A New Language for Sadness

by Katie Paul on July 21, 2014

language for sadness • sorry for loss isn't enoughA plane is shot from the sky over an unsettled country, and people die.

An army invades a hot desert land, and people die.

A giant of a man, feeling he has nothing left to live for, takes his life out in the grassy field of his rural hideaway home.

A brother, felled down by a stuttering heart, is taken off life support.

A young handsome man, exploring the rainforest, falls to his death down a deep ravine.

•••

All around us there is unfathomable sadness. It tugs at our edges of our coats, as though we were caught against a barbed wire fence. It’s hard to ignore all the pain in the world.

I’m sorry for your loss seems so shallow and inadequate — the words worn out from over use. We need a new language for sadness. What should we say instead?

I see your pain and acknowledge the courage it takes just to get through a single day.

or…

Life is brutal and unfair. May you find your way to peace in the chaos.

or maybe simply…

That’s fucked. What can I do to help?

For all of you who have lost someone you love, these are the only words that express my small role in your great sadness ~ That’s fucked. What can I do to help?

•••

What do you say to your friends and family who have suffered a great loss?

 

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[Guest Post] You Should Lose Some Weight

by Katie Paul on July 17, 2014

Please make welcome the lovely Katerina Edwards who is guest posting today.

you should lose some weight • katerina edwards

The moment I take off my clothes, the feelings of self-worthlessness creep in.

“I think you should lose some weight,” she murmurs.

Her words hit me right in my fleshy, untoned, cortisol-bellied stomach, right in the most sensitive, guarded and protected part of my psyche. She sees my white, blubbery, red marked body and I am ashamed.

I have done many a mirror meditations, but still I’m not pleased with my body. I don’t like the way my thighs rub together, it’s uncomfortable. I don’t like the way my arms lack definition. I don’t like that my stomach sticks out over my pants. I don’t like that I have an extra chin in my videos. I don’t like my acne marks. I don’t like this, I don’t like that. And most of all, I don’t like when other people don’t like how I look. I worry that in the midst of sex, my partner would become repulsed by me and pull away.

I know I am fat – curvy, thick, whatever you want to call it. I have known this since I was eleven years old.

That summer, as I approached puberty, I remember watching young models in their stylish clothing on television. I envied their svelte figures as I sat there munching on sour patch kids and soda pop. I realized then I was chubby. I didn’t want this, I wanted to be loved and appreciated like the girls on television.

That summer, I vowed that I would stop eating sugar and cookies and candy, and decided to ditch carbs. I was eleven years old, and my mother didn’t say anything.

By the time I was sixteen, I was anorexic. Two years after that, I went into recovery and gained weight. My whole basis of being lovable was shaken with every pound I gained.

“I think you should lose some weight.”

All of my focus for the past ten years has been to avoid these seven words, the words that I see devastating the women in my country and abroad. These words, cutting through all semblance of self-worth and self-esteem, had the power to turn me into a superficial artificial woman, striving for a plastic ideal, for a well sculpted, chiseled ideal of a woman.

The pain I feel is overwhelming. In a culture where body insanity is so rampant and afflicts the minds of the youngest among us, who is really safe from feelings of insecurity? If my massage therapist’s remark can send me back to my past, how can I ever be free of this prison?

During these past few months since the massage therapists remark, I’ve realized a few things. Despite how far I have come from the shadows of the eating disorder, I must remain vigilant in my resolve that I am worth more than my body fat percentage and BMI.

katerinahealthy

I have friends who love me, a partner who adores me, and more energy and health than I ever experienced being “thin”. My life is vibrant, expressed, and authentic – something I could not say when I was obsessed with calories, numbers, and scales.

My body and my life have gone through changes during my recovery, and they continue to. The self-respect I’ve gained in choosing to value my health over the sold ideal in the media is the thing that keeps me going even in the midst of “fat talk” around me and triggered memories from darker days.

katerinaedwardsAbout the author
Katerina is a self-empowerment coach who guides others into the fuller and more expressed lives they’ve been hungry for.
Blessed with the gift of seeing through bullshit, she helps unravel the web of lies and doubts that have been choking your creative spirit.
www.katerinaedwards.com

Read more guest posts here

Edgy, raw, divine, rich and sexy – if you can write like this, I’d love to have your story on my blog ~ check out the guidelines here.

