I practice saying: I forgive you- in the mirror over and over again; I do not really want to forgive him for everything he did to me- nor do I really have to forgive him; but sometimes forgiveness helps with survival; sometimes it is the only thing that will keep your heart beating; I imagine what it would be like to not be a victim; I question if I am even a victim at all; I talk to the moon in the darkness of the night; lay all of my secrets bare for her; the world is falling apart around me; I feel it falling apart within me as well; I dial the number to the rape hotline- hang up after the first ring; how can I describe to someone else what I am feeling- when I am not even sure what I am feeling myself; I dial again- hang up on the second ring- because I know they will ask me the question I dread the most; the question every single therapist and counselor I have ever spoken to has asked me; the question that always brings the conversation to a halt; the question that almost always makes me want to hang up; the question- what can I do for you in this moment- is there anything I can do right now to help; the simple answer is- I do not know; I do not know what I need- or what I want- or how to live one more second in a mind that seems so determined to hurt me; I do not know how to get to safety- or where it lives- or how long it will take to get there; I look down at the number once more; hover my finger above it for another few seconds; turn off the phone; look up at the moon- beg her to please watch over me tonight; I whisper- I forgive you- over and over again; as I will sleep to come save me; I am not sure if I am begging for forgiveness for myself; or if I am still trying to forgive him.
It was supposed to be some sort of an apology; it started out as an apology-but somewhere along the way it turned into a list of things that is wrong with me; the sink has been dripping throughout this entire conversation- the longer the conversation goes on- the louder the sink seems to drip; you are getting closer and closer to me; your breath is hot on my face- and I cannot pinpoint the exact smell- but I do not like it; I am staring at the wall behind you- it is not particularly interesting- but it is better than staring into your eyes; a flicker of flames seem to be dancing inside of them; in this moment your eyes hold so much hatred; I do not remember ever seeing love in your eyes; I am sure it was there at some point- but it must have been long ago; thunder is rolling in the distance as wind whips across the trees; I do not see a way out of whatever this is; I can feel my lip quivering; I berate myself in my head for showing even the slightest sign of weakness; like an animal- I know you can smell fear.
The world collectively goes to sleep- as my nightmares cast shadows on the walls; tonight- the same as so many other nights- I am completely alone; last night- I dyed a strip of my hair- hoping to reclaim a part of myself; tonight- I will dye another- hoping this tiny act of rebellion will help me claim my body back; it is funny- yet not funny at all- that the only thing separating me from him- are these streaks of blonde and blue throughout my hair; the only thing separating me from him- are my tattoos and my piercings; because in all of these- I had a choice; choice- the most important thing a human can have; while the world falls asleep- I will be planning out the next way I will be able to make a choice about my own body; I will watch as my nightmares play out in front of me; tomorrow- I will belong to no one and everyone.
*April is an important month to me. Not only is it National Poetry Month, but it is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. These two events collide in my world in an unfortunate way, but I am taking that pain and turning it in to something, that I hope in a way, can be beautiful. I am also taking control of what happened every time I write a poem. I know that what I write is not for everyone and I respect that, but I hope people can respect me and understand why I am writing these poems. Thank you to those who read and support my poetry and have nothing but positive things to say.*
Tonight when I cry the whole world will fall to its knees; tonight everyone will know the pain I feel; behind these walls I know I am nothing- but I try to pretend I am everything; when I cry tonight I will not promise myself this will be the last time; there is no shame in crying; no shame in reaching deep into yourself and prying out the broken; when I cry- do not tell me everything is okay- because nothing is okay right now; right now- my body needs to fall apart- in order to put herself back together; tonight- my body belongs to me- I will cherish every second she belongs solely to myself; the walls surround me; create a false hope of safety; the world outside is so big; behind these walls I know I am nothing- but I try to pretend I am everything.
Today’s blog is going to be dedicated to my February reading wrap-up! I did not read as many books this month as I did in January, but I still managed to read quite a few. In the month of February I read 8 books. Here are the 8 books I read:
- Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre
- The Edelweiss Sisters by Kate Hewitt
- One Year Gone by Avery Bishop
- Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
- Girls of Glass by Brianna Labuskes
- Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena
- The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
- Burned by Ellen Hopkins
This was not my best reading month ever, but I still think it was a pretty good one. None of these books were the best I ever read, but I did really enjoy pretty much all of them. My favorite book this month I would say is The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I found it to be well written and an exciting thriller. I also really enjoyed Burned by Ellen Hopkins and I look forward to reading the sequel.
