Friday, December 21, 2012

Today there was a big white wolf
and a camraderie of cold noses.

He stood tall, fiercely white,
infinitely curious and utterly alert,
in a field of ice rendered blue by the moonlight.
At one point, he pressed his nose to mine
and then sniffed my left cheek
as though testing the substance of me.
Then, once he was sure of me, we ran together.

He led me through fields of icy blue
across mountains and boulders and
the reckless landscape.
we rolled around on the blue earth
and he rested on my chest with his
nose against my chin.
(And for a moment there was a memory
of a softer, fluffier dog who liked
to lie on my chest and wake me
by pressing his nose to my chin.)

Through this harsh realm we ran, finally reaching
where many others had gathered.
Maybe we were a kind of tribe, an ancient family
that ran with wolves in blue ice and
sometimes met for a while to
sit around orange flames, sing songs
about sunsets and tell stories about
long forgotten things.

For a while we were all together, and then,
one by one, they all disappeared,
until all that was left was him and me,
alone, together, in our patch of
the collective unconscious.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pills, labels, diagnoses... seem to be, to some extent, an effective way of managing something big, difficult, complicated and nuanced. But they also take something that is big, beautiful, complicated, difficult, colourful and full of infinite possibility, stories, art, love and also healing -- something that is full of the self -- and reduce that to monochrome, only comprehensible because the thousands of shades of the thousands of colours are completely missing. Is it possible to be anything other than a "survivor" of mental health care? Why is it so horrendous to accept that sometimes things are so unfriendly and unsafe that the mind reacts with primordial protectiveness to save the self? Why then must we not trust the processes of the body and the mind, and find ways to work with them rather than ways to control them?

To understand, to dig, to excavate and to really connect with that space from which these needs arise is only difficult because there is a lot to be unlearned before one gets there... and yet, being there is easy, natural. NVC talks about needs as a spiritual energy almost, an energy that is linked with the universal human experience. How is any mental health venture that really takes you away from needs somehow preferable? Why is suppressing things so important? I think this is my fundamental disagreement  with pills and diagnoses. It is significantly more disturbing to me than the individual who chooses to ignore their problems because it's easy or socially more acceptable to do so, because diagnosing, you take away the colours, the experiences. In "treatment", as opposed to "healing", you diminish the person to turn them into some odd caricature of themselves. You rob people of their choices, and that is, to me, excessively antithetical to the whole point of existing and living and being.

I notice in me that when I meet someone new and feel safe, there is a very large part of me that wants to be incredibly friendly and giving of everything that I have and every fragment that I am. I am not very sure where this comes from, this need to share so incredibly, so totally and with infinite trust, and I have too often seen this impulse conclude in something painful, in an over-doing of hings that leads to hurt, to obligation and to a convoluted version of what I hoped for. I think sometimes when I love, I love like this - in this crazy, all-consuming hope that by giving everything I will be transformed into something beautiful, lovable and wonderful - both in my eyes and in the eyes of the other. And of course, it is particularly painful when in a more intimate setting this dissolves into a hideous caricature of itself. But I do not think that trust, sharing and community is necessarily a bad thing. Maybe it is a longing for that kind of trust, that kind of transformation, that kind of shared reality and experience. Maybe it is just that in being transformed I am alive in that most fundamental way - aware, hopeful, excited.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

We sat so close to one another that
I could feel your breath on my neck,
your stubble against my ear.
In that moment, I felt safe.
But later, when you sat
with your hand on my heart, and talked about
the next small fraction of the millenium
all that I could see was blackness.
I may really not have heard what you said at all.
And all I feel in this space of non-remembering is
naked, terrified and exposed.
Dreams and hopes have a kind of rawness, and dreaming
can be so singularly unforgiving.
And love --
Well, love is only the golden glue
that holds together the thousand fragmented prayers
and other broken things.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

this is not my story.

it's not just that
i am bruised and beaten.

my story does involve
wounds, bruises, losses and terror.

but in my story there is a large
st. bernard to lie under
when life gets tough
and everything hurts.

my story involves art and colour,
great love and good sex,
daniel craig's bottom and
harry freaking potter.

it involves a jeep to drive
my huge dog and me
through craggy mountain passes.
and standing under a thousand
buddhist prayer flags
at the edge of a cliff
where there is nothing but me,
the silence and my dog.

my story is about
crazy rides in the middle of the night
and songs about existential angst.
and random runaways and lasagna.
and a month of cooking and sharing food.
and yummy chocolate almond desserts
with no thoughts of
carbohydrates, waistlines or cancer.

my story is about connecting
through my being
and living with those
empty spaces within me,
which because i live with them
will be empty no more.

