The Pain You Can’t See

I don’t have an old-fashioned clock hanging on a wall in my house. But if I did I bet the space of silence in between the ‘tik’ and the ‘tok’ would be longer than any other second I’ve ever known. I bet the sound of time passing by would echo through the emptiness of the house. The movement of the well-mannered hands would be more movement than I can manage on some days. But the path those hands take- the cycle of always ending up in the same place, day after day; now that is something I could relate to.

I’ve been told before that I make too much eye contact. I know now that I do so when I am longing to make a deeper connection with people. Maybe its out of selfishness, maybe I want to be able to dish out some of my internal pain onto others. Or maybe it is because connection, as I understand it, may be the solution to majority of our problems. Either way, when talking to someone about something that they are not likely to understand; there are two different responses I may see through their eyes. One is curiosity. That youthful, eager desire to learn more. To try to understand. The other is judgement. Fear for what we do not understand. I am good. You are different than me. Therefore, you must be bad.

Majority of humans are visual learners. That means if we cannot see it, we struggle to understand it. But just like an invisible clock, my pain will tick along.

I separated my collar bone once. And although my mother had never felt that same pain before, she could see that something was wrong as my arm didn’t dangle quite the way it was supposed to. When we were at the hospital and I looked into the young doctors eyes, I could see the curiosity as he had never put a collar bone back into place before. Whether the feeling we experienced was curiosity, fear, or pain; all three of us were relieved when my arm popped back into place and we could see that the problem had been fixed.

Now, remember how I mentioned that my house was empty? Of all the furniture that is in the place, last week my favourite place to rest was on the floor. I don’t know yoga, but a do know a child’s pose. I felt ten years old as I lay curled up as small as I could be, my head held down. I took a few breaks from an all encompassing numbness to sob uncontrollably. I was feeling sorry for myself. Life hasn’t turned out quite the way I thought it would.

At some point, I picked myself up off the floor, dusted myself off, and cleaned myself up. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. But being down there sure paints an ugly picture:

Picture a man. This man. Laying on the floor in the fetal position. Wearing nothing but underwear. Unshaved and unshowered. A pale, snot covered face. Bags under eyes that have nothing but emptiness inside them. Silent, like the seconds in between ticks on an old wooden clock. Only until a single tear escapes as a warning signal for the eruption of sobs to follow. A mans power with a childs cry. I gasp on every inhale and squeal on every exhale. The pain is unbearable.

On first thought, that isn’t a picture I’d like to paint for anyone. Simply because of embarrassment. And shame. I do not want others to look at me with fear or judgement. But it is a picture I am willing to paint if it may help anyone understand a little more. You can hang it up on your wall. It can take up the space in between the seconds. In fact, it’s up there right now. Look around for it.

It’s the pain you can’t see.

…To anyone reading this that knows of a similar pain. Bigger or smaller, better or worse. I want you to know that whoever you are, wherever you are, and however you are; I see you.

-Christopher

Hindsight is 2020

My bags were packed weeks ago

But I’ve got nowhere else to go

I put all my thoughts in a slow cooker

My feelings packed into fireworks

My actions fell off the sleigh

My voice stuck singing in someone else’s dream

My stay home entertainment is juggling with the what ifs

What if I loved a little more

What if I hated a little less

What if I went for that adventure

What if I didn’t get so seasick

What if I gave myself a chance to be homesick

Instead of being sick of my home

What if I realized sooner that hoME is wherever I’m with ME?

Another year gone by wasting time on not being okay.

“Getting better” says look on the bright-side

Honesty says I’m on the wrong-side of happiness.

The side that is so dark that the sun sets at 4:30.

Happy New Year says Hopeful New Year

Experience says it will happen again.

“getting better” says I can change

Being whole says I’ll always stay the same.

Time says I need to reach out

Safety says “maybe tomorrow”

I say I can’t rid myself of this perpetual dissatisfaction unless I do something, go somewhere, talk to someone, find a way to say something, or follow some other path

Society says stay home.

