Many friends of mine are highly intelligent.
they talk of having to ‘hide’ their intelligence as children, to avoid scaring others
I did not fit in either, but for much different reasons
a contradiction, most who spoke to me believed me to be very bright
but the lore of the highly verbal is just that. An ability to talk circles around people
sometimes the brain is empty behind the Rocky Horror Picture Show mouth.
Unlike my very smart friends, who excelled and won prizes
and knew uncannily how to do things before being taught, even welding, and that was
unlike my first boyfriend who made all A’s whilst watching The Incredible Hulk
unlike my second boyfriend who made all A’s whilst masturbating to Farrah Fawcett
the only way I was ever on top was if I climbed, brick by brick.
I learned early on, not to compete
why would you compete if you NEVER win? If you’re always the slow poke, the last picked on a team, the one who has to ask again and again, the friend who can’t
get the gist of it and stays home reading comics.
Usually the most competitive are those who are naturally good at something and thus, recognize the taste of success
I learned slowly and badly, I couldn’t; knit, use chopsticks, play Atari well, do wheelies, skateboard or boogieboard, or vault over the box without
I had more ‘not good at that’ checked boxes than ‘excels’ and that never changed.
Some say, if you fail, keep trying, but eventually, if you fail enough sometimes you turn into
a kid who is angry for other reasons too and has found a home in building that anger into a straw man
a kid who is fed up of coming last, of repeated failures and shame in sometimes still wetting the bed
being told you are an idiot over and over again tends to sink in
so I became a rebel.
If someone said; You failed that. I would laugh. Literally take joy in it.
FUCK YOU I would shout and run to the park and drink from whatever bottle was handy or climb whatever tree was nearest
I learned, you could get more positive attention from dancing and putting your hands down boys pants than
making an effort to fail.
Part of me knew it was wrong, I didn’t like boys, so why was I spending any time with them?
They didn’t like me over much either, I was; too short, too flat chested, not enough flippin enthusiasm
Then I belonged nowhere
except under the hot lights of the dance floor, shaking out my grief or in a tree house pretending I was anyone but me
I ran so many times away from pain / I began to know the tune and hum it
in a weak moment I would return and feel-up a boy
for 3 minutes of false love
and in that wet, sticky repulsion
hate myself ever more.
sometimes even the child falling off the deep-end can see it coming
but nobody else could; they thought I was just badly behaved / didn’t ask why / didn’t try to intervene
I crashed and burned on the rocks multiple times, like a bad sky diving bird searching for her nest
wanting in one moment to excel, the next to set fire to
everything that rubbed my nose in it.
I absorbed failure like a nicotine patch
I inhaled it like cheap speed on a dirty toilet seat
when I lifted my legs to the ceiling and turned my head away
from the thrashing
the fuck you’s sounded really hollow
drugs weren’t enough to sake
my premature emptiness.
Of course, people are over-fond of
blaming the victim and saying; ‘you have choices’
which is partially true and partially bullshit, as we all know
it takes a village
or maybe just one person
to lift you to the light and when you’re 14
and saturated in pain without knife sharp enough
to exorcise darkness
it’s hard to grab on and ask someone to intervene.
When you came into my life
my first love, the one I lost everything to
including my shadows and a little cocktail sliver of self-hate
I didn’t know then, what an impact you would make
I lost my virginity in your hands and
forgot the ammonia of boys and how they’d beg
to go all the way and almost want to pay you if they had
more than a penny and dirty underwear on offer
leaving you feeling worthless and slutty and defiled and violated even if
you kissed while crossing your own legs the entire time.
In your arms I realized my own skin, the honey softness
of your touch, a new language.
You were, the girlfriend of my best friend
you loved him, you loved me (on weekends when he was away)
I was your little secret and you stripped me one by one
of all my petty rebellions
until I stood before you naked and shivering
telling me; Get your shit together, because nobody
is going to do it for you and you don’t want to be
working in High Street Stores at 40 nor do you
want to squander all your talent on
cheap cider and horny empty-eyed souls.
I laughed then, I remember it, day losing light
your face looked older, wiser, molded by shadow
I wanted to press myself to your breasts and find
that special sound you made when I delved deeper.
But you took my chin and forced me to meet your eyes
a deep blue like the bottom of my grandmother’s swimming
pool where I learned to drown
It isn’t fair, you said, it isn’t right, and it isn’t your fault
but it is your responsibility
defy them. Even if you can’t beat them, even if you can’t
ever be as good as them, defy their expectations of you
make something of yourself anyway, and for those who
things come easy, realize you are twice as strong
for matching their ease with your effort.