My least favorite I would say is Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. I think I can handle books that are more disturbing or dark, but this one was even too much for me at times. I also felt the book ended super abruptly and I wish there were a little bit more to the ending. This book actually slowed me down quite a bit because it was so dark I had to read it slowly because at times it just became too much.
Overall, I would recommend each book that I read this month. I did not regret reading any of them or feel that any of them were a waste of my time. I will do more thorough reviews of each of these books throughout the month, so be on the lookout for that! I am excited to see how many books I read this month and if any of them will become my new favorite!
Girls of Glass by Brianna Labuskes had such an unexpected ending to me, I can’t stop thinking about it. I love a thriller that at the end completely twists another way and surprises me. A lot of times I can figure out the ending before I get there, but this one I had no idea what was to come.
Sterling Burke is a powerful Judge in Florida. When his granddaughter goes missing it is all hands on deck to find her. For Detective Alice Garner, this case brings up a past trauma from her own life, the kidnapping and murder of her own daughter. Alice is reluctant to cast any blame on Charlotte Burke, the little girls mother, because she knows her position in this all too well. As detectives are working on the case they begin to pull up secrets from the family that they have buried from years. As time goes on they realize this family is not as perfect as it seems, but would one of them go as far as kidnapping a little girl to keep the secrets from coming out? And Alice’s own life is becoming tangled within this case and secrets and lies from her are beginning to surface.
I thought this book was well executed and well written. It was very different from so many thrillers I have read before. Even though most of the characters had a lot of characteristics that were unlikable, ultimately they were still likable. That can be super hard to achieve as an author, but Labuskes had no issues with that. As mentioned previously, the twist at the end ultimately really surprised me.
I gave this book 3.5/5 stars. I know some people really did not like it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t find it to be unrealistic or that the ending was too much. I thought it was well thought out and something different from how these books typically go. I can understand where other people are coming from, but I really enjoyed it. I have read one other book by this author and I really enjoyed that as well. I definitely look forward to reading more books by her!
One Year Gone by Avery Bishop was a very interesting read. It was different and had a plot twist I wasn’t really expecting. I wouldn’t say it was the best book I ever read, but it was entertaining and a quick read.
Jessica Moore’s seventeen year old Daughter, Wyn, vanished a year ago. The police determine she is a run away and basically stop looking for her. Since it has been a year since her disappearance Jessica has given up hope that Wyn is going to come back. Except for one night, Jessica receives a few text messages from Wyn stating she is in danger, she thinks he is going to kill her, and her kidnapper wears a badge.
This book drew me in right from the beginning. I just wanted to find out what happened to Wyn. I found the characters in this book to be likeable and sympathetic. Especially Jessica, her pain was palpable throughout the novel. I also liked the multiple viewpoints and that you got to hear things from Wyn’s perspective leading up to her disappearance. The ending was ultimately a surprise to me. I didn’t really see it coming. It was definitely an interesting ending.
Overall I rated this book 3/5 stars. If you like thrillers and fast paced stories I would recommend this book. It is one of those books that is ultimately going to end up being a bit forgettable to me, but I am still glad I read it and I also would not hesitate to recommend it.
Reminders of Him is Colleen Hoover’s newest release. The novel was one of her best yet. It was real, it was raw, and it was beautiful. This is hands down one of my favorite Colleen Hoover books. If you are looking for a book to get you back in to reading, this is it!
This novel was about Kenna Rowan who has just been released from prison for a tragic mistake. She has spent the past five years in prison and now that she is out all she wants is to get her four year old daughter back. No one in her daughter’s life wants Kenna to get her back and she is determined to do whatever she has to do. Kenna ends up falling for Ledger Ward, a local bar owner, but he is the last person she should be falling for. They have to decide if it is worth seeing each other and potentially losing the trust of everyone who is important in their lives.
I found this book to be beautifully written and very moving. After reading this I was wishing for another book with these characters because I did not want to let them go. Nothing super surprising happened in this book, but I felt that it did not need to. I think this book did a good job of showing that some people may make terrible mistakes, but that does not make them a bad person. Kenna’s journey was inspiring and eye opening. You should never judge someone for past mistakes and this book portrayed that beautifully.
