Blame The Mother

Scrolling down your Facebook feed should begin with a trigger warning: cringe worthy comments ahead, enter at your own risk.

Or at least this is what I’ve been feeling lately. Indeed, it seems that not a day can pass without criminal sociopaths deciding that they simply cannot stand to live another single day sharing the same planet as other people and proceeding to kill them.

Which is in itself, I’m sure you’ll agree, kind of an issue. However, I’ve been seeing puzzling captions and comments on social media with regards to  these news: captions wondering what kind of mothers produced offspring like the perpetrators of killings, how can mothers stand to see their sons parading with guns, how mothers should publicly condemn their children’s behaviour, how mothers’ hearts around the world are bleeding for the victims.

Which prompts me to beg the following questions: why is it always the mother’s fault? Why do mothers have to justify and support or reject everything that their children do? Why is it a knee jerk reaction to turn to the mothers and their assumed faults whenever someone turns out to be a maniac? And why would a mother’s heart bleed more strongly over loss and despair? Aren’t we all able to mourn losses, regardless of our maternal status?

Since becoming a mother myself, I’ve been reflecting a lot on a woman’s sense of individuality once she decides to have children: it seems that as soon as that bump is showing, society deems it its business to put you back into your rightful place of child incubator and Sacralised Mother, Keeper of the Home. You’re expected to reign over a realm of domesticity under the motto: I Shall Sacrifice Myself for My Family. Welcome to the motherhood, it’s definitely anther hood, where you’re apparently not your own person any more. Don’t believe me? Then have a little detour in that great place called the internet, where you’ll be pretty sure to stumble upon articles blaming mothers for their children’s behaviour, with so called scientific studies to back them up.

Any desire for yourself, any show of will to accomplish and fulfil yourself is perceived as selfishness, dismissing you as a ‘bad mother’, the kind of parent that makes criminals. Because surely, if these people would have had good mothers, they’d be crocheting scarves for the poor and not going around on killing sprees.

The sheer amount of such reactions I’ve seen on my timeline, posted by mostly youngish people (is 30 still young? Am I still a young person?) reveals that patriarchal beliefs and attitudes are alive and well, feeding into the news to extend further blame on women (are you surprised?).

Newsflash alert: no, it is not their mothers’ behaviour that leads criminals to act the way they do. There, isn’t it simple? You can stop wondering now.

Now that we have liberated space to have some serious discussions, perhaps we could focus on environmental causes, on socio-economic causes, on psychological causes if you must, on actual material causes that explain behaviours. We are all a product of our societal environment. Of course our education and family (a social unit) matter, but it doesn’t follow that everything terrible that happens in this world derives from the time your mom was late to pick you up from school.

So why this constant blame of the mother? Well, the myth of the ‘perfect mother’, as in, the Mother with a capital M, the woman whose identity is only defined through her children, the woman who sacrifices herself for her children (the notion of sacrifice in the patriarchal ideal of the mother is very important), the woman who is willing to suffer sometimes unnecessary suffering for her children is still ever present and pervasive, with constant pressure over women to fulfil that ideal. So alive and well that it teams up with capitalism to create new so-called ‘parenting trends’ that sell millions of books to tell mothers whatever they’re doing they’re doing it wrong, and that there is always a better way to be mothers. Of course, if you don’t follow all these ever changing rules, your child will become a sociopath and people will share articles about them on Facebook, blaming you for everything you’ve done wrong. Needless to say, the father is very rarely mentioned, as of course he did his part inseminating you and showing up from time to time, and of course everyone knows the essence of a woman is to be a mother while the very essence of a man is to go hunting and retreat to his man cave.

It seems women in general can’t win, and so can’t mothers.

You know what I’d love to see next time someone goes bat shit crazy and starts killing everything and everyone in sight? I’d like to see meaningful conversations about gun control policies, about systemic social inequalities disenfranchising people and making them vulnerable to becoming criminals, about unchecked privilege teaming up with rampant impunity and corruption, leading certain people to believe that life doesn’t matter except theirs, about growing militarism, the banalization of violence and lack of accountability from governments. I’d like to see more conversations about the root causes leading to such actions, and less about it all being the mother’s fault. Us women have been carrying the stigma of the original sin for long enough, and are made to feel guilty about everything enough without the whole world blaming us for the actions of our adult children.

