the comeback kid comes back

i have finally made it back to santa cruz, california, which i first visited exactly two years ago (i accidentally timed this trip perfectly, which i’m seeing as god letting me know they’ve got my back). this is the part of soultrip that i have been looking forward to the most.

santa cruz is the place of my dreams; i have missed it ever since i left. i wasn’t sure, though, until today how much of my love for this place was actually love for this place and not just my love for my best friend who i was visiting the first time i came here. i hadn’t seen her in years and it was overwhelmingly good to be with her again – you can see how those feelings would be easy to confuse for love of this town.

but as it turns out, i do love santa cruz!! like a whole lot!!! i took the ramp off highway one into town and found myself saying “i missed you i missed you i missed you” out loud over and over to this town that i knew for four days two years ago. i…am in love.

downtown santa cruz, the love of my life

i perused downtown some today, where i spent hours upon hours each evening during my last visit while my friend worked. the bookstores (it has TWO bookstores in only THREE BLOCKS) are every bit as beautiful and wonderful as i remember. the religion sections in them are ginormous and i remember crying over them the last time i was here because they have books about religions which are not christianity. that is decidedly not something that happens in the midwest.

i wanted to buy SO MANY books, but kept it to just the meaning of mary magdalene: discovering the woman at the heart of christianity by cynthia bourgeault, which i have wanted for weeks and weeks. i can finally close that amazon.com tab on the chrome app on my phone, leaving only the 75 other tabs open. (that’s a literal number, btw, not hyperbole.) i love mary magdalene so much and tomorrow i’m gonna read about her on the beach. life is the damnedest thing.

~|~

the everyday traveling part of soultrip is a week old today and i am potentially the happiest i have ever been. i’m so happy, in fact, that i don’t even have the, like, capacity to handle or process it. it’s hard not to let it be encroached on by the fact that this trip will eventually end though. i feel – meant for this in a way i didn’t expect and am unsure what to do with. traveling constantly is tiring, as is to be expected, but it invigorates me, too. it brings to life parts of me that were not being brought to life before.

maybe it’s less that i’m meant to be a vagabond as i’m good at it. i mean, obviously a week is hardly long enough to know whether it would work as a lifestyle (and i’m not sure it’s a lifestyle i would want, tbh; i like people too much not to get to build relationships with them) but as a hobby? i’m fantastic. i’m calm and confident, at ease with ever-changing situations and unfamiliarity. my frugality is an asset, as is my self-discipline (something i wouldn’t have even described myself as having under different circumstances, though i think it’s always been there). and i’m learning to assess my limits and react to them accordingly; i spent most of the past weekend curled up in a hotel room in lake havasu, arizona, working on writing projects for the fun of it.

that break was exactly what i wanted to do at the exact time i wanted to do it, which is the greatest luxury of this trip. the opportunity to do as i please when i please is intoxicating – and enlightening: this trip is showing me that my wants are worthy of being carried out simply because they are my wants. “i want to” is a good enough reason to do most anything, so long as it isn’t harming anybody.

it’s a lesson i really thought i’d already learned, but i think sometimes that the easiest things to know are also the easiest things to forget. i’ll admit though that that lesson remains hard to live out right now – i still feel this weird pressure to meet some unnamed somebody’s expections for how i choose to spend my time and where i choose to go on this trip. but i’m getting better at ignoring that and remembering that this trip is for me.

~|~

caffe pergolesi is a paradise

i’m sitting on the deck outside my favorite coffee shop in the world (caffe pergolesi, situated one block up from the main drag of santa cruz’s downtown) watching the sky become this captivating shade of deep blue. caffe pergolesi is housed in an old victorian home and merrily esconsced in foliage – the decks hold small trees and climbing vines and the yard is cornered by towering trees, including the palm tree which is my favorite. altogether, these things make the shop feel like a pocket universe for the well-caffeinated.