I gave this book 4.5/5 stars. I would love to read this book again later on down the line at some point. I wish I hadn’t read it yet, so that I could experience it all over for the first time again.
Be sure to check out my Instagram: @bookswithmadelyn for more updates!
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover is a tear-jerker for sure. It is realistic, beautiful, painful, and just overall a very important book. This for sure is one of my favorite Colleen Hoover books. After I finished the book I kept thinking about it. It is also one of those books I plan to read again in a few years.
In this novel Lily has just graduated from college and moved to Boston. One night she meets Ryle Kincaid, who is a neurosurgeon. She finds herself immediately drawn to him and he feels the same way. Ryle Usually has a very strict no dating rule, but he is willing to make an exception for Lily. Not long after Ryle and Lily get together, Atlas Corrigan suddenly reappears. With Atlas back in the picture, it threatens everything Lily has built with Ryle.
If you do read this book I would like to add a trigger warning because this book does talk about domestic violence. With that said, I think this book does an excellent job at depicting domestic violence and all of the feelings that come with it. All of the characters in this book are likeable, despite the bad stuff they may do, or have done. I think that is why this book is so important. It provides a first look into the question, “why didn’t you just leave?”. That question is so simple for such a complicated situation. There are many layers to the answer to that question and this book helps to break apart those layers.
I gave this book 4.5/5 stars. It was beautifully written and it handled a hard topic in such a graceful way. I also want to add as a quick side note, I always love the names of the characters in Colleen Hoover’s books. They are always so cool and different.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. If you like Colleen Hoover’s books I believe you will enjoy this one as well. Stay tuned for Friday’s post where I will be doing a review of her newest novel, Reminders of Him.
Be sure to check out my Instagram: @bookswithmadelyn to see more of what I am reading!
Layla by Colleen Hoover was definitely an interesting read. This week all of my blog posts will be dedicated to Colleen Hoover. Last month I read three of her books. I have read a couple of her books before as well. Usually, I really like her novels, but this one just didn’t do it for me.
Leeds meets Layla and he believes he will spend the rest of his life with her. But then, an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After Layla gets out of the hospital Leeds decides to take her back to the bed and breakfast they met at. He believes taking her back there will help recover her memories and help get their relationship back to what it once was. Leeds still feels distant from her though and finds comfort in Willow, another guest at the bed and breakfast.
The plot of this book sounded interesting to me, but then I started reading it. I was not prepared at all for what was going to happen in this book. I don’t think I have ever rolled my eyes so many times during a book. This book was like a car accident. As much as I hated it and wanted to stop reading it, I just couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what would happen, no matter how much it hurt me to read it. There is definitely an audience for this book, I am just not it.
I gave this book 2/5 stars. I would have given it 1 star, but I guess there were some good moments throughout the book. I usually really enjoy Colleen Hoover’s novels, but I just couldn’t get behind this one. I think if I knew more going in to it I may have been able to enjoy it more, but I am not positive about that.
I would never hesitate to recommend a Colleen Hoover book, but I don’t know if I would recommend this one. This one is hard to write about as well because I don’t want to give too much away. I guess I will leave it at this: read this book at your own risk.
As always be sure to check out my Instagram: @bookswithmadelyn to keep up to date on what I am currently reading!
My first book of the year was Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge. I found this novel to be wholesome and inspiring. I enjoy historical fiction novels, but I sometimes struggle with them because they are not fast paced and I find myself having to be in the right mindset in order to fully enjoy the book. I read a couple thrillers before this so I was definitely ready for a more slow-paced, coming of age novel.
This novel follows Libertie, who is a freeborn black girl in Reconstruction-ere Brooklyn. Her mother is a doctor and has dreams of Libertie following in her footsteps and the two of them being able to practice alongside each other. Libertie on the other hand, is more interested in the arts, and has no interest in science or becoming a doctor. Libertie ends up meeting a man from Haiti and he promises to bring her back to Haiti with him to live together and that she will always be his equal. Quickly though, Libertie realizes she will always be subordinate to him, and all men for that matter. Now she is questioning and trying to figure out what does it truly mean to be a free black woman.
