Embracing Damage

“Translated to “golden joinery,” Kintsugi (or Kintsukuroi, which means “golden repair”) is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic ware, giving a unique appearance to the piece.

This repair method celebrates each artifact’s unique history by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing it with new life.” – source

 

I want it to not hurt so much.

A mirror seems like a simple, ordinary, everyday thing. The glass, when not peppered with dust, makes everything clear and definitive, like the untouched surface of glacier water.

But its surface, and everything it shows me, weighs all of my thoughts down like hardening concrete. It pinpoints all of my scars and stretch marks, bringing them to life as snakes and vines, choking all of the stories behind them –

The ongoing years of fighting anxiety, depression, impulse disorder, and body dysmorphia which I have not lost, despite the hurt of the fight.
The reminder that I grew and birthed another human life.  
The blessing of having food and sustenance to begin with, when others are not so lucky.
The battles, while few, which I have won, my skin reminding me in wrinkled lines.

I have not forgotten or forsaken these things. I am grateful for how they have shaped me emotionally and mentally. Physically speaking, it’s another burdensome beast. For now, I know only this –

I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I know this in the silence of my family and peers, despite my ongoing efforts to look presentable to the world. I know this in the amount of space I take in the glass, in the seams I’ve stretched and ripped. There are days when I don’t want to leave the comfort of my bed, but the nightmares make me feel as if the sheets are there to swallow me whole. There are days of wearing heavy sweaters two sizes too large and long sleeved shirts and pants in the bleak of summer in order to feel small, my body not worthy of meeting sunshine. I cringe at every photo, seeing a monster instead of a human being. I want to fade away from the photograph as if I’ve changed time.

My eyes gravitate to every bump and roundness, sneering with disgust; as if our bodies should be made of nothing but sharp points and flat surfaces. But we are not paper. We cannot simply dissolve or crumple with the slightest touch. We are not just lines and corners, we are circles too.

The mirror does not know this. It ridicules me with its two-dimensional portrayal. It is a foe I have to fight every day. It tells me I am unworthy of many things.

This is life living with depression and BDD. Reflections become monsters and negative thoughts are parasites, overpowering your own voice with overlapping whispers of doubt.

“You are ugly. You are stupid. You are not good enough. No one cares about you. Your partner will leave you. Your friends will abandon you. You will amount to nothing. You are alone and always will be.”

And I am tired, so very tired.

Some days, my tears wash away the hourglass sand building up in my throat, others they just congeal together to keep me silent.

No more.

I am sharing this for two reasons – to be held accountable for the change I am implementing, and because I know I am not alone.

My perception is only a fragment of the entire reflection. I need to stop seeing imperfections as constricting ropes but instead as wayward rivers and lunar marias, war medals instead of battle scars – things to take pride in instead of covering with cosmetics or thick fabric. All of this takes work; the physical change is only a small part. Reshaping my mind to see a new image is the hardest part of all.

While I reshape, I choose to embrace the damage. I still want my scars and marks because they tell the stories of who I am. Instead of hiding them, I want to texture them in gold and goodness. I want to accept myself more than I want others to accept me. I want to know what self-love feels like, instead of hurt.

So for you, dear reader, I offer you this.

My support. To those who feel this same darkness, who wake up wanting to feel that small bit of beauty in the world again, you have my hand, my shoulder, my voice to help you keep going.

Resources. Some things I’ve utilized which have helped so far:
* Shine Apphttps://join.shinetext.com/

  • Used for daily self-care, meditation, and affirmations. This is a great app with informative articles and one of the very, very few apps which I actually pay for (it’s free, but you can pay a small monthly fee for the premium content. Worth every penny).
  • Fabulous & Wysa (AI daily check in buddy) are both great as well

* Write it down

  • My biggest flaw is commitment to an exercise/diet/self-care plan. If I have a planner or keep a notebook, put post-it notes or torn pages on my mirror to visibly remind me of what I need to do, I’m less likely to stray from those plans.

* Cut out the toxic

  • Listen to me carefully. Life it too short to keep negative people around. If there is someone in your life who is always on the downside – whether it’s negative speech, passive aggressive notes, abandonment, or complete dismissal or redirection of your feelings – cut them out. Defriend. Block. Mark out. It will hurt for awhile, and make no mistake, you will look back on it occasionally wondering if it was the right decision, but it will be worth not having to deal with unnecessary drama. True friends will let you speak but most importantly, they will listen. Keep around only those who truly love you for you, no matter what shape you hold.

