Those deep ocean eyes tell me a story,
one that stalls behind gritted teeth.
I care not a fuck about spoken words,
let them crash amidst tangled feet.
I find comfort in the shared silence,
please tell me things without speaking.
We’ll become observant mother fuckers,
here’s to heart valves that start leaking.
Let’s prepare to get lost in the nothing,
we can find the light left in the dark.
It’s survival among the bitter and broken,
we’ll ignite to make this kindling spark.
I’m going to get all Carrie Bradshaw with this one and talk about relationships and love in 2016. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t trapped in a perpetual state of horror and confusion on most days. I am supposed to be lumped into the group of people called ‘millennials’. The ominous ‘they’ define a millennial as someone 18 to 33 years old, born between 1981 and 1996. I don’t think I belong there. My age says I do, but my mind, my soul and my heart tell me otherwise. I don’t agree with this millennial world of life and love. It’s borderline madness.
I don’t understand the way both men and women treat relationships today, whether it’s familial, friendship, or intimate. It astounds me. I see people force relationships for the sake of being in one. I see people stay in relationships for a number of reasons other than love. I see people hang on to toxic relationships that no longer serve them. I see people pretend to be who they are not. I see people who are afraid: afraid of who they are, afraid of love, afraid to let people in, and afraid of what people think.
I see relationships of all kinds splattered over social media because there exists this need for constant connection and validation. It has invaded our lives in such a perverse way that we are compelled to highlight each and every moment we live. We also feel this pull to check in with everyone else’s lives, not just every once in awhile, but constantly from dusk to dawn. I will admit, I am guilty of this on both ends of the spectrum. It annoys the fuck out of me and it makes me want to punch myself in the face.
Instead of a phone call, we get a Facebook message or a Snapchat. We are now forced to get to know people not face to face, but through a phone or computer screen, through typed words and 10 second images or videos. We have to play guessing games about how things really are. Feelings are mostly expressed through Wi-Fi, if they are even expressed at all. We no longer use all of our senses to experience getting to know someone. There exists this disturbing element of avoidance and detachment. There are things called ghosting, situationships, and now even ‘passive’ ghosting. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? Does anyone else find this ridiculous?
There’s no need to “catch-up” because we could just tap a social media app and see what you’ve been up to just by scrolling. True lines of communication are down. We’re forced to read into texts, snapchats, and messages. It’s as if face-to-face interactions are unwanted. Face-to-face means potentially dealing with confrontation, emotions, feelings, truth, eye contact, body language, our physical reactions to people, and oh my god… WORDS SPOKEN ALOUD to someone’s -FACE- (the horror!) Let’s just avoid all of that instead.
We’ve become too dependent on using social media to interact with one another. This keeps people at arm’s length. We only let people see what we want them see, let them in as far as we want them to go. God forbid someone sees the real you, in your raw and purest form, minus the filter. They might just run for the hills and never look back. Because aside from the highlight reels of your life that you choose to post or send, someone might think you’re boring, or stupid, or weird, or fucked up, or lazy, or crazy, or whatever. Even worse, they might end up liking you or loving you for the real, actual you. Those fools.
Is there something wrong with me? Because everything that most people seem to be running from is what I crave. I look for the in-between – – all the things and thoughts you don’t show to everyone else. I want your flaws, I want your scars, I want your quirky and your weird. I want your stories, your dreams, your secrets and your nightmares. I want what you look like when no one is looking. I want to be with you when you do the things and say the things that you might not dare to do or say on social media. Give me the good, the bad, and the ugly. Give me the boring, the lackluster. I want it all, true to self.
Tell me how it really is. Tell me how you really feel. Let me like you or love you for who you are, the whole of you. Because this is how you truly know someone. This is how you understand and come to fit with another person. If it works, it has to work based on the truth, otherwise you’re selling yourself to people in a bullshit smeared box of false advertisement. People like you not for who you really are, but for everything you want them to like. Which not only hurts them, but it hurts you too. It’s such a waste of their time and yours. If your honesty, your weird, your truth, is something someone can’t handle as a friend or a lover, then why do they exist in your life at all?
