Often, I think of myself as emotionally adjusted
clear as sunlight streaming through the window
on a winter morning.
And usually, I am.
Usually I’m okay,
as okay as everyone else
who watches comedy shows to laugh
while feasting on a midnight snack.
Except these days, more laughter’s been needed
and more chocolate
and crackers with cheese
but no wine, to keep it on the healthy side.
Am I sated, or still hungry?
On the eleventh week of a twelve week workout
without any progress photos (to document the improvements)
because I don’t need that kind of evidence (not until the very end anyway)
because I feel like I failed.
I no longer recognize when I’m hungry and full
because even when my stomach is full
I still hunger.
Perhaps afflicted by a disorder all these years,
all these years of good and trouble,
years that have shaped a distorted relationship with food.
I should be proud of eleven weeks of sticking it through,
but I’m ashamed
that I don’t see the fruits of my labor
that all the work has been for nothing
because of my hunger,
desperate, like a starved animal.
Somewhere along the way
maybe food became a currency of love.
There weren’t many words
or things beyond the need,
but there was food.
Food was okay
because food is sustenance.
Food meant provision of basic needs to live,
and then some.
Then it became a story of how food turned gray and shiny.
Comforting, like the glow of Christmas lights
Harmless, like a second helping.
Delightful, like mini doughnuts and Dippin’ Dots.
A pair of shoes were incredulous, but not a sandwich.
They’d rather see you a little more on the fat than thin side
because as long as you don’t look like you’re starving
like you have enough, or a little more than enough
you’re healthy and fine.
It will look like
they’re taking care of you.
They’re playing their roles just right.
Who can blame the ones we love
when we don’t feel their love?
Often, we speak in different languages.
if you don’t hear it, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Of course certain people love us
Even if we don’t feel it
Even when there aren’t the right words
even when they can’t seem to know you,
after all these years.
There is love.
Maybe it’s the norm
to hope that when you speak,
and won’t forget.
Or be distracted by the television.
Or a phone call.
Just trust that your answers
won’t get buried beneath the busyness of work.
And when it does,
what can we really do,
but move on,
with the help of God and the gospel.
(even if that oscillates too)
Trust that it comes from a good,
albeit imperfect place.
Even when they respond
that aren’t their own words.
Maybe they don’t know what to say
or how to think
We’re all broken somehow.
Even when the structures they build to protect you
always crumble and leak
and you tiptoe as though eggshells covered the floor
with shadows of broken promises
lingering like the smell of cigarettes.
I guess we’ll take it.
And learn how to feed ourselves,
and not be a burden,
because we need to eat
No one is perfect.
And we forgive the ones we love
even when they try to hold us by the neck
using hypothetical dying wishes to tie us down
to posts of their own choosing.
If only they didn’t teach you how to stand
but clipped your wings
so that they can hear you sing from up close
Like love is in the air
and everyone’s plate
has a slice of cake.
for the ones we love
even when we’ve long run out
and start wondering if it’s ever been filled.
Our tanks have holes from decades of crossfire
but doesn’t everyone?
Isn’t everyone in some form and amount of pain,
and dealing with it?
even if we don’t have love (or feel it)
Can we demand love?
Can we resent others and blame them each time
we don’t seem to have it?
And make them feel guilty
because they’re not playing their part right.
Or are we blind to the streams that want to fill our tanks?
So we try to plug the holes with bread
and the guilty, broken spirits
manipulated into submission,
conflicted in will,
will guard our tanks while they try to figure it out
(if they ever will)
and make sure that you’re well fed
maybe a little on the fat side,
like they’re coddled
because even if it’s not the healthiest,
a little more is better than nothing, isn’t it?
Then we can all enjoy the serotonin
of a midnight snack together
while laughing together
at a sitcom.
I don’t like to tie down, but desire to hold others lightly
as lightly as I want to be held.
I don’t believe that anything
can fill my tank
and fix the holes
the way I need to never be hungry
because I would need the River itself.
Love can’t exist in a vacuum,
and needs community and family,
but to use community, family, and friends to fix it
would be to put them
beneath a weight
that will crush them.
To the kind ones who sit beside my tank,
resting a hand on it while we share milk and cookies:
I’ll figure out the rest eventually,
whether I’m hungry or full,
and how to make food not shiny
for a body that I want to care for.
I’d rather shrivel up like a leaf
and crumble in the wind
than hollow someone else out
by sucking whatever blood I need
like a parasite.
Of course, you say you love me
that you have loved me, all these years
and I believe it
I will believe it
and remember it as best as I can
one memory after another
like counting sheep
to be able to fall asleep.