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Not This Way, Not Like It Has Been


by Kait Mauro


I want to just be,

that was the goal for this

next chapter. I wrote it down

but being is painful today.

I know some days being will be

painful, others good. I've accepted

this much but there are

some things I don't know

how to accept yet -

will I learn? Should I?


I wish for a simpler brain,

a medically simpler body,

things I probably cannot have 

& maybe don't deserve. I wish

for a simpler way of seeing,

maybe an entirely new way of being -

I'd forgive faster, I'd be less pathetic,

I'd understand, I'd be grateful,

I wouldn't need so much,

have such loneliness,

such a hunger to feel seen,

to feel cared for,

to feel chosen,

to feel understood.


I'd be good at building a life

in wherever city it brings us to.

Instead I see therapists,

make the appointments,

show up & try to paint

a picture for them -

am I doing things right?

Am I doing anything right?


There is no right.

Everything is perspective.

This is what I've been told.


I'm afraid.


Please, someone, tell me:

What is my calling?

Where am I meant to find meaning?

Do other people find meaning?

How & where do they find it?

Are others struggling?

Why are we silenced?

What is my purpose?

How should I spend this one

wild & precious life that

Mary Oliver tells me I have?


My mother's voice in my head from a decade

ago, “You ingrate, you spoiled bitch.”

I'd be more appealing to him

if I weren't so dependent on him,

if I could be soft & supportive,

if my schedule wasn't so empty,

if I had dreams for myself,

my own life. Where does one find dreams?


He's afraid of quietly festering resentment,

a raw spot from his first love, me too,

but we can't talk & we can't change direction.

Can we change direction?

What can we change?

I have to be the one to change.

He says it without saying it exactly.


Everyone thinks I'm so lucky

to have a, presumably, secure 

financial future - is it worth it

to be lonely? Is this what life is?

The problem is that I love him.

The solution is that l love him.

Will I have to & can I play second love forever?


I want him to have sex with all of me,

not just my female organs.

I want to be fucked hard,

I want to be celibate.

I haven't had an orgasm in so long

because of the medications.

I want an orgasm.

I want an orgasm.

I want an orgasm.

But I also want to be sane.

I need the medications.


I want those chemicals released

that make sex feel like bonding,

instead of like a performance.


It's very loud inside my head,

the big dog is barking his fool head

off outside, noise hurts. I can't listen

to music. My body hurts & mind is foggy

from a new medication taken last night.

The medication was meant to do something

but I can't remember what -

make me saner, make me behave,

lessen my suffering, put me to sleep?


Dear Dick,

I refuse to behave.

Signed,

Chris Kraus


Would things be better if I just pretended?

If I just behaved? Should I just pretend?

Should I just behave? Could I just pretend?

Would I be able to just behave?


I took a shower today

for the first time in a while,

washed my hair & body,

gross how long it'd been,

I know, I know, I know.


The point is I am trapped

and I am going to write myself out of trapped.

But is rewriting reality a smart thing to do?

If it makes me happy?

If it makes him happy?

If it's not real, but I start to believe it?

What is reality?


I imagined marriage a lot.

I never imagined it would be so lonely.

How do we put each other first

with conflicting needs?

How do I know I can trust you?

I call myself an ungrateful cunt.

I know I am often a selfish cunt.


Be grateful you aren't living in your car anymore.

Be grateful you have food,

though you don't eat much of it anymore.

Be grateful for the clothes

and the earrings and

the art supplies you can't bring

yourself to make anything with.

Be grateful for the times he is kind.

Be grateful someone loves you -

even if it isn't what you imagined,

even if you don't feel chosen,

even if you feel alone & scared,

even if you are the second love.


I send a selfish message,

a plea for him to come home

from the hospital,

come home to me,

choose me,

choose me over medicine,

for the first time in a long time.


He'd dispute me on this point. He'd say

he chooses me often, more than he should,

that there is no competition

between me & his career, it's all in my head.

He'd say he chooses me constantly

when he's not at work. He'd say

his entire life is work & Kait.

He'd say he's tired of putting out constant fires.

I am the constant fires.

He'd remind me of the texts he sends me,

the calls he makes to me.

He'd tell me my emotions dominate

our lives & that is why I have the power.

I don't feel that I have much power.

If I knew how to cast a spell, I would -

but what would I try to summon?


I know I am his second love -

three great loves, my palm-reading

Irish Catholic gypsy grandmother

predicted this before we were even married.


Why didn't I take this more seriously?

Because that's a crazy person thing to do.

I'm trying so hard to be good but I'm so scared,

I slip up - I am not good.


His loves, chronologically:

Her

Me

Medicine


I want to take it back.

I feel pathetic.

The only thing planned today

is therapy & packages being delivered.

I don't know if I'll be able to go to therapy.

I'm afraid to leave the house

and exhausted from new medication.

He, the future doctor, says

it's a neurochemical imbalance

that's making me feel this way.

I think it's more complicated than that.

I know enough to know

mental illness is almost always

genetics meets environment -

voila.

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