The Big C

Picture from the Scar Project - Breast Cancer is Not a Pink Ribbon http://www.thescarproject.org/gallery/

Picture from the Scar Project – Breast Cancer is Not a Pink Ribbon http://www.thescarproject.org/gallery/

October being Breast Cancer Awareness month or something, you see little light pink ribbons sprouting wings everywhere, to ‘show support’.
I don’t get how the ribbon shows support but okay.

I am not a fan of pretty pink ribbons at the best of times, but in this specific case, i can’t help but wonder 1)why the gender stereotyping must follow women even in the ugly realms of cancer (I get it, it’s a WOMAN’s cancer, therefore RIBBON MUST BE PINK otherwise people won’t get it and the WORLD will end) and 2) why the constant need to gloss over the reality of things with sanitizing symbols. Now don’t get me wrong: i’m all for shedding light on the issue, all for urging women to go get that mammogram and all for teaching women to perform their self examination, even though it might lead to false alarms and scares. Better be safe than sorry. But I’m not for reducing all that is breast cancer to a ribbon during a month.

Also, I’m not at all in favour of the recuperation of the ribbon symbolizing breast cancer by corporate powers who on the one hand do not part with even a small portion of their huge profits to fund research and on the other hand produce items that are actually carcinogenic. ‘Cause Marketing’, they call it and it makes me want to puke all over them. The campaign ‘Think Before You Pink‘ exposes said companies, and provides a tool kit for activists who’d like to question the whole pink ribbon hoopla. Here’s an example:

EXAMPLE: In 2011, Susan G. Komen for the Cure commissioned a perfume called Promise Me that contains unlisted chemicals that are regulated as toxic and hazardous, have not been adequately evaluated for human safety, and have demonstrated negative health effects. Although Komen said they would reformulate future versions of the perfume, without official adoption of the precautionary principle, there is no guarantee that future versions would be better.

Make no bones about it, the cancer journey is not smooth and silky like a ribbon, it is brutal, and life altering and very, very fucking scary.
I am not a breast cancer survivor myself, so there’s only so many things I can say on the subject, but I am the daughter, the niece and the friend of many. Some have lost their battles against that ugly beast, some have won, but not without battle scars.
In the words of a friend survivor ‘first they cut you up, second they poison you and then they cure you’. Surgery, radiations, hormonal Therapy and chemotherapy, then, hopefully, cure. Such is the usual journey many women have to go through, and that is privileged women people, women living in high income countries and who have access to medical care. According to the World Health Organisation, breast cancer is usually detected in the very late stages in low to middle income countries, so there you have it: scores of women start off with a worse prognosis because of their socio-economic conditions, and even if the majority of cases happen in the higher income countries, 69% of deaths overall still occur in low and middle-income countries. How is that for a nice little ribbon?

The statistics for five years survival rates just keep going better and better in higher income countries, thanks to cancers being detected earlier and earlier and medical progress. Again according to the WHO, Breast cancer survival rates vary greatly worldwide, ranging from 80% or over in North America, Sweden and Japan to around 60% in middle-income countries and below 40% in low-income countries (Coleman et al., 2008). The low survival rates in less developed countries can be explained mainly by the lack of early detection programmes, resulting in a high proportion of women presenting with late-stage disease, as well as by the lack of adequate diagnosis and treatment facilities.

But women with breast cancer are everything but statistics. They’re women who tell you they instantly trusted their women doctor because ‘she wore nice shoes, so I figured I was in good hands’, they’re women who have to learn a whole new vocabulary (when they even have access to it, as not all women are equal in health care access and coverage) that they could have done without, PET scans, CT scans, Bone scan, MRI, hormonal therapy, metastases, stages and grades, herceptin, hormonal receptors, Tamoxifen and Aromasin, lumpectomy, mastectomy, recurrence, and the hysterical thing is that the list could go on and again, the women who get to learn about all these are actually the privileged ones, they’re women who cry as they’re being taken away for surgery, women who plainly tell you they’re scared, because, well, it is really pretty fucking scary. They’re women who reach out to one another to create a support system, or who decide to close up when it all becomes too much.

But they’re also women who go and cut their hair something fabulous, and tell you ‘i want to live’ with a resolve that honestly frightens, and women who find it in themselves to simply go on, just because they’re a bit like Beyonce shoving that cheating man out: Hey Cancer, you must not know ’bout me. I’ll kick your ass and its mother.

None of these experiences and feelings and grief and anger and hope can ever be encapsulated by a campaign or an article or a single narrative. Yes we need to talk about breast cancer, but we need to talk with and about the women and not just the disease, we need to make sure the gaps between women affected get reduced to the point of non existence. We need to be there for them so their fears get eased up, and we need to support their choices because it’s their lives and their own bodies, and that include the right to refuse a certain treatment sometimes without judgment or questions. In short, we have a lot of things to do, and they don’t include purchasing useless crap that might actually be harmful just because they have a pink ribbon on them.

