The concept of health in a broken world

I’m in this endless pursuit of this mythical idea of health, and I’m not even sure what that means.  I picture myself hanging by my legs upside down from a 20ft tall geodome as a teenager with no fear of falling, of my body when I was a dancer and could see the muscles beneath my skin.  I picture being able to climb a tree without a second thought.  But what I don’t picture is how much time I had back then, how I climbed that geodome during a summer where I worked and played outside all day every day.  How I was a dancer in high school where walking home from school, between classes, to the metro to go hang out with friends, was the norm.  How I had time every day once school was over to do 200 cruches each morning and night, and how there was really no stress constantly looming because fuck ups were inconsequential and slipped off the glassy surface of my mind without leaving large jarring scratches.  When I climbed trees with no second thought I was carefree, and time outdoors was plentiful, weekends were jaunts in the woods full of energy that didn’t require caffeine or a sugar high.  My ideas of health are all colored by the backdrop of childhood, lack of stress, abundance of free time, everything falling into place with no schedule.  My ideas of health are colored by an absence of trauma responses and chronic pain.  My ideas of health neglect to remember that half the time I was obsessed with numbers on a scale and numbers of calories burned and eating less then 200 calories a day when I could get away with it.  My ideas of health forget the years where I could go the five days in the school week subsisting on mountain dew and nothing else, and the weekend living on two taco hell burritos and feeling like that was too much.

I want the energy and exhilaration I had in childhood.  I hit puberty so early, so I was this tall and at my healthy adult weight by the time I was a teenager, even a little bit before.  So my whole idea of what this shaped body I have now should be able to do, is based on a concept of a thirteen year old with no cares in the world.  When I try and imagine fitness at this age, I can only picture the lean muscular elderly folk I see running the trails at the park.  They’re in their seventies and eighties and probably in better shape then I’ve been in for over a decade.  I think about the ideal of mental health.  I don’t know anyone mentally healthy.  My generation is all people who are traumatized and fucked up beyond belief because we give voice to the problems of the world and they weigh on us like bricks.  How can you be mentally healthy when watching the rise of fascism and the death of your peers for loving a different gender then expected or being a different gender then expected?  How can you be mentally healthy when you see the earth that you want to reach to for sustenance, becoming a ticking time bomb counting down to the extinction of your species, because of the greed of corporations and the wealthy few in power?  For that matter, how can you be physically healthy when there are another hundred cleanses and fad diets birthed each day?  When you are constantly told that health looks like photoshop lies, and comes from on of the thousand one true ways to decrease in size that is marketed violently and splashed all over any physical or virtual environment you step into?

So I wish I had a conclusion to this, but I’m not there yet.  I’m just at the -the world is fucked and my brain is too, but I need to get to a better healthier place, and that’s hard and I have no idea how, but I’m gunna do it anyway- point.  I do hope to offer more insight if I get there though.


Manic starving daydreams

The tight grip on my chest

making breathing laborious

accents the cold that seeps in past layers

cutting icy knives into my skin

its a manic high of being alive

the winter sun too bright

my bones to shallow beneath my skin

a cigarette breakfast for company

I remember those feelings wistfully

with full knowledge I shouldn’t

for I was lean grace and agony

starving away my flesh and soul

Some days I tiptoe back

towards that heady precipice

the sky rush of empty caverns inside

and dizzy days of fierce tortured accomplishment

Its hard to fight off the courtship

with death and self consumption

when you feel most alive when starving

the closer to death the more bright the colors

Each day a forced resolution

to find a healthier happiness

each day convincing the self

we won’t go back, we’ve chosen to live


Learning to be alone

The thing they don’t tell you about learning to be alone with yourself is how much you’re going to love it.  It’s terrifying at first. When you’ve lived your life being co-dependent from one relationship to the next, the idea of being alone with yourself is a horrifying proposition.  When you have lived in a manic frenzy where you seek out social situations like a drug, always surrounding yourself with noise and raucous laughter so the emptiness inside doesn’t consume you, you are sure that by yourself you are going to eat yourself alive from the inside. You know how it works, you’re alone for a moment and the silence creeps in, the thoughts of despair and fear overwhelm you and suddenly it’s a rush to find the loud comfort of other people or self-destruct.

I don’t know how I learned to be safely alone with myself.  For years being alone meant my thoughts on paper airplanes as the world spun around me because I hadn’t eaten in days.  It meant fresh red lines on my skin and painting in my own blood as the clarity of pain showed me I was alive.  I don’t know why being alone made me spiral into self-destruction in the first place.  I didn’t hate myself, but I sure as hell didn’t know how to stand my own company.

Somewhere along the line I destroyed a series of relationships, or they destroyed me.  I drank, I yelled, I was hit and cheated on, I became a fucking caricature of a mess to the point that looking back I feel like I had to have made up that much unmitigated drama even though I lived it with these bones.  I met someone with the sort of fierce independence I mistook as loneliness and isolation because it was so foreign to me, but one day recognized as a fire of strength that I had just never known.  He pushed me into an empty bed, I had to know and understand how it was someone could be happier sleeping alone.

I learned the silky comfort of cold sheets with no body beside me to warm me.  I learned how magical it felt to stretch myself across a bed that belonged to me alone, and then to stretch my mind as well now that my thoughts were my own and not owned by the noise of the crowd.  I learned the sounds of a winter morning and how peaceful they could be when a walk through the snow was a solitary adventure spent on noticing the way the sunlight found new patterns through bare tree branches.  It was so different from previous walks in a biting chill with a cigarette taking the place of two days worth of missed meals and the emptiness in my stomach mirrored in the emptiness of my mental fog.  Words like self-care are the narrative of my generation, and the first time I cooked myself an elaborate meal that was only for me I understood what it meant to really care for myself.

I spent years feeling confident because I did not hate myself, I thought myself fantastic and saw the affection I garnered in others. I knew attention, love was never far behind.  I could simultaneously give no fucks about what others thought, while affirming myself with compliments and admiration.  To learn to be alone I had to go beyond affirmation and the love of others.  Not hating myself, having a high opinion of my worth, that was not the same as self-love.  Thinking you are hot shit, that isn’t really loving yourself.  I learned love as an action, not just a detached emotion.  The nights I spend alone wrapped in cool sheets and taking up space with a body I am finally comfortable in, the days I stop to watch a sunrise with only the dogs for company, the times I decide to make a luscious meal from scratch that only I will taste, I act out of love and I can feel at home being alone.