i had a huge crush on the barista who was working here when i came two years ago. she was tall and friendly and had tattoos on her calves and she remembered me each night which was both the best and worst thing to ever happen to me – i cannot, absolutely cannot talk to women i’m attracted to to save my queer little life. at the time, i’d only been acknowledging that i was bi for about a year, making me a baby queer. i am, in multiple ways, much older now than i was then. when i think about that ky it’s almost impossible to reconcile that she was 23 and i am only 25. it seems like there’s a lot more distance between the two of us than there is. i’m pleased with how 25-year-old me is doing, most especially because it led me back here – and alone this time, which was unthinkable back then.

before i left, i was wary of being alone on this trip – not so much because i had doubts about my ability to do the trip; traveling doesn’t scare me and neither, as it turns out, does solo traveling, momentary panic beforehand aside – but more because i expected to feel sad if left by myself and to discover that my mental health issues are even vaster and more overwhelming than i thought.

it has turned out to be the exact opposite. i love myself, i enjoy my own company, and i really am so fucking ecstatic to be on this trip that sometimes i can’t breathe. doing something that makes me this happy makes me really proud of myself, as well: look at me go fulfilling my dreams! i have so many positive emotions about and towards me right now that i’m fighting tears as i type. and i haven’t changed! i’m the same me who left central illinois two weeks ago. or – maybe i have changed, but mostly in that i recognize more of the good things in me than i did before. i feel settled in myself again.

as much as i would have loved to have company on this trip and would be enjoying company now if i had it, i definitely needed to do this on my own. i needed the reminder that i am capable of making good decisions and of doing so quickly and confidently with only myself to rely on. i am enough. i can trust myself. this trip proves that to me every day all day long. so those mental health issues i was worried about? entirely manageable. i mean, will i still need therapy when i get to seattle? you bet your ass. i have a lot to work on and it’s going to take work; it’ll be hard as shit. but honestly what isn’t?

and god knows if there’s one thing i’m good at, surviving’s it. i am a comeback kid.

~|~

if i have a hope for my life after this, it’s that i can figure out how to take all of the best parts of life on the road and transcribe them to fit life off the road. i want to always be confident and full of self-love and in the pursuit of adventure.

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The Dream™

i watched the sun set at the edge of the grand canyon last night. which doesn’t feel like a true sentence even though i have pictures to prove it. other unbelievable things about the canyon include: how huge it is oh my god and how anybody ever in their life thought that going to the bottom of it was a thing that should happen. if i had stumbled across it in the way back, i’d have turned my ass back around like “no nope nuh-uh i’mma pretend i never even saw that by never going that direction again in my life.”

the canyon doesn’t look like how i pictured it, you see, which was as one sheer cliff directly across from an identical sheer cliff with a river at the bottom that you could conceivably get to if you had a burro and a death wish. instead it’s more like a matryoshka doll: one big canyon that holds a lot of other littler canyons inside it. and if there’s “another side” i couldn’t tell you where it was, because the thing was just too vast and too full of canyons. and you’d have to actually be dead to get to the river – as a ghost is the only way i’m pretty sure.

see what i mean? soooooo many canyons

the experience was awesome, though, of course, and terrifying, too, because i am really fucking afraid of heights lmao. people were getting out and walking on the trails which ran along the cliff’s edge and DID NOT HAVE GUARDRAILS and i nearly had a heart attack on their behalf. i am one hundred percent a person who prefers that the ground not end anywhere in their vicinity. that i summoned the guts to sit and watch the sunset near one such edge is truly a testament to just how much i love the goddamn sunset.

amazing??? indescrible??? i have 1,001 more of these and a lot of them will probably be popping up on my instagram, @ky_cochran, just as an fyi

after taking approximately 1,002 sunset pics, i hightailed it to the shuttle bus, because the last thing i needed was to be at that place in the dark, and ended up on one that was full to the fuckin’ gills. this meant that i got to stand up for the ride, hand on the grab bar above my head, pretending like i know anything about remaining upright under the best of circumstances, much less on a bus snaking around the grand canyon. i jibed with a couple slightly more southern than me (i’m not actually southern, but i know i sound it sometimes what with the “y’all’s” and the way my vowels tend to linger on occasion – too much true blood). he saved me from a bug, god bless him, while teasing and being teased by his wife.