 

What People Do Not Tell You Upon Becoming Pregnant And Other Surviving Tips

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Yes ladies, it is high time to lift the veil on the broad platitude people serve you once you’re pregnant. Ever heard: I’ve never felt better than when I was pregnant? Oh you’ll see, morning sickness is totally manageable, just drink ginger ale and you’ll be fine? And, yes I was a teensy bit tired?

While it might truly be like that for some women (of which I am super jealous by the way), it is to be said that 1) it is not like that for a a significant amount of women and 2) as pregnant women, we’re encouraged to shut the fuck up when it comes to our pregnancy woes and just wear a beatific smile and nod softly to everything and everyone, because we should be so grateful and happy to be pregnant you see. Which we are, don’t get us wrong. But we’d be even happier if we could tell the world that morning sickness is wrongly named because it is all fucking day sickness without feeling the eyes of judgement digging into our souls. Apparently, the second we see that tiny line on the pee test is the moment we as individuals should stop existing and the time we start to bear everything with a brave smile just because we are mothers in the making. Sacrifice should be our new credo or something, so we should just suck it up and think that it’s all for the greater good.

 

Er, no.

 

I am ranting, because I really, truly, want to whine and get the throbbing guilt out of women’s heads. My lovelies, if you feel miserable during pregnancy, and not at all like the model mums we see in specialised magazines (which are basically like any other ‘women’ magazine with their self serving dose of guilt, you just need to add a bump) it doesn’t mean you’re going to be a bad mother, or that you don’t have what it takes. You feel miserable because you throw up 3 times a day, and that would make anyone pretty miserable too. Yes you’re beside yourself that you’re making another human being that you’ll love so much your heart will ache, but you tend to forget about that when you see your dinner in reverse. You’re just a normal human being.

 

So on to the list of things that you should be aware of upon getting pregnant (and since i’m only about 18 weeks, I expect said list will be getting longer):

 

  1. Everyone Will Have Good Advice to Shower on Your Head

    Even the men, who last time I checked did not have a uterus. Even your grocer. Even that person on the bus whom you don’t know and don’t want to know. My mother’s advice has been pretty straightforward: you’re pregnant, eat whatever you want and suck it up. I’m not sure I found that helpful but at the same time I prefer it to the people who guilt me into natural birth and breastfeeding and look horrified when I press the point that I WANT ALL THE DRUGS THEY CAN GET ME AND MORE, and that I’m not sure about breastfeeding. Sometimes I think I’ll do it just to escape the curse of the BUT IT’S SO GOOD FOR YOUR BABY preaching. In any case, I still like to shock aforementioned judging crowd just because I’m mean and pregnancy has not been able to change that. Again, my mother is superb: ‘I never breastfed you, it wasn’t the fashion at the time and yaaaa I don’t like it’. However, she’s been made to feel guilty as well and now tells me she regrets it. I don’t blame you mom, I’m not super comfortable with the idea either. Something tells me I get my body back after 9 months of not controlling it, maybe since it’s my body and my breasts, I should be able to make my own decision? Bottom line is: breastfeeding and bottle feeding both make healthy babies, so live and let live. And don’t feel bad for wanting your body back.

 

  1. You’ll Have Anxieties About Everything

    Yes, you will. Before you get pregnant you’ll be scared about not being able to. When you are, you’ll be scared about miscarriage. Once the baby starts kicking, you’ll freak out when you haven’t felt it for two seconds. When you’ll be towards delivery time, you’ll be scared about the birth. How are they going to get that baby out of you, you’ll ask? I mean, seriously, I know women have been doing it since time immemorial, but HOW ARE THEY GOING TO GET IT OUT? During the birth, you’re scared they won’t cry once they’re out. I confided this fear to my sister who acknowledge having had the same one with her two daughters. Thing is, she said it almost in a whisper, as if it were something shameful. It’s nothing to be ashamed about, on the contrary, apparently it shows you’ll be a good mother because you care and stuff. Congratulations. Now worry away.

 

  1. You Won’t Sleep Well

    Say bye to sleeping on your stomach. Say hi to restless leg syndrome. Say bye to peaceful, funny, dreams, say hi to gory preview of childbirth and various scenarios where something happens to your baby, your partner, your family, the earth. Say bye to long night, say hi to peeing three times during the night.

