fixations of childhood, obsessions of adulthood

Do you remember when I was in middle school and so obsessed with John that I created an imaginary friend named Jay who looked just like him? He was like my mind’s replacement. I think I said he was twenty-three (much older than I was at the time but still tame, although inwardly I wished he were older) and had blond hair and green eyes, but I could never keep track of the eye color, so sometimes they were blue instead. I imagined he walked with me when I went out, and he slept beside me with one arm draped around me. I never thought I was starving for romantic affection, but I was, and desperate for a man to accept my obsession. I don’t know why. I don’t know when it started. Back when I was eight years old, I fell in love with a forty-year-old singer from American Idol, and I don’t think that was the first time. I loved the Doctor because he was nine hundred years old. I loved Motorcycle Man, the 33-year-old from my church. I was absolutely dumbstruck by every single male pastor and teacher and counselor I ever had, so I kept up with ten-page journal entries about every single one of them and I gazed at them, chest aching, from across the campfires of youth group retreats. I ought to burn all the journals I kept before ninth grade. At least after ninth grade I began to learn to hide my obsession.
At high school graduation, I proceeded down the line of teachers with outstretched hands to shake, and instead, I hugged all the ones I loved the most, and the one I’m too scared to name said “thank you for everything, Emily” and when I sat down I realized they could not see me the same way after this. In adulthood, everyone is the same. But the way I love men is divisive.

the latitude of memory

there is a version of me trapped in each memory like a snowglobe. me, thirteen, long hair in a ponytail, running across the beach where the water is just an inch deep because I love the way it splashes. me, eight, staring out the car window and thinking how strange it is I’ve only been on the earth for eight years and yet I feel like I have always been here. me, eleven, in New Mexico, on Christmas, staring at the luminarias lining the sidewalks. me, sixteen, listening to my writing instructor’s voice break. memory isn’t a continuous and chronological line, not even a line at all, and I don’t know if that’s what time is, either. my life is a room with no walls that holds a hundred thousand memories suspended in water. I jump from moment to moment out of order and everything else is just the space between.


I’m eating Captain Crunch at midnight and reflecting on the ways I’m like a mussel, or a snail, clinging to whatever I can. I’m thinking about a particular sensation that comes over me when I’m given too much time to think. It feels like I’m drifting away, somehow, mentally, and I ground myself again by grabbing hold of the thought of something that brings me comfort.

I have the feeling I have some sort of mental disorder. I’m sure I’m not like anyone I’ve met. I’ve asked most of my friends about it, and they relate to a certain degree, but never entirely. I have such an obsessive personality. I’m afraid of it.

I’m talking creepy. I used to write letters in my journal to my youth pastor. They were sometimes ten pages long. I kept anything he gave me. I religiously recorded every word he bestowed upon me. Anywhere he touched me burned with holy oil and I thought of him like an angel and a saint and a savior and a God, and I think I’m not quite describing this well enough. I’m not sure I could employ any words extreme enough to describe it. I’m ashamed of it. I cried if I had to miss a church service because it meant I was missing an opportunity just to look at him, to glance at him across the room. I don’t know why I didn’t realize then how weird it was. I guess I always figured everyone felt the same way but they were too ashamed to admit it.

It wasn’t just my youth pastor. It was nearly every adult male in my life. I say “was,” but it hasn’t stopped. Authority figures: youth pastors, teachers, leaders, actors, etc. I hate trying to describe this because it’s so difficult, and because I’ve built up so much self-loathing because of it. I can’t understand it. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been made fun of for it. I know exactly why I have, though. Because it’s fucking creepy. And annoying as hell. But I cannot help it. I can’t. I’ve tried.

It used to just be male authority figures (two of my youth pastors, one of my head pastors, three of my history teachers, one youth leader, one creative writing teacher), but now it’s more. It’s actors and fictional characters. It’s John Barrowman and Zachary Quinto and Gillian Anderson and Mads Mikkelsen and P!nk. It’s Spock and Kirk, Jenny and Vastra, Captain Jack and Ianto, Furiosa and Max, Dean and Castiel, Maleficent and Aurora, Shepard and Liara. I could go on, because it doesn’t really stop. It doesn’t really let go of me. When I listen to the thrum of my existence and my soul, I hear them.

It’s normally a whole cocktail of people. I’ve got a hat of names to draw from, thoughts to choose from to distract me from whatever it is I’m distracting myself from (I haven’t figured it out yet). It’s hard to tell who or what I’ll be obsessing over on a given day. Recently it’s been a girl from my English class who I can barely even call my friend and whose wide smile fills me with such incredible white-hot frothing bubbly glee that my chest tightens and my skin feels clear and my soul is scraped free of sin. I could relate to you, in painstaking detail, every occasion I’ve made contact with her over the last four years, because my memory is crazy good and because I am frantically obsessed with her.

When I was a freshman, I had the hugest crush on this girl (who’s now my best friend). She made me realize I liked girls, actually. And I remembered for years every time she touched me. I remembered almost everything she said to me, even if I didn’t write it down in my journal. It was because I cleared out everything but her. I filtered reality through the shape of her body, the color of her Irish skin, the freckle in her eye, and the masculine quality of her voice.

