I remember every time I have been called weak by someone. I learnt how to turn each one into an antonym of weakness, how to differentiate between mistakes and vulnerabilities and how to hold each one without shaking.
It was thrown at me when I was thrown onto a hospital bed with a hummingbird heart, a heavy chest and a bloodstream hugged by too many painkillers that neither killed me nor the pain. I learnt that those who want to stay cannot bring themselves to leave and those who want to leave cannot bring themselves to stay; both acts in life require strength.
It was thrown at me when my entire body shook like an earthquake for months at the touch of any physical contact after having my teacher throw himself at me. I learnt that my skin was mine and the fact that at some point, later on, I was capable of touching it without peeling it off of me required more strength than not cringing at a handshake.
It was thrown at me when I was throwing up in my friend’s bathroom from a panic attack I had in the middle of a party, because I couldn’t stop thinking about how the house was too small and the numbers were too big. I couldn’t hear myself think over the noise or let myself breathe, because I spent half the day counting lungs instead of sheep and I was certain that the oxygen would run out of the room at some point. I learnt that while some people defined solitude as serenity, others deemed it solitary confinement; found their own nirvana in the midst of a crowd. Both would feel drained in the other one’s shoes.
It was thrown at me when I was thrown into a state of temporary delirium because of you. And by temporary, I really mean sometimes I know how to hide it better. And by temporary, I really mean I’m just slipping it into every sentence I can find to try and get used to the sound of it when you leave (or repeat it long enough to make it lose its meaning, along with my irrational fear of it). I learnt that my heart could skip and stop all at once just at the sound of your name. I learnt that life was an unwanted house guest, until I looked into your eyes and it resembled home.
I never knew that later on I’d be the unwanted house guest. I learnt that my skin liked yours, craved instead of crawled, that my entire body could shake under your touch and quiver like it’s being bared to snow when it’s gone. I learnt that even though small spaces give me panic attacks, I feared the space between us more, no matter how small.
I learnt that I had absolutely no idea how to differentiate between mistakes and vulnerabilities, no idea how to hold you without shaking hands if you were either.
I remember every time I have been called weak for you.
Maybe I should learn to believe it.