    Say bye to feeling rested.

 

  1. You Will Get The Usual Suspects

    Swelling. I can’t wear half of my high heels anymore. PEOPLE. Me and my shoes were tight. Real tight. I almost cried when my new nude and gold pumps would not fit my feet, not that I needed a reason to cry, but it hurt. I know I’ll probably love the baby more than my shoes but Jesus fucking Christ, it does not feel good.

    Feeling tired. Not tired like you want to sleep. The first trimester is a blur of me clutching at my bed and never wanting to let go. Ever.

    Morning Sickness. You’ll feel nauseated by things you used to love. You’ll throw up. Repeat, Pause for throwing up, Repeat, pause for throwing up.

    Weight gain. Enough said. But that one is not too bad. You can eat whatever you want because you’re pregnant you see, so yes, have that piece of cake (sickness permitting of course)

 

  1. You’ll Love Everyone. You’ll Hate everyone. Especially your partner.

    You will cry over little nothings and will bite the head off anyone who dares to tell you ‘it’s the hormones’ fault because you’ll be totally convinced that ad was really objectively REALLY SAD and that ANYONE would have cried over it and it’s not BECAUSE YOU’RE HORMONAL. You’ll want to bitch slap everyone, especially your partner because, well, he/she’s there and merely exists, next thing you’ll know you’ll love him/her like you’ve never loved anyone in the whole wide world.

You might be a tiny bit difficult to live with, but you won’t realise it because for you it’s totally normal. And no, the fact that you threw a hissy fit this morning at your husband because he bought the wrong kind of cereal is not a mark of mood swings. Conflicting cereals really are upsetting.

 

  1. You’ll stress over telling work you’re pregnant

    As if you made a major work blunder. Because that’s the world we live in now, and that’s regardless of your employer’s reaction to the news, you’ll stress nonetheless, because pregnant women are made to feel by society that their place is not in the workplace, but at home knitting socks for their child. To this day, my hero is this UK diplomat with whom I had an appointment. I didn’t know her so she just texted me: you’ll find me, i’m the 8 months pregnant woman. And there she was, rocking the human rights council with her bump and I thought YOU GO GIRL YOU SHOW THEM!!! Show them we’re pregnant not mentally reduced.

Please feel free to add anything you like, I am likely to have forgotten a ton

Plastic Capitalist

Today, I was attending a Meeting on women’s leadership: men in suit moderators, outdated data, lack of content. The meeting was supposedly women’s leadership, yet the was not discussed and rather, the whole thing looked more like a company’s team building retreat, with moderators apparently on a mission to complete their template.
When my colleagues and I raised the issues, we were told to, in that order: take things with a pinch of salt, be more positive, that the best people were moderating the sessions, that we were aggressive and that finally we were welcomed to send all our suggestions and evaluation in the little form provided in the little folder.
It was strange to see that apparently there was no woman qualified enough to be part of the moderators, but beyond those specific issues, it was appalling to witness how much the issue of women’s rights has become commodified, treated via companies specialized in “leadership strategies”, within the framework of a conference so formatted the environment for leadership development was far from being provided. The worst part of it all might very well have been that organizers and moderators presented themselves as “feminists”. The same ones who told me to “take things with a pinch of salt”, presenting themselves as feminists.
This situation clearly reminded me how much feminism has been overused, recuperated and distorted, the way you see right wing neocons parading as feminists. Feminism is by definition a revolutionary current aiming at questioning power relations, whether they are economic power relations, gender power relations or political relations. As feminists, we must remain aware of what language is being used, what methods are being used, what images, what attitudes, everything. Remaining vigilant and speaking out against situations that strike us as insensitive gender wise, or oppressive to any social group, not just women , are part of our job, and if that makes us aggressive, then so be it. When we spoke out at that conference, many people blamed us from holding the agenda back, from being too offensive: I however can’t help but notice that our stir caused two women trainers to moderate one session, which was not previously factored in the programme, just like the acts of feminists demonstrators in the 70’s were perceived as aggressive, yet you wouldn’t have seen drastic changes in European laws pertaining to women and gender without them. Feminism, contrary to women’s rights currents, not only asks for gender equality within laws and practice: it aims at shifting societies upside down to challenge traditional conservative concepts of what it means to be a woman or a man, it aims at questioning and changing heteronormative and sexist beliefs and practices.
One of the aspects of the intrusion and recuperation of progressive ideologies by capitalism and neoliberal policies is how the emphasis has shifted from public duties to individual duties. While talking about women’s rights and empowerment, so many people kept pointing fingers at women, stating it was up to them to seize opportunities and not to wait on the state to give them anything. The success of capitalism is that it has managed to make people believe that asking anything from the government is acting as an assisted person. It’s the Nike philosophy, just do it, you can do it, etc, you you you and people who try to do it and fail are stigmatized. Reminder: governments ratify human rights law treaties, therefore, governments should be held accountable for respecting, protecting and implementing them. The State has a duty, in fact many of them, and part of the empowerment process is to remind the state of its obligations and put it back in front of them, and stating that in doing so, a citizen is being nothing short of a big whiny baby is. A. Lie.

