Finding (my) Autism – Part 3

There was a small lie in the last sentence of my previous essay, part 2. In a therapy session a few days after I took the online test, I tried to find the courage to say something to my therapist about what had happened. I will refrain from detailing what exactly happened next, but I will say that I went into it with so much doubt and uncertainty that I was dismissing myself as I told her. I gave her no space to respond.

So she did the best she could with what I could give her at the time (I think I might be autistic but I’m probably wrong, right? It can’t possibly be. I’m not autistic. There’s no way I’m autistic. I would know!) and helped ease my obvious distress by moving right past it. And I don’t blame her. She didn’t know me well enough by then. She’d heard of my struggles, but she’d never witnessed me in meltdown mode. She knew I had social anxiety, but who doesn’t these days? For all she knew, I was a smart, charming, well-spoken, determined young woman-poet who just had a little trouble with anxiety sometimes. Nothing serious. We’d work through it together. She had my back.

This probably would have been the end of it if I didn’t move back to Riyadh in September of 2020.

While I was overwhelmingly excited to be around my loved ones and back home again, I was nervous. I felt like (no, I knew) the version of me that was coming back now was not the version that had left them 2 and a half years ago. That version had disappeared. She was gone. She was dead. They didn’t know the new me. They never met her. She was a stranger. I knew that in order to survive going back home, something had to change. And it was either going to be me or my circumstances, and I’d already done too much work on myself to ever dare change her again. 

My initial plan pre-covid, like I’d mentioned to you before, was: go back home, move out of the family house, get a job, learn to drive, and be a productive and independent member of society. This was quickly becoming a distant dream (nightmare?). Because the me that spent 6 months in isolation could no longer do any of those things that the old me had planned. 

First of all, my plan to move out was completely off the table now. My mom had gotten wind of my desire to leave and pleaded with me to stay home, offering to build me an entirely independent little apartment structure outside in our backyard. She wanted me to stay out of love, not out of control, and that made all the difference to me. I’d been away from her for almost 3 years and because she and I were so close, she’d missed me and wanted to have me within reach again. It was a compromise I could live with. It was a request (not a demand) and it came from a place of love and longing. So I agreed. Anything to make my mom happy. 

But because my new little home was being built from scratch, I spent the first year back inside my family home. And I had to face everything I ran away from when I left to Barcelona almost 3 years ago. I was back in my own society, in a bedroom at home, right where it all started – and all the social responsibilities I’d left behind were about to attack me with full force. 

The other thing that had changed for me in those months of isolation bliss was that the idea of “work” as we know it no longer appealed to me. I no longer wanted to get a job – any job, at all – or to perform labor ever again. This is where my anti-capitalism and my autism intersected: both sides of me now refused the idea of being exploited for labor. I had tried rest and I couldn’t go back to hustle. I didn’t want to. Nothing in the world could convince me to apply for a job. I could no longer stomach the hypocrisy and exploitation necessary to thrive in a capitalist work environment, much less justify my participation in a system I didn’t believe in. How can I possibly go back to an advertising job when I wanted to burn the whole capitalist order down? (I realize the privilege inherent in this choice and the sentiment behind it – this was a choice I could afford to make that many, many others cannot. It is luck, pure and simple.)

So that meant I was unemployed and had a lot of free time. But it wasn’t my own time. Because I was around people, so many people, all the time. It was proving really difficult to be sociable. Even though they were my people, my loved ones, my family, the people I spent almost 3 years desperately missing. I’d adjusted to being alone so well and I’d come to love making my own decisions, deciding for myself how my day was going to look like, only doing things I want to do. For 6 whole months, my time was mine and mine only. I didn’t do a single thing I didn’t want to do and I didn’t put a single ounce of pressure on myself. I was living that easy breezy life. For 6 months, my calendar was blissfully empty. 

But now I was back home and the pressure was building. There were aunts and uncles and distant friends and acquaintances who felt entitled to my presence. There were gatherings I’d have to go to – the ones I could previously manage with some sort of (rehearsed) ease. There were weddings coming up. The thought of being around people who were now virtually strangers made my stomach turn (literally, hi IBS!). I thought of the small talk necessary to keep these pointless conversations going. I thought of the comments that would be made about my body, the entitlement some relatives feel to throw around snarky comments. I thought about having to fake-smile and fake-laugh and lie and say things like “I missed you too!” when I didn’t mean it. The thought of all of it was too painful. It was a life I wasn’t sure I could go back to. I no longer had the skill-set to manage those situations. My ability to “fake it” had disappeared. So had my will.