at one of the stops, the bus driver made to apologize to the couple standing there waiting for not being able to take them, but before she could get the words out (or even started), the woman said, “it’s too crowded! i’m not getting on that bus!” and she put her significant other between her and it, shaking her head like we’d proposed painting an elephant purple. she patiently turned back to her bulky old flip phone to await a less populated option.

i love people a whole fucking lot.

honestly, the trip’s felt surreal this whole time – not just at the grand canyon (where i was again this morning. now i am where the palm trees start. which is. so weird. days are so long and can hold so many miles). it feels, well, like it’s too good to be true even while i’m living it. but it is true??? this level of happiness is achievable??? you can fulfill your dreams??? incredible. i’m so thrilled by this experience that i find myself laughing down the interstate, unable to hold all my joy. even tonight when i was so tired and finding a place to stay was a hassle and a half that ended with me having to drive for an extra hour. the whole ordeal put me cruising down i-40 west at sunset, which, let me tell you, is actually The Dream™.

The Dream™

i could live like this forever, i feel like. and if i didn’t desperately want to adopt a whole gaggle of kidlets someday, i’d probably try.

santa fe musings

in downtown santa fe, i spoke to a man wearing a bolo tie with a red clasp who had stunning cerulean eyes which were only matched for noticability by his thick white beard. he manned the entrance to one of santa fe’s hundreds of art galleries and recommended a mexican restaurant and the bookstore i’d gone to an hour before. he told me about a jealous man who threw away his briefcase with a decade’s worth of his writing work in it when he learned that i was a writing major and explained that what he liked about santa fe was the mix of cultures, the nearness of the outdoors, and the art scene when i asked. we talked about my weird hair and whether my old bosses liked it. they didn’t; he wasn’t surprised – we’re both from central illinois, so he gets it. he shook my hand and introduced himself as steven.

at mcdonalds, i listened to a group of men agree with the one among them who preached about god’s love and the attention he pays to small rescues and the burning that waits for some of us. i find myself unconvinced that those two ideas can coexist. next, he’s talking about hitler and his murders. there’s no segue. but i guess he didn’t need one because then he’s back to evangelism, although his audience seems already won. he talks about being stared at while he walks down the street, too. “have these people never seen a white man?” oh honey. oh darling. his audience isn’t white.  i’m unsure of all things.

the miracle staircase of the loretto chapel

i was in two churches today, which is more than i’ve been in in the past year, if not three. i walked into the loretto chapel and nearly cried, facing a statue of christ whom i love. i would have cried, in fact, if other people hadn’t been in the room. it’s a beautiful church with a miracle staircase, said to have been built by a mysterious carpenter who just showed up to do the work when the sisters needed it done. the staircase doesn’t have the supports it should as it spirals to the second floor and yet it still spirals.

i’m…completely down to compare myself to a staircase, especially one in a building that moves me to tears.

a mosiac of the risen christ on the santuario de guadalupe grounds

the other church was less emotionally moving – or it was until i started walking around outside it. i wandered across a mosiac of the risen christ on the side of the building next door and was almost too stunned to actually look at it, so compelled was i to take as many pictures as possible to keep this sight with me. it was colorful and gorgeous and portrayed christ as a man of color, which is probably my favorite thing since he wasn’t, y’know, white. i hope that someday every portrayal of him as white gets stomped the fuck out.