Your Choice: Your Career or Your Identity Or other stories of Empowerment, Lebanese Style

Link: Your Choice: Your Career or Your Identity Or other stories of Empowerment, Lebanese Style

The new regulation adopted by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces to prevent women from wearing the hijab to work on the field has stirred a lot of debate and controversy in the highly sect-sensitive state of Lebanon. Invoking the military Code of Conduct that purportedly doesnt allow any member of the security forces to wear a confessional sign, military officials have requested the 40 or so women concerned to take off their veil in order to be able to serve on the field, something about 20 of them complied with. It is worth nothing that the women who have been asked to take their veils off had just successfully passed all their exams, a process during which absolutely no one told them they will have to choose betwwen the veil or the career later on. “According to the military code of conduct, whether it is for the police, army or general security, all religious symbols are not allowed,” said the security official interviewed by the AFP, who requested anonymity.

Read More on Café Thawra http://cafethawra.blogspot.com/2012/03/your-choice-your-career-or-your.html

Tales of the Phoenix City – Chapter 7

Lili felt Ziad even before she was even in the vicinity of the coffee place, the way you feel a storm coming. She had a very sharp sixth sense: when she thought of someone, she’d usually hear of that person in the coming hours, and given the fact that she was always thinking of Ziad, it was only a matter of days before she ran into him. 

She had woken late that day, having stayed up all night to finish up a report on the women’s cooperative she had visited the day before. Going up to the Bekaa valley to talk to these women made her realise why Nina loved so much driving by herself to all parts of Lebanon to find the best fig jam, and if she was in luck, the best embroiderer. There was something truly exhilarating to arriving to Dahr el Baidar and seeing the soft curves of the sandy mountains spread before her, just as there was something very comforting about having the women of the villages fuss about her, tsking that she was too thin, feeding her labneh mka3zaleh and zaatar, her favourite thing in the world. On her way back, speeding along on the wide Sahel road, passing by farm workers finishing up their day, she felt light, content to have seen women proud of their work, showcasing what they did with great professionalism, explaining to her how they had set up the cooperative and how they had managed to have access to markets in Beirut and Saida. She had gone to Saghbin, AiTanit and Mashgharah, leaving late to get back to the noisy realms of Beirut in the afternoon with enough material and food to keep her awake all night and feed a small country. 

Nina’s phone call had awoken her. 

– For the love of God, do not, simply do not tell me you’re still sleeping, or worse, buried under the covers, listening to that dreary music of yours, pining after my stupid brother. There’s only so much Radiohead a normal person can listen to you know.

– Not even a bit. I was sound asleep, recovering from all the labneh 3al saj I have eaten yesterday. She stifled a yawn, feeling her chest as heavy as ever, a feeling she always had when she woke up. She sometimes thought she suffered from low level depression, which she probably was anyway. Or maybe her years of smoking had finally caught up with her. After all, she was 30 and a half. She didn’t know why she kept counting the halves of her birthdays. It wasn’t like she was six anymore, rushing to get to seven.

– How’s Fatmeh? How’s Wafa? How are they all? Listen, carried on her tireless friend without letting Lili answer, I don’t want to talk about everything over the phone. I have a million and one things to tell you, including some serious drama at the workshop with a desperate bride. And that stupid guy has phone me again, “expressing interest in buying shares in my brand”. I’ll give him shares where he can feel it. Anyway, can you meet me and Gaby at Bread Republic in about half an hour? 

-No. No no no no no no no. I know your schemes. You and Gaby are only trying to get me out under false pretence so you can harass me about being sad about Ziad. I’m very happy being sad over Ziad, I don’t ever want to stop being sad about Ziad, I want to be sad and desperate so I can keep thinking about Ziad. Ziad is gorgeous and he was the love of my life and I’d rather be lonely than happy with somebody else.

Nina sighed. She knew the tune.

