"Once, Helen [Keller] wanted to feel a lion.
Annie Sullivan informed the zoo.
A lion was fed; Helen entered its cage
and felt the lion from its head to its tail."
Annie, tell the zoo I’m coming
to feel a lion with my hands
head to tail, I want to reach
inside its mouth and feel the tips
of teeth. I want to know the girth
of his mane, know the texture
of a lion’s hair. Annie, tell the zoo
to feed him well, for I will take
my time. I want to know how long
a lion is, I’m told even the length
of my whole body will seem small
and ever-so-fragile next to muscles
beneath (what kind of) fur. Annie
I thought the unceasing self-loathing was normal. I’d grown accustomed to fighting with myself in my own head. Half of my brain said, “You’re no good. You’ll never do it.” Half of my brain said, “Please stop. I’m going to anyway. If you would just be quiet, we could at least try.” None of my brain felt well enough to get angry, to be sad, to feel much of anything at all. But this was normal. Having to convince myself that everyone didn’t hate me was normal. Struggling to do the basic human things like showering, sleeping, going to work, and hanging out with friends outside of my house was normal.
I had been semi-functional for a year this way, but I felt myself, my entire body, becoming tired of my own shit. When the thought of death became a daily source of relief, I had no choice but to start asking myself, “Is this as good as it gets? Is this how it’s going to be now?” Feeling as though life was lived through a glass wall surrounding my body, I did the most radical thing I could think to do: I decided to go see a doctor.
Do you want to be right, or do you want to be an ally? This is the question you have to answer. And it’s best to decide before opening your mouth.
You have to ask yourself, is the point of this conversation retaliation or communication? Choose wisely, because what you choose decides the direction of that conversation thereafter. Retaliation escalates; communication dissipates.
Everyone has the right to voice their opinion. Having a difference of opinion does not invalidate another’s. Now, I must pause to state that opinions which infringe upon another person’s right to live and exist are not opinions, rather misplaced judgments turned on their head to make the other person wrong.
An opinion would be:
run up this grassy hill with me.
follow my arm to where I’m pointing—
down there, in the brush,
the ant, snake, and armadillo—
there you are, there you are.
Now look, look
up at the eagle,
catching the wind, gliding.
That’s where you’re going.
Pick up the sand, the soil, the mud
feel it slip through your fingers
regardless of which way you’ve come.
Now turn, dance with me
arms up, twirling.
See the clouds building—
you did that.
at the hair standing up on your neck,
and the lightning illuminating the sky—
there you are.