In our column Poetry Rx, readers write in with a specific emotion, and our resident poets—Sarah Kay, Kaveh Akbar, and Claire Schwartz—take turns prescribing the perfect poems to match. This column has run weekly for over a year, and now, our dear and busy poets must slow it down to once a month. Never fear — they’ll still be here, just a bit less often. This month, Claire Schwartz is on the line.
Two years ago, I came out of the closet to my family by introducing them to my girlfriend. They responded fairly negatively, expressing their disbelief (“we would have known if you were gay”) and disapproval (“it’s not something we believe in or support”). I have pushed back in many ways—bringing my girlfriend to family functions, being hypervisible online, and proclaiming the steadfastness and validity of my relationship in frequent and intense fights. In the wake of this, my relationship, which did not have a strong foundation to begin with and shouldered the normal fears and anxieties that accompany any romantic partnership, suffered greatly. The more unstable my relationship became, the more strongly I held on to it—I fought for her so hard in the public arena that I didn’t know how not to in the private one. At times, it was volatile and abrasive, yet I fought for it still.
After two years of what felt like pushing the boulder of “us” up a mountain, we decided to call it quits. Now I am both heartbroken over losing her and losing myself. In her absence, I am struggling to find mooring. How do you mourn a relationship whose primary purpose was to validate your queerness, both to yourself and others? How do you maintain an identity in the absence of the person it was formed around? Perhaps most of all, can I keep her in my life without making her my compass?
Broken Heart, Broken Self Read More