Essays, Journal

Bree Jonson and the outrageous pursuit of hope

Photo by Mark Nicdao

Sometimes I’m afraid that the sound of her laugh is beginning to fade from my memory as early as now, which is absurd because it was such a distinct, goofy laugh, and it came out of her mouth so often when we were together.

That’s one of the things that frustrates me most about the conversation surrounding my friend Bree — that so much of what heartbreakingly little noise there has been is coming from people who never had the privilege of knowing her, instead of the ones who loved her and actually knew her. That some of the loudest voices hazarding guesses at their version of her story have the audacity to make such damaging assumptions and insinuations about her character when she can no longer defend herself.

That the people whose responsibility it is to find the truth could so casually toss out words like suicide, justified by phrases like psychosocial disorder, or she was afraid he was going to leave her for Europe/another woman/flimsy excuse of the day, as if Bree didn’t have her condition fully managed through therapy and medication, as if Bree wasn’t a consummate survivor and so proud of the fact, as if Bree wasn’t one of the most fiercely independent and self-sufficient people I knew, as if Bree didn’t have so many plans that were about to come into fruition, as if Bree would ever do such a thing in the presence of her cat Atlas (let alone from a showerhead with either his chain or one of the scraps of sheer fabric she purported to call a bra, whatever the story is today), as if Bree wouldn’t first turn to the huge support system around her, as if Bree would give up her dreams over something as paltry as the affections of some guy she’d only been dating for two months and change — and what beautiful dreams they were, all within reach of her incredible talent and drive.

As if Bree weren’t excited about everything she had to live for.

Sometimes I look at my phone and still think that maybe she’s just about to text me. I don’t know why I still hope. But I do. “Hey babe!”

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Essays, Journal

Time and space

It’s been a while, I know.

Staring at my screen now, with my fingertips on the keys for the first time in almost a year, I realize that it’s because this — the written word, this space — has always been where I am most vulnerable, and I have not wanted to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is an exhausting, terrifying quality to possess in a world like the one we live in now.

The last thing I wanted was to make myself vulnerable again.

Experience has taught me that it never ends well.


It is a year to the day since I learned I’d been cheated on. Mayon Volcano erupted this morning, something I took as a sign that it was finally the right time to write again.

I want so badly to be able to write this without referencing my heartbreak of 2017, but that makes no sense. How do you write about recovering from something without mentioning that something, that someone? You can’t. I can’t.

I want so badly to free him from my narrative, because he hasn’t been in my life for nearly a year now, but that’s impossible, because he will always be part of my narrative, and the loss of him, his absence, the emptiness he left in his wake, and all the hurt, figured so significantly in the year that was my year.

That is the nature of life, I suppose. It is the nature of stories, of interpersonal relations and their endings. It is the nature of writing, and one of the perils of dating a chronic oversharer who has made words her living from the age of seventeen.

“You own everything that happened to you,” says Anne Lamott in her Instructions on Writing and Life. “Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” I’ve lived by those words since the day I read them. I’ve been living by them since before that, really.

You’re always going to be a character in my story now.

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Essays, Journal

Windswept

I am looking at the clock as I type these words. I have a little over thirty minutes to go. Thirty more minutes to mourn. Thirty more minutes to indulge myself in the agony of my heartbreak. Thirty more minutes to allow myself this anger, this bitterness. Thirty more minutes to hate him. Thirty more minutes to love him.

And when the clock strikes midnight on March 1st, I will take a deep, deep breath, close my eyes, release the last of the tempest from within me, and take the first, unsteady steps forward into the next chapter of my life.

I have thought a lot about love over the last two weeks, over the month since he broke my heart. I have thought about a great number of things aside from love, actually. True to my self-doubting nature, I held a figurative mirror up to my face and asked myself over and over again if maybe I was the one who was wrong. For some reason, I have always found it infinitely easier to hate myself than to hate the ones I love. It’s something I’m trying to grow out of, my tendency to absorb the blame for the cruelties of others. Did I overreact? Did I ask for too much? But I asked for none of this. I didn’t ask for love. I didn’t ask to be loved. I didn’t ask for commitment. I didn’t ask for promises.

He made me want things that I had grown afraid to want, because I’d been hurt by them already before. And then he hurt me with them again.

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