My perspective is standing on top of a mountain staring down at the path that I have taken to get to this point

Last year, I walked the same trail and looked down the same path repeatedly

This year, if I lift my head up, and look all around; what view will I see?

Skinny Love

On the days that I have tried everything and it still isn’t working. There I end up, sobbing and shaking like a rain drop

clinging on to the bottom of a gutter

not quite ready to let go.

I’m stuck asking; what is the point?

I am searching for a connection to show me that there is something more,

like a drainpipe for all the disappointment that pours

out of me.

I want to be right about something.

And yes, I always wanted to be right more than I wanted you

but right now I am wet paper and dry ink

I can’t write about anything but you .

I can’t connect the dots from all the love that I’ve lost.

You loved me like I was a battle worn brick wall

I wanted to be impenetrable

but you loved me for the damage that had been done.

And you thought you’d love me forever

but expectations are just resentments under construction.

Now thinking about your joy is a crime and my heart’s the one to blame

your fake sweetness doesn’t weigh as heavy on my heart as the sugar of your love that I left behind.

Now I am honey in hot water

I will melt into you no matter how bitter you become.

Bring all my insignificant lovers to the slaughterhouse

feed them my vulnerability

right before you shoot them right in between the eyes that saw what I could have been.

It seems you’re stuck on who I was

I’m stuck on who I’m gonna be

reality is probably somewhere in between

letting go and holding on.

Letting go, it is not holding your hand palm down

and letting everything and everyone you ever loved fall to the ground

no letting go is holding your hand palm up

and convincing your fingers to not curl in and grip onto what used to be

or who you used to be.

The sweat in my palms sprint for my fingertips

just as the tip of my tongue sprints from my lips

I can’t tell you who I am anymore.

I used to admire you like an uncut diamond

loving you for your sparkle without worrying about your worth.

Now diamonds put pressure onto us to make something of ourselves.

Roses have thorns that stick into our clothes and beg us not to go.

Books gather dust just as screens gather us

and we’re watching who we could be instead of being who we are.

My buddy tells me not to get caught too deep

but I’ve gone deeper into you than I’ve ever seen into myself.

My buddy tells me to not talking about the growing gap in between my thighs and yours

but your thighs are the closest thing to happiness that I have ever known.

I howled for you, but I only ever looked out for me

I am the top dog in my lonely pack

it is too bad I only feel as strong as my weakest moments.

But they say that if you truly love someone; tell them

I say if they do not believe you; then show them.

Right now all that I can see are our shadows

the sorry’s that we’ve suppressed so much that we forgot they are still following us.

Beach ball projections of our problems popping up

we play whack-a-mole with our insecurities all lined up

and you talk of my mental illness as if it is that friend that always takes the comfiest spot on the couch.

You tell me that you are going on a diet

because you need to cleanse yourself from eating up all of my false promises.

I say late night stores are convenient when I want to give up on myself.

I am eating Dare-free as in I am staying in my comfort zone.

An apple a day will keep the “I miss you” texts away

but my thoughts have gone rotten to the point that I become spinning tires in apple sauce

a sinner starving at the cross

I die and then come back after the 3 days it takes you to text me back.

I am a cinnamon heart

star crossed and starving

I create a crucifix to convince myself

that without you I am just a kid who is standing in front of a vending machine and can’t afford his favourite candy bar.

And you. You are a glass shattering rescue team.

The woman in my world who helps me wonder about a safer space

where the moon is no longer a martyr

but rather it lights up a path.

To follow it would be to walk on water.

That is to say that

it would take a miracle

for you to love me again.

