Physiology of Letting Go

The door was ajar and light was seeping in from outside. Love’s shadow was no longer in sight and my vision was getting blurry. I lay there naked, cradling myself amidst the pool of tears that was starting to form around me.

“Cry. Go on. There’s nothing wrong with it. That’s where you’re good at anyway,” Pain said as she came in and lay beside me.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“Blah blah blah, he wasn’t even good for you. He was a deadweight that threatened to drown you, you’re better off without him. He’s toxic and you deserve better,” Bitterness muttered to my right. He was silenced by Sadness who sat beside me and shared the tears that were uncontrollably cascading down my cheeks.

The door flew open as Anger stormed his way inside, “Get up! Stop crying! Who does he think he is?!” He shoved Pain and Sadness aside and held me up by the arm. “I’ll hold him while you punch and kick him. Yell at him! Curse at him! Kick him on the balls and show him who’s boss!”

“That’s enough,” a calm voice cut through Anger’s rampage. There was silence as Indifference entered the room. He walked towards me and wiped my tears away. “You need time alone. Everyone get out,” he commanded and they quietly made their way outside.

“Leave the door open,” I whispered and closed my eyes. The room became quiet and still; there was nothing– I was nothing as I sat there with my head between my knees and crippled by the nothingness that was becoming of my existence.

“I figured you needed some company,” I heard a voice say. I looked up and saw Pain make her way to me. She was clad in thick battle armor with a scar running down her left cheek. She sat beside me and I flinched at the contact of skin and cold steel. “Sorry,” she muttered. We were silent, neither one of us saying anything, only our synchronized breathing gave noise to the void that surrounded us.

“Why are you dressed like that?” I asked.

“Like what?”

“Like you’re off to war.”

She gave a faint laugh. “I come in many forms, this is just one of them.”

“Why so?”

She sighed. “Love, is a great big war. And wars are fought by warriors like me– like us.”

“I don’t think I understand.”

“I come in many forms to different people but that doesn’t mean one man’s pain is greater than the other. For soldiers like me, the greatest pain does not come from dying in the battlefield– it comes much earlier than that; when we have to leave the ones we love. Wounds from battles are physical pain we can tolerate but the pain that comes from leaving, that pain is the most unbearable one– the one that wounds and scars you from the inside.”

We talked. That was all we did. We talked about the past lives she has lived; about the forms she took and about the people, like me, she has met. We talked about the time she was most bearable to the ones that was the most excruciating. We talked as Time became unforgiving and let hundreds of suns and moons pass over us. We talked until her armor fell to the floor one by one, until she was wrapped in nothing but a silk robe. We talked until I got to know Pain. And we talked until I got tired of her.

“I don’t want you here anymore,” I told her one day. Her reaction wasn’t the one I pictured in my head. When I told her to leave, she simply nodded her head, gathered her belongings and left. As simple as that. And when she left, a shadow loomed over the door and quietly came in. I didn’t notice him until he sighed deeply.

“Who’s there?” I asked.

“It’s me,” he answered. It was Indifference. “Don’t worry, I won’t bother you like Pain did,” he said and leaned on the wall, head hung low and arms folded in front of him.

That was all he did; he didn’t talk, he didn’t move, he didn’t do anything as Time let a hundred suns and moons pass over us. And that was what I also did; I didn’t talk, I didn’t move, I didn’t do anything. And surprisingly, I liked it. Our silent ritual enveloped me in a haze I couldn’t quite explain. In that darkness, I have become one with nothingness and in my crippled sense of feeling nothing, I have become a paradox by feeling everything.

“I have a question,” I said out of nowhere.

“No questions. No talking,” he replied without moving.

“But–”

“If you say one more word I’m leaving.”

“Can I just–”

“That’s it.” And as simple as that, he left. He left with no goodbyes, no hugs, no nothing. He left with my arms wide open for him, arms outstretched in sorrowful wanting. He left with the door wide open, his back becoming a silhouette, his shadow slowly swallowed by the darkness. He left, just like how Love left. And there I was again, sitting bare naked on the floor and as quickly as he left, Sadness came rushing in just in time for my tears to flood the whole room.

