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  • I weave all of the emotions I can’t name, can’t find places for, and can’t understand, into one tangled blanket.
    I feel like curling up below the heaviness of it all,
    grabbing the corner of that blanket and tucking it under my chin,
    feeling that inner weight from the left over yarn at the top of my neck and back of my mouth bubbling up, feeling my tongue close it off, and with it subdued, I nestle in deeper.
    The muscles in my face sag and my eyes begin to turn, the outsides of the almond shapes of my eyes dip down and above them, right above my eyebrows, the creases begin to knit themselves into a shield.
    Everything centers, everything grounds, but my ears– they stay open– in an empty way, as my breathing is the only thing that can move me now. And now I have assumed the only position I have found. I am now safe, ready to rest–to deeply rest–to wake up recharged and even more condensed, the domains of my thoughts now realigned. The magnet I created in my sleeping position has changed them.
    Dulled or Heightened. I am too rested to know.
    It’s less scary when you are already afraid.
    Then you know that something won’t creep up on you and attack when your guard is down.
    So here are the simple steps you need to follow:
    Let the sound of the garage door opening scare you. Yes. This does mean he could be home.
    Feel guilty when you have a reason to laugh at the dinner table, try as hard as you can to swallow that laugh down with your food. Take a sip of water if you need to.
    Don’t talk to so many people at school and if the conversation gets good leave right away. You can’t have friends because then you have to try and explain as they get to know you better and then you have to increase the amount of lies you have told and are still telling. That number is big enough already. Also if you have friends then you will have something fun on Friday and Saturdays that will make the slammed doors (some out of anger, some out of protection), the empty boxes of tissues, and the hoarse voices from yelling, even more painful as you see in your friends eyes what the alternative can be.
    Tip toe around everywhere you walk. You don’t want to wake the beast.
    If you hear the beast’s chair squeak– pause–and see if you hear it squeak the fatal longer squeak that means he stood up. If so, hold on. If not, continue whispering and tiptoeing as you were.
    Keep him sleeping by walking swiftly past his office if you are empty handed, even swifter–if you dare–if you are holding an item that brings you joy, and slowly if you are holding a pile of laundry. Let him see you doing chores by slowing as you walk past his door, and even though the stairs are to your left keep your hips and the bundle in your arms slightly right so that he has a glimpse of the clothes longer. Put the brighter flashier colors on the outside, but don’t make eye contact as you pass.
    Open and close your door softly. Regularly oil the hinges.
    Open and close the door to the washer and drier loudly. Regularly go through the motions so he hears the sounds and stays asleep in his office even if all of the clothes are already clean.
    Don’t make jokes, they are never funny and always make him disappointed at the way you are turning out. He only appreciates sarcastic jokes. But if you make one, no matter how ambiguous, he will think it was directed towards him and he will change the punchline of the joke to end in two of your eyes feeling stingingly dry and red, or four stingingly dry red eyes and six if it was even worse. It will end in clenched teeth and stomachs trying to pocket far more strain than they can hold or digest, they will meet the laughter down there and begin to fight, making you feel much much worse, and much more hollow. It is nothing to be trying to live of off. But that was never the point anyway.
    Learn to hear him laugh deeply and joyfully at random intervals, separated by months, and let it fill you.
    Learn that good comes with bad, and bad comes with good, and hearing his laughter comes with all 45. I know I only named two. It’s a learning process.
    Learn to live off of chores.
    Learn to take your screen out in your window and how to climb down your tree at night.
    Learn to do chores with only one hour of sleep.
    Learn to wear collared shirts even if it is hot, there are certain things that need to be hidden.
    Learn to not be able to trust, even in the safety of night, when the beast is hibernating.
    Learn to not wonder why you don’t feel it when they find you endearing for the life you lead and the pain you shelter.
    Learn to ignore it when they call more and text more and kiss more, and you do it just because it speeds up the digestion. It empties out some of the anger, not because it feels good but because you are freeing some part of yourself, because the beast can’t control what happens during his hibernation, and what else are you going to do.
    Learn to cry in the grocery store bathroom when 8 years of swimming has turned into a state record and on hearing the news he tells you to go get the bananas, and not the fully yellow ones this time, you hear me?
    Learn that he will never learn that it was all for him.
    Learn to roll with the good days and even though your stomach hurts you will deal with it tomorrow, it is a good day, and there is absolutely nothing that can’t be put off until the good day is over.
    Learn to swallow more of the inedible stuff when you finally find the only job for 15 year old so that you won’t have full days in the beast’s den during the summer, only to show up one day and hear that you have quit. Or rather the beast has called and quit for you.
    Learn to try to be good enough but not too good.
    But those rules were for another time long long ago, a life time ago. Now the rules are much fuzzier in their restrictions and boundaries. And even still sometimes they don’t apply. They don’t fix or change.
    Learn that you will never know.
    Learn that you will never understand.
    Learn that everything you do won’t ever be enough.
    Learn to let this go.
    Learn to crawl out from that blanket and become a pickier eater. Only feed your body sustenance that will make it grow.
    Learn to make your body and mind, healthy, and you damn well better learn to stomp.
    Learn to sleep without blankets. Sleep under the stars and feel yourself beloved on this earth with the warmth of defining your own self worth comforting you and tucking you in. Fall asleep with the words I love you on the tip of your tongue, and let the flavor melt, as you ingest it slowly, the sweetest words you could ever tell yourself.
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