(i love yeshua a whole lot you guys. my beautiful, radical, revolutionary, loving, take no shit god-on-earth. it feels like falling in love to get to craft and embrace and live my faith in the way that is true to the sound of god inside me. i tried to shake jesus but i just couldn’t and now he’s mine mine mine. and as the best bonus ever, this time i got mary magdalene, too.)

santa fe is very beautiful and very full of art. i can definitely appreciate why steven likes it here. the high altitude is kind of giving me a headache, but that’d pass given time. the view from this mcdonald’s is even good, a thing unheard of in my experience. i can see the mountains from here, situated just outside of Tourist Central, on the main drag through town: st. francis drive, named for the city’s patron saint. there’s a lot of catholicism here and a lot of budha and i even saw a really big ganesh statue. though i find myself particularly drawn to jesus, i, too, love this mix of cultures and religions. i live for the day when we’re all equally well-treated by this country and each other.

just an example of the public art in santa fe

soul trippin’

a little over a week ago, i started the first leg of soultrip – my name for this roadtrip that i’m taking from my hometown in the midwest to seattle, where i’ll be living when this trip ends. (you’ll notice that it also doubles as the name of this blog.)

i spent the first nine days of this trip crashing at my siblings’ places – first my brother’s and then one of my sister’s – and today was my first day on the road in the truest sense.

what i’ve learned so far is that kansas is really wide; i’ve been in it for what seems like forever. it’s not flat though, or at least not all of it is, and as you go farther west in it, you start to see these trees that look like they’ve been transplanted from a swamp somewhere and aren’t gonna make it. i think that’s what they’re supposed to look like though because people line their driveways with them, which is a thing you do with purpose. they provide no shade – because they don’t seem to have leaves? or they only have a sorry few which appear to be sloughing off – and they really do look like they’re gonna fall down dead on you so overall i’m not sure i understand the decision to use them as driveway décor, but as it’s not mine to understand, that’s cool.

it’s been a beautiful day for a drive though: sunny and marvelous, windows-down temperature and manageable traffic. i love driving more than pretty much anything else and the freedom i have to do this trip however i want to is both exciting and calming. i can drive for however long i want each day and take whatever route i want and grab some wifi wherever it’s available whenever i want. before i left, i played the “if you knew you were gonna die, what would you do before you did?” game with myself and discovered that i would do exactly this. which feels kind of like crossing over into whatever the opposite of the twilight zone would be: the place where everything is good and sweet and soft to the touch.

i have wanted to go on a cross-country roadtrip since i was maybe 19, if not younger,and i’ve tried unsuccessfully to plan several. those plans always included travel companions, either in the form of friends or a german shepherd that i have yet to own. a solo roadtrip was always too frightening for me to consider – until my life caught on fire last year, at which point a roadtrip across the country on my own became a significantly less terrifying option than staying where i was. however, in the last days that i spent at my sister’s house before leaving this morning, i started to feel fear lick coldly at my insides over this trip. it is, after all, a big (and somewhat risky tbh) endeavour.

the fear was surprisingly short-lived though. now that i’ve spent the day driving down a two-lane highway, surrounded by semis and strange trees, the trip just feels like the thing i should be doing. i feel safe and alive and capable when i’m behind the wheel and i want this in a way it’s been hard to want things in these past several months. and, god, how amazing it is to get to do what you want.

notes to my depressed self

because i know i’ll be seeing you again. (and probably sooner than later.)

  1. you will come out the other side of this. you always do. remember what your brother said: “don’t make the mistake of thinking now is forever, it’s not.” you might not believe me, but you know that kid ain’t lyin’.
  2. write. write anything. write the word “fuck” six hundred times. write garbled poetry garbage; write fanfiction; write bad fanfiction; start another original work you’ll never finish; just write.
  3. call your brother. even if you can’t say two words. let him tell you about his life and make you laugh. let him bring that piece of you he carries around back to you. you’re gonna need it.
  4. go out to eat. at a sit-down place. order a steak and some vegetables. it’s worth whatever it costs.
  5. have you showered today? yesterday? if you’re not showering every day, you really need to start, darling. hop in right now. put some music on. you don’t have to wash your hair, but i’d really recommend it.
  6. buy yourself some new lipstick and plan an outfit around it. go to starbucks and Get Seen and remember that other people exist. try to accomplish one thing while you’re there — your to-do list is plenty long and you need to cut it down, babe, before that anxiety drowns you.
  7. i know your apartment is a mess. invite a friend who doesn’t care about the mess over to watch you clean. you just need the company and then, i promise, you can do it.
  8. might as well cry all you need to. honestly, cry more than you need to. you’re so bad at starting, you’re probably only gonna get the one chance. and what happens in the privacy of your bedroom — or car — is nobody’s business but your own.
  9. go through a drive thru. go through a drive thru every damn day. develop a coffee habit. you need the human contact and an opportunity to be nice to somebody, even when your legs can’t carry you to it.
  10. i swear to god you are gonna make it. you are one resilient motherfucker. and making it has, historically, always been worth it.

