Trying Vulnerability

A Strange Note in lixey-i*

The pedestrian bridge. Etashe Linto

12:22 am 

There’s a candle jar on my bed. There’s Abel Korseniowski’s Charms in the air. And then there’s me, who never thinks about these little things — like this candle and how it colours the room warm, and its blue that reminds me of the bridge.

6:26 am 

Crying uproots something in you. All that tightness around your body—the heaviness—peeled by this biological medicine. I cried last night, in the bathroom, because my head had floated between thoughts for too long. And it hurt. Crying helped, then the cold shower.

12:22 am

Walking on the pedestrian bridge, I find myself falling over, landing on the road, crushed by everything with a wheel. I find my trunk apart from my head, almost as if my mind doesn’t belong to my body. I’m not sure why heights make me uncomfortable. My sister once pointed out that it was likely psychological and might be telling of how I respond to wins — walking around with the feeling of being undeserving, not holding myself worthy.

6:26 am

I’ve come back to hope a lot because that, for me, is a strong ground. That, for me, is where peace stands. That, for me, is where I can be; where I can breathe and place doubt backstage. We can’t erase doubt (I never want to), but we can choose where to place it. When backstage, it will, of course, try to come on stage. But the more we return it, the more it understands its place.


Fear. Etashe Linto

I’d be lying if I said I was doing okay; if I told you that the clouds above my head were the finest blue or the colour of the sun or even a lighter grey; if I admitted that my eyes were featherweight, my head paperweight, my chest as still as a quiet stream. Today, again, I find myself in red. Thinned by emptiness. Skinned by a disordered environment. Trapped in an endless circle of overthink. I want — I need, orange. It feels like rays of hope have missed my windows. Because, what is this? 


All of life is a process, abi? Why does the journey often feel muddy? 


I found fear today. Fear of doing the world alone. I don’t want that; the forever self conversations and empty rooms that echo even in your presence. I miss laughter. I miss those intimate yans with other bodies. But, shebi none of these matter without you. None of the beautiful talks matter without a genuine awareness of self. It took a long time to touch this awareness, but I am here. I am here. Life may not seem like it’s moving, but it’s moving. You’re going somewhere. I am going somewhere. It’s always moving. Na so e be. I’ve been reminding myself a lot lately—when my head feels tight and my heart can’t take it—that I’ll be gone someday. There’s peace in acknowledging that, a kind of reconnecting of self. 


A new old bond. Etashe Linto

12:26 am

No one is coming to save you. This is what my mind tells me as my fingers move from app to app, Notion to Chrome, page to page. No one is coming to free me from this wandering mind, this loneliness. Do I not see how the world is pulling me in, yet moving? What must be done: I must see myself, enjoy my company, learn to manage where my thoughts go, be comfortable with myself. My therapist asked about the kind of friendships I want. I’m not sure, I shrug. The kind where we’re both present? Where I’m not an afterthought? Where both bodies care about each other enough to not hold back but hold themselves accountable.

6:02 am

I had a conversation with S last night. A long call of honesty and truths once hidden in silence. An unmasking of smiles, a sharing of laughter. A question asking, an answer seeking. We hadn’t spoken in months, if not a year. And our prior conversations had been a drop in the ocean. I wasn’t expecting a call but I said yes. Yes because there’s still love there. There’s still home there. There’s still a shared past. I am, of course, learning that a shared past doesn’t mean room for a shared future. Empathy has a limit, and I’ll never fully understand her current state of self. But there’s a mirror there, and a mirror can be a strong thing when held by an other who knows. And so we spoke, shared, laughed, felt emotions rise and fall like the seasons. I’m concerned about her, and I hope to find a balance between being present and absent; between showing up and stepping back. Because this, in a way, is a new old bond.

11:36 pm

It helps to sit in conversation with someone. To do life with someone. To pour out your inner self to someone that understands what it means to listen, what it means to be present with you, what it means to be silent because, sometimes, that’s the only reasonable response. Other times laughter balms our heart and heals it. And at times you do need those words of advice. Life is like this: a communion with yourself first, then another, then the rest of the world. It helps to have people that care and, when you don’t, it helps to find a friend in yourself. 


Fly free. Etashe Linto

6:38 am

What a wonderful thing it is to come into yourself. To be bolder than you’ve ever been, have a lot more clarity than you’ve ever had, be at peace with yourself. Gradually. I’m feeling and letting myself feel, wandering and letting myself wander, acknowledging and being comfortable with my flaws; using them to live.

4:59 am

I am free to breathe, free to laugh, free to see and look the other way. Free to think and unthink. Free to cry, fold and unfold, move and stand still, walk awkward, stay weird, wear my face and disguises. Free to fly free, hold my hand and let go, dream and undream, wish and unwish, desire and reject, attract and pursue, eat and stay hungry, stay here or leave. I am free to do life on my terms; to carve my own path, carry my own truth, hold my breath, stay however long in this desert, take all the time I need, walk easy, hold steady. 


The Big Question

Came from therapy. What would it take to be vulnerable; to shed these things we call weaknesses and let others see the hidden parts of ourselves? I published this note in response; a collection of journal entries I made between ‘21 and ‘22.


As you think through the questions in this piece, here’s what you should read next: Brené Brown on Vulnerability


*lixey-i means six in Afar, a Cushitic language (which is a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family). Afar is spoken by over 2 million people in Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. Here, I use lixey-i to represent the month of June.