Obviously, there are some benefits to being so fucking obsessed with people. For one thing, it makes my days a lot more interesting. It gives me something to write about, to think about, to live about. But also, I’m really afraid that nobody will love me the way I love them. I think it’s probably impossible. And I know this is unhealthy. Very unhealthy. Destructive to relationships, possibly. It gives things a weird tint. It makes me overly anxious. Clearly, something will go wrong if I spend every waking moment of my life reflecting on my latest interaction with someone I’ve barely gotten the chance to know.

‎Sunday, ‎November ‎15, ‎2015, ‏‎7:54:43 PM

I say that I’m doing fine. because I’m not in pain. I say that things are good because I no longer
find myself crippled over and heaving and struggling for meaning because
of that sense of some invisible clock ticking and my time slowly running out.
but I haven’t gone running in over a week. I haven’t been proud of my art in months. I’ve barely written anything.
I don’t lie down for hours to feel existence dip to cradle me.
but I am angry, and when I lie down to take naps I can’t wake up for 4 hours, and the only reason I do wake up is because
I am overcome by a wave of intense anger and I can’t even control my own body, so
I pound the wall with my fist until my parents yell at me
and I’m finally awake and resenting my inability to heed an alarm.
I don’t know if this is prose or poetry and I know it’s fucking shitty, but all I want to do
is make something beautiful and feel the way I used to, like I’m gifted
with the Midas touch of creativity.
I am not anxious. I am not depressed. I have not had any panic attacks. I am doing fine.
but I’m bland. everything is bland.
I want to start boxing so I can beat the shit out of things and ignore whatever has been itching
at the base of my mind
telling me to get off my fucking ass.
I want to be homeless. I want to go camping for a week. I want to smoke until it doesn’t throw me out of reality.
I want to fall down drunk. I want to have sex. I want to fucking fall apart. because that’s when I make things.
I do meaningful things only when they’re the last thing I should be doing. I live off of anxiety. I get off on pain.
I write poetry about how my soul is hanging off my body but I secretly love it because it gives me something
to say about myself.
I am so fucking selfish. I am whining because I have nothing to whine about. my life is great. I am normal. I don’t
to be normal.

Make me into a plant.

I want to fall away so badly. I want to fall away if falling away means letting go of something that is slowly eating me away. But I can’t, because I am so fucking scared of entering unfamiliar territory. I’m not prepared to completely let go of something that was the foundation of my childhood, my life, and my identity. People think I’m petty because I can’t let go of a childish way of thinking. Here’s the problem: I didn’t just have a Christian family and I didn’t just call myself Christian. I based everything that I was and everything that I believed in off of Christianity. I don’t know how to let go of that without falling apart and dissolving into fear. All I want is for a Christian, or God, or myself, to tell me that I’m going to be okay. That I can refuse to follow God without being threatened with eternal damnation. Christians say shit like, “Yeah, you can leave God,” but it’s sarcastic, and the subtext is that if I do choose to leave God I will go to Hell and face eternal torture. It’s like when teachers say, “Yeah, you can go to the bathroom if you want,” but they say it in a tone that implies that just because you CAN go to the bathroom doesn’t mean you won’t get a referral. I know I CAN fall away, but I don’t want to go to Hell, don’t you see? And I can’t follow a God who sends people there. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s fucking ridiculous. I can’t go anywhere. All I want is to stop being afraid. But everything is scary. Christianity is scary, non-Christianity is scary, not having any answers is scary. I just want someone to tell me it’s going to be okay. But nobody can tell me that. God can’t tell me that, even, because if I’m not damned, others are damned. I want nonexistence. Not death, not an afterlife — I want the erasure of my existence as a human being. I want to be a plant. Make me a fucking plant. Let me know I won’t go to hell just for trying to find myself.

Kids Circle Each Other Like Puppies

when we were kids

we’d hear our parents call and hide each other

because we wanted so badly

not to be separated


do you know how much I hate having to

consider every word before I let it go

how my body buries itself when I look at you

because you’re so perfect and I can never be

good enough for you to love me


I want to find someone who will giggle and

toss me under the covers

when we hear footsteps


I don’t want to compare myself to perfection


why can’t I give over

why can’t I stop thinking about me

I Should Have Gotten High This Weekend

I’m only trying to find me when I trace sidewalks with my fingernails

I don’t know why I talked to her today but I needed something to get me by the dreary turn of the wheel

and I wanted to feel real even when I’m not blasting John Barrowman in my ears

I don’t feel anything unless it has to do with him

I have the weirdest feeling I won’t live long or I won’t get by

all I want to do is write fanfiction but I can’t and I also want to walk every street until I find a girl who will grant me freedom from my damnation

I want to fall asleep in the arms of this man in my earbuds but God still has hold of one foot and I can’t shake him loose and I don’t even think John can free me, much less a girl on the street

Sicah was always meant to be my friend

I only need to stop talking about myself