My Honest Poem

Hi,

My name’s Chris

I’m 25 years old

When I was a littlekid my mom would always call me kissy Chrissy

And I’m still embarrassed about it to this day

But it reminds me that I used to show all the love and affection that I had in my heart without worrying about what other people would say of it

I love ice cream… too much sometimes

I like laughing so hard until I make the whole room stare

And dancing like my demons can’t catch me

I let my eyes say the words that my lips can’t shape

My humour is scary

But my hugs are safe

I’ve been told that I’m soft

That I feel too much with my heart

So I’ve tried to make my muscles hard

And to feel with the strength in my grip

My closet is full of salmon colored shirts

But I don’t like to fish

In life I find myself

On a constant pursuit of happiness

I’ve got the words “you are enough” tattooed on my arm

But I still struggle to believe them

I’ve got a semi colon tattooed on my side because my story isn’t finished

Just like all the half-written suicide notes on my bedside table

The words “I am NOT enough” are tattooed all over those notes

It’s a constant battle between “I am” and “I am not”

Sometimes I give in to all the negativity that I have fought

And those are the days I can’t get out of bed

Those are the days I can’t get out of my own head

I often like to wear hawaiin shirts

as if sad people never wear flowers

I have so much self-doubt

But people who have seen me say I have super powers

They say my happiness is contagious

That my life is super couragous

I’ve spent times in my life being so low that I have wanted to die

But those times have taught me to keep chasing the feeling of being truly alive

To me, being truly alive means connecting with people. It means being with them in their darkest moments and letting them sit with me in mine

In those moments I feel Goodness and my heart perfectly align

And the happiness that I am pursuing

The happiness that we are ALL pursuing

May bring us together.

LOVE: When Everything Goes Wrong

Fast forward through falling in love.  You already know how it goes.  You’ve seen the movies.  You’ve felt those butterflies.  You know what it’s like to be wrapped up in that bliss.  To be ignorant of all those flaws.  Fast forward through all that sappy, cheesy stuff.  It’s not what truly understanding love is about.

Love is about when everything goes wrong.  And you’re constantly stuck thinking why can’t this be like the movies and the fairy tales as tears fill up in your eyes and you’re driving away.  Over and over again you end up in the same spot.  With so much love for that person.  But it’s all f*cked up.  And you see their flaws so strongly.  It angers you.  They keep pushing and you need space and then finally you push and then they need space and you cry and you’re so confused and the pain in your heart is so real but everyone around you will point out their flaws more and tell you that you don’t need them.  But they’re wrong.

They don’t know you like I do.

This is supposed to be different.  We aren’t breaking up like all those other couples.  Our love is stronger.  And we keep telling ourselves that until we are finally walking away from each other.

And it’s not okay anymore.

And then you go so long thinking about all those times they cried or they yelled or they didn’t understand.  And you get angry.

Why couldn’t it have gone differently? Why’d everything have to go wrong?

You sit with those questions for quite a while.  You sit with the sadness.  You sit with the anger.  You sit with the heartbreak.

And then a memory will hit.  That moment that you were in bed and she quickly lifted her head up so you could tuck your arm underneath as you wrap your other arm around her.  And you’re supposed to be sleeping but you lift your head upand over her shoulder to catch one more peek at her face.  And you can just catch the corner of her lips as they curve upwards.

Beautiful.

Because even when everything went so f*cking wrong.

Those little things went so f*cking right.

No one can take that away from you.

Thank you.

-Christopher

A Steady Glow

I remember the first time we were staring into each others eyes and she smiled saying “you make me happy” and I smiled too. I thought it was beautiful. I felt amazing. How could I not? I was responsible for someone else’s happiness! Is there any other responsibility as powerful? Not that I’m aware of.
But then it changes.

It flips.

There we are down our path and the smiles aren’t coming as easy.
“You make me cry” she sputters at me. And I want to cry too. I thought it was heartbreaking. I felt terrible. How could I not? I was responsible for someone else’s sadness. Is there any responsibility as painful? Not that I’m aware of.

I think of the idea that we must first know the feeling of sadness in order to know and recognize happiness. We must first know pain to know pleasure.
Being the reason for ones pleasure feeds the ego. One could reach for God like ambitions.
But to be the reason for ones pain?
A candle can burn for hours, even days, lighting up a room with its consistent flickering. A steady glow.

