“i promise, i’m okay”

do you know what those words mean?
have you been the one to speak them?

social workers and therapists will tell you
about their clients, their patients,
the ones who suffer and suffer but keep on yearning,
the ones who lurch forward day after day,
until suddenly, out of nowhere,
they are happy.

this is the most dangerous time.
this could be the end, if you let it.

when all of that yearning finds its twisted conclusion
it’s the time when they finally want to die.

and maybe even have a plan
and maybe want to give you something nice
that they loved and cherished,
so generous, all smiles.

and no, you don’t have to give it back
they don’t need it anymore
not where they’re going

i do not want to die
but I have before,
lying alone on a dirty rug in my junior one-bedroom apartment,
the only place I have ever felt safe.

not everyone is strong enough for our yearning,
and that is why,
when you let a bit of pain or grief or loneliness seep out of you
like the head from a carelessly poured ale,
your friends purse their lips and look away and change the subject.

do you ever want to feel that small again?
is your life so terrifying that a single second can strike the room
cold and dead
no matter how much
they claim
to love you?

you are a broken thing
you scare people
stay home
out of sight

practice the words
“i’m okay”
“i’m okay”
“i’m okay”

they like those words.
comfort is good. pain is bad.
life, for them, is simple.

i almost okayed myself to death
searching for someone to hold
all of my uncomfortable yearning in their hands
and look at it like it’s real,
like it’s part of me
because it is
but most people are not that strong.

i do not want to die
but i have before,
and i probably will again.
i have learned to make peace
with peacelessness
like a wraith among the living.

i’ll be honest;
some days i am a superhero,
bold and brave and loving;
i am powered by nothing but

for my incredible performance of not dying four years ago
i accept this award with boundless thanks
to my therapist,
who held my yearning in her hands
and examined it from every possible angle.
she was so enthralled with this
broken thing
i’ve been dragging around
that i wanted to see what she saw in it, too

and i couldn’t
from my spot
in a puddle
on the floor

my yearning turned out to be a weapon
only i can wield
a fire
as warm as it is deadly
a blade
that could cut through the fabric of space and time
until it landed at your feet
until you could hold it in your hands
and make one for yourself

a blade forged from all the times
you refused to die

we become scholar warriors
who see what others cannot,
who feel the pain our loved ones run from,
who demand peace for the peaceless

i showed you mine.
will you show me yours?