I had been wanting to cry for weeks but couldn’t. The grief was trapped in my chest and throat and my entire body began to feel heavy, weighed down by it. The first night he fell asleep with his arms wrapped around me was the first time I heard his heart beat. I started to cry. I was scared to wake him, scared to wet his skin with tears and yet I wanted to say thank you.
During my session with the dominatrix, she said, “Put all your weight on me.” I was naked, lying across her lap and she felt that I was holding back. I did as she commanded because I wanted to please her, be a good sub, a pretty little sex toy. Months later, during my cranial sacral therapy session, the therapist said, “Put all your weight on me,” and I said, “I’m scared to hurt you.” She said, “Honey, I can hold 300 pounds,” and I said, “I’m still scared to hurt you.”
“You’re not scared to hurt me,” she said. “You’re scared to let go.”
“But you know that,” he says. “You know me.”
I say, “I don’t know you.”
“Oh, you know me a lot better than most.”
“No,” I insist. “I don’t know you at all.”
What I’m saying bothers him, so I pretend like I’m teasing. I say I don’t know you with a smile and even punch him lightly on the shoulder. This man and I have worked together, we’ve been friends, we’ve fucked and now when we embrace, when our bodies touch, I can’t smell him or feel his warmth. All I feel is an invisible energy that is thick and ever expanding. It creates space between us and to articulate this space I say I don’t know you.
She holds me and says, “Your fatigue is coming from your thoughts.” She says, “They are like rocks in your head.”
She pauses. There is a long silence and we both close our eyes.
She says, “You are worthy.” She says, “You don’t have to hustle for your worth anymore.” I’m lying down on her table and tears are falling down the sides of my face. I feel them wet my temples.
I say, “But I’ve been hustling for it all my life. How do I just start believing I’m worthy? When do I begin?”
She looks at me with a lot of sass and I laugh and say, “Now. I begin now.”
She says, “Exactly right.”
After the cranial sacral session, I stand on West 20th street and what seems like millions of people move around me. I don’t feel out of place, I don’t feel overwhelmed by the city. I feel like I’ve fallen into a different rhythm, my true tempo. My body is relaxed, my mind is quiet and what rises is this sentence: Everything in my life must change.
Zoë Ruiz is the managing editor of The Rumpus. She studied creative writing at UC Santa Cruz. She curates READINGS, a reading series in Los Angeles.