I remember as a kid wondering if people felt things on their insides when they had feelings in their head. Like when I was so nervous the skin on my back felt molten hot. Or so anxious my teeth would hurt and my fingers and palms thrum. Or when I stepped onstage and heard in my chest the heartbeats of all of the people sitting in the expectant dark waiting to hear me tell the Story. I remember getting strange looks when I tried to meander into this line of questioning. “Does it hurt…does it hurt you to feel?” Raised eyebrows and confused laughs teach kids to shut the fuck up. I found ways to cope. Be funnier. Be louder. Be the best. Then, drink more. Then, fear death. Then, stop drinking. Then, meet your demon. For real.
Now I have a name for my pain and I don’t need to ask anyone if feelings hurt. I have a language for different types of pain. My body speaks its own symphony. My lower back holds lust. My teeth still grind anxiety. My lips twitch and writhe and heat up with humiliation. And the demon pulls from the inside. Monstrous teeth twisting pulsing entrails of frustration. And we have fought for this precious territory.
And this morning I couldn’t stop her when she woke up from a seemingly long bout of relative calm to pull apart the most abused, abraded spot. The one that never gets a chance to heal.
I know it is fear. I know that I have recently been processing a new idea. One that gives me so, so much power over past hurt. And that is a threat, because demons like her feed on the bloody meats of impatience borne on chargers of fear and uncertainty. She can scream and tear and cry all she wants, but I know. I know that she’s not some evil creature bent on destruction. I know she’s the me I have the most difficult time embracing. I know she is not ruled by patience, by moderation, by acceptance.
And I know she is so, so lonely.
I know she cries at night, because I cry at night.
I know she cries when no one is looking, because I cry when no one is looking.
I know she claws until paws are bloody at the unforgiving barrier of time.
I know she needs to be under the hand of someone more masterful than even me. And I am pretty fucking strong.
I know she needs compassion.
But today she needs to scream.
And scream she shall.
Because some days we really could use the owner’s boot on the throat to shut down the noise. Some days, we need the Pain, inflicted with care and with love, to drown out the uncertainty. Some days, we need order imposed from without to impose order within.
We don’t have that today…our wild royal We. And so we are allowed to scream.
Howling labyrinthine wanderings into the center of the maze and back out again. Closing our eyes in the hopes that when they open, the owner will appear as if by Magic. Any magic — stygian dark or bright as our sun — it matters little.
We remember the small moments. At the feet of this one, at the disposal of that one, deliciously abused by the other. And none of them, none truly worthy of the fullness because none of them understood or desired it and the screams grow louder.
But today, I’m not silencing them.
Today, we howl together. And it is terrifying, and beautiful.
And at the end, we still wait. Triumphant over the undertow of pain.
Because fuck it…creatures like me are worth the hunt and capture and taming.
Because how gorgeous to tame the demon? To own the woman? To control the girl? And all of us in one?