And that was all we did. We cried as Time let the suns and moons witness the pathetic state we were both in. We cradled each other, day and night. Seldom, Anger would come in and wreak havoc which would drive Sadness away. She’d come back not long enough and fight with Anger. This went on and on.

“I’m tired,” I told both of them one day. They were in the middle of their argument, each holding the other’s hair, when I burst it out.

“What do you mean?” asked Sadness.

“You want me to knock some sense into you?” bellowed Anger.

“It means I’m done crying and being mad at the world,” I sighed.

They looked at each other in amazement.

“It means that I’m done. I don’t want you here anymore,” I whispered. Sadness nodded her head and wiped a tear from her cheek as she went out, followed by Anger who was cursing and throwing her fist in the air.

The room became still and quiet again, light from outside seeped in from the half open door.

“What now?” I said to myself.

“Now you wait,” a voice outside said. Light came pouring in as the door opened fully. It hurt my eyes and amidst my squinting, I saw the silhouette of two figures coming inside.

“Wait for what?” I asked.

“For whatever it is the universe has in store for you,” answered Acceptance.

“But the universe hates me. I was not built for waiting. It’s a miracle you’re here,” I pointed towards Patience. He laughed and shook his head. “You’re a funny one aren’t you?”

“Anyway, we have to go. We can’t stay,” Acceptance said as she planted a kiss on my forehead.

“Why can’t you stay? Even for a while?” I asked.

“Because we aren’t like the others. We are not here to stay and help you with our presence– we help you through our absence,” Patience answered as he held my shoulder.

“What do you mean?”

“It means that we are something that you have to give yourself. Something only you can learn. We are not teachers, we can’t teach you patience and acceptance but rather, we can only show you what we are like. It is up to you if you want to create within yourself the patience and acceptance for things beyond your control,” she said.

“Do you understand now?” he asked.

“It’s a little confusing but I think I do. Thank you,” I smiled at them as they walked towards the door.

I went back to my place at the center of the room and noticed that what once I thought was an endless void of darkness around me wasn’t as abysmal as I thought it was. My self-made prison wasn’t as dark as it was before; it felt lighter and better – I felt lighter and better.

I waited for more visitors; suns and moons came and went but no one came, the door became as empty as I was before, a door with no silhouettes or shadows to fill the threshold.

“Patience,” I whispered sarcastically, “Yeah right.” I rolled my eyes and sat on the floor. My head started to drift away when I began to hear footsteps outside. I felt a surged of unexplainable emotion course through my body until I realized those footsteps sounded familiar. I’ve always thought about the moment that was about to happen many times but I never really imagined it would come true. But there I was, moments away from seeing him again. The footsteps stopped as a silhouette stood by the door.

“Hello,” I whispered.

“Hi,” Love replied. I thought the familiarity of his voice, of his warmth, his touch, his skin, his everything was going to bring Pain back. But it didn’t.

“How are you? You look well. As always,” I almost choked as I said this but managed to keep my composure.

“I’m doing good. And you look magnificent as well,” he answered. “May I come in?” he asked. This was it. This was the moment I have always imagined ever since he left– the moment he will come walking back through the same door he walked away from. I slowly stood up, hands sweating, labored breathing, knees shaking as I struggled to keep a steady composure.

We just stared at each other, deep breaths, piercing eyes, enveloped in silence.

“So, may I come in?” he repeated.

I closed my eyes and smiled at him. I took a deep breath and said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea now.”

“Oh, I see,” he sounded defeated. “Is someone else in there with you?” he asked.

“No, it’s just me.”

“I see,” he whispered. “In that case, I’ll be going now.”

“No, wait!” I suddenly said and immediately regretted it. When he left, I was left with words going down my throat, words I wanted him to hear, words that were choking the life out of me. But now, having him right in front of me, having been through the ordeal that he made me go through, there was nothing left of what I want to let him hear. There was nothing left of him inside me. There was nothing left.

“What is it?” he asked and I smiled.

I took a deep breath and said, “I wish you well. Goodbye,” I said. He smiled and walked away. He was about to close the door behind him when I said, “Don’t. Leave it open, please.” He did and once again, his back became nothing but a silhouette until it became a shadow swallowed by the darkness beyond but this familiar scene didn’t bring back any familiar feeling.