And it wasn’t just who I was on the inside who had changed beyond their recognition. Since I left to Barcelona in 2018, I stopped doing one thing I had done consistently for 27 years of my life: straightening my hair. For the first time in my life, I began to embrace my naturally curly hair, and it was a very big first step in my mounting rejection of eurocentric beauty standards. This started even before the months in isolation, only a few months into me moving away. And it was also something I could have never done if I’d stayed back home. And in those 6 months in isolation, I stopped wearing make-up too. Not that I ever wore too much of it anyways (it always felt too icky on my skin) but I was known for my signature cat-eye look and I was something of a pro with a little bit of liquid eyeliner. But then I was all by myself, and I didn’t need to make myself up, so I ditched even my little secret weapon. I even stopped applying the occasional signature red lipstick. 

There was also the issue of the weight I’d gained. I grew bigger, physically, in isolation, and I had no desire to shrink myself ever again. I had taught myself to love my body. I had stopped hearing other people’s opinions of it in my head. For the first time in my life, the cognitive dissonance of adhering to beauty ideals while simultaneously fighting against them disappeared. I was who I said I was, and my morals matched my actions. It was a peace I didn’t know I needed or could achieve.

But this meant that when I came home I was pretty much unrecognizable. The thin (or always trying to be thin, like a good fat girl, to the point of surgical intervention), social, charming, straight-haired, black eyeliner/red lipstick, overachieving, rebellious, fiery, people-pleasing, always-ready-for-a-debate girl everyone knew was gone and I was a brand new person, a stranger, playing pretend, trying and failing at faking my previous self. 

I was unapologetically fat now, for a start. That alone presented the biggest social barrier. Most people I knew (like most people in the world) are incredibly unkind to fat people at best, and borderline aggressive and hostile towards them at worst. My body was bound to dominate every conversation – people always feel entitled to an opinion – and I wasn’t ready to put myself through that. I’d been (apologetically) fat before my thin phase, and I knew how cruel people could be. But now I loved myself too much to put myself in situations where I’d be ridiculed and teased. I simply wouldn’t tolerate it. I’d explode with anger. And exploding with anger (at your elders, especially) is not socially acceptable, unlike blatant and explicit fatphobia.

So began the first of many difficult boundary-setting conversations with my family. This would be the first tough conversation I would have with my mother because it was the most important one to me. I sat her down, and gently and diplomatically informed her that I would no longer be present at any social functions that included anyone outside of our immediate family (basically: her and my siblings and their kids). I don’t enjoy them, I never did, and I would no longer allow anyone to force me to be somewhere I didn’t want to be. I told her how being forced to be around people I didn’t get along with or necessarily like – who were bullies by nature and who never had a nice thing to say or any depth to their thinking, who thrived on pointless small-talk and malicious gossip – was exhausting to me. I told her I no longer had the energy to swallow my pride and smile and be polite. I told her there was a risk I wouldn’t be able to hold my tongue and I might end up saying something to them that she’d regret. I had to be a little stern, which she wasn’t used to – but I did it. I also told her that I would not tolerate any kind of negative comment on my body anymore, not from her or anyone else. My body, I explained, was now completely and totally off-limits. To everyone.

She made one request of me. I’d see my aunts just one time so they’d get a chance to welcome me home. They’re my dad’s sisters, so she implored me to think of what it would mean to him. They were excited to see me and they missed me, she said, so I hesitantly agreed. What I didn’t know was that they were about to make my point for me, and convince my mom that my choice to abstain from future events was definitely the right one. 

The very first thing my aunts said when they saw me was “someone’s been eating a lot in quarantine!”. I almost laughed. It was entirely predictable and I saw it coming a mile away. But I was ready to make a point, ready to show my mom the new no-nonsense person I’d become, so I unleashed a torrent of anger at them. 

“How dare you? Do you think I don’t own a mirror? What exactly did you hope to achieve with that comment? Tell me exactly how you think you’re being helpful? Oh, a joke? Do you see anyone laughing? How about from now on we become decent people who refrain from making comments about people’s bodies? Unbelievable!”

