Getting Close

Who do I give my love to?

Can I return home? To something

lost, found, lost.

Myself, the barren cage,

Do you ever stop and breathe

in where I place your love

now?

 

Now. Sex is so commercialised, objectified, underrated and understated;

fearful and lust-driven;

you want me to give it

to you so badly ,

I don’t even get to quote

‘we made love’

anymore.

 

Being close with you has taken on

the same meaning

as talking

on the phone

with you for an hour.

 

*Artwork unknown- Pinterest*

Circling Cycles

And sitting with you

I get to relive exactly where I’ve been before.

Only days ago.

Come full circle.

My flip-book details the same seconds of

unrequited confusion and unwanted heart to neglect.

 

Life is made up of cycles.

All it is

are cycles breeding more cycles;

circles one can choose to stop circling

to replace it with another.

 

It is the mixture that we cycle through;

the number of repeats,

the speed with which we tumble, and roll,

and dive head-first into an oblivion with all the colours

of artworks and fireworks, vibrancy and vitality.

The people who make up small cycles, large cycles,

the in-between lonely transition between new circles and loops

to contemplate, fight, submit under gentle lulls and thrilling loops,

that we educate ourselves to thrive upon, those that

we unlearn because of disappointment.

 

Each cycle doesn’t make it the

love affair it once was.

The friendship it could have been.

The tempting mirage of escape we were to each other.

The fuel and coursing fire that once was our motivation.

It doesn’t get simpler to manoeuvre the longer you cycle,

with you, without you, around you, for you, because of you,

too scared to lose you…

it’s still the same sticky sharp bend in the pipeline

the same foreplay of games;

‘now, who loves you most?’;

fingered silences’;

your heated chase and me always one step behind;

I have to branch off the loop

to prevent myself falling over you in the dark;

toxicity bubbling under surfaces red, raw,

swollen and teary;

I know my triggers.

My shotgun is you.

I know I feel something- to not feeling anything at all.

 

I may only be able to walk in circles,

but at least I can make them the right circles to trace.

I need that physical space; that walk-through

corridor in my head.

 

And now I get to sit with you,

realising I’ve been here all before,

not quite so long before.

Only days ago.

Come full circle.

And I think it’s time for me,

to be over your cycle.

 

On to the new circular track.

And the later loops and whirls I get to

embrace

on my rounds.

Well and truly,

over you.

 

*Drawing-Tamara Fraser (me)*

 

 

 

Worn Commitments

Split in multiple planes;

multiple people have my attention;

required, commanded for

worlds of impossible feats.

 

A weight that pulls my

organs down when I breathe,

everything nestled nicely in hollows;

baskets of worn commitments,

processes, compartments, adjusting,

facing, observing, ignoring, accepting,

surrendering and in-between.

 

The struggle of breathing life fluid,

with monumental wars to rage alone,

ground to cover,

hearts to find and splits to mend,

ragged seams pulled looser and frayed

with broken nails and obsessive picking

at all the edges you have to smooth over

right

now

for all those people who sunk their hooks

into your slender sides.

 

For all those people you took on,

because being alone

with yourself,

with your own puppet you hate playing

is just a grim, perpetual falling fate.

For all those people who now rely

on reeling in catches and

using you as bait, as lure for all

the killing silence and explosive wounds of

love and feelings and unturned stones of chapters

gone misread.

 

When it all gets too much,

beyond the distant spot of horizon

at the centre of every image your mind takes,

every shot of colour and every blast of sparks,

all these fucking mind games.

I get to try and hand them on to someone else;

hot parcels of overcooked burdens,

I slide onto your plate this time.

 

Half of me is still tied up to

this invisible thing-

waiting for someone

to realise something

over you-

 

“I’m sorry”

is just sorry

without the commitment.

 

*Artwork unknown*

 

Paper and Pencils

Stares.

Like piercing holes through

paper with pencils, gripped

hard.

 

Uncertainty, the games…

Deceit.

Back-and-forwards toss;

give me a different card,

and I’ll have to deal with it.

All your infernal mind-games.

 

You become the object of the game.

 

The world favours the charismatic.

Or so I’ve been told.