I sat back on the floor and expected the tears to come but it didn’t, expected Sadness or Anger or anyone for that matter to come running through the door but no one did. It was just me now. Me, an empty room and a wide open door. The room was silent and still once again, with my head between my knees. I dozed off.

I was awoken by the sound of quiet footsteps. It grew quieter as it grew nearer until it completely stopped. I felt someone looming over me and when I looked up, I saw a hand outstretched towards me. I took it and he helped me get up.

“Let’s try again, shall we?” Hope said with a smile on his face. He didn’t let go as he led me outside.

Advertisements

Suki sa Biya

the thing is, when you meet someone who’s always been left, someone who’s always been abandoned by people, it will never ever be easy for you. we’ve learned that people come and go and have accepted the fact that we are fleeting, not worthy of something long term and lasting. we’re master builders of walls and trenches around our worn out forte; we will push you away and everything you do will be nothing but another trick in our eyes to make us fall for you— and once we start falling, that’s usually when the leaving starts. no matter how much we like you, we will always hesitate and take a step back because we will fear the worst from you and that is, leaving us. we do not want to become familiar with being forsaken in fear that we will accept it as part of who we are and our role in people’s lives; we want to believe that we are more than just a millisecond in your life.

but if you decide to stay, longer than we think you will, it won’t be easy for you. the walls will be hard to break and we’ll need constant assurance. you’ll have to be a constant.

be a constant.

-mdxdm (artwork by Darwin Miranda)

After The Storm

You came in my life in a time when I have given up on love; when I have lost all hope of meeting someone exactly like you.
Before you, love was a boy who said all the right things but couldn’t quite do and feel all the right feelings. He swept me away and like Dorothy and Alice, brought me into a world I never imagined could exist between the two of us. His name became my definition of love, the one that my lips and tongue would form every time someone asked me about love and forever and the future. He was, in a sense, the make-believe world I badly wanted to live in.

But that’s the thing; it was all make-believe. Reality came crashing down and the foundation of the universe we conjured fell brick by brick and what once was my definition of love became the sole meaning of tragedy. In an instant, I was left in a fairytale-turned-nightmare— no yellow brick roads and emerald cities, no queen of hearts and talking rabbits.
And then you came; silently. Calmly. Unknowingly. You came in a time when I was slowly building myself up, picking the pieces the wolf blew away. I was a shipwreck in an abandoned island and you were a small fishing boat that the current of the universe brought to me. You weren’t just skin to cover the wounds of my past nor were you a body I needed to get over the boy who wrecked me; you were none of that. 

You are the rest after the storm, the quiet that settles between night and dusk. You are not the definition of love but you give life to it. You are the Sunday morning after a busy week, the gentle breeze before the afternoon drizzle. You are the boy who made reality better than any made-up world. You are the boy who stayed; the one I want, the one I need.

-After the Storm; mdxdm (artwork by Darwin Miranda

The Anatomy of Emotions

“Ginhawa ug lawm.”

“Ngano man?”

“Basta,” I said, keeping my head flat on his chest. He sighed and rested his hand on my head and played with my hair. There was a slight drizzle outside and I could hear the pitter patter of the raindrops against the glass window of his apartment— a six-storey building at the heart of downtown Cebu, between a brothel and a motel. Across, bars lined the street with their brightly lit neon signboards that desperately tried to catch the attention of locals and tourists alike, mostly Japanese and Americans, to “try their girls” and enjoy their “happy hour promo”.

It was a chilly 1 am Tuesday night and usually, the street would have been quiet. But on that particular night, it was bustling with activity; i could hear the small fight that broke out a while ago, karaokes were trying to beat each other to be heard, the laughters of half drunk sex workers impatiently waiting for their customers to get drunk enough to hail a cab, bring them back to the hotel and get paid for their job.

But in his apartment, it was different; the neon lights and the light of the streetlamp seeped in through the curtains and lit the room dimly with a majestic, dreamlike glow. The gentle acoustic that played from his speakers harmonized well with the sound of rain and filtered the noise of the outside world into nothing but an unnoticeable buzzing in the ear. It’s as if we were physically detached from the world while staying connected to reality; we have become this precious sculpture of skin and bones and limbs encased in a glass case that separated us from the eroding effects of the physical reality outside.

