Fish hooks

I can see them in my  mind’s eye – the glint of silver, light flashing off their smooth lines, deadly barbs curving innocently back on themselves. They’ve been in me so long, I barely notice their presence. But I know that something is not right. There is a dull ache in a certain spot, a sharp pain when I twist the wrong way. A fleeting thought sends me hurtling into despair.

Fish hooks.

They have found homes in different places in my body. Thoughts make themselves comfy in my stomach. I am not good enough. I do not deserve to be happy, loved, successful, healthy. Shameful memories in my low back, my spleen, or that spot under my shoulder blade. The time I was 5 and flashed my underwear to the school as I gave my friend a piggyback ride; 13 and bled through my pad and my pants at school; 22 and realized my roommates hated me because I got a puppy/had a friend stay/got a boyfriend. Years of feeling slapped by a relationship lie just under my breastbone. Invisible, unimportant, and disposable are hanging out drinking whisky under my left arm.

I am learning these thoughts and feelings are not true. They are habits. I am hooked. Like a lifelong smoker and her cigarettes, they are so much a part of me that I believe them to be me. I am beginning to take them out, look at them in the light, and allow them to transform.

I still have to contend with the fish hooks.

Ben’s death ripped a few out like a chainsaw ripping a band aid from a hairy arm. Removing the rest is turning out to be a slower process. I grab hold, spinning the hook, watching the barbs catch my flesh. I wonder if I have the strength to keep pulling. I wiggle gently. I yank, screaming like a Ninja warrior, ready to staunch the bleeding. I give up and let it slide back in. Not today.

Last night anger pulled a hook – or ten – into the light for me to look at. They’re still attached, oozing remnants of heartbreak, broken coffee mugs and smudged mascara. Today in yoga, as the cells of my body vibrated blissfully to the sound of the gong, my mind whispered sweet nasties in my ear.

I want them out.

I wonder if it’s possible to ignore them and continue growing, like the majestic oak we were married under, a long section of pipe running through its trunk 12 feet above ground. I wonder if they’ll dissolve like my surgical stitches if I smother them in compassion and love. I imagine how good it will feel when I shrug my shoulders and laugh at another slight instead of reeling backward, clutching my chest. I imagine the lightness when the flashing neon FAIL sign in my head no longer comes to life at the slightest provocation.

I wonder, as I hold the mirror up to last night’s damage, what life will feel like when I don’t have to remind myself to trust – it’s who I am, it’s what I do.

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9 Responses to Fish hooks

  1. Roos says:

    Fish hooks. A well chosen word – yet not something to be taken lightly.
    We all have our fish hooks. It’s OK.

  2. Noel says:

    This is so amazingly beautiful. The fishooks–such a vibrant, perfect image for suffering and bad patterns. And this: “my mind whispered sweet nasties in my ear.”

    Perfect. I can’t thank you enough. It’s something I really needed to read today.

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  4. Christa says:

    Ok, I can’t decide which is my favorite of your posts anymore…

    Fish hooks, yes. Have them, some I have managed to remove and some seem inclined to stay permanently.

    Looks like I am in good company…

    Thank you.

  5. Pamela says:

    This is so raw and honest and beautiful. And it echoes everything that I too feel. Tonight in my meditation group we worked with all of the shame and fear and hurt that you wrote about and it was intense. It was everything you wrote about here. You are so brave.

    xoxo

  6. Stereo says:

    Wow, Alana. Your posts get more powerful by the day. Sometimes I feel like am being torn apart by fish hooks but I am also learning to remove them one by one and examine them, just as you are doing. Thank you so much for this.

  7. kelly says:

    Yes, we all have them, I’m not sure, but I think as you get older it gets easier to pull them out, tings that mattered so much when you were younger lose some of their importance, other things take their place. There are always one or two that are in deep, stubborn and cantankerous. I’d like to thing they will dissolve, given enough time.
    Your writing is so beautifully honest.

  8. Pingback: The Work | Life After Benjamin

  9. Pingback: The Work | Alana Sheeren

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