A Lack of Armor
Last night, I cut out my own heart. Granted, it was in a dream, and I was standing alone in Dracula’s castle (circa 2004 Van Helsing); wearing nothing more than my own blood and head-to-toe tattoos I don’t recognize. Much like the tattoos were, it was vivd and real, seemingly more of a premonition than a dream.
I stood staring at myself in a vanity mirror, filled with rage and frustration by something unknown, but intimate. Having done this many times in real life, I know the stare means I want to scream, or rather, howl, at myself and pound my fists into the mirror until my knuckles are bloody. Unlike real life, I actually do. The dream then picks up some time later, after the blood has mixed with sweat and left a red-orange watercolor on my skin. I laugh at the mess I’ve made of myself and the room, but to my surprise, don’t cry. Instead, my hand finds the largest shard of glass left and I begin to carve into my chest, sighing as if being held by a lover with each cut.
I finally pull out my heart, and in my last second of life I see the bedroom door open, and hear a man’s voice call my name before I wake up to an alarm and Orion on my chest.
A dream of myself like this is nothing new: melodramatic, naked, and violent. And while these dreams vary in setting and weaponry, they speak a consistent subconscious message, a warning:
Stop seeking satisfaction by (literally) putting your heart out there, you sick, masochistic fuck. Lock it away, keep it safe until someone actually wants to see it.
That I should begin protecting myself, instead of putting myself out there and facing myself with anger and disappointment when my transparency fails me. Although, they speak their own, similar subconscious message when I do.
..anger is telling us that we need to protect ourselves, or that something is in the way of what we want. Disappointment tells us that we have lost something we were expecting.
My ego continually seeks heartbreak by thinking too highly of itself. It wears a sandwich board and stands outside of a sideshow tent at the circus, “Behold, the still-beating heart of a romantic warrior! A woman of merit, care, and ability. A virago in her own right. Come now, reach out your hand and take it, she wants your worthy soul to claim it as your own!” But each soul it has ever tried to speak to, like many passersby would, lingers only for a moment in curiosity. Then, concludes it would be available to anyone, and is not quite as valuable as the caller outside has made it out to be. That if it were truly worth it, it would have locks and armor and security.
And so the heart sits, beating and vulnerable, feeding rage and disappointment to the soul it belongs to. Noting that next time, maybe it should force a second ribcage onto the body before it gets the idea to jump out onto the table and perform again, for its own good. But, it then remembers the payoff when someone it chooses does pick it up.
It remembers sneaking a note with a lipgloss print into a locker for a 7th grade crush. It remembers running through spring rain at 2am to say “I love you” for the first time. It remembers driving 90 minutes for a first date. Hell, it remembers drunkenly marking heights and maps on a doorframe for a first kiss.
It remembers that answered moments of insanity, gestures of passion and willingness, are emotional highs that speak beyond the self-inflicted, torturous lows.
I was never insane, except upon occasions when my heart was touched.
-Edgar Allen Poe
A heart may be safe in its ribcage of armor, but that’s not what hearts are for.