I found this book to be really eye opening and the character of Libertie was written well. She was raw and real and sympathetic. Following her through her life and her struggles almost felt like an honor in a way. She was able to make you feel her frustrations, her hopes, her dreams, and her love. She was just trying to figure herself out, but also the meaning of freedom.
I gave this book 4.5/5 stars. I highly recommend the novel. I was able to learn a lot from it and I am sure others are as well. If you are looking for a good historical fiction, coming of age novel, with a strong female character, this one is for you.
Be sure to follow my instagram for book updates: @bookswithmadelyn
And be sure to stay tuned for next weeks posts which I am super excited for! I am dedicating all of next weeks posts to Colleen Hoover and will be reviewing three of her books. My posts go up at 10:00 AM eastern time, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, so be on the look out for those!
January felt literally like the longest month ever, but at the same time I am surprised it is already February. With the end of January, this post is dedicated to my January reading wrap-up! I read 12 books in January and honestly this was a great reading month for me. I read some of the best books I have ever read.
The twelve books I read this month were:
- Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- No Time to Say Goodbye by Kate Hewitt
- When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
- A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham
- Family Happiness by Laurie Colwin
- Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- Layla by Colleen Hoover
- Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover
- The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
Clearly, I went on a little bit of a Colleen Hoover binge towards the end. My least favorite on this list was definitely Layla by Colleen Hoover. Honestly, I don’t even know what to say about that book. I really did not like it. There is definitely an audience for it, but I’m definitely not it. I gave it 2/5 stars because I think there might be some redeemable qualities? But honestly, I don’t know. The book kind of broke my brain temporarily and I’m still trying to sort my thoughts from that book.
My favorite book was hands down The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Going into this my expectations were actually kind of low. I had been seeing the book everywhere and just kind of assumed the book was being over hyped, but that is definitely not the case. I would read that book over and over again if I could. If you do read it, I am just warning you now, be prepared to cry. I don’t cry a lot at books, but I sobbed at the end of this one. I can’t praise this book enough, so just do yourself a favor and read it.
There are some honorable mentions on this list as well. Reminders of Him was also really good and I sobbed at this book as well to be honest. I also cried at It Ends With Us so it was a big month of tears for me. If you are looking for a good historical fiction, coming of age novel, I would recommend Libertie I have not seen a lot about the book, but it deserves praise. I really enjoyed it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
I am excited to see what February brings and how many books I read this month. Especially with it being a shorter month. Let me know what you read this month! as always be sure to check out my instagram: @bookswithmadelyn to keep up to date with my current reads!
I have been thinking a lot lately about time and how as a society we are always on the go. We hardly ever live in the moment or slow down and take in what is going on right in front of us. There is so much pressure to always be working hard and when you take a break or slow down for a bit I find I feel like a failure in some way because I am not working hard enough or because I need a break. I often find myself rushing from one thing to the next. One morning I was rushing through trying to get my morning started. I had taken out my dog, Ellie, I brought her back in and fed her and my cat, Fiona. I was trying to get my list of things I needed to do that day started, but when I walked by my bedroom I noticed Ellie was sitting on my bed trying her best to look out the window with Fiona. Fiona has no trouble getting up to the windowsill so she can look out the window, but Ellie can’t get up there on her own and she needs me to hold her there so she does not fall off of it (she is quite clumsy and has no spatial awareness). I had things that needed to get done, but watching Ellie sitting on my bed trying to see the little bit that she could through the window made me stop and slow down. I walked in to my room and asked Ellie if she wanted to look out the window. It is one of her favorite things to do and she knows what the question means. Immediately she started wagging her tail and running towards me so I could pick her up and put her up on the windowsill. It had snowed the night before and all Ellie and Fiona wanted to do was stare at the snow lying on the ground and balancing in the trees. I could see the joy radiating out of Ellie and it was coming from such a simple thing. This all made me stop and really appreciate just living in the moment and appreciating the small things. I know this all sounds so cliche, but I could have easily ignored Ellie and kept moving on with my day, but because I stopped and slowed down and gave her that little bit of joy, in turn, I was giving myself a little bit of joy. And time. And forgiveness. We can learn so much from dogs and in this moment I learned so much from Ellie. Sometimes, we need to just slow down and look out the window and find joy in even the tiniest of things.
