatoes daily I would stop being depressed. I never have to fake a migraine at the ER to get someone else recreational drugs. Fuck, I never have to fake anything.
The last eleven months have not been all rainbows and puppies and silver-lined ease. There has been despair and fuck-it-all, undeniably.
However, I don’t want to recite a litany of complaints to do with the last eleven months of my life. Here’s why: when I consider the way things are, the way things have worked out, the people I know and the support I’ve been given from all over the world — I have nothing about which I might reasonably complain.
I do not daily want to die. I do not spin for hours conceiving of how to commit suicide.
I no longer think of joy as someone else’s lot. Joy is all wrapped around me, she becomes my aura.
Here’s a sonnet:
When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,–and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings’.