capitalism has become
(language i found unproductively inflammatory, four years ago
has become language i find unproductively subtle, four years later)
fifty people thick in filthy swimming holes
jammed up together in bars:
inhaling another's exhale
i flash on reports of
refrigerated tractor trailers
lined up outside
new york city hospitals
i know about covert suicide ideation.
people who learned to self-regulate with risk and addiction
people who think the only way to ease their suffering
is to inflict
people who verbally assault strangers for engaging in responsible behavior that accounts for the safety of others trusting that others will of course do the same
(because: we live in a society!
we rely on each other!
we are all vulnerable and mortal and, right now, very afraid!)
people who've taught themselves to not feel fear
people who've conflated not feeling fear with not being afraid
so many people who don't understand that they are afraid
people who resent their reliance on the community they assume entitlement to
people who do not know what it means to feel safe
but haven't recognized that a big part of the problem
is that they aren't safe people to be around.
not for anyone.
especially not themselves.
people in hard denial of the trauma injuries that have been activated to such an agonizing extreme by the pandemic they'll do anything to dull the pain
even if it means assaulting others with their unacknowledged destructive/defiant variant of learned helplessness
because that's what it is
these people don't believe there isn't a problem.
these people don't believe they're invincible.
not deep down.
deep down, they are powerless.
deep down, they are hopeless.
deep down, they believe
even more than i do
that nothing they can do will make things better.
they are covertly suicidal.
please note: this in no way lets anybody off the hook.
especially not anyone who kills or injures another in the attempted execution of their unexamined intention.
especially not the exploitative opportunists who've made capitalism into the death cult it is today.
i've never had the "privilege" of being able to project my self-destructive urges onto everyone around me.
i was informed i was a suicidal headcase for the first time at twelve years old.
i mean, what? not likely. not at twelve. all the same
as that broadsiding peer stomped out of the locker room
i watched her full body slam into another girl, fire a line of violent antagonism and kick her way out the door
i just saw happen, there.
i don't know what it is, but it's
something that didn't have anything to do with me.
maybe she just told me what she is?
maybe after all this time
there's actually something to this
"i know you are but what am i" shit?!
which just pissed me off,
not a truth i could have spoken in middle school, but
i viewed her perspective through that lens.
yeah, i'm a headcase. i've accrued quite a bit of trauma. i've negotiated urges. i self-injure, i struggle, probably there have been a few nights when i should have called a hotline, at least sought out somebody to listen.
but: i knew what was happening.
i didn't deny it, repress it, make it into something else.
i took responsibility for it.
i considered what was at stake.
i thought about my loved ones.
what my doing that would do to them.
i thought about writing, about my readers, about connecting through words.
i thought about bad movie nights.
i thought about making art.
i thought about listening to music.
i thought about figuring out a problem and helping to make something better.
i thought about magic, about realizing synchronicity.
i thought about love and really good sex.
i thought about books and notebooks and mixtapes and pilot pens and metaphysical bookstores and handcrafted perfume oil blends in brown glass bottles topped with rollerballs and oily moon blessed candles and my favorite deck of tarot cards.
i thought about obsidian and fulgurite and room-sized geodes.
i thought about roses and eclipses and forests and rainstorms and red foxes and the ocean shore.
lightning over scott's bluff, i thought about that.
i thought about the day my nephew was born.
i thought about the week my grandmother died.
i thought about driving alone at night.
i thought about all the times i expected the worst and ended up so brilliantly, joyfully wrong.
i thought about me, about my weird conclusions and abrupt assertions, my random observations, how i'm always trying to do better, how miraculous it seems sometimes that i still have it in me to try.
i thought about making my loved ones laugh.
i thought about laughter. not being able to stop laughter.
breathless, shaking, tears streaming down my face laughter, laughter that aftershocks for days afterwards, laughter that stirs up again with a shared glance, with a word, with a gesture.
i thought about eating chocolate.
i was able to keep myself here, though that meant acknowledging the awful truth that i was feeling an urge to destroy myself.
it meant bringing my urge into the open, looking at it, and ultimately deciding i wanted to stay in the world.
it meant using my anchors.
it meant having anchors in place.
it meant understanding what an anchor is and doing that work in advance.
it meant first that i had the tools and resources to pull myself out of a suicidal urge, which not everyone does
and second that i'd done my fucking homework, prepared for my future emotional well being, recognized my resources and readied them for use instead of assuming there would be some product i could buy or class i could take or day spa i could blow out the charge cards on at half past too little too late.
it meant developing genuine emotional regulation skills.
in order to save myself
i had to realize i was in danger.
not assume that responsibility onto other people.
that's what i keep thinking
about these inhale-my-exhale memorial day weekend parties
don't these people make art?
haven't these people been brilliantly, joyfully wrong?
don't these people eat chocolate?
don't these people have loved ones?