Sometimes, the silence that lingers- says what we cannot; it holds a key to all of the unspoken words; the words no one wants to say; the ones we are too afraid to admit to ourselves; I know all about silence- it is where I am most comfortable; it is where I live most days; silence does not bother me the way it does others; I find comfort in it; I find myself in it; some think it is a bad thing I am quiet- and maybe it is; but it has never bothered me; sometimes others talk too much- some things are better left unsaid; I have learned to enjoy the silence; sometimes that is when you learn the most about others; you can see who others really are- when all there is- is silence.
I picture what could have happened when I told you the truth- my truth; the story that has kept a hold on me for as long as I can remember; I imagined the moment so many times; I wrote a narrative and created a character you would never be able to play; being upset at your reaction-was my fault really; I set you to impossibly high standards; my mind created a version of you that will never exist; when I told you the first time- and you hardly reacted- I should have just left it there; I should have buried the secret back down and never brought it up again; it was my fault really- for thinking you would rally behind me- when you never really cared for my presence in the first place- at one point you did though- which is why I tried to tell you the truth; I honestly thought you forgot I even told you; until one night you bring it up again; once again- it is my fault for feeling hopeful; my heart beating uncontrollably fast when I think you might try to help me; just the thought of you believing me makes the darkness feel less vast; instead- you ask me why I would make up something like that- why I would even say such a thing; I feel the darkness swallow me whole; that night I read a book- the main character tells her truth; everyone she tells believes her; everyone she tells wants to help her; at one point I started crying so hard I could not even see the pages anymore; when I finish the book I throw it against the wall- as the words- why would you make this up- echo throughout my mind; the first time I watched my body being taken I felt like I was not even in the room; afterwards, the pain I felt- felt like it could not possibly be mine; it felt as if it should belong to someone else; I now picture what I wanted to happen when I told you the truth; you listen to every word I say; you ask questions- but do not get angry when I choose not to answer; you tell me you believe me; when I cry- you just let me; you tell me you believe me; it is so good to finally feel at home.
I live in a body that was never really mine; I count backwards from ten- try to find the number that will make all of this mean something; try to find the number that will convince me that all of this is okay; my assault is a story told in three parts; part one- your love is unconditional; you come to save me from the wreckage- you promise me you love me; you promise me you will not hurt me; I believe every word you say- even when I know better; part two- your anger begins to explode into small moments throughout the day; your dislike for me slowly becoming the loudest thing in the room; you tell me you know what is best for me; tell me you are helping me; you tell me I am always wrong- yet you still tell me that you love me; still promise me you will never hurt me; I still believe every word you say; part three- you steal my body from me- claim it as your own; when I feel you inside of me- I have to pretend to just not; I spend hours in the shower scrubbing away your touch; call a rape crisis hotline- hang up on the first ring; call again and again- only to just keep hanging up; I write down all of the reasons it is my fault; I ice the bruises- wash all of the wounds you left behind; try to call the hotline just one more time- but the fear and shame are just too persistent; the walls collapse around me- I see your face every time I close my eyes; there is a forgetfulness that takes over the memories- a wall that closes around my mind; I wish to forget every detail- yet I am fighting to remember any of the details; I call the hotline one last time- when the person on the other end reminds me I am not alone- I want to tell her that that is the problem- instead I just hang up; I check all of the locks three times; I look for the moon through my window- make sure she can see inside; I promise the moon I will make it to the morning; I follow the moon on my drive every morning; I thank her for getting me through another night; before I start my day- I count backwards from ten- try to find the number that will make all of this mean something; try to find the number that will convince me that all of this is okay- learn to accept- that maybe I will never be okay.