As we get older, we have to learn something. Sometimes, we learn it the hard way. We have to learn that not everyone is meant to stay in our lives, no matter how long they’ve been there. It’s about quality, not quantity. Sometimes, people don’t fit. And that’s okay. It’s better to be yourself. Be happy as the real you. And let others be happy as the real them. Stop molding yourself to fit where you don’t belong and stop forcing people to change to try and fit into your life. We should only be and stay in each other’s lives as ourselves. Having to force something never really works does it? It’s choosing when to let go and when to hold on. It’s facing and walking that fine line between committing to put the work in or walking away knowing it’s not meant to be. But if you choose commitment, you have to go all in or you might as well let them go.
Love comes from within. You have to love yourself first. You can’t use relationships with other people as a security blanket. You can’t use the love of other people to fill your self-love deficit. It’s okay to be alone.
I repeat: IT’S OKAY TO BE ALONE.
It’s okay to leave relationships if you’re not happy, no matter how long you’ve been in them. It’s okay to continue to be alone even if you desperately want to find love because you’ve been alone for so long. Love doesn’t come by force or out of desperation. It’s okay to not be married by a certain age, or not to have kids by this age, or to live life differently than your friends or family. If you are happy, if the person and people you choose to spend this life with are happy, then that is all that matters. Fuck everyone else. Honestly. Stop half-assing life. Stop half-assing love. If it’s worth it, it’s worth it. If not, go find your happiness and don’t apologize for anything or anyone that might stand in the way of it.
I’m not afraid to be alone. I enjoy my own company, more so maybe than most. People think that’s weird. I’m also not afraid to tell people I care about them. People think that’s weird too. Admitting feelings for people is a foreign concept. It’s better to pretend feelings don’t exist at all because then you never have to be embarrassed that you got shot down or that someone doesn’t care about you in equal measure. It’s cool to care less. I think that’s a load of bullshit.
Never be afraid to tell the truth about your feelings for people, especially if they are good. The world has enough hate and enough people hiding inside their self-made turtle shells shutting out truth, love, and whatever else. Seeing people happy and smiling and laughing, in part, because you love them and you care about them in the purest way possible without expecting anything in return is the best feeling in the world.
I am only afraid of one thing: settling. Settling in life and settling in love. For a while now, I’ve been pretty torn up, thinking that what I am looking for in this life doesn’t exist anymore. That’s not true. We need to learn to wait. Be patient.
Bouncing from relationship to relationship doesn’t give you time to discover yourself. Staying in an unfulfilling relationship out of fear of never finding someone that will truly make you happy is stupid. I’m sorry. It just is. It is also really fucking stupid to deny yourself true love because of fear.
If you find yourself alone, just keep working on you. Keep at that self-love. Keep growing. Love is everywhere. It doesn’t have to be defined by one singular person. If you don’t feel whole all by yourself, then that means you’ve still got work to do. Stop searching for your “other half” or for people to fill a void. You need to be whole as you stand alone. You need to fill the void by yourself.
And for fuck’s sake, if you find love, or feel love, and you think you might be ready, let it in god damnit. It might scare the shit out of you, you might not fully understand what’s happening, but just go with it. Stop rejecting it, stop denying it. Don’t be afraid. You never know what might happen if you put your walls down, especially if you’ve found the right one. Believe me, you’ll just know.
I see some incredible relationships between people out there. Some of my very good friends are in these bad ass relationships right now. Some are old, some are new. But these are the relationships that keep my hope alive. They keep me patient. They keep me believing. Most importantly, they stop me from second guessing that the kind of love I’m looking for doesn’t exist anymore. Because it does.
There is a key to love in the 21st century.
I believe this key is keeping love old fashioned. In every sense other than getting married and having kids by age 23. These couples stay old fashioned.