* Keep positive images

  • Don’t focus on things that you want to be; instead keep photos of people and items that make you happy and who have made you who you are.

* Feel good music

  • It is easy and cathartic to retreat in melancholic music. There’s nothing wrong with that. When you’ve wiped it all away, make (and keep) a playlist of songs that put a smile on your face. Come back to this whenever you need the smallest boost.

And finally, and most important tip of it all – 

There is no weakness in crying. Whether it’s a moment, or a day, or longer, it’s your body expelling all of those things that tell you you are not worthy. Listen to it. Wipe it away and start anew. Embrace the damage and fill the cracks with something that makes you shine, because despite what you see in the mirror, happiness can exist in all of the imperfections.

 

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brown is okay with me.

a poem of clarity.

 

Brown is okay with me.

Do you view it the way I see?

 

It is the mahogany of the grandest trees.
It is the coffee and tea which raise you from your sleep.
It is the caramel of the sugar you burn.
It is the desert sand from which your gods are born.
It is the bones of houses, new and old.
It is the wool and fur, warming you in the cold.
It is the hidden gems beneath the earth.
It is the combination of color and warmth from your hearth.
It is the wheat through which your fingers pass.

It is the pile of leaves to jump into at last.

 

So why can it not be the color of my skin?

Of my parents, my ancestors, my friends, and my kin?

 

My bark, my shell, my bones, my hair,

Must count for some amongst the Fair.

 

For I have so many hidden gems beneath.

I am a fighting sword waiting in its sheath.

 

I am above and below and around and through,
Why can it not be okay with you?

i press restart.

Today’s soundtrack

-/-

Like many writers, my stories either thrive or suffer at the hands of my own anxiety.

When my indie publishing deal went down the drain, I went through a period of mourning. It was hard to realize that it wasn’t really my fault, that it wasn’t my material or me personally. It was unfortunate timing and bad ownership.

But it’s time to cover the wounds and trudge on. As F. Scott so eloquently wrote, “So we beat on, boats against the current[…]”. We are all just gluttons for punishment, after all.

What’s next in this vast publishing ocean? I find another route on the map.

  • I’m putting writing and re-working A Deathly Compromise (and its sequel) on hold for a bit and instead, making it available en masse for consumption. I’ve joined Wattpad and you can read and get updated on ADC for free here. The prologue and first chapter are already up and updates will come weekly.
  • I’m currently writing a new novel, entitled Shift – a detective noir YA/NA rooted in a magic realm, with murder, shapeshifters, and sassy sidekicks. Think The Magicians meets Cool World (bonus points if you’ve actually seen Cool World). Once I get a substantial amount done, I will start querying (I said gluttons for punishment, right?). In addition, I’m collaborating with a friend on a joint project that will bring a fresh perspective on the standard magical epic.
  • I’ll be exploring different resources and focus on making more connections on social media. That means – more blog posts, more writing bits for you to enjoy, more rantings of a writer’s life, for better or for worse.
    • Feel free to follow me –
      • Twitter: @theladyreva
      • Facebook: /officialcoralrivera
      • Instagram: /theladyreva
      • Wattpad: theladyreva
  • I’m going to get my reading back on. I firmly believe that the best inspiration comes from the worlds we get to experience, if only in our imaginations. So give me all of your recommendations and I will add them to my ever-growing list.
  • Helping others in the community is just as rewarding and serves as an incredible learning experience for your own writing. Lately, I’ve been serving as a beta reader and all-around encourager for a group of writers that just want their voices to be heard and to share their hard work. Revealing bits of stories, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, is a HUGE act of courage in the writing world. Many don’t realize that we as writers, thrive on feedback and use them as fuel for a lot of our creative decisions. If you would like to join this community too, I’d urge any and all imaginative voices to sign up at: http://www.polishandpitch.com. You won’t regret it.

Feel free to follow along on the journey – just bring a life vest.