I trace the flowers planted out front; breathe in the love you once so seamlessly provided; it was just a spilled glass of water- yet always so much more to you; I return to the site of ache every night my foot touches the doorstep; I open the front door- careful not to keep it open for too long- for fear all of the bones of trauma that live here will tumble out; my body covered by the hands of your shame; I pray to the stars in the night sky- pray one day there will be a way out; behind these walls- only loneliness exists; I drown over and over again in the secrets I keep for you; I feel the ache between my thighs- the only proof I have you were ever here; my rib snaps in half; I offer you a part of it- I give you pieces of me in hopes it will feel less like you are taking all of me; guilt builds a home inside of my body- she invites shame to occupy every space you have not touched; when the blood comes- I will ignore it for as long as possible; the door to your love has been locked for a long time now; I follow the destruction you always leave behind; I carve more pieces out of my body for you; I spend nights scrubbing away your touch; to live in a body that has been raped- is to live with a silent ache only I will ever know is there; some of us can build a house made of stone- turn the trauma into strength; but what are you supposed to do- when the trauma seems to be breaking you- instead of making you stronger; what happens when you cannot build a house out of stone; what happens when you are simply too tired to rebuild what once was; how do you rebuild yourself- when you cannot follow the narrative everyone else has written; my body hollow and bruised; loneliness lives in every corner; I say goodnight- and I try to not mean goodbye; I watch my body being taken from me night after night; day after day; I watch the shame wash over me- she haunts me through every room I enter; my nightmares occupied by your face; I try to scream- but no sound ever seems to come; I cling to the idea that this is all just a dream- but the quiet ache always returns; I am bruised and broken; my soul damaged; I return to the site of ache- breathe in once- quietly push the door open- careful not to keep it open for too long- for fear all of my secrets- your secrets- will tumble out; my body always covered by the hands of your shame; to live in a body that has been raped- is to never fully own your body again.
We live with trust printed on the back of our hearts; drowning in all of your words hoping to believe the truth lies somewhere in them; your words left wounds; the same way your love does; it is not that I do not believe in your love; it is more that I stopped believing you when you told me you loved me; I think about your family often; I wonder if they miss you; or at least miss who you once were; but will never be again; I try to scrub myself clean of the memories of you; try to make all of the parts of me you have touched disappear; when the light comes shining in through my window just right- it almost does look like you love me; I do not know why I want you to love me; it would be much easier if you did not; it would be much easier if I would not let myself drown in all of the lies you cover me in; it is not that it always feels so impossible to fully love you; it is more that it feels like you want me to love you more than anything; yet you never want to reciprocate any of this love; I drag your love onto the grave site that sits on my heart; I worship the ghosts of the love that you were at one time able to provide; I wish over and over that you will one day turn back into the person you once were; I still drown in all of your words while I tirelessly search for the truth; believing it has to be hidden somewhere in there; no matter how far it is hidden- there are so many days where I am still determined to find it; determined to turn the wounds your love leaves back into anything else; I still look for the light to shine through just right- to prove the person you once were- still exists somewhere; even if it is hard to find.
This sadness is the gospel I worship every night; thoughts of ending it all race through my mind- more often than I would ever care to admit; I know too many people believe I choose this; there are so many days where I question whether or not I am making it all up; I worry what if I do like the suffering; maybe all of this suffering is what makes me interesting; I wonder what I would be without this sadness; what would happen if the trauma were to disappear; there are different things that make us whole; so many parts that make up who we are; what are you supposed to do when the parts of you that scare everyone else- make up most of who you are; I do not know who I would be without the skeletons of my trauma following me into every room I enter; the brokenness builds a home out of me; making me whole in a way others will never understand; when you have been broken for so long- sometimes it feels as if there is no other way too be; I am saying all of this to tell you- I am sorry if all of this is too much for you; I am sorry if my sadness makes you uncomfortable; I am working on building homes out of the happy moments; but it will take some time; the body has to build a tolerance to everything; and for now- my body is trying to figure out how to hold happiness.
Sometimes I feel the more I think about it the more control he has over me; if I pretend it never happened- maybe I can convince myself it never actually happened; no matter what the scars on my soul tell me; no matter how many nightmares I have; if you keep hiding from the truth- you might be able to convince yourself of anything; I convince myself that something else happened that night- anything else happened that night; except convincing yourself never really works- but what is the harm in pretending; what is the harm in ripping the truth out of yourself and throwing it into the ocean; hoping with each wave the truth of what happened will drown a little bit more; my truths cover the entire ocean floor now; when you swim in the ocean- be careful not to cut yourself on the shards of my secrets.
