While I work on a complicated piece about a complicated person, sometimes I need to remind myself:
If Inside Out taught me anything,
it’s okay to be sad,
even about something that once made you happy,
or happy enough.
It’s okay to look back on a person you loved,
in a time when you were happy,
and feel grief for the poor young thing you were,
that you thought this was love.
That this made you happy,
or happy enough.
It’s okay to break up
with what you thought you were.
It’s okay to feel embarrassed by what you thought love was
when you were happy enough.
It’s okay for your sentences to get far too long
as you rewrite “love” to “what you thought was love,”
and “he loved me,” to “he loved me the only way he could,”
and “happy” to “happy enough”
and “me,” to “me I used to be.”
It’s better to be accurate.
I’ll listen to the end.
It’s okay to ask yourself what
you were thinking
when you defended him
against people who were trying to defend you.
It’s okay to feel furious at the poor, dumb thing
you were, that you took the side
of the person who fought in the battle against you,
on the battleground of you,
for possession of you.
(Don’t forget how much you love her, too.
Don’t forget how young she was,
so much younger than you are now.
Don’t forget she was happy.
It’s okay to choose not to be funny.
It’s okay to resist the punchline.
Watch Nanette. Just watch it.
It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay.
It’s okay to sit and wait to remember
all the fucked-up ways he worked you,
like the way you sat smiling,
punctured by all his fine-gauge needles,
that left him, invisibly, under your skin.
Like the way you still look for a certain kind of reassurance
from an older man whose confidence in you
includes the confirmation that nobody else is confident in you.
You should be grateful for him.
And the way you still feel relief when someone tells you
you’re safe, now, I’ve got you, come with me, I’ll walk you home.
Despite all the years you’ve spent walking your damn self home,
you can’t help it,
the way you know your next line, and believe yourself when you say it:
“Thank you for looking out for me.”
Never mind that business at the door.
And it’s okay to be delighted
when that safe, saving person whom you loved
(what you thought love was
and who loved you
(the only way he could love you)
(and so many others, you learn)
I mean, absolutely pounded by karma.
It's SO okay, girl.
It’s okay to smile.
It’s okay to toast his fall.
It’s okay to cry in public, too,
by the way.
It’s okay to look unhinged
when you’re swinging free,
unlocked from your frame,
until you spin to the ground like a wayward shutter.
It’s okay to stare at the sky and wait for what happens next.
It’s okay to laugh while you’re crying.
It’s okay to stop laughing.
It’s okay to discover a secret story
within the facts you’ve worn smooth over the years.
Funny story: turns out, this is not a funny story.
It’s okay to still love him.
Your heart will catch up.
It’s okay to believe he still loves you
the only way he can.
You’re not broken.
It’s okay to be terrible company.
It’s okay to have nothing to say.
It’s okay to be quiet.
It’s okay to wait.
You’re not broken,
and you’ll be more
Until then, it’s okay.
A version of this post originally appeared on the KatyKatyKate Facebook page, on August 6, 2018.