Shaping My Summer Around “Jane Eyre”


The summers of 2014, 2015, and 2016 were rough for me. And by rough, I mean catastrophic. Each in succession was worse than the last, and at times I am genuinely astounded that I made it out in one piece.

This summer, on the other hand, has been totally palatable. Not amazing, but decent. Survivable. Nothing major has happened, and for that I am deeply grateful. There are a lot of reasons for the change (I have a job, college has empowered me, I’m not working through a breakup, etc.) but I feel like I owe a lot to a session with my therapist in June.

Historically, a lot of problems in my life are a result of the fact that I constantly crave validation from others. I sometimes behave in way that I myself abhor, and I know I annoy others with my incessant cries for attention. After my therapist revealed these facts about myself (which are demonstrably on-point), I gave myself a mantra that has been working really well. Every time I feel myself drifting from my resolve to rectify myself, I say this sentence quietly to myself and it will immediately bring ease to my bones.

Where else would a pretentious English major find a mantra but among the pages of Charlotte Brontë’s most famous work?

I admit that Jane Eyre is my favorite book. And while that fact may liken me to a slew of obnoxious YA protagonists, my preferences have a solid foundation (which I’ll explore further in another post). I’ve always wanted to attain the self-actualization that Jane achieves at the end of the novel, and one particular quotation is helping push me in that direction:

“The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.” -Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Alright, so…it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But those are the best twenty-five syllables of my life.

A first read of this quotation sounds rather bleak. But it really isn’t––it’s a woman proclaiming that she can be alone, with neither peas-in-a-pod friendships nor assurances of her worth from other people, and still have value because she sees herself as valuable. Her self-opinion became the only thing that mattered, self-respect more important than optics or popularity.

Whereas in years past I have felt empty and lonely, I’ve spent this summer learning to prioritize myself. I don’t feel the need to be constantly validated by others––a need that had only been growing more dire during my tumultuous spring––and that has been more liberating than just about anything. For the first time in a long time, I feel entirely self-contained. I’m learning to stop relying on other people, and it’s already a rewarding fight.

(Then again, I might find just about anything rewarding if it involved Jane Eyre.)

Ciao for now,
Mikki

Poem Every Day in July 1: Leaving My Therapist’s Office


 

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my photo

The moon is always
an entire orb, although
you trusted descriptions like “sliver”
and “the sky’s bright scythe”
to give you the whole picture

until Mrs. Griffin’s third-grade depictions
of the well-fed face’s phases
created a radical shift
in your notions of the heavens.

From then on, your eyes
sought the circle complete,
and you learned to see
the gossamer of geometry
that sits like a feather
on a dark lake,

proving that the existence of craters
and curves
cannot be smothered
by any lack of light.

You changed your paradigm,
but to the world
it was an old truth:
the heavy, hovering thing
has been floating there all along,
tucked, at times, into the back pocket
of the night sky,

but never gone.

Even when the moon, for all its ashy glory,
is eschewed from view,
its magnificence is present
and astounding.

Breakups


They suck, apparently.

It’s been over a month since I split with my ex-boyfriend and I’m still not really over it. At all.

0a134f738216560debdc0e5e71764726In that time, he’s done cool stuff with his friends and he has even obtained a new girlfriend. I’ve just kind of cried a lot. I miss the sense of security I had when I was in his arms, or cooking with him, or even when he would stop by my house on his runs and bike rides. It felt so nice to be wanted, loved, to feel special and important to someone.

I could sense when he stopped loving me. Those were a lot of nights spent staying up in bed, pretending to be asleep, with my heart rate at a million beats per second and a small puddle in each eye. I’d tried to break up with him a few times in the month before that–for his sake, believe it or not (that’s another story). But I still can’t shake how terrifying, how unexpected it was that he would stop loving me. I never stopped loving him during our relationship. I still haven’t.