When I was 8 years old every girl in my class had a crush on a boy named Timmy; of course I said I did too- because the way they talked about him made it seem like he placed all the stars in the night sky; made it seem like if I did not like him- there was something wrong with me; I stared at him everyday of second grade trying to figure out why I could not see it; trying to figure out why I could not feel what every other girl so easily felt; that was the year I realized I was different; people do not always like different; from that year on I have buried myself so far into the closet there are days where sometimes I have to make sure that the door is still able to open; I have hidden this secret in the dark house of my bones and have let the shame of it nearly kill me; there are so many days I promise myself I will take this secret to the grave with me; from that year on I have become a girl who is made up of apologies; this closet keeps getting darker and darker; I cannot quite decide if I am more terrified of the dark; or the guilt and shame that always seem to come with it.
In another world- I think maybe this all would have made sense; in another world- I may have been strong enough to actually leave; I stand at the casket of your love- your love that never really existed- but I convinced myself it did anyway; your love that is now just bone ground into dust; I convince myself of a lot of things when I am with you; I will turn into whatever you want me to be- which I know is sometimes the problem; my sexual orientation is still the loudest thing in the room whenever I am with you; to you I represent all of the sins of the land; to love the way I do- is to throw flames into an already burning fire; I know you see this love as a sacrifice; you see me as the greatest burden to enter every room; I watch you fall; I watch the whole world collapse around us; yet I still do not know how to leave; I know there is another world- in which I am unfazed by the fact that you do not love me back; there is another world where you tell me you may never love me- I learn to not hope for anything different; I learn to not chase something that does not exist in the first place; the thing I am learning about this love- is there is always a wrong way to be something; there is always a wrong way to live; in this world- I spend no more time convincing you to love me; I take the time you have granted me and put the hours back into myself; I take the hours and build a home out of what I love; without you in my life- I have so much time; and so many glorious things to fill it with.
I tell her I am sorry- she has to leave now because I do not want her around; she refuses to leave, tells me it is not true; she says the truth is I have always wanted to be with her; she is not wrong; I always wondered what she would feel like, but I was never allowed to get to know her; my body carved hollow to only feel what they want me to feel; I think they may have forgotten about the grave- somewhere deep inside of me- holding all of the secrets- their secrets; she follows me every where some days- no matter what I do I can just not get rid of her; I hear whispers of her presence in every hallway I walk through; my chest tightens; heart beats faster; I beg her to just leave me alone- yet she still will not leave; she tells me she will not leave- because clearly I do not want her to; one day- I ask her what she wants- I ask her to explain to me why I cannot get her to leave me alone; I ask her- why is she here now; why did she not bother to show up when I was being raped- because if she showed up then- maybe together we would have been able to stop it; we sit in silence for a while; I tell her if she is going to stay she needs to give me time to get used to her; that is the thing about emotions- anger specifically; when you are not used to feeling them- when you are told you are wrong for feeling them- you will do everything in your power to send them away; which will just make them come back stronger; I look anger in the eye- tell her it is okay if she wants to stay around for a while; maybe letting her live in me will not be such a bad thing; maybe feeling different emotions- no matter how uncomfortable- can be a good thing; maybe with anger on my side- I will finally learn how to not just back down; I will finally learn it is okay to fight if you need to.
I am lying in my bed and surrounding myself with as many pillows as I possibly can- I am trying to make sure if he shows up in my dreams tonight- I will be prepared; my dog sleeps by my head most nights- and I like to think it is because she knows I can use all of the protection I can get; every night I carry out a ritual of made up safety; a ritual that is slowly turning into obsessions that I think may never really help- but I may never be able to stop; I will sleep under as many blankets as it takes to stop feeling so exposed; I will hide from him; I will hide from him until hiding no longer feels safe- and when it no longer feels safe I am not quite sure what I will do; the day he took my body from me- he also took my home; the day he took my body- he took everything; most nights I read until my eyes are burning- because the thought of going to sleep is just too scary; I do not want to see his face ever again if I do not have to; I wake one night to the sound of a scream and my dog frantically licking my face- it takes me a minute to realize that scream came out of me; I clutch the stuffed animal everyone makes fun of me for still sleeping with- as I try to slow my breath; my dog lays on my chest- we have been here too many times before- she knows exactly what to do; the more days that pass- the more I realize everything he has taken from me; the anger sits somewhere inside of me; each night I will add another step to the ritual; each night I will check the lock one more time than I did the night before; each night I will hate him a little bit more for making me do all of this; each night I will hope that carrying out this ritual does not make me more of a victim; I will hope that when I see him in my dreams tonight- this time I will finally learn how to run.