The Long Road: A [De]Composition


I was whole.
I basked in the sun.
I relished in the way the sprigs of new wheat and tall grass touched my shoulders, my face, my skin.
There are still fragments of it on me, even now.

I waited.
In the end, we all take shortcuts. The long road seems so tiresome.
My feet touched the pavement.
I saw the mist coming off the lake in the early morning, a familiar ghost, a promise.
One foot in front of the other, they told me. Their voices are echoes rattling in my bones and muscles, a cacophony of calcium and cartilage.

I just wanted the taste of life between my hands.
I wanted to see the morning.
Fill me in, rising sun. Fill me whole again.

The impact reminded me of birth.
A light, a warmth, a strange place to wander into.
The comfort always came later.
I waited for it. Waited with shaking breath and twitching limbs and watering eyes.
The moon began to leave my line of sight. I no longer felt the pull of galaxies and universes between my heartbeats.
Fill me in stars, fill me in where the treads have emptied me.

I always thought too much.
Weighted decisions seem so distant and pointless now.
My brain is forced to stop now, to look around instead.
Time is limited, yet long, full of visitors.
I watched each one. Felt each one. Looked at their uncaring grimaces, and sometimes, words leaving their lips.

They do not know me.
They do not know the stories I hold in my spirit.
They only see me for what I am now, beneath them.
I have lived and birthed and eaten and stole and given and killed.
I have loved.

They want the long road.
Some will take shortcuts like me.
Some will be luckier.

The lake is far now, but I am not bitter.
I have broken apart, but I am starting a new story.
I have lost and grieved and wanted and cried and felt joy.

I am blood and bone and matter and hair on your wheels.
What’s left of me feeds others.
Fill me in, life, fill me into something new.

I am whole.
I bask in the sun.
I relish in the way I grow.
I was once fragmented and jagged but now I am full.
I am a piece of everything, everything a piece of me.

Child from the Garden, take two.

You know when you find something from years ago that you don’t remember writing whatsoever? I vaguely remember this – like most things I write, it came from a dream but I have long since forgotten the specifics. I’m sure the details that I wrote from my nightstand in the middle of the night are in some notebook in a box in my closet somewhere, but I may just opt to give this a bit of a different life. Or perhaps it’ll play on in my dreams where it probably belongs.
————————————-
The barn looked cherry red amongst the pristine white of the newly fallen snow. She hadn’t really noticed the brilliance of it before that crisp morning. The cold wasn’t bitter, but an incoming storm promised a change in the soft kiss that hit her cheeks. She followed his clean footprints to the edge of the clearing, up and down the small hills that eventually led down to the road. His navy blue coat almost blended in with the tree branches behind him. He turned his head slightly upon hearing her feet crunch in along the snow drifts. As she approached, she noticed his muscles tense, the worry in his eyes becoming more and more apparent. She stopped a couple of paces away from him, observing every little movement.
She stared at his hair, the longer strands whipping across his forehead in the cold wind. He didn’t want to look at her, but she silently begged for that contact one last time. She cautiously walked to him, lifting her hand up to his cheek. He flinched, her warm touch raising his skin. He didn’t say a word. She let out a small laugh under her breath and broke the silence. “Do you remember when you first came into my room all those years ago? The little boy from the garden.” He didn’t say anything, but closed his eyes at the fondness of the memory. It stung each synapse that once fired so brightly upon seeing her.
The snow began to fall in heavy flakes now, blankets forming on their shoulders and hair. He was so still, as if frozen in time. She wished with her entire heart that it were true.
“Please…” she finally whispered, fighting back a choking cry.
“You know that I can’t,” he finally answered gruffly. “It was stupid of me to come here, to see you. I need to go–the door will be closing soon.” He turned to leave but she grabbed his gloved hand. He was warm. He had always been so warm. He pulled away but didn’t leave.
“That’s you in there, don’t you realize that?”
“That is not me. I’m right here, flesh and bone and soul. I’m…” he paused to swallow the regret. “I’m just-” He shook the snow from his hair, clouds of breath escaping his lips. Despite the strong scent of the pine, all she could take in was the scent of his world, a combination of cedar leaves and lightning.
Tears began forming in the corners of her eyes. They would soon form miniature icicles on her eyelashes. “I don’t know what you want me to say. What do you want from me?”
He squared his shoulders forward, masking the wound she just inflicted. He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his coat, holding the lapels closer to his chest. He stole a glance of her; her brown hair caught in the wisps of the north wind, her brown eyes glowing and prominent like a wolf tearing his soul apart. “I wanted you, that’s all. That was everything.”
He turned away from her and darted into the clearing. She wanted to follow, but knew that she couldn’t. Her time in that world had run out.

she used to be mine – a love letter to an imperfect self.