I admired you more than anyone I’d ever met
not just for the shape of your curls and the way you stood
short and yet louder than anyone in the room
I admired your tenacity and how you had a really dumb side
that you could laugh at and we’d sit in your friends bar
underage (me) barely old enough (you) and I could
never get enough of watching your lips move and wishing
they could be pressed against mine til eternity.
When you left me for the boyfriend you always knew you’d keep
because I was a phase in your life and you were my everything
I didn’t hate you for it. I felt the terrible absence of your
hand in mine and how life without you was colorless and
drab like someone had sucked out all the joy and left only
skeletons of memory.
But I was young, I picked myself up and tried again
the first time in years, putting aside my acting out and anger
the rebellions, resentment at having so many
impediments and not being one of the golden ones for whom
everything came naturally.
I worked so hard I ended up succeeding, but that success
never made me happy the way you hoped it would.
I still felt a fraud
I still knew, if I didn’t work twice as hard as everyone else I would never
be their equal
I knew deep down my short-comings were
who I really was and that being ordinary is never something we aspire to.
It did feel good to fight back
against things people liked to say in cruel moments
about how I would never amount to anything, how I wasn’t half
the intelligent person they’d thought I’d grow up to be
I proved them wrong.
I did not gain confidence in myself because I knew the truth
sometimes you can tap dance so fast, people start to believe
the tune you are humming, but it’s just a magic trick
and you’re as ordinary and bog-standard as
chips in newspaper and clothes on a line.
Did I want to be remarkable? Special? Unique? Gifted?
Accepting that you’re ordinary, especially when you were never told
is absolutely ego crushing
but I remembered how you laughed at yourself
and didn’t let it stop you
how you might have felt the fear and done it anyway
I took an incomplete leaf out of your book
one that I keep til this day, pressed against my bosom
remembering that people come into your life for a reason
sometimes that’s why they have to leave
for the lesson is rarely learned
41 Replies to “The Lesson”
Now you have made my day, be safe 😉
Candice, my choice to read you, first word to the last, to let your words find my mind, give cause to think a while …
“The best revenge is to live well.” – Oscar Wilde
Competition, I never learned it.
Only child compete with whom,
The Parents? Impossible!
For their attention? Who with?
More often, learn to avoid
Too much supervision
No siblings to teach the importance.
All the toys were mine,
All the snacks, mine.
Come school, no joy in
A winning team, or grief
At a loosing one, only seeing
A kind of madness
A kind of Zen, to play a game
Indifferent to the win or loose
And so, truly play
Even the game called “love”
Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
TheFeatheredSleep – Learning
That last phase is so true. Funny, I think of all your list of things you couldn’t do, I couldn’t either.
By god, girl that was phenomenal, do you have any soul left to bare? I wish I had an ounce of your capacity to delve that deep, I hope someone loves you more than life, you so deserve it!
Thank you so much! I fear writing out my truths but then again, I was always told, a writer must, and so, and so, and so. It’s people like you who make it worthwhile, to know it did not fall on deaf ears, that it was somewhat appreciated. That for me is everything. SO THANK YOU Charlie because you permit me able to be brave.
Which is HILARIOUS as I have long (long) (did I mention long?) thought YOU (yes you) to be among the very brightest, most inspirational and tenacious, intelligent women I have had the fortune to know (never enough). I truly would, if asked, put you in that short-list of brightest beings and how funny that neither of us can do some of those things. It helped for me to discover I had Dyscalculia, though nothing undoes a life time of put downs, at least we can write about it, at least we can laugh at ourselves. I truly believe laughter saves us. You have one of the best senses of humor of anyone I know, and moreover, I adore your creative soul and depths. So whatever it is that made you, make more I say! Fortunately you did 😉 Thank you – just for reading this long winded return to confessional – by your fellow poor chop stick user xo
Us and our only child syndrome 😉 This is great! Importance of siblings cannot be understated. And yet look how you turned out? There is hope yet.
Ever ever ever!
I am amazed at that, in the 8/9 years I have followed you I have been so in awe of your bravery x
There is hope, and it is true where you are good, you are excellent.
I meant to ask you – if you would consider reviewing the Anthology when it comes out? I know you may say, but I’m a man how can I review a poetry anthology of lesbian poems but I think you are EXCELLENT at interpreting poetry. It would not have to be long. I could send you the book by PDF when I’m finished completing it. Would you consider that? It’s totally okay if not xo But thought I would ask 🙂
You made my day. It is that simple. You are just a lovely man.
I believe it can be woman or man. I believe we need someone to excite our soul and heart. I believe to make passion and to excite the heart, need someone to make us feel. We are their number one. We are their reasons to live. Sometimes, we must trip and fall many times to find our soul-mate. Someone, who make us smile and laugh.
