what must it feel like
to hold life in your hands?
how tangible does it feel?
knowing you are responsible
for the next day in someone’s existence,
to whether they will have the chance
to blink their eyes
to laugh until they cry
to reach out and touch
to weep until the pain fades
is it earth-shatteringly terrifying?
or is it a beautiful opportunity?
did you ever sit on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean and think
what if the sea didn’t want to put on a show for us
it’s just trying to do it’s job, to ebb and flow, and we gaze at it
expecting so much beauty and calm
what if the sea was full of rage that it couldn’t express
because it needed to be calm for you
i’m scared to say it
but if i can’t say it here
did i ever love you?
did you love me?
i swear by each star in the sky
every night as the moon finds
her place in the sky
that i will never stop loving you
but how do i know how to identify love
i am as unfamiliar with love as i am
with quantum physics
so how could i know
if what i swear each evening
if you were to tell me
you love me as i claim to love you
would i be able to stomach it?
i haven’t heard the words escape your lips
in all the times we spent
there was never a whisper
an accidental breath that said
the word love until i hear the words
i will never know
i’ll just have to trust the feeling
just as i trust the moon
to rise in the inky sky
So, do you remember when I told you why I named this blog “Putting Down the Rope”? (No shame, if not. Read it here.)
Well, since treatment ended I’ve been feeling much more like myself. I’m sure recovery and the right cocktail of meds is doing the trick, but it’s so relieving to feel more productive, creative, etc. It feels like I’m putting down the rope.
Last night I had the opportunity to attend an art installation at my friends’ art co-op, Holy Unlikely. It was a gathering of some really amazing people, both extremely talented and exceedingly kind. I brought some of my photographs/poems to display in the visual art/gallery-style portion of the evening; something I would have never done a month ago. But now, I wanted to display it. My self-doubt was no longer shrouding my consciousness and I was proud to display the more vulnerable parts of myself. (Recognize the work?)
Later on we arrived at the performance portion of the evening– open mic style– where anyone and everyone were encouraged to sign up to share music, performance art, poetry, random thoughts, etc. I already knew I was going to abstain from participating in this part of the show; I was perfectly content being invisible in the audience. The last time I said I was going to do an open mic night, I ended up hiding in the bathroom when it was my turn. (I still can’t apologize enough to my friend who took the time to learn the song I planned on singing that night…I owe you one, Skyler.)
But last night was different. I felt safe. I felt comfortable. And I was surrounded by people who were baring their souls, just like I wanted to.
You see, art got me through some of the worst times. If it weren’t for this blog, I don’t know if I would be this far along on the road to recovery. It carries me when I can’t lift a leg to walk, it flies me into the clouds when I’m elated.
The memory of this feeling is what made me decide to share the art that got me through some of the hardest times of my life with a group of mostly strangers. I read three of my poems. I didn’t stutter, choke on nothing, or shake so badly it looked like I was having a seizure. And, most importantly, I didn’t hide in the bathroom when they called my name. I told everyone I have an eating disorder, and got applause when I mentioned I discharged from treatment. I read the poem that helped me realize the staff at clinic knew what they were doing even if I thought they didn’t. I read about love, I read about feeling invisible. You can’t take that away from me. Neither can Sasha.
Afterwards, the strangers, who I suppose weren’t strangers after all, came up to me to thank me or share their opinion. One person came up to me and told me they were proud of me and gave me a hug.
The thing is, I feel like shit most days. I’m warring with that rope most days, unable to believe what I have to say or create makes any difference in the world. But yesterday was not most days.
Yesterday I stood up in front of a crowd and delivered three poems into a microphone. My first public performance.
When you put down the rope you can live your life worth living.
Art is subjective, it’s meant to be shared. Art helps me exist in the world. My wise mind knew this enough to allow me to put down the rope, and walk to the microphone- raw hands and all.
when i struggled
people watched me drown
instead of helping me,
and shouted demands and instructions
that i could not follow
as my hands flailed beneath
i think sharks would have
than these people—
frightened and alone,
angry and miserable,
morose and full of tears;
but no one would
they all believed the lie of my smile
perhaps because it was more
than asking me something deeper than
a question about the weather—
the weeping willows and soft needled pines
always whispered to me kindness,
the fields always gave me flowers and butterflies to
kiss away my sorrows;
the clouds always gave me worlds to escape to,
winds sang to me myths and truths
of old and new,
the sun gave me warmth and the rain washed away
and rainbows always spoke to me of compassion;
there is a healing in nature
people just could not give me.
– linda m. crate
*If you are interested in submitting work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been ashamed of discussing my fears of expression, mostly because I don’t fully understand them myself. But it’s Pride, so screw the fear! I want to live up to my core value of authenticity. It’s difficult to share my insecurities, and I know that when I do it, I always feel better. And I hope it’s helpful to others, too.