They have true communication: a relationship where anything and everything can be discussed without fear. There is trust: trust that you can be your true self and trust that love is enough. And also, trust that if love ever falls away, that you will not stay. You will be brave enough to say it out loud and leave before infidelity, chronic unhappiness, resentment, or the feeling of settling comes creeping in. Trust that if you are there and you are in love, there is no room for anyone or anything else.
They have love based on friendship. Who they are with happens to be their best friend. They can walk through hell and back and they will still be there. There’s a loyalty and camaraderie and a kinship forged between the two of them. They have an understanding. These couples have found their “person”.
They maintain the ability to be separate from one another. They are two individuals who have forged a life together, yet remain separate entities. Negative co-dependency doesn’t exist between them. They have a love built from self-love. They spend time together but they spend time apart. They have things they love without the other person. They remain an “I” instead of melting into this “we” insanity.
Most importantly, these couples are removed from social media. They still value time spent with one another in private. They are not compelled to snapchat, status update, or upload photos galore. Sometimes, most times, they disappear together without any of us knowing what the fuck they are doing. They could be doing absolutely nothing or boarding a plane to France. We wouldn’t know until after the fact, if at all. Value is placed on the moments no one knows about.
So what if it’s talking in bed for hours about nothing at all, or taking a spontaneous adventure? They understand these are moments not always meant to be shared. Because honestly, who should give a shit other than you two? These are the couples that don’t find themselves reaching for their phone when they’re together – whether it’s to update the world about what they’re doing or to stay updated on other people’s worlds. When they’re together, no one else’s status update really matters. Notifications can wait for another time.
Some of the best moments of my life have no trace. I was too busy having fun and being truly happy and satisfied in the moment I was in to reach for my phone to record it. And I way too busy to check in on other people and see what they were up to. If I’m doing something I truly enjoy or I am with someone whose company I love, or better yet, both of those things combined, I forget I have a phone at all. It goes on silent and disappears to the bottom of my purse.
What do I want?
I want to hear your voice. I want to see your face so I can mentally record the lines of your smile and the sound of your laugh. I want to be together without the glow of a cell phone lighting up every five seconds. I want to exist with you in a space where a cell phone is irrelevant. I want your eyes on mine and mine on yours. I want to be present in the moment we’re in – together.
I want to care less about other people and care even less if they care about me, or us. I want you to let go and be you. I want to be me. I want to get to know you, really and truly know you, for all that you are and all that you want to be. I want you to trust me. I want to trust you.
I want to talk a lot sometimes, and at other times, be comfortable in complete silence. I want us to be wild and weird, to be quiet and boring, and to love and live without fear.
I want to be genuine with you. I want be loved for all that I am. I want to love you for all that you are. And I want to give zero fucks if anybody else even knows about it.
We humans think we’re so much different than animals. That our intelligence sets us apart, puts us above them. But that’s a lie. We are no different. When you strip away all the capabilities that make us human, dilute us down to the bare bones, the feelings that hit the very core of us, we’re no fucking different than animals. No different.
We’re just as wild, just as unpredictable, just as untamable. Our nature is one of the same. When a human tries to tame a wild animal, they assume if they provide the animal with all they have to give in a nurturing environment, the need to react in a wild way dissipates, and the animal will acclimate to life as we see it. They will never turn on us.
There is always a chance they will turn.
No matter how much love you give, how much the animal is raised in our environment, how much their life strays away from the one they would have known in the wilderness, there is still that chance, every single day, that the wildness can override the structure. Humans are the same. We are a product of our environment, of our surroundings, of our past lives, and we’ve learned many lessons throughout our years in the art of protection and self preservation.
An animal has an instinct to react, regardless of how much love is shown to them. It’s second nature to resort to what has been ingrained in their psyche. Even when the world around them tries to show them otherwise, their go-to is the knee jerk reaction to people and situations – fight or flight.
Fight to survive.
Flee to survive.
We’re both left with choices..
the same choices,
animal or human.
