I am tired of fighting;
the warrior in me is no longer cozy.
All these years, I raged
against fools, bellowed
creed in the street—
fed the fires,
locked down, suited up,
lead the girls into battle
by the skin of our feet.
They know my name.
or Don Quixote?
What is it we are fighting for?
These days, my heart aches
I am tired of looking for
walls to break down.
I am tired of fighting.
The warrior in me is
no longer cozy.
The child in my heart
sits gaunt and lonely.
While studying at university in 2008, I was assaulted on two occasions by male friends of mine. I did not have a full grasp of the depth of what had happened until several years later when a tough-love friend who had been at my side throughout university and after pushed me into facing the subsequent pattern of emotional disaster and deterioration of trust in of all my romantic relationships that followed those two encounters.
I have completely forgiven these men who hurt me. Like, completely. I truly feel no charge towards them whatsoever. I will never justify the ignorance from which these men who were once allies of mine acted, nor their disrespect for my person and experience at the time. However, I feel no anger towards them. The terrible PTSD I’ve been diagnosed with and have acted from for years now persists, and though there is a part of me that wanted years ago to blame these men exclusively for it, I know too much to do that.
I know the largeness of an overall abusive system that primes females to hate themselves and their bodies, of which physical abuse and attack is only part. A normal girl in this society who has an average amount of socially-instilled low self-esteem is highly likely to process any kind of abuse as justification for her worst beliefs about herself.
Many of us are working hard to overcome the habit of acting from the internalized belief that we are nothing. I know a few women like me, a few powerfully productive, creative women who admit to working obsessively in order to create as big as they can, very often in attempt to hide the nothingness they quietly believe they are. This is not all the time for these women, nor does it apply to all women for that matter. But regardless, it is good to check in with ourselves everyday and ask, “Where am I working from?” “From what mode of thinking are these impulses, motivations, or inspirations coming?”
My greatest act of revolution has been rehearsing self-love, an annoyingly fluffy term I used to hate, a thing that still feels so awkward to me so much of the time; a practice so terribly dissonant to so much of what I’ve been shown and told throughout the whole of my life. But I know I must practice it, what other choice is there after all? I don’t have a full dose self-love just yet, but I do my best to maintain some form of practice of it.
For this gal, self-love takes the form of not micromanaging every little choice I make; not driving myself like a horse, or berating myself for wanting to rest. It means not having sex when I don’t want to and doing my best to stop (or at least revise) those terrible words that shoot like missiles across my mind when I look in the mirror. Self-love to me means allowing myself to drink coffee, wear clothes that make me feel happy and comfy, putting work aside to watch TV, spending long languid beautiful lazy hours with my boyfriend, talking to myself while driving, letting myself be the perfectly content alone weirdo in the corner at a social event, not micromanaging my diet, and not getting stuck on literature that tells me to live my life differently than that which makes my heart warm. Allowing and allowing very slowly trust to replace all else.
Every year, at the precipice of spring,
I get a little cerebral,
grieving the loss of those summer-grown ego feathers
under the snowy lay of winter.
Having shed so much,
I become uncertain what to wear
and where to stand
so I teeter at life’s threshold,
underdressed and chilly,
asking for guidance but taking none of it,
choosing instead to laugh my grief loose,
making funny word-things,
a slow-cooked porridge of sense;
my heart grows slowly back again.
Dearest strangest city,
In love with you
I’ve lost myself;
On the train, my being
retreats from a face full
of street lights, falling
backward into an empty heart
than the canyons of the West
from two feet longing
for the red mother’s clay.
There we breathe, alone.
There we cry.
There my heart fills again
with the vast
oceanic question I call
I consider death.
I allow the earth to heal me slowly.
At the end of the day
and the end of the year
and the end of this life
and all things I know,
I allow trust to replace vision.
The night sky’s deep celestial face emerges
again from behind its sunny blue façade.
What is dream but a midnight
porthole into invisible infinity?
Tonight, the bumblebees that fly
around my vulnerability, stop
allowing the space to yawn
wide and open.
A cozy tide beckons release
of these weary lids,
and the dream.
~ Julia Daye
I will not hide my grief for your fragile coze,
lying is far too much work.
Stop changing the subject to brighter inabriations,
yesterday is not up for revision.
Be with me here, for
this is where I am
and from your courageous seat beside me,
See how I move this night
in quiet glow
as currents rise,
rich with shadow.
~ Julia Daye
That first year, my teacher’s guidance resounding in my ears, I danced until I could no longer walk or see straight. I flailed my body through every open space in New York City in feverish exaltation. I could love again, and most importantly, love myself. I no longer needed to clamor for love in so many places and things, for I could embody all I ever wanted with just this flesh, this momentum, this heart, these hands.
I heard my own voice translate the dreamy tenants of my heart, distilling the macramé of city-sound as I awoke in the breast of a still, dark ocean, in a voice deep and roaring, a longing for mother and home.
In stillness, longing thundered through my being. Longing. A longing that had raged in my blood since I was a child; forever reaching, yearning, wailing insatiably for love and solace. Longing called me away from my familiar cityhive, ripped me to pieces for months as I tried and failed miserably to sleep in my own strange bed in Brooklyn. Eventually, I could no longer refuse its direction and breathed farewell to all I knew and loved, blinking a cocktail of confused affection, and drove off westward alone.
I drove, baffled as the ones I left behind. Only by doing could I translate the meaning of this calling. The miles disappeared beneath my tires. All familiars fell away.
“Change is good exercise,” an angel said.
The landscape transformed against the windows, south and west across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
And when I crossed the boarder into New Mexico and saw the mountains against the yawning blue sky, I suddenly felt the realization of the gorgeous symbolic significance of these twenty-six years in voracious motherlessness and homelessness that charged this hungry heart forward, searching and searching, to at last lay eyes, soul and body now upon the truest, fiercest, fullest meaning of Mother.
Here, she roared around me, holding me with every breath—with every breath, welding the terrestrial and celestial home in these two feet and red earth, home in this earthen body towering alongside the others in one embodied incarnation of Her strength, home as I heard my voice say, “Thank you Mama, Here I am.”
~ Julia Daye
To the whole of my love
culminating these weeks of travel,
I have arrived
in highs as high as helium balloons
and grief that flooded the whole of my blood.
To those “imperative” life things
that seemed to blow off
the sides of my vehicle like sand—
the treasured books I left behind,
your voice promising to call.
To the road angels whose quiet mountainous majesty
rose and fell with the deepest sky
warmth and hands and no agenda—
One day at a time, clementine…
breathing me here
~~ Julia Daye