A Poem for the Romantics

In one swift gesture,
I wrapped the comforter around me 
And through my legs,
Surrounding me in a warmth
Similar to when we’d lay
On our sides,
Bodies pressed together.

I breathed out heavily,
And a ‘hey’ escaped with it.
It was a response
As if you were there –
Arms wrapped around me,
Bodies pressed together,
Laying on our sides –
And had just recited

The Words of a Romantic.


A poem by Shayla Hickerson

A Swelling Heart Can Easily Shatter

I know that you love me because you do express your feelings, although sometimes I wonder if I’m actually that special. It makes me extremely happy when you tell me things like how much you love my laugh, my eyes, and my smile.

It leaves me feeling something that no one has ever given me. When I don’t see you for almost a week, it’s a feeling that develops in the center of the chest as if all the deep sorrow one could contain gathers up into a tight ball. Then it starts to rip at your insides. It leaves you feeling empty everywhere else in your body, but in the center of your chest, it feels like the world is collapsing in on you. You have the power to make my world collapse in on me. You the power to break me.

Yet, when we are together or when I read your heart-filled texts, the feeling is not full of sorrow. It is a feeling of eternal joy and happiness that swells in my heart. It still makes my world collapse, but not into ruins because at those moments nothing else matters when considering how happy you make me then.


Journal entry by Shayla Hickerson

Letters to My Love

Part 5

I had a dream that me and my mom were in our old house on Brock St. My brothers were running around but they didn’t do much else in the dream, I was just aware of their existence. My mom was asking for me to take pictures of her for work, but as we were putting dishes away, a fire started in the entrance hallway. She seemed indifferent towards it and asked if I was ready to go. I started upstairs confused, I was about to grab my camera when the fire expanded. I asked why she wasn’t doing anything to stop it and she stood before the flames, I saw the glow on your face, and she just stared off into the fire saying she’d think the light would be too orange and it was too hot to take photos by. I came back down the few stairs I climbed and grabbed a small fire extinguisher and started passing it along the fire. But I noticed it went through the vent and was burning in the basement. So I went down there and saw that the fire was coming from a burning, hanging drape and  candles/lamps set around the basement floor. I thought the source of the fire was weird, but at this point, I admired the burning candles and lamps (it was the bulbs which were on fire). Although I observed it as a beautiful sight, I extinguished one by one.

  • Although you weren’t in the dream, I think it relates to the past few days. I’m not sure what it means, but it seems positive. I also dreamt of you earlier in the night but I don’t remember much, other than seeing your face and knowing we were talking and that it seemed positive.

Yours truly,
Shayla


Letters to My Love

Part 4

To me, it seems like a question of whether I’m worth working it through. In my opinion, if you wanted me, conditions wouldn’t influence how you wanted to relate to me. They don’t influence how I want to relate to you.

If I approached life with the perspective of having the ideal foundation, I’d end up single my entire life. Relationships aren’t perfect. People aren’t perfect. There are ups, and there are downs concerning both. This may be a serious down – but again, it’s a down I’d want to work through. It’s a down I’d have to work through as a friend – the only difference is you believe its a down which is sabotaging my chances at a good foundation, as it sabotages your life. 

You asked what I’d do in your situation, and I said I’d probably think the worse, that my life is over and push everyone away. It seems like that’s what you’re doing. It seems rational, but I’d also hope someone would be there for me regardless of my beliefs, and I want to be there for you with all my love and affection. 

You may think that I’d be throwing my chances at a relationship with a man that can promise me the future because your future is being thrown away. But I don’t want to throw away the chance to give you my love and affection in a intimate, romantic sense while I still can. The circumstances aren’t forcing this to stop. In my perspective, you are.

You asked if there was a better way to have this conversation. I still think there isn’t. You feel like its a conversation needed to happen. You did the best you could. My heart is broken, and I’ll probably feel this way for a long time. To me, I’ve noticed the hurt stays until I learn to live without someone. If we had waited until the bitter end – I would no longer have any way to live with you, and so I think the pain would have been easier. I’d have to force myself to learn to live without you, because I wouldn’t have a choice. Neither would you. If you still believe in ending ‘this’ and want me in your life as a friend, the pain will probably hurt all the same or more because instead of learning to live without you, I have to learn to love you differently – which is more difficult in my opinion. It’ll be hard for me to accept, regardless of how you presented your reality of ‘this’, because I strongly believe its not my reality, at least not yet.

Now I don’t expect you to hear this and change your mind – I certainly hope you don’t cake this info and think you need to end contact for me not to hurt. I agree with you; I think it’d be a shame having ourselves out of each others lives. I think we can still benefit from having each other – I just wanted you to know I’d still like something to develop, but I don’t expect you to change your mind. I don’t expect you to do anything with this information. I’m just wanting to be open with you. I don’t think you were aware how far in I fell. I’m just presenting my script. You presented yours.

