On One Hand

May 31, 2006

What I Have Learned

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 7:27 pm

Love is not generated by getting good things from another person, it’s generated by giving them. When you give love, you find love within yourself. You can give someone love even if it doesn’t get through, so you cannot always assume that someone who doesn’t show love doesn’t love you. But you will not find love when you’re only receiving it, not giving back. You often find regret when you do that, but never love.

If someone isn’t treating you the way you think you deserve to be treated, he or she will not change as long as the relationship lasts. Nothing you do will change the other person. Do not try to come up with a way to blame yourself as an excuse to stay in the situation. If you allow someone to treat you badly, you will only find yourself in a state of need, and then your place in the relationship will be defined by that need. Your partner will feel suffocated by your need, and if he or she leaves, you will be remembered by your need. Asserting yourself early on, being willing to walk away, re-defines you as a person who is in the state of empowerment, and puts the pressure on the other person to change. You will be remembered as a person who was empowered, and if the other person overcomes his or her problems, he or she will be more likely to want to return.

No matter how fully you have overcome your past problems, blaming yourself for another person’s problems will cause you to digress into things you thought you were beyond. Do not allow yourself to be lectured or taught in relationships unless that is a mutual experience.

“I don’t know why I do that” is not an excuse for anything.

If you know you are strong enough to love fully, do not allow your integrity to be compromised. Stick to your values and demand respect. If you are not strong enough to love fully, do not try to be in a relationship. Your sense of values and respect will be skewed to meet your own needs if you do not love fully.

May 30, 2006

Rocky Road

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 5:08 pm

The extra bowl of ice cream is like breakup sex. You’re sorry it’s over, and you just want a bit more before you rinse off the bowl, so you scoop a few more spoonfulls and sit down in a quiet place to guiltfully prolong the enjoyment. It tastes so much better but you never appreciate its fullness when you know each bite may be your last. You close the carton with sorroful longing. Still, you return, again and again, standing with the freezer door open, to sneak a few more spoonfulls directly from the carton before putting it away – each taste you savor as your last, but out of weakness you repeatedly return for more. Finally, when you’ve wasted far more time than you had hoped, you close the freezer and march bravely away from the fridge. You will not eat again for hours.

May 27, 2006

Protected: Disconnect

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 5:07 pm

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May 26, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 10:17 pm

I have an appointment with a psychologist on Tuesday at noon. Directions are on a folded yellow napkin in my pocket. One of the first things we are going to discuss is the option of medication, so that I can be the person I want to be, not controled by my diseases. I am a good lover, I want to be better, I want to love without need and without anxiety.

On another folded piece of paper is the email address of a girl from my religious community. She’s helping me get the word out about the garden I’m hoping to put in at a community house my religious group uses as its headquarters. I’m asking board members who lead the organization if they have any plants they can donate to the cause – the yard is currently full of weeds.

Scribled on a campus flier is the time the Internet company is coming to fix the modem that broke over a month ago, so I’ll finally be connected from home. This is also tucked into the same pocket as the email address and the psycholgist’s appointment.

Finally I have the phone numbers of two contacts for potential jobs – one for a job as a Unitarian assistant minister for my religious community, another for an internship editing a literary journal next fall.

I am living out of my pockets. I am living out of my backpack and my phone. I am fumbling to find the printer, the keys, I am fumbling to to find my heart in all the wreckage.

My Last Poem for You

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:02 pm
   You were my road to Damascus
    To my know ledge
of the attainment
     of love
     deeper than arm's reach.  

 For now I know it 
         lies buried
 under topsoil, sand
    mud and Clay,

where the worms chip out
    the pieces of other things
    becoming rotten.

There is the best kind
    holding it to me, on my burnt skin,

I am shipwrecked and covered in blood.
   and still you tilt it
   searing, boiling,
 to my lips
The love that hurts like nothing
     I have known.  

      hurts, hurts, firey pinpricks.

         May I never
         let go of
         that love.  

