anxiety, or, a letter to my disorder

I thought you’d be smoking a cigarette this time
And that every time you took a drag
Your face would light with the embers
And you would blow the smoke over your shoulders
And you would sneer at me and blow me a tobacco stained kiss
And you would laugh, “I missed you.”

I’ve wondered about you. I shouldn’t.
I’ve wondered about you the way I wonder about an open wound; I attempt to ignore it when others are around. But I stare at it and wonder what kind of scar it will leave.

So you left abruptly. The windows were thrown wide, a summer rain sweeping through the house, the wind scattering the pellets in wide open mouthed gusts.
I was busy picking up the pieces of the wreckage when I realized I didn’t know where you were.

I looked for you, too. In the place–you know the one–that you usually lie. Casually, your body splayed, dirt caked on your feet. Ruining everything. You weren’t there.

I became comfortable. I spoke about you and I didn’t bother lowering my voice. I spoke about you in the past, a nuisance that I’d rid myself of.
How long have you watched me? Watched me undress and unwind?
Watched me become comfortable with my body, with my breasts which are lower than they used to be, lower than most; with my tangled matted hair that won’t submit to the ribbon or the brush; to the deep ombré skin specked with wavy lines and purple scars? Watched me pull at the padding around my belly and lift my leg at the junction of my thigh and frown a bit and sigh. Watched me see these parts separately and then all together and then like them?

I didn’t look for you, and I should have. I should have felt your shadow hovering over me. When my heart leapt and I pounced on it and it became my prey and I was useless to my mind and powerless to stop it–I should have known. Your stench is everywhere.

Your shadow is cast over my existence; every part of me is chained to you and what you will do to the things I love.

Your touch turns what I love to ash.
I thought of ash, when finally I considered you. What you would look like. What kind of recurrence you would make.
And then I forgot about you. A burning Georgia sun blistered my back, and I didn’t consider you. I closed my eyes and let the wind take me away and I didn’t feel you.

Now you are here and you’ve brought me to my knees. I mentioned you–I should have–and they did as you wanted.
They thought they knew you. They told me to ignore you. You would go away if I ignored you.
An old boyfriend that I shouldn’t call.
But you have everything. You know everything.
You have covered me in ash and soot and you’ve made a mess of me again. I wish I could end you.
Hold you under water and watch the life flee from you.
But you hold my life in your hands, between your fingers, pulling deep drags from it, breathing the excess over your shoulders.
Here I am again. You are here also.


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