I am an almost perilously independent person. I’ve had to be since I was very young, and I’ve been grateful for the experience; being self-made is powerful. But every once in a while something rocks me to my core, and when it does I’m as incapable of disguising my heartbreak as if I had trackmarks running up and down my arms. Without disclosing any details (I rarely do about my love life), right now I’m as raw as an exposed nerve–it’s been hard to eat, hard to concentrate, hard to look in anyone’s eyes without welling up, hard to take in anyone’s story but my own. Even as I type this, my stomach feels like the bottom of a vat of acid, and my fingers are shaking enough that I’ve had to redo this sentence twice. As an intuitive and as a human cat, I’m uniquely ill-equipped for deliberate cruelty–for one thing, I can really spot it (it’s rarer that most realize)–and when I can’t step out of its way, it lays me flat. The only good part of these last few days has been the reminder that no one expects me to be as together as I do. This last year I have been shown again and again that even islands need shores. I am grateful for those willing to provide them even when my pain renders me as ugly and swollen and urgent as a broken face.