I have never felt fully aligned as feminine; I prefer pants and shorts to dresses and skirts. If I can wear Keds instead of heels, I will. I hate carrying a purse, and wished women’s pants had larger pockets. When I can afford it, I will get breast reduction surgery, but in the meantime I bind my breasts. This is how I feel the most comfortable.
While I’ve felt this way for a long time, I’ve recently been able to label those feelings. I feel extensively uncomfortable in my own skin and I don’t feel like I have any sense of personal style. I have been discussing gender fluidity and gender as a spectrum with my therapists and friends lately, which I am finally starting to understand on a level I hadn’t before.
This weekend is LA Pride (so of course I’m sitting in an LA coffee shop in tie dye as I write this) and it will be my first time binding in public. Actually, it will be my first time presenting masculine in public. I’m still very nervous, but I think it’s fitting that my first time presenting this way is during an event that was created to be a safe place to do this exact thing. Yes, it’s scary as shit to suddenly change my look in front of everyone, especially when I worry about folks thinking I’m a “poser” or something like that. And I am so excited to feel comfortable in my own skin and feel like I’m wearing clothes that make me feel like me.
I recently overheard a guy in a coffee shop yelling at his girlfriend who told him she’s cutting her hair. He kept yelling “No! Why?!” Really? Will she be so repulsive with short hair that you won’t want to be with her anymore? Will she not be feminine enough for you? These are the reasons I am afraid of expressing myself in other ways.
Earlier this year I cut my hair pretty short to defy female beauty standards; I was tired of feeling like I would only be attractive if I had long hair. I once wrote a post about my experience working at a pretty high quality restaurant in Beverly Hills when I first moved here (read it here). I hadn’t figured it out yet, but when I would cry on my way to and from work because of the way I had to present myself, I was experiencing this same conflict that I plan on defying tomorrow. This is the beginning of me exploring my own gender presentation. And it doesn’t mean I don’t identify as a woman, because I do, I’m simply wearing the clothes that make me feel like me. This is the start of my journey to figure out what my style is; what helps me feel a bit more comfortable in my own skin.
It’s ok if some days I wear a binder and other days I don’t. I can paint my nails one day, remove it the next. There is no right or wrong in the way I choose to express myself. The bonus: I’m now feeling freedom to discover these things as I am not as focused on eating disorder behaviors.
Love is love is love is love, and my friends will love me no matter what clothes I wear.
Calling all artists, writers, designers, poets, musicians, creators, humans!
I am developing a potential project, and I would love your help! I am currently asking for submissions of any medium for the blog!
I am exploring art and mental health and how integral they seem to be with one another. Especially following the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I really want to create a space that is a safe and healthy outlet for artists who struggle with mental health.
Your submissions can be anonymous or not, it’s completely up to you. I ask that when you submit you please specify whether or not you would like to remain anonymous, otherwise I will leave your name off of the piece. Also, please include any trigger warning at the top of your post, if needed.
To submit, please email email@example.com
I’m not looking for anything profound. I’m just looking for you. Bring me the work you love the most, hate the most, and everything in between. I am accepting art in any medium, whether that be visual art, poetry, music/songs, short stories, narrative essays, etc.
I cannot pay you for your submissions, but your work will be published and you can advertise it as such. I will moderate which pieces I will publish, though I will do my best to post them all.
Mental health issues are incredibly difficult to live with. Art makes them a little easier to bear. When it feels like too much, PLEASE reach out. If you are uncomfortable calling a hotline, reach out to friends or family. Even me. As someone who struggles with self harm and suicide ideation, I am here to remind you that you are special and loved, even when you don’t believe it yourself.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. It provides free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people in suicidal crisis or distress.
You can also call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone about how you can help a person in crisis.
Call 1-866-488-7386 for the TrevorLifeline, a suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community.
Text HOME to 741741 to have a confidential text conversation with a trained crisis counselor from Crisis Text Line.
Well, that”s it. I am officially discharged from program! I was hoping to publish this yesterday, on my actual D-Day, but alas, time got away from me.
So, here we are. My first day of freedom. I definitely thought I would feel terrified to discharge, and I ended up leaving program yesterday feeling really positive. I’ve learned all I can…it’s up to me now.
I wanted to post something profound, but there’s really not much to say that hasn’t already been said.
The biggest obstacle I’m already facing is dealing with the loneliness. I no longer have a place to go and see friends every day. It feels a lot like graduating from college; you suddenly wonder what to do when you can’t just go hang out at your friends’ place anymore. If anyone has advice to combat loneliness, feel free to leave it in the comments.
Thank you for everyone’s support! The road to recovery is longer than ever, but I’m still walking!