I couldn’t believe what I’d just said and done, and I half expected my mom to be red with shame. I’d just violated all kinds of Saudi social codes by talking back to my elders. It was glorious. I felt powerful. I just yelled at my aunts. In front of everyone. I was shaking, but you couldn’t see it from my straight, angry poker face. But the next thing I heard took me completely by surprise: it was my mom laughing out loud and saying “She told me she’d do this. She’s no longer tolerating anyone’s shitty comments on her body. You had it coming and you deserved it!”

I couldn’t believe my ears. She wasn’t defending them, she was defending me. She was… proud of me? She also knew that I was right a few days ago when I told her I could no longer do this. And that I was right about these kinds of settings being triggers for me. 

So that was the last time she forced me to be someplace I didn’t want to be. And it was only the first of a thousand compromises she would make afterwards to let me know she wanted me to feel safe and loved and comfortable at home. In the coming year, she and I would grow together, around each other, and learn to make space for one other. In the coming year, my mom would evolve too, right alongside me, even out-pacing me sometimes. She would show me kindness, and patience, and respect, and she would go out of her way to make sure I was happy – or at least less miserable. 

It’s still strange to me the way that things worked out next. The coming year would be one filled with heartache, anger, shame, pain, loss, and endless tears. In the coming year, I would unravel, completely and wholly. I would lose my speech. I would start to hate my body again. I’d lose half my friends and lose faith in the other half. I’d spend days in bed, unable to move, unable to eat. I’d snap and yell at my loved ones when they’d try to help me. I’d turn my phone off for days, sometimes weeks, at a time. I’d explode into fits of sobbing unprompted and for no apparent reason. I’d become a monstrous person, full of rage, full of anger, hell-bent on pushing everyone away while at the same time yearning for connection. I’d feel profoundly and deeply isolated and alone. I’d feel like an alien in my own hometown, in my own home, in my own skin. I’d spend most of my days thinking of ways to die without hurting my loved ones. I’d want to die, all the time. Because being and staying alive seemed impossible.

And then I started to notice a pattern. And I began to investigate. And suddenly, everything made sense.


Finding (my) Autism – Part 2

You know how most people kept saying that nothing in the world could have prepared them for the unprecedented chaos of covid-19? I was not one of those people. Born with fear and anxiety in my blood, I had always learned to expect the worst. And because I always like to be prepared, I do my extensive research beforehand, I dig into the past, I try to see what history can teach me about today. 

This is why as soon as I got wind of a little virus creeping into the everyday news cycle, I knew what to do. By then, I’d read about the Spanish Flu and watched hours-long videos on the effects of pandemics and the global responses that followed. I listened to historians give speeches about the devastating after-effects. I knew about the death and destruction one little viral disease could bring about. And I knew, for a fact, in my heart, that this virus wasn’t just going to “go away” in 2 or 3 weeks. I knew I had to quarantine quickly. I was, after all, all alone in a strange city, away from all my family and loved ones. If something happened to me, there would be no one to help or even know. I lived alone.

So I confined myself to my apartment very early on, even before the word “quarantine” became a popular word, before it became very widely used. It was mid-February, and I had decided that I was not leaving my apartment ever again. No, sir. Maybe not until August! When I told my therapist I wanted our sessions to be virtual from now on, she agreed. So we kept doing our weekly sessions online, where she began to witness the strangest reaction to a global pandemic anyone ever could.

Because you see, the problem I faced when the initial shock and fear and panic attacks and thoughts of mass death wore out was not that I was starting to get lonely. Quite the opposite, really. The problem after the first month of total isolation was that I was beginning to love it. And I didn’t want it to end. Being completely alone was making me the happiest I think I’d ever been. And worried, I began to ponder what that really said about me, as someone who defined herself by her love of her people and who craved human connection and intimacy deeply. But I shoved those dark thoughts and all that doubt aside.

I remember very vividly a moment about 3 months into the pandemic where I ashamedly confessed to my therapist that “I think I might be… thriving?” And I was. I had created my own daily routine and my own little world and I was beginning to love every single second of it. I was free of others’ expectations and demands, and free from having to be in public and be perceived by other people. I was free to find out who I really was. And boy, what a shock it was when I found out who that was. 