“Ginhawa ug lawm,” I said, brushing my lips on his skin and gave him a small kiss.

His chest rose as he took in air and slowly went back down as he exhaled. I closed my eyes and let the movement of his chest, the warmth of his skin and the tingling sensation of his fingers on my hair imprint in my memories.

He breathed in again and I let the sound of air that was filling his lungs drown everything out. “I love you,” he whispered after exhaling his second deep breath.

“No you don’t,” I replied sheepishly. His hands stopped caressing my back and deep beneath his chest, I could hear the millisecond different beating of his heart.

“That’s unfair. You can’t control nor tell me what and how I feel,” he said. My head was still on his chest and his voice sounded more like a grumble from deep inside him.

“But you don’t simply love me; you love the idea of me and you. You are in love with your idea of me, of my skin and body and the warmth I bring to your cold sheets. You are in love with what you see of me.” I sat up with my back to him, “You are in love with my shallow waters.” 

Silence settled upon us like the transition of day to night and it hung above our heads like the blade of a guillotine suspended mid-fall.

“Then show me your depth,” he spoke. “Let me dive in, let me know you. Allow me to see beyond what I see,” he reached out to me and pulled me back to bed and to his chest.

“Let me love you,” he said, kissing my head. “Let me know you,” he whispered, uniting our lips like long distance lovers meeting after years of separation.

“Let me know you,” he breathed again, “with your clothes off.” We were already half naked from the start and our bodies felt like stars that radiated warmth to the darkness of the universe we’ve created around us. 

“Let me know you, with your clothes off. But without the sex,” he elaborated as his kiss became more passionate and intense. His hands were busy unbuttoning our jeans, our lips busy working until we ended up on the bedroom floor, naked, with our clothes and undergarments sprawled around us.

“I want to know you. Let me.” he whispered in my ear and bit it gently. I took his hand and placed it on the left side of my chest.

“Here is where I feel brave; there is a lion trapped inside my left rib cage and here is where I am strong. While here,” I moved our hands to the right side of my chest, “is where my darkness is held captive, right across the lion. They are in a constant battle and sometimes, the lion doesn’t always win.”

“It’s fear?”

“No. Fear is here,” I moved our hands at the back of my neck.

“And what extends from here all the way down to my lower back,” my body stiffened as he lightly traced my spine, “is anxiety; I feel it crawling on my skin like growing shadows during the setting sun.”

“Trust is the space between my fingers, so hold me tight and never break it, and longing dwells at the tip of my fingers— in mornings when I wake up and reach over your side of the bed. My palms hold hope and my knuckles feel aggression.” We locked our hands and weaved our bodies into one.

“Joy lights up my eyes but euphoria tickles my feet. Pleasure rests between my thighs and disgust is on my navel.”

“What about sadness?”

“Sadness. I feel sadness in my lungs while I feel loneliness at the base of my skull. Grief has a tight hold on my neck and pain pulsates from the back of my sternum.”

“What about here,” he kissed my lips, “what do you feel here?”

“Well,” I sighed, “I feel anger and hate growling at the base of my tongue and lust resides at the apex; indifference bridges their gap.”

“What about love?”

“Love?”

“Where is love?”

“Love is here,” I pointed my cheek, “here,” I held my temple, “here,” I pointed my arm, “here,” I touched my waist, “here,” motioned to my legs, “here,” I touched my lips, “here,” I pointed to the middle of my chest and stood up.

“Love is my whole body; in every nook and cranny. I feel love between the spaces of my skin, between the cracks of my existence. Love is at the edges of my body, at the core of my soul.”

Silence.

“I feel love everywhere and I hate it.”

“Why?”

“Because when love leaves and after pain has broken my chest, numbness is in the chambers of my heart, waiting to be pumped throughout my body.”

Wa Koy Car

Dear crush, sorry pero wa koy car.

