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february antivenom

Dearest, Words fail me after how I left us the last time we spoke. I'm still so tired and so furious, but I wanted to focus on something good in this letter. I'm saying this all through gritted teeth. I want to talk about something good. Something good.

Was February good to you? I know there are all sorts of expectations that bind this month down, cold ropes clamping wrists to some high hanging branches. I hope that's never kept you from living February. It's the month that sets the tone for the rest of the year, a color brought into the light once the whirlwind-fog of holiday and optimism has had a chance to settle. If the year starts out yellow, it's not until February that you find out it's gold or piss. (We're here together to make sure it's gold!) It would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity to influence the start of the year just because we were so focused on romance, or lack thereof. But tell me about your February! I genuinely want to know. Now that the month is over, love's toxicity and power is in clear, sober view. I know, I know. It seems silly to talk about love just because February contains Valentine's Day--hackneyed, almost. And I don't think there's anything I can say that hasn't been said by more intelligent and loving people than I. But I think all there is is love. Yes, there are plants and animals and buildings and food and jobs, but at the end of the day, the only thing that makes a difference in an otherwise monotonous and meaningless existence is love. I don't mean life isn't worth living if you aren't in a romantic relationship. Every love adds its weight to life's meaning. One time a girl I was in love with took two weeks to decide to break up with me, and while I was wasting away in bed, my younger brother bought me a holographic Charizard Pokemon card. It was a small gesture, but it meant the world to me. It reminded me that I had other people in my life who loved me dearly. I'll never forget it. ​

​ Speaking of which, I think a big reason I started writing letters to you is because of my failed attempts at love last year. (I covered that in my first letter.) But as much of a failure as I've been, I love love. I'm a sucker for a real, True love story (capital "T" intended). But I think most love stories do us a lot of harm. They poison our expectations because they're not as obviously fictional as Black Panther or Harry Potter (Pottermore sorted me into Slytherin, by the way. Which house are you?). I think we sabotage ourselves by believing those stories, by expecting love to do something it simply cannot do. Romance won't save you. It can't. This is something I know is true, but have a hard time believing. I don't want it to be true, you know? I think, if I could only find that person, I'll be happy. If I spill enough of my guts, if I accept enough of someone's flaws, if I sacrifice enough of myself... But it's never worked. That's the problem with most love stories, even the ones we tell ourselves in our own heads: We're the ones telling them. So we don't tell love stories as they are, but rather as we wish they would be. And then we consume these stories and shoot them into our veins and they stick to our ribs, pressing down on our hearts, suffocating us. But I want to be breathe this year. I want to be free. I want you to be free, too. I'm letting go of my anger about not getting my way in romance. I've realized how bad those people were for me. But I'd be lying if I said wasn't depressed or scared anymore. I often question the point of being vulnerable, and while I'm not scared of getting hurt, I do still fear someone turning on me again and putting me in physical danger. I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm torn between getting back to believing that vulnerability is all-important and going further into the belief that there's really no point. I often feel silly sharing pieces of myself -- and yet it's hard to stop. I know a part of me wants to stay open. While all that shit that I told you about last month was going on, I was opening myself to someone, and it was wonderful. It kind of fizzled out, but I got some good poems out of it, and while it's not enough, I think it was important to hold onto that scrap of my humanity during that time, right? I still think it's important. So I'm keeping it going, here with you. And I want you to do the same. With the stuff you're going through right now, I want you to hang onto that big, beautiful heart of yours. This big fucking heart that you earned. We just have to be careful not to hide. Because it's easy to feign vulnerability. There's the philosophy of "If you tell everyone everything, no one can use it against you," which I find compelling -- if your goal is to avoid pain. If. You wear vulnerability like armor. But that strategy is flawed given the fact that you only get one life (or only one that you remember, depending on what you believe). You close yourself off to the beauty of real intimacy. But I don't want to wear vulnerability like armor. I want to use it like immunity. You take in everything, the good, the bad and the poison, but the poison can't kill you. Broaden your heart until it's so big no amount of venom or terror can make it stop beating. You remove the receptors on your cells for receiving the venom. Poisons are just chemicals, and they can only affect you if your body knows how to process those signals. In other words, you take the open yourself up to heartbreak, but you don't let it break you.

I'm working hard on this. These letters are as much for me as they are for you. So let's practice. Since we're in this together, would you tell me something you've been afraid to tell people lately? I won't tell anyone, I promise. Or at least tell me about the last time you were vulnerable? Did it go well? I hope it went well. I want you to be happy and warm and safe.

Love, bread, and antivenom, Lex

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