I would wake up every morning at 7 am, open my big french windows to let the sun in (I had direct sunlight through my windows from about 7.30 am until 10.30 am), position my chair right in front of it, and bask in the sunlight. I would usually sit there in a swimsuit just so I can feel the sun directly hit my skin. My music played in the background and I would sing along, drink my coffee, and take in the sun’s kisses. It felt euphoric. I loved watching the empty streets. Catching glimpses of my neighbors who – in the spirit of covid-19 solidarity – would smile and wave at me. Sometimes I’d opt for a towel on the floor in front of the window and trick myself into thinking I was on the beach (which turned out to be better than the beach, because I hate the beach, because ew! sand! and because I’m terrified of open water). I’d read some poetry and have long calls with my loved ones where we’d update one another on our new covid lives. 

What also happened during those basking-in-the-sun moments was that I allowed myself to face my physical body for the first time, too. Across from the chair I would usually lounge on was the open window, which reflected my body back to me with alarming precision. During the hours I would sit there in the sun, my body stared back at me aggressively. There was no other way to position the window door, this was the only way it could be left open to let the sun in. So I’d have to sit there, hours on end, enjoying the sun on my skin, and trying to avoid looking away from the window door that had now turned into a mirror. 

I stared at my big belly, the one I grew up hating, the same one everyone around me taught me to hate – the same one some people claimed didn’t even exist! -, and fell in love with the way the sun was reflecting off of it. I’d squeeze it and make it into funny shapes and let it wiggle and giggle. I stared at my “thunder thighs” and instead of thinking I wish they would go away, I found myself caressing them with love. I’d never noticed that my thighs were so incredibly soft! My big forearms no longer bothered me. I felt the power they held. I’d always had freakish upper-body strength and the bigness of my arms reminded me of that gift. My developing double-chin made me feel cute and laugh roaringly every time I opened my phone’s front camera by mistake. Even my flat ass was suddenly adorable to me, as were my big hips and love handles. I was falling in love with my body. Or rather, I was unlearning all the hate I was taught to give it. I remember distinctly saying to my therapist something along the lines of:

“If this was all an experiment on how being around people can negatively affect body image, the results would be very conclusive. I’ve never felt better about my own fat body than I do now, in total isolation. Around other people all I can do is hate it.”

When the sun moved away from my window, I’d take to the couch and watch TV shows. I’m something of a TV show enthusiast, so I filled my days with dramas and comedies and psychological thrillers and sci-fi and every single thing that interested me. I’d eat on my own time, but I always made sure I was well-fed enough to stave off an IBS attack. My stomach explodes when I starve it, so I try to remember to feed it lest it unleashes its anger on me.

Other quarantine activities included long video calls with my loved ones. It was their love and care and attention that kept me grounded. They made sure I never felt lonely. They made sure I never felt too far. There was also therapy once a week every week, where I’d update my lovely therapist on how well I was doing. If she was surprised, she feigned it well. And she provided me with support and validation and reassurance I could not have survived without.

Around 10 pm usually I’d go to bed. Nothing left to do with my day. And then I’d wake up tomorrow and do it all again, in the exact same order. It was bliss. It was quiet. It was heavenly. I was thriving.I was happy. I was happy?! And despite my mother’s pleas, I decided to stick it out all alone in Barcelona until August as I originally intended. She worried, but I convinced her it was the right thing for me. So she let up, scared and anxious as she was. I loved her for that.

One blissful July day, I turned on Netflix and found that my favorite comedian had a new show. “Douglas” by Hannah Gadsby had just been released, and I was filled with excitement to see what she had to say now. Her “Nanette” had changed my life two years ago. And her particular brand of humor was exactly my cup of tea (Hannah Gasdby fans, get it?!).

What I didn’t know was that “Douglas” was essentially a show about Gadsby’s autism. 

What I didn’t know was that she was about to plant the autism realization seed in me. 

So right after I watched the show – the show where a woman who I related to and felt a kinship with, a woman who mirrored me and my experience in more ways than one, described her late-diagnosis of autism, I was shaken. This was a woman who, like me, could get up on stage, charm hundreds of people, who had a fantastic sense of humor and a passion for truth-telling. And she was autistic. I didn’t think people like her (or me) could be autistic and be able to do all that.   

So I went online and took an Autism test – which said “high probability of autism”. I didn’t know what to do with that information. Plus, who would believe me? 

I put my phone away in shock and disbelief, and I didn’t talk about (my own or otherwise) Autism again for almost 2 years.

Finding (my) Autism – Part 1

What my therapist had just suggested took me completely by surprise. I think I was too stunned to answer, so she asked a second time, “have you considered dropping out of the master’s program?” and waited patiently for an answer. 