today in mental health: dissociating and the importance of taking care of shit as it comes up

it’s funny what can become a measure of success. today, i spent all day feeling like i was in my body. i spent yesterday and sunday like that, too, amazingly. this is in contrast to saturday, when i had to call my brother to talk my anxious, dissociating ass down. i spent at least 10 minutes on the phone with that kid completely unable to understand anything he was saying. this was partially due to his sore throat and partially due to me just not being able to function – like, not even baseline function enough to process auditory information of that complexity.

i was driving back to iowa at the time, where a friend of mine was having a well-deserved party thrown in his honor. the party was taking place in a building owned by my aunt, whose abusive behavoir i’d left town over just three months prior. this building is across a parking lot from my old apartment, which i’d rented from her until she scared me too badly to stay there anymore.

it’s a three and a half hour drive to get there, which, normally, i love, but i hadn’t gotten nearly enough sleep the night before and on top of that, going back was making me batshit anxious. and, oh yeah, dissociating is a thing i do now.

“you’re gonna be okay, ky,” my little brother promised, over and over until i calmed down enough to hang up. “don’t make the mistake that thinking now is forever – it’s not.”

it’s really good advice and i wouldn’t have taken it from anybody but him. i’ve given him that advice a time or two. that kid knows where i’m coming from. even when i’m not able to articulate it at all, which i couldn’t during that phone call. who knows if i even got words in their proper order; he’d have been able to understand me regardless.

an hour or so later, i was sitting in a village inn swapping mental illness horror stories with a friend and telling her just how goddamn glad i was to feel like i was actually inhabiting my own skin. lately, it’s often felt like i slipped out the back door of my body for a quick breath of fresh air only to find that somebody had snuck in and locked me out. looking back, i don’t think it’s an entirely new phenomenon for me to experience, but over the week or so leading up to the party, it’d become an unsettingly common occurrence. i have this powerful urge to staple myself into my skin using tattoos. not that i know if that’ll work.

in any case, feeling real and present is very exciting these days. this is not the kind of bar i expected to have to stretch to meet, y’know? like, i’m not ashamed of it – everybody’s got their shit and this is mine – it’s just not the battle i was fighting with my mental health eight months ago. and i had my hands full then.

i’m very…tired. which is how i’ve been ending every conversation i’ve had with my loved ones for probably two years now: “i’m just so tired.” i don’t know why i didn’t do anything about it. didn’t feel like i could maybe – you gotta work to pay bills. didn’t want to abandon the life i was building. didn’t want to ruin the appearance of success i had. didn’t want to seem weak.

and then life went and gave me the opportunity to burn everything i had to the ground for somebody i loved and i did. under the most traumatic possible circumstances. so now i’m in life limbo.

i think i’ve moved passed the bulk of the physical exhaustion finally – i feel pretty good and my stamina’s decent. but i’m still emotionally worn out. it’s taken me two days to build up enough energy to write this. in these past two days, i’ve done – quite literally – nothing. yesterday, i did not get dressed. today, i did get dressed, but i did not shower. i spent all yesterday in bed and, while i did switch rooms today, i did not step foot outside the house, not even to roll my car window up which has been snowed in now. i’m taking shit back to basics; rebuilding my life and health from scratch. i don’t know what else to do.