Soundtrack.


If I could turn the clock back to 15 years ago, I would tell you to put them down.

I know in the melancholia of the evening, they feel like grains of sand and shells from the beaches some 45 minutes away. You haven’t been in awhile. You miss the salt water. You can feel it in your nose even now, the taste of it in the corner of your lips carrying the oil from your cheeks.

You grasp them tightly, feeling your fingertips curl into the flesh of your palm.
The shaking is minimal now, despite the ongoing turbulence of the yelling in the background.

You think this will shut the noise off.
These are not silencers, girl.

This is glass with rounded corners.
They will cut you by masquerading as warmth and kept promises.
It takes you for a fool.
The phone will ring. Pick it up. It will be a friend that needs you.
I know – When will someone be there for me? you ask.

This is a question that will never go away, especially when you’re my age.
You bite your tongue.
A little bit of blood is okay. It means you’re still here.
Throw that sand back in the ocean, girl.
Watch the waves pull it away.

However inconsequential it may seem, you matter in this moment.
You matter always.
Even when your words go unread, and your voice unheard, and your presence unnoticed – the world has a way of acknowledging your whispers.

The monster will return, this much I know.
You learn to bargain, to protest, to shape it back into something small and pushing it back onto the mainland.
It is as rough as the ocean.
But you will also learn to swim, pushing your feet away from the sand and off the ground.

Almost as if you are flying, when actually, you are living.

i could tell you the wildest of tales.

 |Soundtrack |

While I drive to work, I think of ways I can lie to my daughter.

It’s hard not to look back at her in the rear view mirror in the mornings during my arduous commute, watching her eyes drift off to places I wish I could go instead of driving through barren plains and highways. When she’s awake, from the opposite side of the car, we watch the dawn together – rays permeating up from low tree tops and misty hills. The sky is half midnight, half cotton candy. A gentle wave borders the cloud bank, rippled as if stopped by glass. Lightning etches the bottoms of the nimbostratus, whispering its arrival.

“Dragons,” I whisper, practicing my answers for the inevitable questions I hope she asks in the years to come. “In lands that mirror ours but don’t quite break through, there are dragons that fly freely. They hunt, they love, they play, they fight. When two young dragons play, their fire comes out in quick, thin bursts so bright, it lights up the sky in our world. When you hear loud thunder, the playing has turned sour.”

She stirs in the back, eyes dozing, her lips puckering as if to make the words she has yet to learn. She is beginning to slip into dreams.

“They come out for battles in the summer, flapping their giant wings and creating gusts so large they topple trees. They play and fight so much, there is not much life left. And when they leave, they take the warmth of the summer with them.”

At this point, I’m feeding my own ideas and talking to the air conditioning and squeaky brake pads. She’s asleep now, another 45 minutes still ahead on the drive. The best ideas come when my hands are holding steering wheels or baby appendages, never when I have a pen in hand. I make a mental note but will often forget – a hint, perhaps, that some of these stories are reserved for just us and the road and the sunrise. I continue to talk about the lesser known winter dragons, mermaids in pink lagoons, the fairy dust of stars and where the fairies go on cloudy nights (pester the dragons while they are trying to sleep, of course).

She’ll eventually know the right answers. When she is able to sit and speak on her own, speak to her friends more than her mother, speak with a voice I’ve heard echo in the back of my own mind, I hope she still remembers the summer dragons and their lightning storms. I hope she carries a bit of magic behind her eyes. Selfishly, I hope she becomes a liar of her own – a creator of worlds and fictions that would rival the greats.

I continue to drive. The cloud cover has passed now, sprinkles drying up on my windshield as the sun meets the periwinkle of the sky. I drop her off and think of a story for the afternoon. On the road, there is no word count to be met, no reviews, no red marks on paper. There is just asphalt and dreams and lightning in the distance.