To D-

[an excerpt from an entry in my personal journal:]

I have had too many conversations with you over the years, months, days, and hours. I always manage to say much more than you. You never seem to care too much what I have to say; however you still never go away, even when my throat is sore from screaming at you and asking you to leave. Even when I am taking every precaution that I’ve put in place to quiet your presence in my life, and I am setting up hurdles I thought you’d have a hard time jumping over, you manage to be there waiting for me every time.

Around 2014 I stopped trying to run from you and decided to face you head on, and almost lost my life because of it. You treated me terribly, and I wrote so many poems about it. I made such sad art about it. I wrote songs about it and I don’t even sing. I spent an entire summer with winter within my ribs and was not prepared for the cold.

“Cranes in the Sky,” Solange, 2016

I broke free from you for a while, or pushed you to the side at least, and I enjoyed that freedom while it lasted. I tasted the Atlanta sun on my lips and felt the snow in Montreal hit my fingers. I swam naked with a lover in San Francisco, photographed in Brooklyn, and laid my head on a pillow next to someone who made me feel like I was the flower they were waiting their whole life to see bloom. I published, printed, created, changed, transformed, wrote, unwrote, and painted my body with the affirmations of a new self. The days where I tried to drink you away, or dance you away, or spend you out of my life with money I didn’t have seemed gone. You seemed gone.

And then, without reason or warning, you returned. You didn’t need to introduce your friends when you came back — I knew them very well, loneliness and anxiety — and you didn’t even think to let me know you’d be bringing company with you. You were so controlling and manipulative to me too; you made me say things to people I loved that I didn’t really mean. You made me think that I had to run people out of my life to make more space for you. I lashed out at people who didn’t deserve it, and you made me bitter towards people who simply did not understand my relationship with you. You made me irritable and mean to the people who were only trying to help, and I lost friends I didn’t think I could. You told me to push away the love I’d found within someone’s arms, because you convinced me they’d never accept loving me as long as you were still attached to me.

Over the years you didn’t just hurt me, though. I watched you come for so many of my friends as well. You took one of my best friends’ lives from me. I was the last one he texted before you did what you did to him, and I replay that moment in my head every single night when I lay my head down to rest. You tried to take a few others, and linger around many more. You’ve tried to kill me twice now. You aren’t just satisfied with me, and you come and go freely, but whenever I try to leave out the door you decide to chase me. Why?

You made me think the sun was reluctant to shine for me, like the hue of my skin was selected at a random screening and was told it wasn’t allowed the comfort of a cool breeze. You throw words around my head like “borderline” and tell me they have to define me, but I have resisted those definitions and labels for so long now.

What is worse than how you treat me and how you manipulate me is how you make me feel in the deepest, darkest parts of my intersections. I have beat myself up over loves that I lost for too long because of you. I sit in my home and am convinced no one will ever want to be there sitting beside to hold me, embrace me, love me, affirm me. You convince me time after time that I will be alone, single and too improperly wired to find someone to love me, for the rest of my life. That is the most painful feeling I experience. You tell me that I always love harder than I am loved, and appreciate more than I am appreciated, and exist more than I am needed for anyone to appreciate. You try to silence me where love pours from my lips, and try to make me speak when silence should befriend me.

These feelings you give me are here, and they are strong, and often hard to avoid. When something as simple as cuddling or a strong embrace becomes the small acts that save me from you for the night, it makes me cherish those things more. You make me cherish those things more. You make me cherish and appreciate people more, and you make me hope harder and stronger. You didn’t mean to, but you taught me how to be a better friend and how to help people better. You taught me lessons about myself that I can teach to others, and you taught me a loneliness that I don’t want others to ever feel.

I have found my power from you in small but significant things, and important but unexpected people. I write about you, among other things, and begin to feel you losing power over me. I put myself into photographs to try to tell the world what living with you is like, and I’m always overjoyed when people see those photographs and tell me they can relate. Expressing my relationship with you, however dangerous it becomes, gives me a feeling of relief that I can’t even fully express. I call you and your friends out by name in my poetry and feel you shrink smaller and smaller every time my pen curls the letters to your name. I pray, and pray, and pray about you; I ask Allah (swt) to take you away, to help me manage you, to help me hide you better at times, to take you away from my friends and let you never be in their presence again. At times, I think I pray for my friends more than myself because of you.

It has been a weak week because of you. A rough month. A lousy year. I made some bad decisions last month that you co-signed your name on, and I am still recovering from them. I realize you might not ever leave my life, depression. I realize that “it” might not ever get better, but I will. Life might not get any better but I still have plenty of time to. And you might not ever ease up on me — you might not ever allow me the freedom of feeling like myself more than I feel like a ghost i someone’s body. And that’s okay, because I will get better at living with you and managing you. As I write this, I might not believe that there is anyone out there for me, but one day I might believe that there is.

I want 2017 to be there year that I break away from you, depression, and begin to fall into someone else’s arms. I want it to be the year that I find better coping mechanism, with better people, in better places, making better decisions. I want it to be the year that I love harder and hurt less and feel differently and change more. I want it to be the year I don’t allow you to take me or any of my friends off this earth.

My hands are shaking as I write this page in my journal, because I’m thinking about all of the emotions within my ribs right now. I’m depressed, immensely lonely, somewhat heartbroken, anxious, and filled with a mixture of other feelings I don’t know if we have words for in our language. I’ve isolated myself from a lot of people, but am in the process of drawing nearer again. I took a complete break from organizing and activism, because how can you organize when you can’t even move past your own breakdowns? I have been numb for so long I was admittedly unprepared to feel again. But here I am, ready to take on the world and leave you behind me for as long as I can. ready to be held, and to hold. To love and be loved by myself.

This entry is about growth, death, decay, and rebirth, because that is what I feel like I am cycling through in this moment as I write this. Writing this out, writing all of these feelings and emotions and words out, feels like a prayer to me. I wanted to write about unrequited love, but am just not at the point where I can write about that yet. So I wrote this instead, and my bones are thanking me.