I just want to be positive knowing this is what you want. And now this leaves me with questions:

Why did you keep the sketches of the drones?
Regardless of how this turned out, have your feelings for me changed?
How long have you been thinking of ending ‘this’?
Is this ultimately what you want, ending romantic pursuits? 
Do you whole-heartedly not want to be with me?

Yours truly,
Shayla


Consent is Conditional

Rewind my life a few years back:

I’ve been violated. He said sorry and I couldn’t figure out why he did, until he finished. I consented to sex, but I asked to use a condom. I didn’t consent to unprotected sex, yet he slipped the condom off anyways.

I felt violated. He took my body for granted for his momentary pleasure, and he didn’t think twice about what that split second decision could’ve meant for my future. The thought of a man putting my future second, and his orgasm first was mortifying to me. I wasn’t on birth control so I took Plan B the next day, and starting bleeding randomly not much longer after that. I was scared. I never wanted my safety to be jeopardized by a man ever again. And so, I went on birth control.

Fast forward a little bit:

A series of late-night, consensual hookups led to a series of un-consensual mornings where they woke me up by playing with me. I didn’t know what to do – because I was never taught that I was worth respecting and they never learned that women were worth respecting – but I stopped seeing them every time that happened. Eventually, I stopped dating because the unawareness regarding the lack of respect towards my body and self became too apparent.

Fast Forward a year later:

I finally felt like I found a guy that respected me as woman, but also as a person. Although maybe I imagined finding a guy that respected me, I tried to fit him into that narrattive. He fucked me, and broke my heart right afterwards. I asked why he slept with me if he knew that he was going to break up with me that night. He replied that he felt like I wanted it… and I did, but for some reason I still felt violated.

Resume in the present moment:

I kept thinking about what he said: that ‘he felt like I wanted it’. I realized that my consent had been given on the presumption that our intimate actions were building blocks towards a committed relationship. I acted the way that I did, opened myself up the way I did, because I was invested in something more than just sex. I ‘wanted it’, but only because I wanted the intimate relationship that I tied to the sexual relationship. My consent was given based on the conditions that he wasn’t going to break up with me right after. If he was honest about his intentions, maybe I still would’ve wanted it, but at least I wouldn’t have felt violated.

Now, I realize how important it is to me to be transparent in a relationship, whether it’s serious or casual. If I let them know exactly how I feel when I get clarity on my needs and desires, then maybe the honesty will be reciprocated. So far, it’s proving to be true.


Entry by Shayla Hickerson

Muse

Mother me until my insides bleed out a sea of warmth.
Utter nonsense that strings through the air and creates a dialogue of langue.
Seize the opportunity to care for me tenderly, unconventionally, unintentionally, infinitely…
Eternally, internally twist my insides so that I become a thread, wrapped around your finger –
warped around your linger. Stay.


A poem by Shayla Hickerson

Letters to My Love

Part 3

I’m not a fan of the letter I wrote last night. It was merely an attempt to organize my thoughts. It was a blackboard for me to project my hurt. To tame the overwhelming tornado of Shayla. I wanted to rewrite it, edit the syntax, the stylistic writing, but thought no; that was an expression of my raw emotion. It exists as a true representation of my mental state from last night. Honestly, I used to be so indifferent to hurt. I wasn’t in tune with how I felt. I was extremely removed from my inter and intra-personal experiences. I felt hallowed out, and I still do, emotionally. But physically, I’m filled with tears.

Ever since I allowed myself to feel, ever since I allowed myself to know sadness, I’ve been on the front line of cry-ers. I cry all the time. I cried myself to sleep Monday night from a heartbreak by the words of my brother, and last night I cried due to the heart break left by the reality of what ‘this’ is to you. This morning, I cried briefly in the shower. Then during mid-afternoon sushi, and the walk back from the square. I try not feeling shame with my tears but remind myself that the tears are relieving the weight in my heart. I’m surprised that I haven’t hit a drought. I know the biggest influence behind my waterfall of tears is the fact that I am so uncertain about how I feel. I consider so many aspects, that I find truth in them all, but I don’t find the truth for me. I’ve considered changing my flight, so I’d skip the depart here, and pick up at my connecting flight. I’d thank the Air BnB hostess for her hospitality, and I’d take a bus or train to my friend’s until Friday night. I came here to visit you, in all truth, and now I feel trapped. I feel like I’m in an unknown city, alone and at least at my friend’s, I’d feel comfortable walking to the galleries downtown, and I can be comforted by my best friend. Honestly, I don’t know how to exist here until Friday evening.

