The corpse flower of American hatred
Blooms once in a generation
Making people of sound mind
Pinch their noses
And curl their lips in primitive disgust
It began with ourselves
Borne across the Atlantic on the Mayflower
Claiming a desire for religious freedom
Succeeding where Jamestown failed
They slaughtered the ones who lived here
With muskets and diseased blankets
Making children their brides
And driving the unwilling onto reservations
Where they still live impoverished today
We let them have casinos
Tell them they're sovereign nations
But we'll pollute what we've given them for oil
We began abducting Africans
By the shipload
Exploiting tribal warfare
For our national gain
Slaves built the White House
Now the home of a veritable Klansman
Thinking ourselves on the right side of history
We sent thousands of young men
To die in Asia
Claiming a fight against Communism
When really it was just an excuse
To kill more poor brown people
But it was just a conflict
War never officially declared
We built The Wall for our dead
Grieved another lost generation
And moved on
The Quran was the next evil
A branch of the same tree
From which Judaism and Christianity grow
Seen as diseased
It had to be cut off
When it was we who'd armed them
Fed their radicalization
Crying foul when they defended themselves
Against the mightiest nation's renewed assault
We sit now smelling what we planted
Four hundred years ago
Watering the soil with the blood of the other
Blood is thicker than water
It rots, too
I don't know what we expected
From roots dug so deeply in hatred
I am sitting here right now thinking about how far I've come and how hard I've worked in such a contracted period of time. I had no deadline, no concrete goals to achieve or exceed, but it's a lot, and it's been fast. In under two years, I lost an entire adult's worth of weight, I got divorced, I crawled out of debt and into enough savings to last me months should I become unemployed. I was promoted twice, started living alone, bought a car, began and ended relationships that I thought were fine but weren't. I learned to set boundaries and declare their violations. I spat in the eye of decades of abuse, and told them they weren't allowed to control me anymore. Looking back at it all from this chair in front of this window, I don't know how I managed. It was all encompassing chaos, and I was in the middle of it without a way to sidestep.
I've done all these things, but I still have so far to go, and it's daunting. I should be celebrating my achievements, but I'm still beating myself up for the ones I haven't made yet. I have an impossible time asking for what I want. It's even harder to ask for what I need. I release the words with a cringe because I expect "no" to come in the form of a lengthy and painful argument when all I wanted to do was talk. I am acutely, paralytically afraid of losing people important to me by exposing that I can't always do everything myself, and that vulnerability gnaws in the middle of the night. I do not want to need or crave basic comfort, to admit I ache with it because I'm supposed to be able to do and handle anything. In so many ways, I'm still six years old figuring out that the world doesn't want me but still wanting it back.
I go through these exhaustive self examinations because I know I can be better. I refuse to accept that I am irreparably broken, but deeply know that I am. I may never trust anyone fully again. I might always look for the lies buried in a perceived half truth, sniffing out the rot in every omission. I will get searingly, shockingly angry at my insecurities and cry myself to sleep because you made me feel them. By my own measure, I simply can't compete, and I can't settle for good as I am. I can never be proud of myself or accept an earnest compliment. My imperfections hurt as they echo in my chest.
So much is easy for me. I need only be shown a task before I can master it. But getting out of bed, planting my feet on the floor, those are hard every single day because I know I need to keep looking inside and trying to fix me.
Pain slips in
Through the edges
Of the windows
In the house that love built
Settling cold and heavy
In my bones
I ache with the burden
Wishing I could burn and banish it
But I know
To have one without the other
To seal the cracks is to suffocate
And I still want to breathe
Affection and ache
ebb and flow
Unceasing as the tides
Covering and exposing me
Without a moon to govern
Or an almanac to consult
You cannot sell
The house that love built
It's held in perpetual trust
And only a fool would buy it
O Captain, My Captain!
If I'd been thinking straight, I'd have stood up on the conference room table and shouted it. But I wasn't thinking straight. Instead, I was tapping Robert lightly on the shoulder to ask for tissues. In a way, I haven't stopped since, and it's been almost three days. Another coworker, sitting two chairs away, and whom I've always thought odd, rolled her chair over to me to put an arm around me. I wasn't the only one crying, but I was the only one doing it silently, letting the blow land, absorbing every pound of force behind the impact, anticipating the bruise. I don't cry in front of people. It's not my way. And I tried so hard not to, but this was too much to hear even though I'd known it was coming for hours ahead of time.
On Tuesday morning, they fired my boss. The words don't seem like much. So what? People leave or get fired all the time. This is different. This is the result of petty, vindictive people acting in their own self interest and saying to hell with the rest of them, and I know who did it. I figured it out a long time ago. Before it even happened. Because I know people. I see the quality of their souls even when they try to hide them. It's my superpower, and while I use it all the time, I rarely unleash its full power. When you know what makes someone tick, you also know what will stop their clock. I want to stop this clock. I want to take my knowledge of this person and spill it blackly over them, sticky and suffocating. People don't like the truth - especially when it's their own - when they've worked so hard to maintain a veneer so shiny it blinds even them in the mirror. I've been gracious, polite, helpful, and kind to this person. Fuck grace. When they return, they will find me cold and unyielding. They may find us all so.
So, what's the big deal? Can't I separate the personal from the professional? Ordinarily, yes. There are exceptions to every rule, and this one's been broken. Professionally, my boss raised me up, gave me my voice back, supported me, advocated for me, and listened. She was mentor, ally, confidante, and cheerleader. She found problems, and ways to solve them, by never ceasing to ask why until it was over. She did that for all of us. We'd been told previously not to ask questions, to trust the system, to accept what was as it was even while everything was wrong. It sat badly with me, and I was disciplined twice for being vocal, so I stopped talking. Personally, she texted me photos of her cats, of her beer, of her adult daughter napping on the couch. She invited me to Thanksgiving with her family when I was an orphan. She knew almost everything, and she was my friend.
My heart is broken, and my job will soon become intolerable. She was the only thing keeping me here, and the wolf in sheep's clothing has taken her from me. I will wait a while for personal reasons, but I will leave, and I will take my inconceivable talent with me because she was the only one able to conceive it. She wants me to go. She wants me to stop being Robin Hood, taking money from an industry I oppose, and do something I love because she believes I can succeed in anything. She's a soul-seer like me, but she overlooks the worst of someone, and this undid us all. I don't blame her. I admire her hope. She's been so apologetic, and I won't allow her to bear this. Nobody will.
O Captain, my Captain! I love you.