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Writing From the Broken Place

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I’m writing from the broken place— the deepest, darkest, purest part of myself. The place that has spent years covered by bullshit and fear and addiction. I am writing from the broken place, but I can also say I am writing from the brave place, the fearless place, the warrior-woman in my heart and soul that knows how to own her story and make magic out of it. I am writing for all the women I’ve met and am yet to meet. I am writing for me and you, our addictions, and our passions, our moments of “what the actual fuck,” and our moments that we hit the ground in gratitude with tears. I am writing from the broken place so that the broken place can heal.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mother, the other stuff came after. I treated my dolls better than anything or anyone. I carried them around with me constantly. I went to the park with my nanny, pushing a double-stroller of twin baby dolls while she pushed my brother. I wanted to be a mother on every “when I grow up” form and every time someone asked me the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I wanted to be a mom, and now… now I don’t know if that’ll happen. I’m still young, but I’m also wizened. I know how this world works just a little bit better than I did when I was the age that people were asking me questions about a far-off future. It seemed inconceivable then that my dream wouldn’t come true— it was all I ever wanted, all I could see myself becoming. Recently, I’ve wondered if that’s what I actually want. Do I have it in me to mother another human? Can I be kind unconditionally? Will I be able to live with myself if I fail?

My relationship with my mother is a fractured one. We are broken, but we are also whole. I’ve forgiven the past the best I know how because I know there is no future in resentment. I am writing from the broken place, but from the place of healing with the woman who brought me into this world. I look at her as a woman, just like one of my peers, a woman who made choices that affected me and one of those choices was to bring me into the world. I hold the pain, but I also hold the plain awe: you birthed me and brought me here. I am forever grateful.

I am maternal. Even with alcohol. Even exhausted. Even on the hardest, scariest days, I have always taken care of my people. I have always made sure my friends got home at night, that the random woman I met in the bar was fed and in a cab, that the barista is thanked, and the postman gets their “hello.” I do these things because kindness is free. I do these things because I know I can go up the stairs, open the door, and turn-l off for a while. When you’re a mother, my feeling is that the “off” button is permanently broken.

I know I am young and writing from a broken place, maybe in two-, three-, even five-years age and time will heal the parts of myself that just don’t know if she can take care of a little needy human while also taking care of her needy little self. Maybe I will become more selfish, more inclined to bring a child into this world, or mother one who is already here, while also putting myself first despite that. Maybe not.

There are so many books on mothering recently. I’ve read a few, I’ve skipped others. I’ve never really realized that a part of me, behind the excitement of tiny shoes and countless onesies, doesn’t know if she can.

I’ve read this poem a thousand times and shared it more. These are the words that make me falter, pause, breathe in and then out when I consider sharing this life with a tiny person. The words are from a poem called Good Bones by Maggie Smith:

I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

I am writing from the broken place, bared with the knowledge that this world is as ugly as it is beautiful, as uncertain as it is written-in-stone (a phrase my mother used so many times I have a perpetual gravestone in my mind’s eye with the words emblazoned: this too can change). I am unsure how to care for myself everyday, let alone a self that needs extra help in everything: motivation, making the bed, moving through the day. The perpetual tick of the metaphorical clock— “Now?” it asks. I don’t know ,because I am writing from the broken place and I am not close to whole or healed.

We rush through the everyday as we flip and we buy. We nod and we cross and we tick and we recharge only to do it again tomorrow. What if the cycle isn’t the best one? What if we need to change, but we can’t or we don’t know how? What if we’re stuck?

I remember one of my very first writing workshop classes ever. I was probably 15 or 16 years old. I sat in a classroom, during the summertime in New York City and scribbled for an entire hour on a sheet or paper. By the end of the class, the page was full of circles and cross-outs, notes and shorthand, but all of it was illegible. It wasn’t ever about the comprehension in the future, but more the act in the present, the act of feeling pen against paper, actively listening to a room full of peers, having a discussion that mattered to my 16-year-old self; unsure, unaware, and mostly, unburdened by the threat of time. Time was a gift to my teenage self. I always wished it to move faster, now at 24, most mornings I wake up with a dry mouth and a wave of depression: this day again.

At the library today, I began a book on the psychology of meditation. I don’t understand most of it, but what I do is this: there is nothing wrong with me, but I will convince myself otherwise until there is. There is only this moment, untarnished, until I heap on feeling upon feeling. My reflection is my truest self, but therein lies an issue: my self is a conception of my own creation. There is no self, because I am you, and you… you are me.

A memory flies at me and I realize that my most cherished moments are those preceding anything at all. The way my stomach turns into knots, the way I shiver in expectation and excitement: it could be waiting for a food order, it could be a trip to the bookstore, or it could be the moments before my lover touches my lips, the hairs on my arms erect, anticipating.

I am writing from the broken place. I think I found another crack. Oh. The broken places. I am writing from them all.

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