Like piercing holes through

paper with pencils;

accidentally written words too raw and edged

and bitten back in time to shed blood.

 

I guess I’ll only wish to heal them then.

Those words I have to say to you.

Those words I’ve already said to you.

 

*Artwork unknown*

Our Insecurities (photoshoot session)

This project is about womens’ insecurities and being able to voice the truths behind them, rather than the fears we hide from each other, and even ourselves.
I wanted to look at vulnerabilities. We already know that vulnerabilities make us seen when we are truly, most beautiful. Vulnerabilities are what makes relationships explosive, nurturing, addictive and the happiest commitments we can make for ourselves and others. Vulnerabilities are powerful moments, yet often are shrouded and infrequent because of how daunting they can be. I know this, you know this, we all do; my mental health and depression exploits this the most.

I set out to interview my close community to do some general investigation about what women in particular feel shamed about, feel insecure, make them hide behind other avenues with certain people. Women are not simply insecure around just men, they remain a driving factor, but women can be insecure amongst themselves too.

Every single interviewee, from teenagers to adults, gave me their first answer as body image: how they look, how others see them, before themselves even. Even in what aims to be a body positive, embracing and pro self-love society, it’s disturbing to note everyone still feels body and image conscious.
The second response was of a sexual nature; insecurities about sex, performance, partners, romantic entanglements, the mystifying thing that is consent (because it is WAY more complicated than ‘yes/no’), the subtle transition to something much more sexualised, much more sinister like rape, emotional abuse, objectivity and the cruel judgements made upon others.
The third mention was of life goals and events, the nervous parts of life; career worries, what is success?, personality, bullies, modesty expected of women, the insecurities around being a wife, a mother, peer pressures, mental health, sexual orientation, tricky self-worth and selfishness vs selflessness. Introverted vs extroverted, I noticed all the opposites and just how complex the reality is.

When I posed the question “what are your personal insecurities, how do you feel about them?” these are all the words that appeared. From real people, in real time, over a very real, raw and intimate question. I’m also proud to say, it helped. All the contributors, people I questioned including my own answers and insecurities, they all responded they felt much lighter and much more liberated and all it took was for them to voice what they had hoped to keep away from them for so long. Everyone began to feel more comfortable, more open, less tense and withdrawn around me and their daily influx of people, after mentioning single words at me. Me noting them, and letting them hang there; not questioning why or how, but just accepting that talking is the very first step to healing. It’s like once you commit to the initial drafts of a project, you’ll then always at least have the ability to finish it. That opportunity is open, so long as you start somewhere.

And the same principle applies. Making things open, is the first way to raise awareness and address a problem, yes? Hence our insecurities and vulnerabilities can be comforting after we look at them, voice them, and importantly create a safe environment where they can be looked at from a positive place.
So I’ve tried to embrace vulnerability much much more. I’ve painted my insecurities alongside others’ on my bare back, to get use to their feel. By running this site, by writing my poetry, by incorporating my experiences and therapy and feelings as well as those that have wanted to have a voice here as well. I’m open for anyone to message and become part of the community. I’ve opened up my loves, my abuse, my struggles, my cycles, my unruly yet routine patterns and every relationship I’ve encountered from this absolute game change onwards, has seen me show more of myself than I would usually be accustomed or comfortable with.

But vulnerability is much more complicated than to be expected. It’s about giving things a chance to show, to not expect similar extraordinary feats in return. Vulnerability comes down to being anything and everything at once; any action, any missed action.  These photos represent me coming to some mutual understanding with them; to hopefully make it seem ok to vent and confide about these little vulnerabilities.

I am just an ordinary woman; who rides the bus to uni every morning, who cooks and cleans and showers before bed. Who falls for the wrong men and misses the right ones, who dresses up to feel beautiful when she feels so low, who makes treating her acne her personal religion, her constant fight to be more social, more outgoing, more sexy, more bold, meets more people, wins more hearts, travels through more love affairs. I reach the same life hurdles, the same joys and overcome as many defeats as any woman.