I still don’t know if I can be friends with you, because I don’t know how to be friends with anyone (except my best childhood friend). The loneliness I constantly feel sucks, but not enough for me to learn how to comfortably introduce people into my life. I’d rather spend that time focusing on my career, my dreams and my art. Those aspects of my autonomy are manifestations that I’m ok experiencing change with. I’m ok with my dreams transforming and alternating into new ones. I’m not ok with the changes that occur in human interactions. I’d rather keep those at arm’s length. 

Ironically, you are pushing me away, from intimacy to friendship, to avoid breaking my heart, whereas I’ll probably push you from friendship to a thought that circulates my mind every now and then and that’s followed occasionally by a few tears that run down my cheek.

Although I want to remove myself from this place, I don’t want to skip a chance to talk things over with you. I don’t want to shut down. I don’t want to lose. Although I don’t expect anything to continue, I’m not sure how ‘this’ can continue. I honestly do love you. It sucks that I won’t have the relationship to fully live and express that love. Even if I don’t know how to confidently go about this revelation, all I know is my hurt, and it suck.  

I’ve been hurt, more times than I can count on both hands, and it leaves me wondering how that interaction was even worth experiencing. I often begin to wish that I never encountered those people, and I started to wish that I never thought twice about continuing the conversation after you complimented my Instagram art. I wish I would’ve just accepted the compliment and stopped messaging. I wish that I approached our first meetup just as coffee. I wish I never considered driving around town with you. I wish I would’ve passed the invite to chill at yours. I wish I did walk out of your apartment as you showered and I sat on your bed triggered, thinking about the mentions of you getting back together with a girl back home. I began wishing I never met you. I began to wonder how long you knew your words would go from ‘I would like this to continue’ to ‘this is just a friendship’. I wondered how you were thinking this would play out; me flying here to see you. I wondered what you were thinking would happen after you played the friendship card but kissed me before going to study and leaving me to think things over. Overall, I do believe that you are spectacular regardless of how this played out. In the end, I think I’ve learned to be honest with myself, even if it took writing it out. I am happy to have met you. I do believe that you are worth meeting. I just wish ‘this’ could continue differently.  


I mentioned before arriving here that there was two things that I’d like to do. The first was to visit an art gallery, and the second was to try the food at the Ikea restaurant. We did the art gallery yesterday, and so you offered to swing by around 7 for late-night dinner at IKEA. Since I was aware that you were pressed for time, and didn’t want to take away from studying, I said I would rather continue our conversation from last night. You arrived shortly before 8 with a large McDonald’s fries and smoothie. I think this was a gesture influenced by your need to take care of me, but I said I hadn’t really had an appetite. I put the food on the desk in the Airbnb room and walked over to sit on the bed with you. Immediately I said that I’m probably going to cry but said that I wrote a few letters explaining what I’ve been feeling the past 24 hours. You asked if it was okay if you read it, and I said it would probably be easier if you did. You said that it  hurt reading “not until I can accept coming all the way here for ‘this’” and afterwards you asked if I still wanted to be friends. I mentioned that I have a hard time with friendships. I explained that usually I approach romantic interests as ‘All or Nothing’. Except this was a case where I want it all, but refuse to leave with nothing, and so I’d be willing to learn how to be friends.

Yours truly,
Shayla


Letters to My Love

Part 2

I mentioned how I perceived three perspectives which can be applied in response to your predicament. Primarily, there is the perspective of Agreement. The way you explained your current state makes perfect sense, and it can be problematic to try and build a relationship on twisted foundations. Secondly, there is the perspective of living momentarily and continuing intimacy until situational displacement corrupts contact. Yet, this second perspective becomes unsound noting that you are currently impacted by the allegations. Thirdly, it boils down to the perspective of ‘out ruled’ decisions. If you have already decided to end things, then it doesn’t matter whether or not I want to continue intimate relations because there wouldn’t be a mutual agreement in which to continue. But there’s a fourth perspective: mine.

All things being said, I needed to take the night to straighten out my thoughts. I needed time to reflect on what you said, and be honest with myself, before giving you a direct answer stating how I feel.

I want to acknowledge my appreciation for your hospitality and affection. It’s nice to have had someone in my life that cares about how their actions affect my state of being. Regardless of my admiration of this trait, I find it hardly influences the outcome. You can put every effort into making sure that I don’t end up hurt, but in the end, I will be hurt either way. My hurt comes from my inability to be honest with myself. I used to say I have no boundaries, but time after time of getting hurt in intimate relations, I’ve learned that I do have boundaries, I just lack the awareness needed to implement them. I lack the strength to say enough when I’m no longer enthused with a situation. Knowing this, I realize that I need to acknowledge my wants and needs. I need to address when I’m upset with a situation, and I want to follow through with pursuing an outcome that is not only beneficial, but healthy. 

To be honest, I am upset. For many reasons. I will go into detail but beware that this will be longwinded. Overall, I feel upset with myself, because I felt like there were details that I overlooked.