my story is about
being happy and without guilt or shame
for wanting and needing.

this isn't it.

there is a story i'm writing,
about vulnerability without destruction
and love without shame -
- and this isn't it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


inside me is a very very tiny person
running around in very very tiny circles
going "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" like
a baby panda.

inside me is a tiny scared thing
that wants to lie for a very long time
under a large, soft and cuddly
st. bernard.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

there is something in my mind,
like a memory stirring from deep sleep.
something about back alleyways
and things not meant to be seen.
it's a memory made of black and white
and the occasional red
is like the riding hood so far untouched,
to be tarnished, torn apart
and left undone.
it's a memory at my fingertips,
something warm and cold all at once.
and every now and again i can feel it,
like the ghost of a hand at my waist,
or on my shoulders,
or rising up my spine...
a kind of knowing that exists only
in those deep spaces
that are not meant to be seen.
they are just known,
like the instinct that guides
the north to the south,
the dark hunter to the bright red.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

my fear is inertia -- that space
where everything freezes in slow motion.
for months, small waves of sound, light, fear,
have been heading towards me,
my body has been poised to respond.
in these moments which are months, i become
the eternal primordial battle between fight and flight.
i become that fleeting sense of panic,
that electric shock of alarm,
that explosion that protects from pain and death
and that without these is nothing.
i am the formless, nameless, unknowing need
for shelter and safety
and the total chaos of very many plans
and no idea what to do.

my fear is that this inertia will betray me.
i fear that by the time you're done
defeating the felboars and voidwalkers
the inertia will have carried me to
the edge of this land and across the border.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

the keeper of things

on the other hand there is
my own carelessness in giving away
things put together with
thoughtless delight,
things that seem meaningless until
they are seen and touched
and held and kept --
like you did, so carefully,
the tiny white styrofoam house --
my absent-minded dream of home and safety,
my thoughts of building shelter, brick by brick,
my hopes for me and you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

(r.i.p. happy yellow pill)

those aberrations and oddnesses--
in deep dark recesses
they had waited for many years
until it was safe for them to return.
sometimes it takes a single moment,
a cataclysm, the hoot of a motorcycle horn or
a peaceful wave.
at other times, it is a slow resurgence of
squiggles, doodles and colour
from a world of straight lines and
very many boxes
(to that realm where boxes don't matter
and lines can just go fuck themselves).

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sleepy Puppies

some puppies, when they wake,
like to wag their tails and bound.
but other puppies like to snooze
and won't wake for any sound.

they'll sleep through earthquakes,
through wars and through rain.
and if they're shaken, open
one eye in disdain.

they'll shift a bit and grunt a tad
and make various puppy noises
they'll stretch their paws and rub their nose
and, while the waggy puppy rises,

find another comfy pillow
like a cushion or grass or your arm
and go back to happy sleepy land
where it's nice and safe and warm.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

sometimes loss is
a huge wave of sorrow
that crashes to the shore
and destroys
everything in its path.
at other times, it is
little more than
a fleeting hope
an everyday desire
cut to pieces by
a sudden silent emptiness.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dropping the Story?

There's a photograph on facebook with the caption "Who would you be without your story?". And I have all these thoughts.

What if one was to shed all the "what happened" and "which led to what" and "because of whom" and so on? What if one did that thing in which one "dropped the story"? Who would I be? ... it's almost liberating, as a thought, isn't it? What do you guys think?

In some ways then all stories are a form of madness, or an expression of madness; partly because they're an expression of a particular reality and limited, but also because they're speaking of all those hidden impulses that do not necessarily emerge in the everyday expression and experiences of things.

Someone once told me that there is only so much one can experience in one's own life, and reading is a way of experiencing more, seeing more, knowing more, learning about experiences otherwise denied to us. So is reading like a journey through someone else's neurosis? Is that why it's so intimate, almost, sometimes, to read a book?

Someone else told me, very recently, that the neurotic cycle really lies in the state where we relive the stories we tell ourselves. And in that there is the hope that when one "drops the story", one becomes more tangibly aware of the now, and can revel in the experience of the now. Can one really experience without stories?

Then there's the thing about how we learn through stories. It is not through experiences alone that children grow; it is also through imagination, stories, imaginary friends and pretend games. And those are crucial too. So could we exist without stories at all?

Saturday, October 6, 2012


it takes no more than a touch,
a single instance of affection,
a passing wave, a casual hug.
my molecules remember.
they flip their mitochondrial beans
trying to align themselves magnetically
from north to south, from east to west,
from cheek to heart, and ear to chest.
every now and again they do
a bit of a tap dance on my nerves.
they're bounce and they fly
madly around in tiny circles
completely perplexed by
this oddness of wanting that which isn't here,
of knowing that there is
a south to the north, a west to the east,
and no way of bringing them together.