And then in one instant. All that light that has been provided without question can be smothered out with one breathe. The pleasure can be forgotten and only pain remains.

Darkness.

It’s hard to put a heart back together in the dark.

It’s a good thing that happiness is a light. And it transfers through a smile. It is our own responsibility to receive it. Just as a candle accepts another flame. We are all responsible for our own happiness. And we have all known sadness. The moments of pleasure feel so much better when we know our pain but choose not to let it creep back into our breaths.

And soon enough.

The world may be a room full of candles.

 

Humble, Happy, Hungry

I am HUMBLE about where I’ve been.

I am HAPPY with where I am.

I am HUNGRY for more.

I am humble about where I’ve been. Both the good places and the bad. Being at my worst, the late nights stuck in loneliness and the stop at the hospital; those don’t make me crazy. They are a part of the process. I know my lows. They do not define me but they have shown me where I do not want to be. And they have given me a superpower to truly empathize with people.

I am happy with where I am. Surely not it’s entirety. But I see the good. I see my growth as a human being and while it has been a slower process than I had expected, I am so fucking proud of myself for being here and being me in this moment. I don’t have a degree, a job, or money to represent who I have become. But I have my body showing strength. I have my mind, battle tested and witty. And I have my soul, connected to the good of the universe. Together, I am ready to dive into the uncomfortable.

I am hungry for more. There is so much out there in this world to accomplish. So much out there to explore. People to meet. Stories to hear. Moments to exchange and embrace. I’ve got so much more to prove. I want to show my strength and my resilience. I want to show people my heart. I want to connect. I want to make a positive difference. I want to show this world and myself that my failures will never define me. I am so much more than what you see.

Make the call.

 

Here we go.
I was 14 years old skating down the ice reffing my first ever hockey game. I was terrified. I am in charge of this game. Are you kidding me? That’s way too much pressure.
2 players crash into each other and fall down on the ice. One teams coach starts screaming at me. I freeze. My mind escapes the game. A grown adult man is screaming down at me. This means I’ve done something wrong. I am scared. It’s not about the game to me. It’s about a person I want to be able to look up to disrespecting me.
I come back into the game. The coach screams again. This time I understand what he’s saying:
“Make the call!”

I’m still a teenager. Things have been difficult at home. My mom and my dad have not been getting along. Everyone is walking on eggshells. It doesn’t feel like home right now. Finally my mom has had enough. She comes to my room and tells me to pack a backpack and get in the car; we’re leaving. My dad has followed her up the stairs to keep yelling. I briefly catch eyes with him before casting my head down. I still remember the white of his eyes, so bright with anger. My head cast down in fear. Then down the stairs my parents went, still screaming. I scrambled out of my frozen state. I needed to act. I had instructions to follow. The tears were streaming down my face and onto my shirt. There was no stopping them now. I rubbed the snot off my nose with the inside of my shirt. Through the rain in my eyes I managed to grab my backpack and stuff my favourite hoodie in it; along with some other things. Now I could hear the screaming carry outside and my moms car start. It was time to go. I rushed down the stairs, through the open door and looked out to see my brother already in the passenger seat. I took the back seat. Dad was really really yelling now. Mom slammed her car door shut and threatened for the last time that we were leaving. Finally my fathers expression changed. His anger halted as he realized he didn’t want us to go. He screams “wait! Wait!” As he struggles to find more words.
This is when I really stopped being a spectator and entered the scene. My dad walked right past the front of the car and opened the back door right across from me. He put his fists down lightly on the empty seat. He looked at me with love. His eyes that had been glossed over with rage now pleaded with me to forgive. He asked me if we could all just go inside and talk this through- no more yelling. He begged me. I was still choking back tears. I didn’t know what to say. My mom is staring back at me from the drivers seat. She’s crying too. We don’t say anything. But her look says it all. What should we do? Should we stay and talk or drive off? Her look is asking me! She doesn’t know! I have to decide what we do!