Di ko ka hatod-hatod nimo sa school, di sad ko ka kuha nimo ig hapon unya diretso sa Busay or Tops para mag date kay lagi, wa koy car. Mahatod-kuha tika sa school pero sorry, mag jeep or taxi gyud tang duha. Di ko ka adto sa inyoha ig alas dose sa gabii para mag “midnight drive” ta around the city. Di ko ka surprise nimo one of these days where I’ll pick you up and we’d go travelling down south together. Di ka kapanghambog sa imong barkada about our dates inside the car; how we spent the night looking at the stars behind my pickup truck or how we shared an outdoor dinner at the hood of my car.

I’m sorry, pero wa koy car.

But I have time and I will share it with you; when you need to breakdown, I will be there to collect your shattered pieces and when you are ready, I will be there to piece you back up; when you need to get away from it all, I’ll buy us a ticket up north or down south, give each other new identities and pretend like we’re from outside Cebu for a day; through the downs and ups, I will be there. I will slice up the hours in my given day like a pizza and you can have most of the toppings and most of the slices. Like the long hand of the clock that always, always runs back to the short hand, I will always come back to you, no matter how long it takes and no matter how short our given reunion is. I will be there when you need me, no matter unsa ka dugay kay traffic na kaayo ang Cebu unya usahay puno ang jeep or taas ang linya sa taxi stand, but I will be there. This is a promise I will keep, bahalag madugay, mu abot ra gyud ko ug naa ra gyud ko; mag jeep, mag taxi, mag lakaw.

Sorry, pero wa koy car.

But that doesn’t mean our dates won’t be epic. We’ll go beyond Balamban and Tops and we’ll trace the routes to the southernmost tip of Cebu and up to the northern tip. And our adventures will go beyond the shores of this metropolitan and we will discover more of each other than the lands and shores we’ll touch. Or we can stay in, enjoy the warmth of each other’s skin under the heat of the April sun and let our limbs intertwine as we enjoy a gallon of ice cream, watching our favorite series. Or we can do McDonald’s or Jollibee take outs and order Dim Sum or Alberto’s. And at night, we can walk the streets of Cebu and enjoy the city lights that will color our skin in different shades of love. Ihatod pa tika sa inyo and we’ll be the envy of lovers who have forgotten about romantic walks under the moonlight.

Wa ko’y car, but my heart is true. And it is yours.

Lakwon nako ang Guadalupe gikan dinhi sa amo sa Banilad Mandaue, if it means having to get a five minute conversation with you. Sakaon pa gani nako ang bukid sa TC just so I could see you. Wa koy car, but I’ll find ways to make you and me, us, a worthwhile memory that will last longer than the mileage of a full tank. We won’t need the four wheels of a car to go about and explore our relationship and to keep the fire burning between us because both of us will be enough; our two feet, your hands on mine and our bond will be enough to survive and get us through this lovesick generation of “Naa kay car?”

Crush, sorry pero wa koy car.

To The One Who Broke My Heart

You’ll probably think this is a letter of hate, full of profanity and words meant to poison your throat, but it’s not. This is a letter meant to free myself of you. Yes, because when you left, I have been shackled by your shadow – memories of the past and ghosts of the could-have-been future. So I am writing this letter as my therapy, my release.

I would like to say thank you. Thank you because you were an important lesson that no one could have taught me better but yourself. You taught me the essentials of love – how to kiss gently, how to hold someone’s hand, how to care for someone else other than myself, how to listen not with my ears but with my heart and how to love deeply, truly. You taught me what the bravest thing a man could ever do: to give his heart to someone knowing they could easily crush it with their hands – you taught me that it’s all worth the risk. You made vulnerability look easy – you made love look easy.

That’s another thing, you taught me love is never, ever, easy. It may come in a beautifully wrapped present or in a shiny golden package but it could be a box of venomous snakes or of the Evil Queen’s apple. It comes as a single rose amidst a bush of thorns. You also showed me that love doesn’t always come in a charming red gown or a sleek, black tux – love not only has a perfect smile and beautiful eyes but love could also look broken, damaged and imperfect with problems and demons to fight off, and you taught me that it is ok. Love could look breathtaking and dangerous but either way, it is what it is.