Protected: Relationship Post-Mortem

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May 24, 2006

To Our Last Cigarette

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 3:47 pm

Until our last cigarette
is finished we stand turning
to each other: it can work
it won’t work
it is rising through the air
in woven spirals

until our last kiss
we were like any other
fighting couple: we can make it
we can’t make it
we will linger in each other
through the years

this is our last dance
bodies rocking like
the shadows of assylum
to keep the ghosts out

and as the world ends
we drift apart like stones
in space arresting
the darkness keeping somehow
only ourselves

Protected: Seven Stages

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:19 pm

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May 23, 2006

A Philosophy of Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 10:33 am
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Clay. I will always remember you as the one with the big, sky blue eyes always brilliant under that wavy shock of brackish-blond hair. I will always remember you as the one whose voice had the exact resonating frequency of my chest. I will always remember you as the one with the lanky, boyish grin, as the one whose arms went all the way around my back and made me feel safer than I’d felt since I was young. And most of all, Clay, I will remember you as the boyfriend who dumped me on my twenty-first birthday.

I know, it’s dramatic – how such a thing can come to dominate an entire seven-month relationship filled with countless experiences of both bliss and heartache. I don’t care much for birthdays anyway, so I shouldn’t have thought much significant about Clay’s choice of the day, but this one birthday, being my twenty-first, being my twenty-first birthday on the twenty-first of May, the Golden birthday, the College birthday, the intoxicated birthday, the thing that all decent American teenagers yearn for from their first forbidden sip of alcohol, makes that birthday into a thing that social convention implies – no, convention insists – should be great. And that was when I was dumped. All things are judged not by the way they were, but by the way they end.

To be fair it didn’t happen on the birthday itself. I got the email that closed the deal on the morning after my birthday, when I was still hung over from fourteen free birthday drinks I accumulated at the bars the night before and the lingering toxic residue of the seven drinks I downed after midnight on the night preceding, the moment the actual legal birthday began, and on the first night Clay was there with me. But I read the breakup email right before that post-weekend reflection hour, and you know what I’m referring to: it’s the hour when you sit back and consider all the events that just took place and decide how to rank your happiness those days among the abstract records of all your long-term memories. The breakup was now an intrinsic part of those memories, staining their colors irreversibly dull and gray.

And it may as well have happened on my birthday, because that debaucherous evening was the night I committed the crime that initiated the breakup. It all started with a text-messaged invitation to the boyfriend who recently declared he, quote, “needs his space.”

“Come to the bar,” I said, while my boyfriend’s excuse was that drinks were too expensive. “It’s happy hour,” I argued, “a pitcher of beer for six dollars, and I’ll pay for yours.” I eliminated his excuse and insisted he come. He responded that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go out, and I replied, exactly as follows, “Well it’s free for you and I’d love to see you but if you don’t want to come, don’t.”

That’s when I was called “the king of guilt trips.” I didn’t think the accusation was a big deal then. I found it a little off-base, in fact, and I put it away to continue my night of chaos, abandoning any expectation that I would see my emotionally-exhausted lover that night. Only the next day did I realize I had somehow broken the last straw and would be duly punished.

There are two sides to every story. I make Clay sound cruel, but there are unmentionable things going on in his life unrelated to me that are tumultuous and heart-wrenching enough to excuse any moral turpitude that ends a relationship. And I, as I was first told by Clay in a text message just before the terrible email was sent my post-birthday morning, am a, quote, “dramatic person.”

I am hard to break up with in person. Clay tried to do it a week before, on the night I cooked him a crab dinner and he started speaking of us in past tense, saying we’d be better as friends because he feels so much guilt when he can’t fulfill my needs. I threw such a fit that night that Clay had no choice but to recant, and soon after our argument we took off our clothes and fooled around. I was savvy, I knew how to play my cards, and that night I won.

