I Wish I Was Guarded

New Girl: Season 2
New Girl: Season 2

Lately, I’ve been having this reoccurring dream. In it, I’m aware there are no walls wherever I go. I can be in my apartment, classroom, hell on earth (the DMV), wherever, it doesn’t matter. There are no boundaries to separate the space I’m in from the rest of the world. Everything is together. And, of course, at first, it seems like potentially the coolest thing ever. I start leaping, trying to find something that resembles a corner while the wind kisses my neck. I’m running and spinning, spilling out of my sundress, my freckles dancing with me. I am free, in all senses of the word. Until I try to speak.

To my horror, my lips have been sewn shut with thin pieces of thread dangling from each side. I scream, rattling only my own brain while everything outside remains perfectly serene. Nobody can hear me. Nobody is trying to help me. And as my hummingbird arms flap up and down, hoping someone will find a way to give me my voice back, it slowly dawns on me that it might be better this way.

I can’t fuck it all up if I can’t speak. And as that thought crosses me, I try to say it out loud. I can’t. My fingers work their way up and down the center of my lips. I wiggle my cheeks. I pull at the stitches. They will not move. So, I stop touching them. I stop thinking about my speech and all the things I want to say. I stop thinking about what I want to say to him. I stop thinking about what I already said. I sit in my own silence for the first time in so long, and I feel even more free.

I have never known how to keep my own secrets. I blurt out my emotions with such ease, that it doesn’t make the average person around me feel at ease. It is not comfortable to always know what someone is thinking. But I can’t seem to stop.

I wonder what it would feel like to not speak with your heart on your tongue. I wonder if mouths feel different without a metallic after taste. Maybe teeth are stronger when they aren’t grinding against waves of anxiety. Maybe throats aren’t supposed to have a permanent lump in them. I have spent too many nights nursing puncture wounds from my own honesty. I am running out of Band-Aids, but I keep bleeding.

I wonder if rejection really does feel better than regret. I’ve told myself that enough times that I have no choice but to believe it. Maybe I’d have arms other than my own if I didn’t talk so goddamn much. If I didn’t insist on being so open.

Open.

It’s all I’ve ever known how to be. My open heart and open mouth are maybe the only two things that seem to be in agreement about me. I am waiting for the day too much tries to come inside and I figure out the handle on this rusty door. I am waiting for the person who pushes me to find a key, to lock it and throw it away, willingly. I am waiting for someone to hand me a needle to make patchwork art of out me. I am waiting for something to finally make me not want to be so open for everyone to see. TC mark

Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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