Monday, September 17, 2012


I wrote to all these people
that I used to know.
people who hold pieces of me
that I cannot recover without them.
it's strange how sometimes
one isn't one
but many little pieces that
one has with a lack of foresight
given away.
anyway, I wrote to them and said
I miss them (and
I'm going insaaane and
blaaaaah and
blaaaaaaah) but
the truth if you ask me
is that I miss you
because you have all those pieces
and so many more
that I with a lack of foresight
handed to you on a plate
to watch as you kept them aside
on a table so littered with clutter
that I think it's all buried
and who knows when you'll even see
all these little pieces
and who knows if when you see them
you'll know who they belong to.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


In NVC (Non-Violent Communication), we talk about feelings and especially about needs as the fundamental core of all things we do. We distinguish between the perception of an incident (observation), the feelings that it inspires and the needs that these feelings touch upon - met or unmet. Needs are said to have a living energy, a kind of surge, a power of their own. You can find them hiding in your belly, knees, hands, chest, neck... and sometimes just touching upon them releases a burst of energy. This is not dissimilar from the principles of psychoanalysis, where touching upon the "basis" of sometime releases the knots that have been tied by that thing.

(Sometimes I find myself wondering about specific kinds of feelings... guilt, loss, shame... are these really feelings? How would we perceive these within the spectrum of NVC?)

Then there is the question of anger, much demonised, quite rejected... as a feeling, it's pretty much the epitome of negativity, poisonous to your thoughts and blood.

Today, though, while experiencing what has otherwise been classified (by myself and other people) as fear, anxiety, stress and panic, I felt anger. This is hardly headline news, though the experience of anger this time around as remarkably different from what it has been before. Perhaps because every time something like this has happened, I've not stopped to wonder if what I was feeling was indeed anxiety or something else altogether. All I felt was a jumbled mass of potent, incomprehensible STUFF. I've often described what I've felt as anger, and indeed, that is also a valid definition. But what I felt today had me wondering if perhaps anger is also a NEED and not just a FEELING.

My counselor evidently has a friend who spoke of how, when people get angry, they scream, and surmised that on a sensory level, then, anger is actually a way of expressing to someone that they are too far away. That they can't hear you. That you're unheard, in one way or another.

Anger, I think, can be a need. There are things inside you that cannot emerge without the shield and simultaneous vulnerability that characterise anger, and sometimes to bring those things to life, you need anger. Sometimes you need to be able to fight for yourself, isn't that a need too? Sometimes you yourself are blinded by your preconceptions about what is right and wrong, what is poisonous and foul and what is wonderful... and you fail to see those things that are wretched and miserable and a little broken that are, despite your greater sense of logic and whatnot, a part of you. Anger is also those needs, struggling to be heard across the vast chasm that you've put in between your idea of yourself and who you really are.

I sat today for a very long time with my happy yellow pill in my hand, thinking about anger. What I have been feeling for a long time, while rejecting it often, is anger. Anxiety too, but anger predominantly. What I have wanted for a while is to have someone who can hear this anger and accept its expression. It's alive, damn it. And I need it to survive too. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Absences - and what I learned today

The absence of someone you care about can be really disorienting and odd. But, like someone told me today, if we pay attention to that space, it can be enlightening, and teach us just how we care for that person and what they mean to us. Which in turn can be empowering, because you realise that it isn't that you can't function without them -- because of course you can, even if you feel kind of miserable and low and weird and just a little out of sorts -- but that their absence makes known spaces that they cushion or buffer. Those are spaces in you that you can learn from, just like fear is a space that can be clarifying in unveiling those hidden unspoken things, desires and promises, failures and catastrophes, memories or anticipations. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Moment of Clarity #1

So today while leaving the house, the landlady's dog came out to give me a shy headbutt. And of course I stopped and we had a bit of a conversation about who the best doggy in the world is and how I do most certainly believe its her. (This is, I have to admit, a post I assign quite randomly to all dogs. I don't know how you'd choose between dogs to say, "this one is better" or "no, that one is not good enough". Ick, what a horrible thought.)

As I was petting her, SOMETHING came and sat down on my forehead, and when I ducked a little, it FLEW away. Anyone who knows me knows that this is enough cause for me to run around in tiny circles screaming "MOTH MOTH MOTH MOTH!" For those who do NOT know me (this is that moment in the blog where I imagine a lot of people are reading this little thing), a little background is necessary. Ever since I was a child, I've been incredibly terrified of moths and butterflies, the result of a toddlerhood experience where several of these loathsome creatures lodged themselves in my then very curly hair. As a result, I've embarrassed myself in a number of situations in my adolescent and adult existence.