Make the call.

Here I am 10 some odd years later. And I’m struggling with a whole new dilemma. I need to walk away from something I’ve devoted more time to than anything thing else in my life. But how do I make the choice? How do I know if I’ve got more left in the tank or not. What if I’ve got more to give. I’ve got more push. What if I should’ve walked away years ago and I’ve wasted my time? What if it wasn’t truly a passion and it was just a way to hide from all the bad I was feeling in my life. It was a negative environment that supported the negative thoughts I was having about myself. But it’s what I know. It’s my identity. It’s a part of me. Do I keep it or throw it away?

Make the call.

Is it weird that our tears taste like the ocean?

Oh come on don’t be salty. Is it that the waves of our mind wipe us away from the thoughts of reality. The current of our stressors pulls us down so we cannot breathe. The sharks that are our thoughts smell the fear that is our blood and bite down with self hatred and judgement. We build boats of self compassion and of kindness. We ride above the waves with enjoyment. Safe and dry. The sun shines down, the seagulls swirl above exclaiming “you’re alive, you’re alive”. Take a deep breathe in. We smell the salt in the air that reminds us of the salt that once poured out of us. It reminds us of how bad it can be. It makes us so thankful for our boats. But sometimes the salt in the air and the wind act as a warning. And as the wind picks up the waves beneath us start to crash louder and louder. The thoughts in our mind are back, wiping away the simplicity from up above. The salt water jumps over the sides of our boat and soak our feet. And suddenly it’s pouring from our eyes. The clouds up above rush over us asking “what’s wrong what’s wrong” and we exclaim “I don’t know!” Our boat starts sinking under the weight of the water. Fish gather to nibble at our skin, peeling away with the water invaded cells; freeing the sadness that they once caged in. The water reaches our mouths and drags us down further, stopping us from finding words to explain. Our breathe is once again gone. Our life is nothing but frantically throwing ourselves threw the waves, no longer sure which way is up. The emergency alert in our boat frantically beeps along with our empty gasps. It struggles to get out a signal. The coast guard finally responds; “why are you so salty?”

Here’s to waking up.

Drop in, dropout

Picture this.

You turn your alarm off as soon as it comes on. You roll over back to sleep with a grin on your face. Your bed is just the right amount of warm and cozy. Your legs stretch out. You’re dreaming of being in the perfect relationship with your ex girlfriend. None of your worries have come to mind. Later you get up. It’s a sunny warm March afternoon. Your roommates have already left for the day so you have the house to yourself. You blast music, drink tea, and make French toast. You get dressed, wearing one of your favourite shirts. You leave the house.

The sun is so nice you think about rolling down the window. Maybe next week, nothing but good weather and good times lies ahead. You take the long way downtown, enjoying the ride, singing to the music. You get booster juice, cause why not treat yourself. What a perfect start to the day. Then you park in front of the drop in counselling center, play your sad song over and over again, trying your best to keep in the tears, but they sneak out the corners of your eyes.

You never leave the car. Just sit there staring at the logo on the door and the people that occasionally walk in or out. You wonder what separates you from them. What makes it so hard for you to find help Chris? Is it something wrong with the system? Is it the stigma cast down on you from society? Why are these people getting help and you aren’t? Maybe you’re just too fucked up. You’ve been coming here for 5 years now. Rarely going inside and never getting better. As if one day an angel will walk out of that door and solve all your problems. What are your problems anyways? I don’t see any. You’re a middle class raised child with financial support from your family living in a world full of opportunity. You’re too lazy to go to class, too lazy to get a real job. But you still end up at the bar every Saturday night, the first one to shout “let’s do shots”.

What’s your excuse again? Oh right. ‘Depression’ how could I forget. So you’re just tired all the time? Then why do I always see you at the gym or at the rink? It doesn’t make sense.

You should do something about this. You get out of your car. You walk to the entrance.

You reach for the handle.

But nothing reaches back.

Goodnight, maybe I’ll try going again tomorrow.

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