Advice To Those Who Smoke, Drink, And F*ck

 Joel Olives Follow
Joel Olives Follow

She says it looks like I am not at home in my own skin.
I am always squirming.
My hands,
weaving in and out of disasters,
picking at hangnails.
She tells me I should paint my nails,
it might help.
Make me appear more
together,
less like a bomb waiting to explode.
Does she not see?

I am in charge of my own detonation.

She says I often wrap my own arms around my body,
as if I’m trying to keep my soul from spilling out.
She scoffs,
says my sleeve has a hole in it.
But my life is so full of holes.
I want to tell her,
I would rather be patchwork
than perfect design.

I do not get manicures because I am embarrassed of people
seeing this massacre of fingernails.
I bleed,
let clots form,
and pull at loose strands again.
It has always been this way.
As a small child,
when anxiety took anchor in the pit of my stomach,
I would peel back small pieces of skin.
I have a few scars on my back from my own doing.
I don’t even realize
what I’m doing.
But I keep doing it.

She begins listing bad habits that people fall into,
She says things like:
Cigarettes,
Heavy drinking,
Fucking for the sake of fucking.
Fucking over yourself in the process.
“That picking thing you do, too.”
She spits words with venom,
assessing how others live as if she is God.
As if she is final word,
As if her way of survival is better
than what anyone else tries to do.
I think it’s funny,
how much she looks like a judgmental house cat,
perched on the windowsill,
looking at the rest of the world.

I do not smoke cigarettes.
I do not drink heavily.
I do not know how to fuck without feelings.
But I pick at my fingernails,
scratch at scabs.
My bleeding heart
and skin
in unison.
But as I look at her,
and her unsolicited opinions,
I realize I’d rather pick at myself,
than pick apart those around me.

Don’t let someone tell you that your survival isn’t right.
Because they don’t know your path,
The reasons for your choice in survival tactics.

We are all
just
trying
to live. TC mark


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Ari Eastman

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

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