Love, you taught me, is a sailor’s journey to new lands; the sea is unpredictable, ravaged by storm or calmed by the breeze. Once you welcome love into your life, you not only accept the quirky texts, the midnight  calls, the silly name calling, the sweet surprises, the intimacy, the hugs and kisses but you also welcome the fights, the raising of voices, the I hate yous in every argument, the tears, the pain and the inevitable ending.

That’s another thing: you taught me about the endings that come into our lives. You taught me the hardest lesson I have learned – everyone leaves. When I watched you walk away from me, your back disappearing into the sunset, I thought it was the end of me. But it wasn’t. Because of you, I began to see the world differently – everything was fuller, more vibrant and more alive. You taught me how to have hope – hope in a tomorrow because you made me believe in a tomorrow. You taught me the coming and going of people and the important roles they will play in my life. And I learned that you were a lesson, something I should learn from for the next love that will come knocking on my door. So thank you.

Wherever you are now, I hope you are happy. I hope you are better. I do not blame you for anything, I do not hold any grudges against you. I just hope that I was also a lesson to you so that both of us may be better for the people we will love and maybe in time, who knows, twenty years from now we might run into each other in the streets of London and maybe by that time, we might have learned enough to be better for each other. Maybe.

Supposition

Don’t compare your beauty with the ability of other people to put on make up; don’t get jealous with the way they gracefully stroke a brush and plump up their lips. It’s an art, yes, but don’t even think for a second that you are not capable of beauty. You are not a blank canvas. You are a splash of vibrant colors; a fusion of the shades of sunset and sunrise, the color of leaves during autumn tinged with galactic hues. You are a masterpiece — a fragile beauty not seen by the average eye. You are not unappreciated, people are scared to touch you in fear of soiling an art piece. But one day, a brave soul—a worthy soul—would cross the “Do not cross” line at the museum and take a closer look at you. You are not a blank canvas.

Do not measure your worth using the numbers the scales calculated for you nor the ones used for your waist. You are not a number. You are a progeny of the sun and moon. There are constellations between the crevices of your skin and stars long to fall into your eyes. You were not created to be a dust in the wind, a whisper in the dark but you were born with a big bang and your existence demands to be gaped at. Stars will line up and form constellations in your honor and the shadow of your existence would eclipse the sun and moon. You are the greatest celestial body, the grandest ethereal phenomena. You are a supernova of everything, all that exists are etched in your soul; you are an explosion of intrinsic luminosity, a billion times brighter than the sun and stars are born from the dusts you shed. You are destined for prominence. You are not a number. You are a progeny of the universe.

I hope you realize you are not what they say you are.

You are a garden of roses and daisies and lavenders and tulips and sunflowers and butterflies are carved from your skin. Your laugh is what makes the trees plié and it is what echoes in the silence of the forest. You are mightier than the king of the jungle, fiercer than a timawa. You are what makes the birds sing in the morning, the one that breaks through the darkness of the night. And when the night’s shadows stretch out over the land, you are what keeps the hope up in the sky.

You are the waves that crash into the shore, the one that ravage the sea—you can sink boats. Calm, serene and gentle, your waters could fill up anyone’s lungs, even the bravest sailor tremble beneath the shadow of your massive tsunami wave. You are not just an insignificant dust on the shore, you are a desert storm and the golden dunes of Egypt. You are the earth shaking tremor, the strongest hurricane and the coldest blizzard—you have so much power at the tip of your fingertips.

You are the depths of the ocean, the height of the stars and the greatest archeological find, not even the 7 Wonders of the World can match your perfectly chiseled curves and edges; you are the gods’ ultimate magnum opus. There are a lot of mysteries and secrets in the world and you are the biggest one yet.

You are the beginning of everything, the first word to an epic novel and the last of a heartbreaking one. History happened to pave way for you, to prepare the world for a greater story to be written in the stars—and it’s all about you.

You are a princess, a prince, a king, a queen, a fairy, a deity; a caped hero, the strongest heroine, the protagonist, the savior of the day. You are who you let yourself be, you are your imagination. You are your mind, your soul. You are who you allow yourself to be. So be whatever, whoever you want to be. Be the sky, the ocean, the forest, the wind—be boundless.

Be.