And this is what makes this shoot extra special and a powerful project for me; I’m just me. An ordinary woman. I’m not a model. I have cellulite, and curves and scars and irritated skin, I have imperfections. This idea is about looking at womens’ modern challenges and vulnerable places and wouldn’t be real if this was some high-flung, expensive professional shot with a professional model, a woman who would be there to make you feel betrayed by your own skin and bone and body.

I don’t want this to read like every other thousands of entries about positive body image, or embracing shapes and tones and sizes. About pushing aside skinny models and superimposing other ideals into us, about how to feel, behave look and embrace the way we look. Because that simply isn’t the goal and doesn’t work. Knowing all the questions and variety of young girls, to adult, older women I asked to contribute to the writing on my back, every single person mentioned body image and ‘how they look’ as still their number one insecurity…so obviously our society has put more pressure on something we aimed to remove.

And so my biggest insecurity is not my body, after this project. I love every nook and line of it, and this project has been a remarkable way of facing that fact. I took some real photos, untouched, that let me see the imperfections and lines and blemishes that exist in real time. I could now pick parts I felt most uncomfortable about, and bits I loved. But on the whole, using photography to capture a body that’s real, was fabulous.  A fact I have come to realise I am exceptionally proud of, and I only wish every other woman could begin to recognise the fact their individual bodies are beautiful too. They take care of us, and I worship all human forms in their ability to do just that.

No, it is not skin, or fashion, or personality, or bruises and scars, or decisions and judgements, or toned summer bodies, or eating only juice and tiny crumbs of decent things, or being sporty and sprightly, or going out all the time, dressing up all the time so you get to see me at my best, my most made-up, my least realistic face.
It is relationships, for me. They are my biggest insecurity.
It is sex. Intimacy. How you view me when I simply stand before you silent. Turning off the lights every time we come near each other and take our clothes off. Allowing myself to be vulnerable, even with loves nowhere near as open with me. Jacky O’Shaughnessy, the 62 year old model for American Apparel noted something sincere that I think applies to a lot of women, particularly myself. She noted that she felt the most insecure standing naked in front of a man, but at the same time, she also felt the most beautiful standing naked in front of a man.

All these photos remain unedited; no polish over my bruises, no layered make up to become a woman of powder and contour apart from lipstick (the staple), no invisible shifting and shaping, no down-grade in size, no smoothing of wrinkles or dreaded cellulite. Even the lighting and the room was exactly as it appeared. For the sake of modesty, my lower half has been removed but I can tell you, the cellulite and squat height and big thighs, they were all there; all of me.

This is what empowerment looks like. This is how I explore a woman’s many vulnerabilities, insecurities and fears and release their burden on me, on us. Release and stretch out from our deep sadnesses, our moments of unequivocal self-shaming to bring us back to the honest truth; we are beautiful. In ourselves, despite the sex or the images or the activity, or the feelings or the cutting remarks we make of each other in order to try and find out this truth. We are beautiful.

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*Model: Tamara Fraser (me)
Photography: Hannah Robertson
Contributors: My dear close friends and family members I am so grateful they unburdened their insecurities with me to make this shoot real.*

Mistress In The Night

The numbers of men that asked me

for my sexual favours

is disgusting.

They implied them under soft looks, and sparkling charm.

They implied them when I fell into their fabricated reveries,

wistful romances and unbidden expectations.

They implied them when they hurriedly stripped me of my clothes

and went inside too soon.

They implied them from the very start.

 

Mistress of the night to abandoned,

loner lovers

of the coldest stone.

 

Sometimes, I was foolish.

To expect something a little more after,

like the love affair with a delicious taste.

But my taste never lasted long in their mouths.

 

They swallowed and ate too quickly.

 

*Artwork unknown- Pinterest*

 

Lost To You

I’m placed between your thumb and forefinger,

like a delicate specimen;

you would howl to see me

lost

to you.

 

All I can feel,

is that I’m one bad-arse narcotic

that

everyone

wants

to use as the

temporary

replacement.

Leaving earth to greet heavenly fantasy,

return to earth and greet reality.

Fantasy can never meet realty.

When you need a buzz, quick fix, roll-over-and-fuck-me,

craze, escape, high, exhilaration,

thrill, choice joint to smoke

choice dope to taste.