I’ve been trying to fight so many of my negative thoughts that have appeared as a result of the breakup. A main one is reconciling the idea that someone could fall out of love with me  with my constant battle for self-love. Another is the loss of one of the best friends I’ve ever had–someone I felt so comfortable with that I never felt the need to hide any aspect of who I am from him. I don’t know how to feel about being discarded. I still want to be special to him–even if I can’t be his girlfriend, I want to be his best friend again. I know it’s impossible, but it doesn’t change how I feel.

Even with all of these things in mind, the absolute worst part is trying to get him out of my system. I think about him when I’m trying to sleep, when I wake up, when I get cold, when I need someone to talk to (ironically, the breakup has been the main reason for this as of late), when I see a joke that I want to share, and when I just need to see a face outside my family. I have to consciously remind myself that we won’t ever be the same, that some of the things I had looked forward to in our relationship will never come to pass. I can’t rely on him anymore. And although my feelings work to the contrary, I have no right to be jealous anymore.

Screen shot 2016-02-04 at 4.41.18 PMI’ve had to adopt a new mantra. Whereas pre-split I used to tell myself, “You are loved,” I have since found that that particular sentence can be very hard to believe (after all, he told me he loved me after he stopped meaning it, so how can I trust that anyone loves me?). The new one is also a challenge, but it’s a necessary challenge, because without it I can’t ever move on.

I am not his failure to love me.

I am worth so much more than his love. He is, after all, the one who failed. The one who wasn’t willing to work things out. The one who didn’t care enough about me to fight his cowardice and tell me he was done. He’s the one who lied, who kept giving me an empty “I love you.”

I tried to keep him. I tried so hard. But in the end, he wasn’t worth the effort. And that isn’t my fault. Nothing I could have done would have made him stay. And that isn’t my fault. It’s his fault. He is the one with the problem. He is the one who threw me away. He is the one who loses.

He was the best boyfriend in the whole world until he stopped loving me.  He was sweet, patient, cuddly, soft, honest, open-minded, kind, gentle, and maybe even a little indulging. In short, he did everything right. But it’s difficult–impossible, even–to forgive this one misstep. And maybe I don’t have to.

I will be loved again. I will find another friend like him.

I am not his failure to love me.

He is his failure to love me.

And that is not my fault.

Ciao for now,
Mikki (who, despite the odds, is in one piece)

phototropism: A Poem


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crying is a freedom. so are
the legend-of-pop stadium shows
I host in the bathroom mirror.
today (it’s been
too long) I rolled my window down
and let the wind ruin me.
I came home calm.
I snipped an inch
of brunette cumulonimbus
from my head–an inch
he may once have loved,
held, smoothed. can it only be
twenty-four hours ago that I
caged myself with him,
tearless,
motionless,
awful chaos contained?
a dandelion
spits her seeds into the breeze.
I’ll do the same with mine.
a flurry of idiosyncrasy,
unabashed.
watch the sunlight on my petals, now.
watch me turn to it
and grow.
this is what I am meant to do.

dum spiro spero: A Poem


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pour yourself
over your cereal and sip the brew

of you, press your pinkie
into the sponge cake

of your layers, step up
into three mirrors and

take off your pajamas,
shower in the revery

of coming morning orange,
hold yourself until your lungs

release the afternoons of
thumbtacks, whispering I

am an apple, dropping
from a flower,

worthy, red, worthy, red
worthy, from a flower.

The Ghost and the Spirit: A Poem


You are not the ghost standing
in mirrors in yellow-lit bathrooms
You are not the ghost materializing
in and out of this goddamn world
You are not the ghost holding breath
at the end of a razor
that ghost does not define you

You are the Spirit in white dancing
with sunflowers in the sunlight
You are the spirit reflected
(that others hope to reflect)
You are the spirit walking
with confident stride

You have known Sadness and
your relationship may be as intimate as ever but

the fact that you came into this world
crying
does not make your birth any less of a miracle

You are not a ghost

You are a Spirit

and the Sadness was never your creator