It was the first real day of summer; there was not a cloud in the sky and everything seemed to be going just right; when you asked me how I could still be sad on days like this- I knew my depression would always be a burden to you- my anxiety an unwanted guest; I do not know how to explain to you that so many days are dark days for me; they consume me whole as they tell me I am not important; which is to say- I do not always know why I am here; one day you ask me why I cannot just go back to the way I used to be; the problem is- I do not quite know who that is anymore; on my darkest days- the rain forests move into my heart; all the thunder cracks in my chest- as forest fires erupt in my stomach; all of the water in the world takes over my own body- drowning me in my own thoughts; on these days- my own bones turn against me- the unwanted voices do not stop; on my dark days- I am not asking you to fix me; I do not need you to tell me not to worry or to not be sad; I do not need you to play god- because that is too much to ask of the both of us; we both know this depression and anxiety are here to stay- even if you cannot accept that; when the dark days come- and I promise you they are going to come- all I need is for you to sit with me- to please just accept my sadness for what it is; to offer me a life raft- but please, do not be mad when I do not always want to take it; to ask me where does the quiet live; and how long will it take to get us there.
Every morning the bright yellow ball caresses the earth- demanding everyone to be aware of its existence; always rising in the east and setting in the west- its presence will forever be counted on; but- with light- always follows darkness; when the light begins to fade- the darkness will shortly follow; this darkness creeps in ever so slightly; until- all in an instant there is nothing but blackness surrounding you; but- when the light fades to dark- there is one thing you can always count on; the magnificent ball of light will always rise again; and the beauty it beholds will take everyone’s breath away all over again.
She felt like a flower wilted and alone- the way he undressed her with a single look; she felt like a flower- one that had been picked and left to die- he knew all of her insecurities and made sure to make them visible to every eye; she felt like a flower- but not the kind that everyone loves- he made her unlovable- yet she lusted after him even so; she felt like a flower- but not like a rose whose beauty is always alluring- he has taken all of her beauty as he touches her without care; she felt like a flower- whose petals have been ripped off one by one- he has taken every piece of her; including her soul; she felt like a flower- yet not so much anymore- he has taken the garden inside of her; leaving her vacant- with nothing but shattered petals- surrounding her whole.
Books have been the safest home I have ever known; when I read I can be anything I want- the outside world no longer matters; I open a book and it casts away all of the darkness the universe holds in its fists; as I read I find myself in the details- through books I find the strength in being quiet- I find the strength in being who I am- you see, the books never judge me for who I was or what I am or who I will be; they open their pages for all of me; I cast forth my hopes into these books and let the pages hold them as a prayer; reading has become my religion because these books are the only thing that can keep me safe from my own mind; when my body is no longer the safe place I want it to be- I drop to my knees and worship my bookshelf as I search for the story of a girl like me; my body dissolves into the words each night begging to be a part of something- pleading for someone or something to understand me; I read a book about a girl who is lost; two about a girl who has been raped; I absorb the words as best I can- I store them in my bones throughout my body; each night as I open a book the pages tell me- welcome home, we have been waiting for you- and together we will save you all over again.
Maybe you are as strong as other people think you are. Maybe at night it doesn’t feel like it-and maybe it never really does feel like you and strength can be one and the same, but just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean that others can’t either. Maybe you do believe that no one will ever love you- but it is possible that they already do. Maybe what other people think does matter; maybe what other people think is what’s keeping you out of the grave; maybe- just maybe.
When an older customer informed me
that he liked skinny girls and
he wanted me to come to his house,
if no one else heard,
could I pretend it never happened?
But when the woman behind him laughed
as I stood there hearing nothing
but his comments,
and my heartbeat clawing its way up my chest
I could no longer pretend it did not happen
it became as real as the sun shining outside
and the blaze was terrifying
as it took my breath away and made me feel faint-
in that moment I loathed him.
I hated myself for having a body
and I hated myself merely
for hating myself.
this feeling was all too familiar
it was the same feeling I had when
the man told me my jeans were too tight
or when the delivery guy hugged me
or when countless other men
provided me with unwanted comments and touch.
In these moments I wanted my
flesh to become one with the walls
and I thought maybe if I stared hard enough
at the ground I could become it.
I did not realize that having
a body was an invitation
for others to say or do whatever they pleased.