it used to be i’d always try to add something to aid my mental health. i needed to eat better or sleep a regular schedule or see about getting my ass in therapy. but i never thought maybe you should fuckin’ quit some of this other shit ky. it seems obvious now that i should have. i think if i had dealt with the tired problem before life went to shit and added the dissociating problem, i’d be better off right now. i think also if i had dealt with the “i need to get my ass in therapy” problem back in 2014 – the best year i ever had by any measure – i’d be better off now, too. if i’d just tackled the small problems before i ended up with bigger problems, these bigger problems might not have been so big.

now, i’m very overwhelmed. and i’m scared that i’m not going to have the time i need to build life back up slowly and deliberately, while taking care to build things like responsible eating and sleep schedules and going to therapy into it as a natural part of it. not to mention it’d be cool to have fun sometimes. build relationships. foster some hobbies. just simply taking care of myself seems like too much task for one person and one person is all i’ve got. one person who’s gonna have to get a job again soon. which i have absolutely no idea how to handle on top of all of this.

i wish i had some advice to give on how to deal with shit when you’re all the way done, but i don’t. my life just kept exploding on me until i couldn’t, literally couldn’t anymore – i stopped getting up in the morning; i stopped sleeping at night; i stopped holding conversations. and then my mom went “hey, how about you step outta that mess, huh?” and took me into the purgatory of her home, the land of no expectations.

that’s not an option for everybody; i know that. it wasn’t an option for me until i was down to absolutely nothing. my parents are always game to save me if they can, but i’m not always down to be saved by them, y’know? often, my needs necessitate otherwise. and that’s not even beginning to think about situations in which you have to pay bills. or feed people.

the only advice i have from this is take care of your small problems while you can. address those little issues you think aren’t worth bothering with because everything else is going pretty good. if you suffer from depression but are feeling good right now: go to fuckin’ therapy or something. depression isn’t a one-and-done, at least not in my experience. it’s cyclical. most mental illness are that way, are an issue of maintenance, not curing. so work your shit out. build healthy coping mechanisms. actually do more than just build healthy coping mechanisms – build healthy habits, i.e. ways of being. give yourself tools to use not only when things are rough but when things are good so that maybe things won’t get rough or won’t get as rough.

i did a lot – a lot – of work on my mental health in the years before everything went to hell in a handbasket. before i discovered what i believe to be ptsd (and all of its accompanying symptoms, dissociation included) – which i think originated in some childhood trauma and got big time compounded by my recent experience of very similar trauma, which i only delineate to emphasize that if i had dealt with this stuff with greater intentionality and with the help of a professional at an earlier date, i could be in much better shape right now. the work i did was good and important and i’m proud of it – but it was a bandaid when i needed stitches. i was treating symptoms, not the problem — not on purpose, i just didn’t know. i feel fairly confident, examining the past with that 20/20 hindsight vision, that a professional could’ve gone: “that thing you think is a personality quirk is actually a mental health issue, dude. you’ve really gotta get some healthier ways of dealing” and then helped me build healthier ways of dealing.

of course there’s no way to say whether or not dissociating would still be a thing i do now if i had taken care of this stuff. and honestly, at this point, it’s like hey look at what i’ve got to be excited about today: i actually feel like i’m in my body! incredible, a success. i mean things are what they are.

(and, i really want to emphasize this, i do not have anything to be ashamed of. and neither do you. no mental illness you’re experiencing is shameful – whether you might have been able to prevent it or not. there might be some behaviors you want to rethink, but having a mental illness is just a thing that happens. stigma sucks and also it’s bullshit.)

i’m not mad at my past self for her failings; i’m irritated, for sure, at my little 22-year-old punk ass who thought she had her shit figured out when she hella didn’t, but the thing is that everybody learns at their own rate. i just hope that this moment for you is a moment when you’ll learn faster than i did. see my mistakes and please don’t make them. fix!! your!! shit!!! i’m rooting for you, babes. ❤

writing as an act of self-care

i’ve started actively using writing as a method of self-care and wow. that shit is magical. my current favorite coping mechanism is literally just writing fanfiction of my two favorite queer characters cuddling. just straight up thousands of words on the subject, all of my pieces just a variation of that theme interspersed with some talking out of mental health issues among understanding parties. it’s the most goddamn self-indulgent work i have ever done and it is doing fucking wonders =for me.

