“There are some people who are so magical that we break reality. Rules don’t apply to us in the same way, and the laws of the universe warp like mirages in the heat of the intensity of us. Do not wish to be like us. We break harder, love harder, die repeatedly to only continue living, and are alien in a world that won’t believe in us. We are mythic.” — Seb Barnett
We like to tell one another to go say to the people we care about, that we love them, to call, to hug, to show affection, when we have lost someone close to us. We say this with a particular righteous urgency, to others, when we are feeling the impact of being unable to do those things again ourselves.
It reminds me how the pressured performance of forced affections have little to do with our love for people, if anything at all. How forced ‘love’ can feel so hooked and barbed in a way that’s impossible to articulate when we are on the receiving end of it, too.
It reminds me of the autonomy of children. How we are so often pressured to show affection we do not feel comfortable with. It reminds me how we are made to feel less than or bad or broken somehow if we don’t want to kiss our odd smelling aunt on the cheek or hug the uncle that we love and that also molests us at night, or worse, are unable to provide our parents with the validation they crave from our bodies.
It reminds me so much of my own agony and isolation around touch and affection, how it revolves around my inabilities to engage with others in that way consistently, or very often.
It reminds me how much exhausting and emotionally challenging effort it takes to create a container in which I feel safe enough to engage in vulnerable intimacy, feel able enough to do it well, without harming anyone, including myself.
It reminds me how many times I’ve broken myself open on others jagged edges only to limp away while scooping my guts back into my own belly, in order to figure this out about myself. How every step toward intimacy is a denser minefield to maneuver.
It reminds me that what I went through which created this reality of my personality was not my fault, and that it doesn’t mean that I am broken, or wrong, or unloving, or unlovable, to be affected by how I formed.
It reminds me how death, and our fear of it, brings us straight back into those tiny formative children places in our souls.
And it reminds me how much easier it is to resort to saviorism than it is for us to let that tiny child soul inside us simply say “I miss my friend.” out into the cruel unflinching world, to embody and take full responsibility for our own feelings.
It reminds me how impossibly difficult it so often is to express our sadness and pain without attempting to minimize ourselves, or control the people around us.
It reminds me of so many shames and difficulties I feel in my social justice work, and felt previously in my romantic relationships and healing practice; How much of my learning, my preaching, my growth, and my encouragement of others to do better stems from a deep well of insurmountable pain that I carry with me every moment of my life. A pain similar to what Seb wrote about having carried, and so many more of us carry.
It reminds me how that pain which I can relate so deeply with Seb because of, was also a large part of the reason I never met them. Regardless of the countless social connections we shared through other people, I never managed to create a social opportunity for it to happen in the months between discovering their existence, and discovering their passing last Friday.
It reminds me of how double edged we all are, out here trying to grapple with all this collective trauma, all this abuse culture, trying to make a difference, trying to help one another, trying to heal, trying to Keep Going.
It reminds me of how much agonizing over death revolves around blaming ourselves for not being something other than what we were.
It reminds me how much energy we place into rationalizing the ways in which our natural responses to loss, and even the loss itself, are our fault, for not being enough, somehow.
So what I want to say, is that you are enough.
I want to say that limitations you have around your affection, your body, your time, your energy, your expression, your manner, exist for a reason, and that in some way, they continue to serve you, or they would not exist as they do.
I want to remind you that being told by anyone else how to love who you love is a statement about where they are at, not about your value or your worth. Even if your heart sinks, because you are not capable of answering their call to immediately alter your behavior.
I want to remind you that damn near every single commonly accepted coping mechanism for grief is manipulative and unhelpful, and that it’s ok if you feel the inauthenticity of those responses as we all try to feel better and remain whole.
I want to say all this because it is what *I* need to hear.
*I* need to hear that my boundaries, my needs, and my autonomy matter among the wave of grief that comes in suicides wake.
*I* need to hear that I am enough, curled up here by myself.
This is yours, also, if you needed to hear it too:
What you do is enough.
What I do is enough.