Squeeze Me

Squeeze

he was squeezing

something on his jaw line

near the left ear

he’d stop

then go back to it

an ingrown hair 

another time he was scratching

a dry patch on his back

scratched until it was raw

but not quite bleeding

sometimes gnawing at finger nail

another time biting at something

on the inside his cheek

not every time we were together

 

we get together every couple of weeks

for a movie & food

for making out

it took a few years

before this squeeze pattern emerged

one that I recognize

I was once caught up

in small acts of self harm 

the pinched pimple

the scratched spot 

I know the odd satisfaction 

that comes from inflicting

tiny persistent

pain

on myself

I have the scar tissue to show for it

 

I was never into big self-harm

burns to the hands

criss-cross slits on the arms

I was satisfied by my small

micro-aggressions against myself

against my body

I treasure the body

he harms

how do I call attention

his micro-aggressions

I’m not a professional

no one ever called my attention

to how I treated myself 

I kept it too hidden

no one would see

the spot I picked till it bled

eventually that need left

 

not that I’ve seen him bleed

not until he tells me something more

than let’s play

then I’ll know

he wants more than comfort

There’s a relationship theory that what appeals most to us is something of ourselves that we see in others – some commonality – not sure where ‘opposites attract’ fits into that theory 🙂 For me, sometimes, the reflection of me I see in someone else is more a red flag than a red cape. This piece is about a real person – a guy I’ve been seeing for a couple years now – so we are quite emotionally & sexually compatible. He is not my mirror though & comes from a very different cultural background.

 

Part of my history is cutting – which took many forms besides the ones mentioned here – nail biting, pimple squeezing – thought I doubt if his comes from the same emotional place. His turned out to be a reflection of work-place stress. I did offer moisturizer a few times in case the itch was dry skin – rather than say ‘stop doing that.’ 

 

When I’ve been tempted to say something, to him or anyone else, I think first about my motivation, about my own past – as the piece says no one ever ‘diagnosed’ my actions. Perhaps because I grew up at a time & place where children weren’t diagnosed for such habits – now-a-days nail-biters get medication to behave acceptably. Also I wasn’t much of listener.

Teachers would say stop biting & I’d think ‘bite me.’ As I got older the unwillingness to take heed increased, in some areas. You drink too much – only meant I had to find a better crowd to drink with 🙂 Knowing better I could ignore via rationalization whatever someone disapproved – after all culture was wrong wrong wrong about the sordid sickness of queer so it was wrong about everything else too.

I’ve become a grateful that my sweet friend is comfortable enough to be himself around me – his quirks aren’t mine to correct but his presence is for me to enjoy. Besides he squeezes me in the best ways 🙂


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Memory Squeeze

Memory Squeeze

a light sting

skin broken

some blood

a minor hurt

it will heal fast

a couple of showers

there’ll be no sign

no scab

not even a scar

 

a minor memory

that conjures a bigger memory

of the years

years ago

in another century

another country

where I was a cutter

 

a time when I made myself bleed

more than this

there was no need to squeeze

the blood flowed easily

I’m over that now

or so I thought 

buried the memory

deep enough 

yet when I pop a pimple

it comes back

 

then I had a fearful despair 

of needing the proof of being ordinary

I no longer feel that need

but

when I squeeze

I’m forcing that memory out again

into my day today

 

I stop 

wash my hands

wondering 

why am I plucking 

at that thread again

Part of my self-abuse history involves being a cutter – that is someone who deliberately cuts themselves in one way or the other. Burners are people who, you guessed it, deliberately burn themselves – sometimes with cigarettes. I didn’t recognize or label my behaviour as such at the time, so I didn’t seek any sort of help for it either. Good things I didn’t, as I’ve said before, if I got the help need then the help available would have killed me.

LGBTQ teens at that time could be legally institutionalized by their parents – once there they were chemically castrated or given shock-treatment  or lobotomized. Sometimes I forget what I survived without really knowing the danger I was in – danger I only found out when I was well out of that danger. There wasn’t even conversion ‘therapy’ unless one counts the constant fear of been beaten up for smiling at the wrong time as conversion therapy.

The cutting started before I became a drunk and continued for awhile when I sobered up. It wasn’t a regular thing but it was often enough to be considered a thing.

 

I sometimes share about it in recovery but rarely talk about it otherwise. I’ve written another piece about it long ago. The memory of that behaviour can resurface now if I find myself worrying the occasional pimple on my arm or if I scratch an itch too much. As the poems ends I check my action to make sure its just an itch & not some stress I’m acting out on. Usually it’s a thoughtless nervous action that alerts me to the fact that I am nervous. 


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#Shame

There ought to be a reality show ‘Shame on You’ in which contestants compete to out shame each other to see who can be the most publicly racist, sexist, hypocritical, or entitled. We already have enough people doing this for the news, so why not capitalize on it. Americas Top Asshole or something like that.

blackcouch

couch of shame

Everyone has things in their lives they aren’t proud of – the secret shames that I suspect we hold on to mainly because we’ve convinced they are to be hidden from everyone. You don’t talk about things like that unless, of course, there are cameras present. Being caught creates reputations not ruins them.

stump

ring of shame

Shame springs from ‘what others think’ & its prime purpose is to control, as opposed to stop, behaviour that might be disapproved of – I don’t mean things like murder – but stuff like lust, sex, greed. The recent adultery ruckus is about shame &, possibly, people who are addicted to shame & not sex at all. They like the sneaking around more than the getting – that taste of shame.

On the east coast I had a friends who shamed my music tastes – they were ‘hard’core’ blues head John Mayall was king, Blues Magoos were below contempt. Rather than be mocked I caved & went with that flow. Today I like Mayall & enjoy listening to him but its the innocuous Magoos that give me the greater pleasure. I replaced those lost lps -which I suspect are probably worth more on eBay than Mayall – with mp3s. Hearing them a few years ago for the first time in decades I was swept away & pleased.

pryor

shameless pair

It wasn’t until I was into my 50’s that I began to shake off sexual shame – all those messages from an anti-pleasure culture that I had never questioned, began to get looked at & nullified. Being queer is difficult enough without accepting cultural baggage without questioning it. As a teen it made suicide tempting (as it still does for gay/trans teens today – suicide seems an approved solution in fact – better suicide than support or education). I put the bottle to my mouth instead of the gun to my head – numbing worked as it kept me alive.

But I did pick up the razor blade – something I don’t talk about often. I was a cutter. I didn’t cut where it could be seen by anyone except myself. It persisted into my recovery for a few years. A habit that become so well ingrained I didn’t even question doing it. One day it dawned on me – I was ashamed of what I was doing to myself – why was I holding on to this? It was for the shame I felt, not for the blood I was drawing.

selfie

shameless selfie

The scars remain – physical evidence that only I can recognize. Even if I showed you where to look & let you look you wouldn’t see what I know is there. Hidden, but not by shame.

samp01

Confirmation

blood

sticky on my fingers

quick to cool

my blood

iron on my tongue

red black thin

not enough to feel warmth

enough to know I have cut

myself

 

not where anyone can see it

I don’t cut for attention

no marks along my arms or wrists

no mesh of scars to explain

to haunt me years later

 

I don’t remember how it started

was it to see some blood

or a need to make me hurt

a grounding in shame

take that you stupid idiot

teach my body a lesson

teach my heart a song

let that small drip refrain

 

I wash my hands when I’m done

watch the healing

then forget the ceremony

for hours

for days

even for years

before I am compelled once more

to feel my blood

sticky ripe between pale fingers

it smells the same

tastes the same

still comes as eagerly when called

by the blade

as I evoke

a few confirming drops of my self

money

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