I tried to explain that not only had I not considered that option, that thought had literally never crossed my mind. “Of course not.” was all I could form in terms of a reply. Of course not. I was sure she could see my confusion.

She pressed on, “If you stopped the program now, are you worried that you’ll have to go home earlier than you’d planned?”

“No, that’s not it. I can stay here in Barcelona with or without this master’s degree.”

She continued: “Is it a legal thing? Would your visa be revoked if you dropped out?”

“No, my papers are already sorted. I can stay here legally until August regardless.”

She went on: “Can you afford the loss of the tuition you already paid? And the living expenses you’d need to stay?”

“Yes, I paid for the program myself and it wasn’t too expensive. It’d be a waste but it wouldn’t put a dent in my finances. And I have enough money to stay comfortably.”

“I see,” she nodded, “so technically… if you dropped out of the program you’re so clearly struggling with, nothing truly bad would actually happen, would it?”

I pondered her question, flustered. “But like… I’m already halfway through the entire program. I only have one semester until graduation. I’ve invested a lot.”

“But you’re here seeing me because the first half was so hard to deal with and so unenjoyable for you that you’ve developed agoraphobia and you keep dissociating and having panic attacks and being completely unable to go to class…”

“I know…”

“And that doesn’t sound like it’s sustainable. Are you worried that if you drop out your mum would be disappointed?”

“A little. A lot. She’s a perfectionist with high standards.”

“From what you’ve told me, she’s a very understanding person who loves you a lot. She might not take it the way you think. Plus, you just finished your first master’s program just last May and already have one master’s degree. This one was just supposed to be another addition to your academic arsenal. You never actually needed it, did you? You called it your “passion degree” as opposed to the previous more practical ones. But are you actually having any fun? Do you actually feel passionate about it? Are you learning anything? Are you finding the course content enjoyable?”

My head was spinning. What she had just suggested to me was nothing short of blasphemy. I am the perfectionist daughter of a perfectionist mother who had never ever (been allowed to) quit. And there I was, contemplating dropping out of a prestigious program at a prestigious Spanish university after having completed more than half the hours I’d need to graduate. 

All I could say back to answer all her questions was “No. It’s been awful.” 

“Well, then think about it. Just weigh the pros and cons and try to imagine how it would feel to not continue putting yourself through all this pressure. And if you want, we’ll talk some more about it next time.”

This conversation with my therapist took place in February 2020. I had just finished my first master’s program in May of 2019 and then immediately started my second master’s program in September of 2019. I was superwoman, you see. Plus, I wasn’t ready to leave my beautiful Barcelona and go home just yet, so this was an exciting solution to my dilemma. By June of 2020 I would have my second master’s degree in hand, then stay out the rest of my visa until August and then finally go back home. It was a solid plan. I’d be welcomed back an intellectual hero. My mom would be so proud of me. And then I could get my pick of jobs with my 2 graduate degrees in hand, find an apartment and live independently, learn how to drive, and I would live happily ever after. 

And then I burnt out. Hard. Halfway through my second program, I was no longer able to leave my apartment to attend classes. I was severely depressed and deeply anxious. I was never at university long enough or after class or at mixers to make any friends. I wasn’t able to complete assignments without panic attacks followed by hours of dissociation, and I felt my professors growing annoyed with my flakiness and perceived lack of effort. So I dragged myself to an English-speaking therapy clinic close to my apartment and met the aforementioned therapist and asked her to write me some kind of note I can present to university to explain my many absences and short-comings. “I’m really depressed and I think I’m becoming agoraphobic and I need to explain that to my professors” was how I think I started our session. 

When, by our second session, she gently suggested to me that dropping out of my program might be something I’d want to consider, I was confused. Mostly because I had never registered that as an option (me? a drop-out? never!), but also because I couldn’t understand the train of thought that led her to make that suggestion. 

Let me explain. She wanted me to quit something because it was hard for me to continue doing it and because it was causing me physical pain and mental anguish. But for me, that was the case with almost everything in the world all the time ever. If I had to quit something every time it was hard or caused me physical pain and mental anguish, I’d never leave the house. What she didn’t understand at the time was this: I experience almost every thing with a tinge of pain and discomfort. And no one had ever told me that was enough reason to just stop.

