Nor love, nor hate, how then? what will you do?
What, will you keep a mean then betwixt either?
Or will you love me, and yet hate me too?
Michael Drayton, Idea’s Mirror
What tangle of limbs, once forsaken, foregone, accounts for the foreign misery of one’s own self-loathing? Those tendrils of recollection, those sinews of remorse, when smoke curls from my lips and I eat air like essence, drink wine like holy water, drown myself in a life prescribed, a life not mine: my blood boils with unquiet desire until beneath my splintering bones, the nightmare starts. Commence, then, my manifest unrest: I am ready, as ever. Of course. A heart left bare in no one’s keeping, every piece wrenched back in savage indictment–even still, I writhe. I blister, always, or splinter like glass. I strive to live like my own smoke, insubstantial, exhaled. I kill and keep what is not mine: in gradients of redemption, redemancy, recompense, my muscles seize at the sun-scorched sky. What splendor, what valor, is to be found in this? I burn and sigh and slight my own regard. I disavow my own memories, my own efforts, my own love.
Even now, I recall glimpses of that which my remorse has yet wrought: those slipping, sordid whispers in the silence of the night. I see, so very clearly, that by which I wish to have been blinded: no dimly mirrored reflection, but myself, my self, and him, alive, when he told me what I wasn’t, what I was, and when I wondered, when I tried. There have been so many others since those strange, regretful hours: already, the touch and smell of him has been wrenched from my limbs. He is only a horror-show memory now. I am forgiven. I am clean.
I still, sometimes, find a moment worth living for. My body tastes like music then: soft and shivering with the pleasure of its own sensation, the hallowed, searing underside of every stolen touch, the warm and living movement of my strange, desirous skin. I must look so wrong, to all of you. So unrepentant. So unwell. The bruises are livid between my thighs: in screaming patterns of shifting weight, I ache. I sense my own suffering. The savage purples and the brilliant, snarling shades of red; my hair is shorn and uneven against my scalp, pale patches of skin showing through. I am so far from whole. I think I always will be.
But my scars are fading. So, too, is my wild, tameless fervor, my lovely burning melancholy, the rapture of my joy. I am trying to be quiet and good. I am trying to be normal and safe. I am trying to be better, but it just feels like dying. I resent this. Does no one else know the sensation? That insufferable boredom, tempered only by that which you fear becoming, the wrenches of discontent, the vicious onslaught of untempered disrepair? The rapid intake of each cold breath, the sheer helpless fear of this world? What is it, this longing, this lack of mine? This nameless want is easier, so much easier, to ascribe to some living soul, but I do not have that any longer. When I sleep, if I sleep, I sleep alone. When will all that utter emptiness, those ruptures in my soul that I fill with cheap spirits, and rough affections, and letters, books, words–my hallowed floods of text–fade into a memory I might withstand? What happened to me? And why?
Ghosts of this past year are returning still, in every form I know to seek. Accusations and atonements, arresting brown eyes and a guarded, despicable mind; a heart self-slain by such unfathomable apathy, and the memories by which I now make a name. I still taste blood upon my lips, his fingertips, our clothes; the specter clings; he haunts me still. It is not a question of affection anymore. This is not longing. This is the sheer consequence of what a single presence has done to me.
I was left in so much pain that day, a stricken shape of singed, sliced skin and twitching limbs. Not a person, not even a body: just a mutilated mass of misery made manifest, barely conscious of each hateful breath that I drew. Even now, I am unable to endure the very notion of his presence, never mind the physical truth. Mistake me not, I feel no loss, no sorrow: only shame and savage loathing and an ever-present, sickening fear. His memory will plague me until I learn why I allowed myself to be treated so in the first place. No action could have undone me more–not even the one that I made possible myself, in the dawn of that cold grey morning, when I wondered if he might find me down among the concrete, his bedside windows opened wide, his drapes imbibed with prisms of wind. I wanted so badly to lay it all to rest. But it never happened. It will never happen. It could never have happened. And so here I stand, still alive, seeking respite. It really isn’t going to get any better, is it?
I wake up each morning, try to keep it all under control: take the fabric of another fucking day into my hands, and piece together ways to render the time more endurable. I am working cautiously to build, from the wreckage of what I really am, something steadfast and worthwhile. But I wonder if it will serve me any better, in the end. Disparate and hesitant, desirous and afraid–sometimes it feels like I am dying as I write. And yet, I am alive because I choose to be. How many others can say the same? And the first month is nearly past–so very nearly past.
I wonder and I wait, as patiently as I can, for the nameless expression of an answer I still seek. But there is no end to any of this. And what becomes of us, we who wander the prisms of unrest, striving for a love we will not find?