 

You get to feel high off my body,

hallucinate to my laughter,

get comfortable with my movements.

I get to be the substance locked in snap-lock bags,

passed around in secret amongst dirty hands,

thick hands;

fingered and rolled and breathed in, licked and tasted like precious escape.

 

I’ll become the gift, forgotten to be given over,

because it’s a dangerous cocktail of not being enough,

and being the exact thing you want to keep for yourself.

Kept in secret, kept as a prize,

kept as an ego boost, a rationed sweet,

the very thing always denied.

 

I get to wait for you,

to come back to me.

Crawl on your knees and hide the words you

clearly say;

and it’s a little disappointing.

For you, of all and everyone,

to admit you need my drug.

And I get to wait for you,

biting lips and drawing blood,

mental fog and drowned heartbeats in shakes and quakes,

time lost dedicated to shouting your name in my head,

time lost getting clothed to be unclothed,

in the dark,

on clandestine dates,

dark rooms, silent phones,

standstill and empty pants.

 

I can’t find safety hiding.

I can’t find safety in the open, being prowled upon,

dusted and polished and robbed

of my body

of my deserving commitment

of my feelings traded to be your

low key

replacement

until your other lover

comes back

walks in on me naked

with you.

It’s ok.

My work here is done.

 

I’m disappointed you would ask such a thing of me.

I’m disappointed so many of you have.

 

I learn to find a home in the most vacant of places.

Lost between the naked form of you,

legs sprawled for each other,

and the naked ghost you sleep with on the opposite side of the bed,

with me there.

 

To hide with people that hurt me the most;

to hide for the sake of people that hurt me the most;

to learn to be the escape you crave the most;

to learn to be the temporary fix, the temporary her you need the most.

 

I can only see it crashing down when she walks back in,

and you see me as the empty husk you like to stroke

and I see you as the man I hoped wasn’t so empty.

But you’re empty, scooped out like an empty ice cream tub.

You’re cold and melted too.

 

Any addiction can be solved with discipline.

It’s time for me to train you out of me, off me.

I don’t have to be insecure, because you seem to be.

 

Bye Bye Grenade.

 

*Artwork unknown*

Waiting For You

I am waiting for you.

I have been since your last call;

the last words that left your lips,

the way they shaped each sound,

crisp with feeling;

the last hold I received,

warm hands withdrawn into the cold.

 

And now I’m busy playing your constant, forever

eternal mind games;

waiting for an end I know has to happen,

and waiting for you to make your moves and marks,

haunting mistakes or gracious choices,

whatever they happen to be in your mind.

 

And now I’m busy holding my heart in my hands,

watching all the people pass me waiting on the dirty street,

feeling awkward,

feeling stood up,

nursing it from the rain

and polluted breaths of people eyeing off my treasure,

smoke steaming from gaping mouths and sharp exhales,

like cascades of shining gems and mounds of

glorious entitlements, rolling down dreams

to those huddled beneath the city lights.

 

And now I’m busy deciding how long to keep

holding it.

Or to place it back inside it’s chest;

to thrum and pulse alone regardless, because I told it to.

 

And now I’m busy trying to adjust,

to leave this alone,

move my feet and leave my post,

waiting for you.

Keeping me and you alive is exhausting.

Draining nuture and tears, touches and examinations

to check that we are ok.

Are we ok?

I haven’t heard from you in weeks, but

you said you would be here.

To tell me your answer.

To make all this relentless pressure in my skull,

tension in my body

go away.

What happened to you not being the bad guy?

Like everyone who trailed crumbs of running-out love,

driving to me though the gas tank has finite space,

and held out commitment as they cowered behind it.

 

I haven’t heard from you.

And I desperately need to hear from you.

Should I stay, or should I go?

Are we meeting halfway, or are you expecting me to walk to you?

But I’m not.

That has never been my plan.

 

I haven’t heard from you.

And I don’t know if I want to anymore.

Or whether I should just make this stop.

Whether I should stop denying it, and commence the

pain that stems with loneliness myself.

To be honest with myself that it is what I have to feel.

To escape from you.

 

And let myself

breathe and mouth the words

‘I miss you’

to the empty air.

 

*Artwork unknown- Pinterest*