Animals feel emotions as deeply as we do. They feel joy, sadness, grief, loss, rage, fear, pack mentality, love, rejection, power, they feel it all. Animals do not give a second thought to how they react. Time and situation matter not. A caregiver can provide all the tenderness and love to an animal as it would its own child, and with the snap of a finger, their jaws are ripping out your throat because you moved wrong, or you smelled weird, or the animal believed the situation was something different than what it actually was. Suddenly you are no longer a source of love.. you are a source of danger, and if they don’t react, you could be the death of them. And that will not do.
It’s always survival of the fittest.
They know the world is meant to cull the weak.
Humans act the very same way. We just hate admitting we’re more like animals than we think. The hunger, the lust, the primal drive, the desire to live, the desire to love, it runs deep within us. We can love so fierce, but oh can we run just as hard. The desire to protect one’s self, it outweighs many things, even at the expense of the ones who love us.
Instinct (per the interwebs definition) is defined as the inherent inclination of a livingorganism towards a particular complex behavior. The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern, in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a clearly defined stimulus.
And it has been said that environment is an important factor in how innate behavior has evolved. A hypothesis of Michael McCollough, a positive psychologist, explains that environment plays a key role in human behaviors such as forgiveness and revenge. This hypothesis theorizes that various social environments cause either forgiveness or revenge to be prevalent.
Sometimes, there are instances where instinct and animal nature have been overridden by the love of something or someone else.
This is what I choose to believe in.
That in spite of the things ingrained in our very nature as human beings or animals, there is the possibility to override them. We cross the lines, we break the barriers, we achieve a level of trust and emotional security that wins over the fight or flight response. We can accept the love we receive. You no longer smell different, your moves are no longer considered threatening, you are safe. Safe to love, safe to trust, and safe to hold on to. We can quit baring our teeth, raising the fur on our backs, and narrowing our eyes.
This is a gamble.
There is no guarantee.
But that is what life is all about.
Putting your head into the mouth of the crocodile and praying it doesn’t choose to bite down.
We ask ourselves, can we love hard enough to override our natural instinct? To battle the fight or flight, to overcome the fear, the rage, to accept the thought of giving ourselves over to someone completely, trusting them with our own life, without wanting to massacre them before they have the chance to do the same to us?
If animals know one thing for sure, it is the ability the love unconditionally.
Their requirements are primal:
don’t hurt me,
don’t kill me,
how can we work best to survive this life together,
to always communicate,
to trust completely,
and to love each other enough that they would die for another,
or die protecting their children, their lifeblood.
Maybe we should be less like humans, and more like animals.
If you’re a chronic liar, lying happens as easily as breathing.
No effort required.
I would know. I used to be one. I could bullshit my way out of anything. I could morph into anyone you wanted me to be other than myself. Along with the lies came cheating, deception, manipulation and multiple personalities on any given day.
I had lies upon lies, excuses upon excuses, built high like tidal waves – top them off with a frothy crest of fake apologies, then crash them into anyone and everyone around me. I was the choppy, rough ocean waters in a bullshit storm. Eventually all the lies caught up to me, crushing me under their weight, a violent tsunami, sucking me into my own undercurrent of forgery and fictional existence.
Lie to be popular.
Lie to protect.
Lie to escape.
Lie to save your own ass.
Lie to hold someone else accountable.
Lie to numb the pain.
Lie to be someone else.
See, I come from a long line of liars. That’s why it came so natural to me, it’s all I knew. I learned from the best. Lying to others but mostly to themselves, living their days with a constant denial of reality because their truths were unapproachable, downright frightening. The truth was frightening for me too.
Being honest with yourself means looking in the mirror to see – REALLY SEE – who you are and what kind of person you have become. Who wants to do that when you have become someone you hate or someone you swore you’d never be?