  • One night, you insisted on looking over my Tinder messages. I said I didn’t have Tinder on that phone and you downloaded it. Issue solved. You had granted access. You said that it’s obvious I put way more into the conversations than the guys did. I was already aware of this. Seems to be a pattern. Exhibit A: over the last month, my messages out-lengthened and outnumbered yours. Your observation circulated through my head, and I wondered if it was relevant to our messaging patterns. Yet I dismissed this thought because our weekly calls were substance enough for my short-lived satisfaction.
  • Many times, you mentioned that you’d like this to continue, but ‘this’ was never defined. It was as vague as the parameters that you placed around the intimate relation, which were nonexistent. Now I agreed and continue to agree with not wanting to prevent you from satisfying yourself, even if it means sexually, because who am I to place limitations on someone outside of myself. You are an individual; you have the right to sexual, intimate, spiritual, and emotional gratification. Yet, I approached the connection between us through a problematic perspective. Although we agreed on no expectations, I expected that ‘this’ developed into something more, eventually. (call me a dreamer)

Although I have come to love you unlike anyone else, I am aware that you don’t know my tendencies. You mentioned that you believe our friendship is too strong to simply break. Obviously, you don’t know how easily I walk away from people when having them in my life burdens me more. 

I will put my tendencies into perspective.  Firstly, I hardly notice two weeks of absent communication when it comes to friends, and sadly this extends even towards family. I hate to admit it, but sometimes their existence slips my mind. The only people I think to keep it touch with regardless of what’s occurring in my life are my parents and my best childhood friend. If I agreed to move forward as friends, you’d probably hear from me once every blue moon, when it’s convenient to me, when I think I should send a message so I’m not a total neglecting asshole. This was a problem with my ex, and countless ‘best’ friends.

At this point, I want to make note of when I said I probably won’t be sleeping with anyone else, regardless of the lack of exclusivity. In reality, I have sworn to myself that I am going to retract my focus from boys, until I have achieved my dreams. I realized that I fell into a cycle. I led myself astray and left my self-worth behind. I tried drowning myself in attention and felt ‘at least its something’. At least someone finds me worthy… of momentary pleasure. When one guy left me on the hook, I looked for the next one because at least it was something. But I don’t want just something. I felt alone, even with a hookup because there was no depth. Yet, I was caught in a cycle.

The twisted cycle that I get caught in goes a little like this:

I say that I will focus on myself and think big again. Keep the opportunities limitless. Then I get caught up with a boy or a friend. Then it either ends up toxic (in terms of friendships), or I end up hurt (in terms of relations with a boy). I end up feeling powerless, small, stupid, naïve, and oblivious to the incompatibilities. I realize that I tried molding the relationship into something that it wasn’t, or I ignored my boundaries. As a result, I tell myself that I won’t let it happen again, I’ll get my head straight and focus on thinking big again… but the cycle repeats.

Because I have gone through this cycle countless of times, I have decided that it’s best for myself to just focus on me. Focus on school. Focus on art. Focus on Deprived. Focus on going to Toronto, and everything else that I can do to make me earnestly happy. I am tired of getting wound up in people. I am tired of losing sight of my autonomy. I am tired of feeling alone, tired of being alone, but I want to learn to be okay with being alone. 

I define my tendencies as twisted thoughts, and I might be sabotaging myself, but I have internalized a ton of shit and feel best about myself when developing autonomy and producing artsy-fartsy projects. When I focus on dreaming big in my career, I don’t think twice about my loneliness. Mentally, I am all over the place, and so my tendencies may be controversial at times. I still need to figure out my boundaries. I still need to figure out how to connect to people while having those boundaries. I need to figure out how to remove my self-worth from my sexual availability before fully engaging in physical relations. I need to figure out how to comfortably be friends by stating boundaries, so I don’t feel pressured to provide more than I want.

In the end, there’s been a lot going on through my mind. I am trying to get my head straight by figuring what this means for us. I don’t know if I can be friends, at least not now. Not until I undo loving you more than a friend. Not until I can accept that I flew all the way to see you for ‘this’.    

Yours Truly,
Shayla


A Poem for the Extraordinary

– EXTRAORDINAIRE –

The way her voice found me through the void felt like the warmth of yesterday’s embrace.
It was certain, and it is eternal-ly imprinted in the back of my eyelids.
And somehow I manage to feel your touch as her voice tickled the hairs on my arms,
And danced so graciously to the beat of my eardrums.
It was extraordinaire. 
You were extraordinaire.
But the melodic echo faded and she was gone.
There is no song left to play that records the diaristic pain that I woke up to.
And so, I am stuck; frozen in nothingness. Just this numbness.
If you listen closely, they are the same.
If you listen closely, her voice reaches me again until the image of you becomes the black blanket covering the back of my eyelids.

Falling into a new embrace; falling asleep.


A poem by Shayla Hickerson