This story swept me away like a tidal wave. Your words are so beautifully raw, full of pure uncut emotion. My heart raced through the entire piece and I can’t help but wonder how many readers felt the way I did – that I could feel so many fragments of myself in your words. Thank you for sharing something that makes me feel so much all at once. You’re truly gifted.
Yes! The poetry of love, requited or otherwise, is the poetry of love (Or, as the case may be, or lust.) no matter the gender combinations. Besides, I sometimes think men should read more lesbian poetry. It might teach them things that would make them better lovers.
Phew, amazing to read! Well done.
I’m so glad your first love spoke such truth to you, & jolted you into the beauty and power you truly deserve 🌈
This seems to be one of the most revealing posts I’ve read of yours, and the amount of self insight and raw honesty reveals to me this one thing – you are you gifted (even if it is such a dark raw and painful gift most of the time).. and this resonates on so many levels with me. Thanks so much for sharing it so openly.
It was an odd sensation reading it, because although some of the details were completely different, that feeling of being on the outside of something ‘normal’ was very strong. Maybe all kids and adolescents just yearn to be part of the pack. Wanting to be different, and individual, comes with a sort of maturity. I was a bright kid and cleverness was valued in our society, so it got me through not having the nerve to do things, ride a bike, (hated swimming), climbing (scared of heights) doing anything at all remotely dangerous, being in unfamiliar situations, doing things or going places I’d never been before, standing up for myself. I had a good school, good family and good community, otherwise I’d probably be neurotic at least now. And we all knew how to laugh 🙂
So very intelligently agonising
I wish you’d submitted to the lesbian anthology I’m part of my friend. If you’re still interested I can get you in late email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Agreed. It is a sign of maturity to be comfortable in your own skin. Doesn’t surprise me you were a bright kid, you still are 😉 Humor is surely, every intelligent person’s saving grace!
Dearest Ekaterina, Thank you SO much for these uplifting words. They mean so much to me. I had been suffering quite a bad period of not being able to write very much and to feel that something I did write, as honestly as I did, touched someone, well it’s everything I could ever wish for as a writer. Thank you.
I really appreciate you taking the time to say this to me and let me know, as well as your kindness. It was a very honest outpouring and I was afraid of the candor and possible impact. Even if only you felt this way, it means I did something right. Thank you again so much for your kindness. Everyone needs someone like you in their life to keep them going. I wish the same for you always.
Hello My Friend, it’s been a while since I wrote something as revealing. I think you and I bonded over things we both wrote that were very revealing back a few years ago, but since then I have had a bad writers block and wasn’t really able to write a lot the way I used to. I envy you for your ability to always be able to write and to do so with truth and integrity. It is one reason I admire you so much. Thank you – I will take the compliment, for having a dark gift is better than no gift! And it is very encouraging. Thank you for being such a supportive friend to me, it means everything.
Just emailed you back btw xo I think men should read more lesbian poetry! ha ha ha you gave me such a giggle over that one! (But I agree for the reasons stated!)
To paraphrase out parish priest, the family that laughs together stays together 🙂
Well, the world would be far better off if more men actually listened to women about many subjects.
Well this response means the world to me. And when things are blocked maybe something deeper is going on. I always admire the way you express deeper truths indirectly but oh so powerfully. And I am so grateful to know you and call you friend. <3
Raw and beautiful! The metaphors you use are absolutely gorgeous.
Someone further up in this thread referred to you as gifted. It’s soooooo true! Beautifully done, Candice! These lines, in particular, grabbed me in this poem…
I knew deep down my short-comings were
who I really was and that being ordinary is never something we aspire to.
Thank you so much. From this ordinary girl! 🙂 xoxo
Dear Ashley Rebecca thank you so much for reading this and for saying so! I really appreciate you
Definitely you are so right. I get blocked with how much pain I feel sometimes so I just can’t write. But that’s why I admire you because when you are in the midst of it you don’t stop. THAT is a true writer.
I can’t disagree. Though to be equal, I would say, women are often their own worst enemies too and we should all listen 🙂 xo
Aww that’s so kind because I think your poems are far better than mine, isn’t it funny or strange. I get blocked too believe it or not but I do try and write through though even though the critic tells me it may not be fit for consumption…. xoox
I think we’re biased about each other and can’t always see the value of our own work. I know we are both a little self-depricating (well okay, a lot!) but somehow we survived this long so we must be doing something right! I think the critics would feel your work WAS good enough for consumption. I hope when we next do another Anthology you will consider submitting. I will remind you when it comes up.
That would be wonderful Candice I have been thinking lately it may be worth trying to actively get something published, I have never tried before, just a thought. Really appreciate that.
I think you should. I know you should.. You will.
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