Like a liar. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. A cheater. A drug addict. An alcoholic. A horrible mother. An insecure scaredy cat. A passive man who lost his set of balls. An out of control spender. A vengeful psycho. A self-loathing asshole. A body ravaged by a debilitating physical or mental illness. An emotional wreck. A partner who stays in a toxic relationship. A friend among bad company or maybe you’re the bad company for your friends. A significant other who turns a blind eye to infidelity. A person who cuts others down to make themselves feel better. A fake. An abuser. A miserable fuck who spreads more misery. A weakling. An arrogant show off. A nobody. A freak. A nerd. A coward. A lazy load. A closet full of skeletons. A past riddled with ghosts. A human stain. A family dysfunction. Or simply… just.. you. NORMAL, everyday, YOU.
Secrets and lies. Lies and secrets.
Guilt. Denial. Regret.
What ifs? Who cares? So whats? But whys? Back whens.. Where now?
How did I get here?
Lies so we don’t see and they don’t see, so nobody sees… what’s underneath the facade. We see what we want to see. They see what they want to see. We let them see what we want them to see. The only thing that really ever matters though is the truth of it all. The truth you know is real. Your honest self. Your real life.
The truth means you have to take ownership. The truth means accepting things you think will destroy you, things you know might destroy others. Why face what you can avoid? It’s easier to sleep in a bed of lies than on an uncomfortable, lumpy couch with your truth. Sometimes, lies are easier to live with. Justify the intentional or unintentional things you do to hurt other people, make excuses for you selfishness or someone else’s, morph your tragedies into a reason to walk down a path of cold hearts and black souls where the bad luck never ends and you’re destined for a life less fortunate.
Lie once, lie twice, then lie some more. Each time, it only gets easier until it’s all you do, until it’s who you are. We lie because we’re afraid, because we fucked up, because we’re fuck ups, because we can, because we’re human. And each fib that survives makes the next one to come out of your mouth or into your mind that much easier until it’s second nature to spew bullshit like lava, hot and dangerous.
The truth is a hard pill to swallow.
WARNING: you could choke on your truth.
The truth about your life and the people in it, the truth about your actions, the truth about your feelings, your mistakes, your misfortunes, your dreams, your talents, your career, your blessings, your friends, your family, your lover, where you came from, where you’re going – – your past, your present, your future. EVERYTHING.
It’s better to start choking, right now, then rush to go give yourself the Heimlich maneuver by slamming your stomach into a table top, fall to the floor until you catch your breath again, dust that shit off, chug a big glass of ACCEPTANCE, get up, walk away and keep on keeping on.
Choke on the truth of it all and then revive yourself.
Lying is so easy. Lie to others and they won’t hate you, they won’t leave you, they won’t get hurt, they won’t think you’re weird, they won’t judge you… right? WRONG. Some people won’t like you. Some people will leave. Sometimes you’ll do the leaving. You can still hurt people. People will hurt you. You might just be weird – – but who fucking cares?
Lie to yourself and it’s easier to accept the things you don’t like about your life or the people in it, what you were born into, who and what your family is, what you did or didn’t do because of this or that. It’s E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G. Instead, get your hands dirty with your truth. Own it – – all of it. Change what you need to, what you want to, what you must. Or, grant yourself the capability to accept the things you cannot change and then endure them. Embrace them even.
Muddying the truth with lies, infinitesimal or catastrophic, only shelters you from the reality of all that is you and all that is your life. But lying won’t save you. It’s like a dead body that should have never washed ashore. The killer swore if he added enough weight, the body would sink to the bottom of the lake for all eternity. But you need a lot more weight than you think to bury something so heavy. And the lies can add up to something no amount of concrete mass could ever keep hidden. The truth always surfaces, one way or another.
Then, what felt like a day, but was more like a span of several years, I stopped lying so much, especially to myself. I started to resent the fact that I could look at me and tell my reflection something completely different than my reality and believe it. Really and truly. I kept denying myself the possibility to own my truth and accept it.
For so long, I relied heavily on the fact that my words and thoughts had the power to bend the truth to make people believe what I wanted them to believe and see what I wanted them to see. What I wanted myself to believe and to see. Because in all seriousness, my actual truth, well, sucks (most of the time anyways). But the fact is, it’s MY truth. No one else’s. It only matters to me and to those who care about me. And if they care, they stick around, despite my truth. I made it a point to try to be as honest as I could with myself and with others. And it had awesome results.