Yes, I am dramatic. It’s not my fault, mind you – weeks before the breakup I was sent to the hospital with chest pains, psychological, yes, but seeded by a real, diagnosed accumulation of fluid around the heart and brought to searing emergency when anxiety, in the form of panic attacks, drove me to the doctor’s office to complain. The doctors made me stay under observation that night, against my will but without much protest, and released me healthy the next morning after more tests and said I had an anxiety problem. Essentially my heart hurts bad when I get upset – it’s causes are psychological but its sensation is as real and physical as an anaconda gradually tightening around my rib cage. And that sort of thing can be hard to deal with in a partner. Imagine this; Clay telling me something I don’t want to hear, and then suddenly me, clutching my chest, gasping in a way that the movies insist should mean I am about to die. Now we understand the meaning of Clay’s comment, that I am, quote, “the king of guilt trips.”

There are two sides to every story. Our two sides faced off regularly in bi-weekly, charged heart-to-hearts that were supposed to fix all our many conflicts but almost always ended in me pleading and one of us giving in. And suddenly our two sides were cut apart, Clay’s side spinning off into increasingly-distant space, and my side alone in a darkened room. I no longer had an excuse to demand Clay’s attention, no longer had the ability to say, when Clay wanted out, “can’t we just wait until they give me Prozac and see how things are different then!?” I’d never been to a psychiatrist before, but I was sure they’d give me something when I went, considering my hospital experience still so recent and the declaration that much of its cause was in my mind. Clay was under no obligation to help me now, which was why he broke it off – to be free.

There are two sides to every story. And after the break my side was left alone in bed at nights in the midst of the suffocating darkness, the quivering, the relentless unlocalized body ache, the soon-to-be-diagnosed clinical depression that Clay didn’t want to be responsible for anymore. When you’re alone like that you have only your own two hands and shaky breath to soothe you. When you’re in that place you scream apology for everything you did wrong to mess the relationship up, you scream apology for everything you did right but got punished for anyway, and you scream apology for everything about you that anyone wouldn’t like; any time you stuck up for yourself, any time you made your thoughts known, anything that makes you a real human being. You demean yourself to absurd levels, and you’re willing to beg and plead for mercy from any person, as long as it comes this moment. No attention is paid to consequences – you ignore the fact that your incessant pleading might be ruining the future of the relationship that soothes you. Anything to quell the searing, agonizing pain of depression right away, when only the present matters.

“No one can make you happy,” Clay told me many times when we were still together, “I can’t do it for you. You can only do that to yourself.” But he had made me happy, for moments, I was sure of it, and I thought I knew better than he did that I felt good when I was with him.

Well, I thought to myself smugly after reading Clay’s email, then teach me how you manage to make yourself so happy. Because during the months I knew Clay, he clearly was not.

He said he loved me in the breakup email, many times. I love you I love you I love you I love you – if I’d counted the phrase as it had appeared in the lengthy message I’d have run out of fingers and toes. It was something he rarely told me before, indicating a degree of guilt and the moment of my final weaning from him. It was sweet to read the kind words, and when I first read Clay’s message I was overwhelmed with joy and acceptance by the soothing and compassionate tone, in spite of the awful conclusion. I needed the breakup as much as Clay did and phoned him right after the email to let him know I felt ok. But hours after my last love-fix, the crush began to build around me. Too late to do anything about it, this time I refused to beg for return. It’s time to get back to yourself, Matt, live in your own head again. I finally admitted that Clay was right. There was nothing to do but step into a new world and move on, to slowly begin to paint the dingy, faded colors until they looked, again, brilliant, like they were during those few good moments, when our love was perfect, when Clay was standing beside me.

May 19, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 12:31 pm

I haven’t been updating because I don’t have Internet at home right now (Comcast was supposed to fix it but then nobody showed up) and it’s a pain in the ass to get to a computer.

So I did get the internship helping to edit a serious literary journal next Fall.

And I’m 21 in 36 hours.

That’s all you need to know for now, but check back for fabulous literary content over the next few days!

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