A recent experience with some healing processes however has kind of unlocked this phobia. I'm still not wildly fond of moths and butterflies, but I can tolerate their existence and there is no screaming or running around in very tiny circles like a loon. Like today. When the moth/monster flew off my forehead, briefly lodging itself in my helmet before taking off, I did...

...exactly nothing.

A while later, walking to my scooter, I realised that the healing processes have had this weird, unanticipated sort of result, and I celebrated that. I also realised that in all my previous dealings with the winged world, I have not had the kind of control I had today. In fact, if anything, I was compelled to do whatever I could to protect myself - although how screaming and running around in tiny circles is protecting myself, I do not know. Nonetheless, this led me to a moment of clarity.

These are rare, so they must be noted.

Fear is compelling. When you're afraid, in any manner, you lose control of your facilities and your body goes into a self-protective mode. Concurrently, when you find yourself doing odd things -- screaming at people who get 'too close' (which in the Delhi context is really Just Common Sense), but also at those other people who get too close in a more personal and therefore perhaps slightly more alarming sense, being one example of this kind of behaviour -- odd things that you're not really in control of, things that seem mad or insane to everyone else and even to you in retrospect ... perhaps really you're just doing them out of fear. And maybe if you can put a name to that kind of fear, or as I did with my moth-phobia, turn it into a shape and let it fly away into the more accepting arms of the universe... then just maybe you can deal with it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

March 27, 2012

it's about little bottles of olive oil
and comfort in separation
and the right kind of mixer-grinder
and the common imagination
of these things that seem so tiny
and irrelevant and silly
but which become tiny pockets
of being cared for and really
...well, happy

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Old, Worn Socks

This is a wooden box,
For my old, worn socks,
These I no longer can wear,
Socks, old and worn,
Can be comforting and known,
But they can leave you cold and bare.

I could wear them for a while,
And they would make me smile,
And inspire a nice long think,
When when all thoughts are thunk,
I'll put them in the trunk,
And put on the bright new pink.

So my old, worn socks,
In your little wooden box,
I'll keep you all away,
And wear socks that are new,
And pink and red and blue,
A bright new colour everyday.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When you break (January 26, 2012)

When you break
little pieces of you

If you break with grace
and dignity
and accept that you can break,
then on occasion you can recover
those pieces of you
that shattered
in little nooks of your memories
and corners of your heart.

But if you wait for
a passing breeze
or a casual word
or a careless touch
or a hurtful phrase
to knock you into a wall,
then you shatter into little fragments
and you can never recover
those pieces of you
forever hidden in the darkened corners
where you've left them
to be forgotten.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three nights ago, we talked about you for the first time. I hadn't ever talked about you before, see, because so long as you were the shadow of a hope in my heart, no one could take away the dream. But somehow in the middle of a terrible quarrel, you came up. I won't say the mention of you calmed me down. Instead, it did something quite different and unprecedented. It sliced through the pure opaque blackness of my blind rage, the one that had left shards of glass on the floor. Maybe I shouldn't tell you that the hands that will guide you, and feed you, and nurture you, and teach you, and learn from you, belong to a singularly neurotic woman. But you must know that this sliver of bright light, which started out only as a small burst, has cast the rest of it in shadow, as the slowly rising sun might cast a warm, near-hopeful glow on the world. This is the first thing I want to tell you. Shinjiru koto no hakanasa wo kimi ga hikari ni kaete yuku...

Monday, January 9, 2012

January 10, 2012

She's going to sweep them away,
the fragments of the cups and plates
I broke last night in anger.
But there will be these tiny shards,
snuggled in the corners,
where no broom can reach them.
They will lie there for a while
until one day I see them and
am reminded
of a distant horror, a fading memory
of hysteria and guilt and shame.
I will shake it off, and pick up
all the shards with my hands,
throw them in the dustbin, and
never see them again.
The cuts on my fingers will heal soon,
the blood will wash away,
and nothing will remain but the distant horror,
a fading memory, and a lesson
buried somewhere deep within.

January 5, 2012

Little Happy Thing
A Terribly Mismatched Poem

You aren't supposed to be sappy
About little tiny things
But this did make me happy,
And so it counts
for a moment memorable enough
for this account.

There was wind my hair
and the ground
swept away as the motorcycle flared.
The sun caught my eye,
already bedazzled
with every moment passing by.

There was the warmth of a hand
on my knee,
and time did stand still
just for that moment, that first
touch, with which
my heart, of the non-anatomical persuasion, did burst.

See, this is quite sappy,
And a little tiny thing...
Why should one touch make you happy,
and make you want to sing,
Of rainbows and sunshine and muffins,
And other happy things?