i’ve always been inclined to view my work as for myself first, foremost, and most importantly, but i’ve never approached writing deliberately as an exercise in meeting my mental health needs. it’s something i used to do as a kid, which i recognize in hindsight, but i didn’t understand it as self-care at the time.

the process started for me again on a bad depression and anxiety night. i was failing to fall asleep because i just couldn’t get my brain to stop shouting awful things at me, so i started daydreaming about how a scene could play out between these two characters i’ve recently fallen deeply, deeply in love with (something i’ll write about here soon – once i’ve got the right words for it).

since i daydream in narration – taking the time to edit my word choice and everything – the act was essentially writing without the physical writing part. i fell asleep! feeling pretty damn all right! i didn’t have any intention of writing that daydream out, but god knows i need the practice so i went ahead with it and posted it online (it might be for me, but i’m still an artist: the audience is a siren song).

as it often works, one piece made me feel inspired to write another one and, like the first one, i crafted this piece to be just exactly what i wanted and needed – no catering to an audience’s desires or anybody else’s understandings of these characters or even my own insecurities. i just gave myself what i needed. it was, again, wonderful, so now that’s what i sit down to do: i am 100% upfront with myself about what this writing is and i use it as self-care with intention.

i take these characters through tough, loving conversations about mental health and how they’ll deal with it in their romantic relationship. i linger on the soft and sweet touches i have them share. i don’t have a way to make either of those things happen for me in real life (i’m single, for one; bad at talking, for two; and touch averse, for three) but i can take these characters that i relate to so, so much and, essentially, experience things that will meet my need for comfort and touch and feeling like somebody can fucking see me for real, in the world’s safest space: a blank page.

the mix of the act and craft of writing – i do work to make sure these characters are in-character when i’m writing them and that my prose is interesting, dynamic, and poetic – with the outright pursuit of healing myself is incredibly powerful. i’ve never considered myself good at much except writing (i can write you any goddamn thing you want, except, like, if what you want is plot lmao; i’m categorically disinterested in plot) and writing has always been a self-esteem booster for me. to use it as a self-care tool is goddamn revolutionary.

like, it’s more actually more than just a coping mechanism. i’m really working through shit – at my pace. i’m spending time with myself, i’m exploring my needs and why i have them and how i can work to be able to meet them, and i’m identifying trends in my work that reveal myself to me. plus i’m accomplishing things! i’m finishing pieces, which is always a nice feeling, and i’m honing my craft. i’m working toward the goal of being the caliber of writer that i’d like to be, which i can only become by writing thousands upon thousands of words. i already see my writing improving. it’s the most win/win situation i have ever been in, honestly.

also, while fanfiction presents a unique opportunity to be used for self-care (it’s so easy – you already know and love and identify with the characters so you just get to fill in the blanks; you don’t need to worry if this moment fits the story you’re telling because the moment is the story and you’re beholden to no plot – unless you want to be), fanfiction isn’t the only way i’m doing this. i’ve got a poem or three – honestly don’t know whether it’s one or three poems, we’ll see – that i’m using to work through some shit. my last blog post was about working through some shit.

it’s interesting that i feel the desire for a need for an audience in all these mediums. i post all my fic; i posted that last blog post even though i was certain it wasn’t going to be useful for anybody else (it saved me that day); i’m hoping to get the poem(s) in front of people when they’re ready. i think that’s part of the self-care actually – my need to be seen, to feel as though i’m known in at least some capacity, and to know that other people are actually out there.

of course that also means that i still have that little voice going “but the audience is going to expect xyz.” but like fuck that. i tamp that little voice down. it takes some effort to do sometimes, but i am dedicated to defending this method of self-care against instincts i have that would encroach on it. it’s doing me so much good that i’m not going to let it become anything else. this is what i need, it’s goddamn survival. and i am gonna survive.