The day I learned how to stop being vulnerable, all the lights went out. The lights went out, and I became a grown up, and grown ups can function in the dark. In the dark, there are no distractions. Yet, it is not easy to operate in the dark. It takes time to adapt to the new mode of vision, to function in the absence of light and warmth, to get used to what everything is like when it isn’t blurred out by the presence of emotions. It takes time to drill it into my system that I need the darkness, that I need the confinement to control my infinite mess, and to prevent external messes from merging with mine. I remind myself of all the instances where keeping the windows open and the sunshine streaming into my world also brought dust and sticks and stones. I trace the bruises, the faint blueprint of bitter memories. I relive all my storms until I learn the lesson, and I learn to keep the windows shut.
After that, everything is easier. I can breathe despite the dust outside, I can dance because I don’t see any onlookers, I can sink into the depths of my closet and no one would even notice. I am detached –no, I am stable, I am steady, I am a mountain that the climate cannot weather.
And yet, despite all the measures I take, I am not as shut off as I thought I were. You slip in through some crack, perhaps the space under the door, perhaps the sliver of a crack in the corner of my window. You slip in. And in my surprise, in the flurry of confusion, in the eye of the storm that dishevels my meticulous routine, I reinforce all the entry ways before I remember to send you out. And then there is your essence all up in my corner, clouding up my workspace. And I breathe you in.
The change in my atmosphere forms a knot in my chest, presses against my lungs, and the ever so natural habit of breathing becomes a mechanical process that I have to control and command. But then again, I would rather you were a knot in my chest than a blindfold around my eyes, or even worse, an everlasting thought lodged in my brain, running in a circuit up my neurons until I’m all frayed out. I can navigate my space with a hitch in my breath. But what am I without my brain, my sensibilities? How can I do anything with a deeper hue of darkness?
So I limit you. I barricade you. And I take a deep breath, and let you out slowly, gradually, until I’m flat, until I’m blue, until I’m rougher around the edges and emptier on the inside.