– You’re pathetic and self centered and most of all, Lili, you are NOT Nina Simone, so just stop quoting her songs. Gaby wants to introduce us to her studio partner, you know, Ali, that computer genius she’s working with? Remember your friend Gabrielle? The talented photographer/graphic designer who has just opened her own business? Well she misses you, and so do I, so get out of Purdah, don your sparkling attire, and join us. I mean it Lili, we haven’t seen you in like forever and I have a new brilliant idea my desperate bride has given me without even realising it. Come on! What’s the worst that could happen anyway?

The worst had happened of course. She ended up running into Ziad, as luck would have it, while she was wearing her feelings on her face, something no amount of make up could ever conceal. Not that she tried anyway, the only make up she could bear being an old Bordeaux Lancôme lipstick whose shade was the exact match to her favourite wine. She saw him and she blanched. He saw her and reddened. And muttered something. Perhaps he was going crazy? Well, that’d make two of them. 

She saw him and it was like all the piercing, screeching noises of Beirut went muffled all of a sudden, as is she was swimming in deep, deep waters. She could hear in the distance Ziad Rahbani’s voice drawling that she was living alone without you, and without your love kid. She liked this song, she loved Ziad Rahbani, who didn’t and what’s not to love, Nina used to say, but right now, Lili felt her brain could only register the presence of one Ziad, and that was the nervous, red-faced Ziad sitting on a rickety chair, a copy of his beloved Catcher in the Rye next to him.

– Don’t you dare walk up to him, Lili come back, come back now hissed Nina, he’s my brother and so I can tell you he’s bad news and a lost soul and I’ll thump him. Lili!

Lili, however, was marching over to Ziad, barely aware of her friend’s warning, dimly listening to Gabrielle swearing (For fuck’s sake why can’t we ever have a normal coffee between friends? It’s either a crying doll in the middle of your studio or your apocalyptic brother! Nina! You’re a magnet for disasters!)

– I thought I had kept custody of this place, she grinned in spite of herself, the slab of concrete in her chest dissolving into warm albeit poisonous honey. 

– I love their coffee, stammered Ziad. So, tell me, am I the Antichrist now or is it normal that sister is signalling me to either go or die a slow painful death by hanging? I can’t really decipher all the miming she’s doing.

– Oh no, you’re the AntiChrist.

– I guess that’s why you felt the need to come here, our place, with a guy with you, spat Ziad with venom.

Jealousy suited him. Everything suited him. And then Lili did something both very stupid, and very un-Lili like.

She bent over.

And she kissed him.

Not even Nina’s gasp and Gabrielle Oh Jesus Fucking Christ could cover the elated whooping of her soul. 

For those in Lebanon, please find the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/171190029664659/ 

Let us march to mourn and honour the women who have died as a result of domestic violence, let us send out a message of solidarity to those still trapped in their living hell, let us call on our useless, corrupt, criminal governement to vote the anti VAW law, not in the state it is currently in, all maimed, but the draft that the coalition submitted. 

Eleven Years and A Drop Of Blood

You don’t say it but I know it’s there. The tremendous, exquisite pain you carry around with you wherever you go.

It’s in your silences, the way you breathe a little more freely when you are not at home, the way your shoulders come down from way up your ears when you allow yourself to relax.

It’s in your half sentences, your little skips of attention, the way you seem to trip over your thoughts, oblivious of the world around you, lost in a well of internal hurt I can’t seem to grasp.

It’s in your over-achieving attitude, the standards you set so high up for yourself, to prove to yourself you’re better that whatever happened to you, that you deserve better, that it didn’t break you.

It’s in that constant trail of electricity that follows each and every one of your steps, the tension of being alive that seems to keep you as tense as a bowstring, ready to strike whoever would come too close to soon.

It’s in the quietness with which you handle things, each tender gesture as soft as the next, your anger never too loud, your laughter never to keen, your tears, dry, your cursing, tame. It’s as if somebody put you on mute a long, long time ago, and that you lost the ability to exist in vivid colors in your own eyes again. But to me you do, and it kills me to see this numb version of what you could be.

No, you don’t say it, you don’t really say anything to me, what I know i have observed, but I don’t say anything either, and there we remain, trapped in that lead cover of silence that is suffocating me like a coffin, yet I stay there, too respectful of your screaming eyes to scratch the graze, that slit of a wound that doesn’t ever seem to want to heal.

We stay in that coffin, while he’s out there, enjoying his life and all the ones he took, all because there was no one, and nothing, to prevent this from happening.