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The Mermaid

by Katie Paul on July 15, 2014

mermaid

You, who are approaching the end of your fertile years, hear the call of the sea.

You ache for the cool water to ease the hot blush on your face, to soften your dry elbows and erase the lines around your eyes.

The others, the ones who dwell in the air and scuff their boots along the earth, don’t seem to understand. They talk of endings, of fading away, of loss and lack and languishing. They expect you to dehydrate like leaves in autumn.

But you feel the prickle of scales beneath the veins on your thighs and an inexplicable urge to grow your hair long and wild.

You emerge from a layer of sensible clothes in only a bikini. On lazy summer afternoons, you expose your breasts to the heat of the sun.

‘You’re too old for that,’ says the man you’ve spent half your life with. You pierce your navel and ink the shape of a fish on your left ankle. ‘It’s not tasteful,’ he says with a frown.

The only taste you crave is the sting of salt. At night you wake from a dream of another man in your mouth, the salty taste of his desire leading you back to the sea. You lay shells around your throat and forget to wear shoes. Your right ankle tinkles with small silver bells.

And in the end, there is no choice. The new home you choose looks out over the water, the sound of waves your only night-time companion.

When you swim, the soft scales on your legs become a tail — blue and purple and azure and turquoise, shot through with the shimmer of pearl.

The full moon draws a path from the horizon to the shore. You follow it until the voices in your head grow silent. When you return to the beach your skin is plump and juicy, your hair in soft tangles against your shoulders.

The dry women scowl and shake their heads, their words parching their lips. And when they see your new lover, they snicker behind their arthritic hands.

‘Love is more than sex,’ they say. And they seem to find it hard to remember the last time they lost themselves in ecstasy.

You lose yourself every day in the water and every night tangled in your lover’s arms. Your body responds to intimacy in ways that please and surprise you. You drench yourself and your lover in an ocean of exquisite release.

You, who are approaching the end of your fertile years, have become a creature of the sea.

 •

If you swim effortlessly in the deep oceans, ride the waves to and from the shore, if you can breathe under water and dine on the deep treasures of the seas; mark my words, those who dwell on the rocks carrying nets will try to reel you into their catch. The last thing they want is for you to thrive in your habitat because they stand in their atmosphere where they beg and gasp for some air.
― C. JoyBell C.

{Art by Sonia Verdu}

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This Morning I Woke to the News That I Was Dead

by Katie Paul on July 6, 2014

this morning I woke to the news that I was dead

This morning I woke to the news that I was dead. But unless I had somehow become Susie Salmon in Lovely Bones, narrating the story of my death from the afterlife, it wasn’t me. It was someone else who shared my name. 

The other Katie Paul was only twenty-two. She lived in Swartz Creek, Michigan. Her friends and family are devastated that she is gone. My heart goes out to them.

This morning, when my boyfriend suggested I join him and his kids for an off-road adventure, taking the Jeep along the fire trails of Meryla State Forest, I declined. The idea of spending hours cooped up in a car with Miss Ten who doesn’t stop talking and who has an unbroken record of vomiting on car rides, left me cold. Cold as a body in the ground.

‘I can’t go,’ I said. ‘I’m dead.’

No, I didn’t say that. Instead, I confessed my cold-hearted, selfish desire to have a day alone. I reminded him I was an introvert and a woman without maternal instincts. He nodded his head. When he said he understood, I believed him.

This morning I woke to the news that I was dead and resolved once again to live every day as though it were my last. I chose this potentially last day of my life to be one filled with solitude, reflection and peace.

And when my time comes to die, I want someone’s Twitter feed to look exactly like this.

twitter feed

Sex and death … seizing life by the throat when death brushes against us.

This morning I woke to the news that I was dead, and I was happy that for today at least, it wasn’t true.

•••

Has someone who shared your name passed away?
How did it (or would it) make you feel?

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Breaking the Rules

by Katie Paul on July 5, 2014

breaking the rules • lost in a suburban bushland

The idea was to get out of the house and use up some energy. There is a finite amount of time a ten-year-old and a fourteen-year-old can stay indoors.