I can and do create change in my life.
Change when I need it, when I want it, when I deserve it.
I have the ability to accept the things I cannot change.
Accept my past, accept my mistakes, accept people for who they are.
I can let go of toxic people.
I can be by myself and not feel lonely or afraid.
I do not need to pretend to be someone I’m not.
I can be myself.
And people still like me.
I like me.
In fact, I like me more.
And if you don’t like me, oh well, that’s okay too.
I can speak honestly without fear or hesitation.
Sometimes the truth that comes out hurts..
but one simple truth is appreciated and respected more than a mountain of lies.
I let go of my past.
I try to live in the present.
I hope for the future.
I AM ME AND I DO NOT GIVE A FUCK.
I accept who I am, who I was, and who I want to be.
I’m no longer bound by the lies that kept me a prisoner, chained to my guilt, regret, resentment, anger and a whole shitload of other shitty feelings. I am free to let go of it all if I choose. Change is hard. Acceptance is even harder. But it’s worth the fight.
Tattoo sessions are hours spent between artist & client.
Between the moments of silence, drown out only by the buzz of the machine, conversations happen.
I’ve found my perfect tattoo artist. His presence is minimal. It reminds me of a calm before the storm. His voice is soft and his manner is professional. These aren’t just tattoos. This isn’t just work. He’s creating art. It just so happens the canvas is my skin. He’s serious and dedicated. I like that shit.
For my first sitting, we spoke a total of 20 minutes. He worked for five hours. Not once did I feel awkward in the shared silence nestled amongst the hum of his needlework. As he inked, a small lamp glowed from atop his forehead, illuminating my inner leg. His canvas. I spent my time peering up at the ceiling, picking animal figures out of the plywood board nailed there. I soaked in his selected artwork displayed on the walls of this alternative office cubicle.
The second sitting I longed for the spark of conversation. I found my comfort zone, ever small but present, so I sought after chasing my curiosity.
A confirmation of life perspective occurred in those moments.
The specific words exchanged are for me to keep.
I just want to share the perspective.
What motive drives you when the choice is made for your college education? For your career path? If it is money, you’re wrong. You need to choose with your heart, be led by your passion, and the money will follow.
If you do what you love, there is money to be made. Just as much as if you wake up every morning in complete dread, knowing you are on your way to a job you loathe.
What are you willing to exchange for the price?
You love what you do, it is passion. You hate what you do, it is work. It will always and forever be work. There is a way to do what you love and make money at the same time. Realize that sooner than later.
Driven by the almighty dollar, $100,000 in loan debt, and only now do I see the light.
It’s too late to go back. I had to accumulate more debt to get where I truly want to be. A means to an end. If I found a job in my undergraduate field, I don’t think I’d be happy trekking down that forsaken career path.
As a self-proclaimed introvert, why in the hell would I get my MA in Communication Arts you ask? Like I said, a means to an end. A degree in higher education puts flare on my resume. I worked hard to learn everything I could in the world of communication with the time I have to complete this degree.
Do I need to communicate all the time and whip myself into a fake frenzy inside extrovert façade land for the communication professionals folk? No.
I love to write. I love photography. I have an imagination.
I have a passion for the creative side of anything and everything. I love to work and I work hard. If I love what I do, I work harder.
If I can cultivate a career from that, it will be a happy one.
There is an artist. He is passionate about art. He is really, really good at what he does in every medium. Job prospects were bleak, a degree in fine art weighed lightly, choices needed to be made. Give up and chase this almighty dollar through factory production lines? Give in to all the voices condemning an artist’s life to struggle and poverty?
He found a way.
You find a way.
If you dream it, if you wish it, if you love it, it will come.
Opportunity knocked. And here you sit with your head lamp and a tattoo gun, needling forever ink into my skin canvas with a delicacy only a true artist can acquire. We talk about life. How similar your views are to mine, a confirmation of perspective. You are rich by your own standards. You wake up every day and do what you love.