But I took her advice and I did. I wrote to my university to tell them that even though I was due to graduate in 3 months, I wanted to drop out immediately. And no, I didn’t want to claim the credits I already completed. They had questions and wanted me to know a refund wasn’t possible. I said I knew and didn’t care. They asked if there was anything that could be done to make me stay. There wasn’t. My mind was made up. I couldn’t possibly face going back to that place again. 

I dropped out of my program in February 2020. You know exactly why this is relevant. The plan was, I would spend the remaining 6 months of my visa learning to relax. My friends and family would continue to visit me with consistent regularity and I would fill my time with rest and the company of my loved ones and maybe even explore my creative side again. 

I graduated from my bachelor’s in 2015, and then immediately started working full-time after graduation. I worked in advertising and strategy – and excelled, to a certain extent – for 3 years before deciding to pursue a master’s abroad on a whim. I applied, got accepted, and left my hometown. The day after I arrived in Barcelona, my program started. And so I faced my own limitations in a new city for the first time. 

What I didn’t know when I dropped out of master’s program number 2 was that covid-19 was right around the corner. And the resulting chaos that ensued and the forced solo quarantine I was about to face would bring about changes and epiphanies that would have been impossible without that kind of profound isolation and alone time. What I didn’t know was that I was about to face myself – my real self, my alone self, my unmasked self. The self who I’d kept hidden from everyone up until this point, even myself.

It was a period that I now lovingly refer to as: The Great Unmasking.

death rituals

inform everyone who cares about
them or you that they have died.
call the relatives, the neighbors,
set up the morgue visit.
ride the car there in silence.
don’t say a word.
just try to breathe.
touch their cold face even if you
don’t want to.
kiss their hands even if they’re
even if it hurts that they can’t
caress your face.
don’t be put off by the smiling
this is the last time you get
to see them in the flesh.
mama said you have to be here.
push through.
wail out loud in the company of
strangers and people you love,
even if you don’t want to,
even if it’s embarrassing.
have a full blown panic attack.
be the crazy woman in public
for once and own it.
now is not the time to be shy.
grab your heart like it’ll jump
out of your chest if you don’t.
let your brother carry you
when you fall to the ground.
don’t think of them
don’t think of them.
just try to breathe.
go to the mosque for prayers.
shoo crying strangers away
from your tired mother.
find her a chair.
say hi to old friends and old
lovers who have come to pay
their respects.
ignore the awkwardness of the
head home for the funeral.
ride the car in silence.
don’t say a word.
put on the funeral clothes
your friends have brought over
and greet the extended family.
look at walls and dissociate
for hours.
hide in the bathroom.
ask your best friend to chop
off your hair.
try to eat, or resist the food
being shoved down your throat.
drag your lover to your bedroom
to witness a secret meltdown.
say hi to a stranger while crying.
say thank you for coming,
but i wish you would leave,
i wish everyone would leave.
don’t think of them
don’t think of them.
try to breathe.
cry out loud and scare the sad
tell the ignorant idiot spewing
platitudes to shut the fuck up.
push away the lady annoying
your mom.
yell at the aunt telling your
sister to stop crying.
let your best friends hold
your hand.
let them take care of the little
things like they want to.
let them fight some of your battles.
forgive them for being so
worried that you haven’t eaten in
two days.
eat a little bit just for them.
kiss your mother’s crying face.
curse god for his carelessness.
look at your siblings for
confirmation the world
is now over.
decide to stop listening to
decide no more make-up,
no more color,
only black clothes from now on.
don’t think of them.
don’t think of them.
just try to breathe.
even when you don’t want to.
even when you’re wishing it was
you who died.
tell your friends you want to
tell them you don’t know where
to go from here –
if not out loud, then with your
inhale, count
1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4.
don’t think of them.
don’t think of them.
try to breathe.
do it again tomorrow.

sorry not sorry

to invitations i cannot
accept from now on,
i will start replying:
sorry, i can’t today,
something inside me is on
but when isn’t that true?
on good days there is
always inside me a
little spark,
it stings and excites,
(you can spot it in my
on others,
inside me a forest fire
rages, angry and
destructive, resistant
to water,
even to kindness.
yes, the fire exists
even when you can’t
see it,
even when you can’t smell
the smoke.
reader, sometimes your eyes
will lie to you.
other times i will.
it is your job to figure it
i would help you, but,
i’ve learned to say:
sorry, i can’t today.
something inside me
is on fire.