At the end of our street there is a bush path that leads through The Crown of Newport Reserve.  My boyfriend and I have never been there. Today we took the kids for a bush walk.

It all started simply enough – a dirt path with steps carved into the hill. Slicing through the centre of the gully was a creek, almost dried up from the lack of rain. We followed the path for about ten minutes.

Someone, my boyfriend probably, said, ‘Let’s explore.’

Two of us agreed. The third, the ten-year-old wasn’t convinced. ‘We have to stay on the path,’ she said. ‘It’s the rules.’

But we took no notice. We left the path and crawled up over rocks, ducked under palm fronds and scaled fallen tree branches. We headed up the hill, following the path of the creek, trusting we would find the edge of the reserve.

Eventually we found ourselves at the top, in the back yard of a pole house. Hoping no one would notice us, we snuck around the side of the house, through the front garden and on to the road.

We looked around. Somewhere, surely, was the end of the steps we had abandoned. We couldn’t see a way back down. We were lost.

We walked through the suburban streets looking for a way back home. Eventually, we reached the end of a cul-de-sac where an elderly Asian man was walking his poodle.

‘Can we get back to Newport from here?’ asked my boyfriend.

‘You can come through my house,’ said the man with the dog. ‘The pathway through the reserve is on the other side.’

We walked past his rock pool full of koi and his beautiful swimming pool. ‘On New Year’s Eve,’ he said, ‘you can see seven different fireworks.’

‘Can you adopt me?’ I asked. He chuckled shyly.

We took the steps down to the road. ‘I’m going to Latvia next week,’ he said. ‘I’m representing Australia in a choral competition.’

We found the path with the steps and headed back home. ‘I was frightened,’ said Miss Ten when we arrived. ‘But it was fun. The man’s dog was nice.’

‘Sometimes,’ said my boyfriend, ‘we have the best time when we do things we’re scared of.’

‘Mmm,’ she said, ‘You’re probably right.’

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The Spider in the Bathroom

by Katie Paul on July 4, 2014

the spider in the bathroom • daddy-long-legs, a child & fear itself

I hear her calling from the bathroom. ‘Katie,’ she says, the end of my name sounding like the beginning of a wail.

I rush in to find her standing naked on the bath-mat, covered in bubble-bath suds and shivering. She points towards the ceiling.

‘There’s a spider,’ she says. ‘And he’s moving.’

A tiny daddy-long-legs is tucked alongside the white cornice. He’s a small dark speck and seems immobile.

‘He’s only small. He won’t hurt you.’

‘But he moved. He might fall into the bath.’

I look at the bathtub full of warm water, the exact depth and temperature she’d specified. She had been in the bath for less than five minutes before the spider incident.

‘Are you going to let that little thing stop you from having a lovely warm bath?’

She shrugs.

‘Hop back in. You’ll be fine,’ I say.

‘No. You have to get rid of him.’

I contemplate how I might reach the spider and transport him to safety. I can’t get to him and keep the bath water intact. I’m not going to take the easy way out and spray him with flyspray. I don’t kill spiders.

‘I can’t reach him,’ I say. ‘You’ll have to learn to coexist.’

She frowns at me and her bottom lip starts to quiver.

I want to say everyone is frightened of something but we carry on anyway. I’m frightened of you, little one, you are a strange small creature inhabiting my house. And yet, here I am pretending to take care of you. We’re learning to coexist.

‘Go on,’ I say, ‘finish your bath.’

‘No,’ she says, crossing her arms.

‘Then dry yourself and get dressed,’ I say. ‘Don’t catch cold.’

I walk out of the bathroom, wondering if I’d made the right decision. Would a real mother have killed the spider, killed a tiger, killed anyone to save their offspring? Surely I’m here to protect her from all life’s terrors, real or imagined.

Or maybe I’m not. Maybe we all have to learn to coexist with spiders?

The next morning, when I go to the bathroom, the daddy-long-legs has disappeared from his spot on the ceiling. He must have realised the danger he was in. Because tonight, worn out from a million other questions and preferences and requests for help, I probably would have killed him for the sake of peace.

•••

Should kids be saved from domestic dangers or forced to face their fears? What would you have done?

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