Many people know me on the Long Island and NYC poetry and spoken word circuit as a calm, confident, and outgoing performer. I've been described as bubbly, charismatic, and extroverted; I love meeting new people and jumping right into fresh, novel situations. I try to maintain an air of positivity and humbleness... and to smile. Most people would consider me a happy person, which I most certainly am, and a bit of a joker.
This is by no means a farce. In all sincerity, I am a very happy person. I look around me and find that I am surrounded by so many beautiful people, by so many beautiful things. I feel loved and show love to as many people as I can, stranger or friend. I feel so blessed in my day to day life, and it creates such a wonderful space to be creative in. I strive to put forth ideas of good, right, openness, and beneficence - to exemplify the best of humanity.
What most people - friends, acquaintances, family, lovers - probably don't know is that I struggle.
Each and every day.
Although I may give off an air of stoic positivity, unshakable confidence, and childlike joy, I often feel incredibly alone. I feel utterly broken.
Again, the positivity and happiness people perceive in me is not at all synthetic. It is not a mask or a suit I put on when I'm out in the open, when I'm behind a mic. What you see is what you get. I am an open and honest person, and that is one of the reasons why I am writing this.
There is a risk you run when you choose to love people selflessly. (The original title of this blog was "Agápē Bodhisattva." The Greek word for "unconditional love," Agápē is something I take quite seriously.) It can be exhaustive and nonreciprocal. It can be taken advantage of and be misinterpreted. Riskier still, in intimate relationships, it can create friction, misunderstanding, and lead to obsessive behavior. I obsess. I have to resist the urge to stalk. These are some of the things I struggle with.
I do a lot of work in the field of mental illness, particularly in suicide prevention and depression. This may be partly motivated by this looming sense of incompleteness that follows me around, like a shadow of my shadow. There have been times in my life where I have reflected on the thought of ending my life, sometimes for days on end. Just meditating on it. Stewing in it.
Sometimes the anxiety is too much to bear.
Honestly, poetry readings, open mics, and performances help me to manage my endlessly reeling mind, stopping it from thinking of the past and fretting over the future. Being surrounded by people who enjoy what this fucked up brain of mine cooks up amidst fighting with a heart that is growing infinity bigger than it could ever hope to become has probably kept me alive. I feel broken. I feel lonesome. But I don't let that conquer me.
I'm here to tell you that no matter what you feel inside, no matter how broken, useless, hopeless, ugly, lonesome, listless, longing, brokenhearted, damaged, and otherwise undeserving you feel, things do get better. Although the moments of goodness and beauty seem few and far between, live for those moments, look for them, because they will help you to realize that there is so much more than hurt. We're all a little bit selfish - that's ok. We all feel worthless - you're not.
It's not about what we deserve, it's about what we're worth to ourselves.
I'm broken. I'm lonesome. But I'm alive. And being alive is the only excuse you need to say that things get better. Being alive makes you more blessed than you could comprehend. Happiness is possible. There is a moment out there waiting for you, to help you realize what really matters.
Don't let your darkness take your light. Do let it make you see it. They are one.