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.
It is the small cracks in the ceiling that always bring me back home; a light flickers; the sun shines through; now my breath is steady; I hear the water running and I do not quite remember when it started; you might be here- but you might not be- the tightness in my chest tells me at one point you were here though; at one point this was all caused because of you; there are days I watch my body float by me- she flutters through the air so broken yet whole all at the same time- I always have to remind myself that she is me- remind myself that feeling safe and feeling stuck can often be the same thing; there are pieces of you left inside of me forever- I would try to carve them away- but I worry afterwards there will be nothing left; someone once told me- maybe you should stop writing about him so much- if you stop talking about him- maybe it will not matter as much anymore- if you stop writing about him, maybe you will be able to just move on; I think what they were really trying to say is that they are tired of hearing about you- they are tired of reading about you; I did not bother to tell them about the grave inside of me holding all of the details of you; I did not tell them that I will not stop writing about you just because it makes other people uncomfortable; that I will not stop writing about you because this is my chance to take control of the story; I did not tell them how I envy them for never having their own body taken away- I envy them for never having to rebuild a home inside of their own being; how do you grieve the loss of your own body; how do you grieve the loss of the biggest part of you there is- I try to run away from her- but she is always with me; the wreckage lines me from the inside out- I wonder- if other people are able to see the damage; one early morning in December your face shows up in my dreams- except this time I do not try to call for help- I do not fight- I have learned from my mistakes- when I awake in a panic I stare at the three small lines carved into the ceiling above me; I trace them with my eyes until I can breathe again- it is these small cracks in the ceiling that always bring me back home; a light flickers; the sun shines through; now my breath is steady.
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.
I will never forget the feeling from the first time you told me that you loved me; it was October and the sky was lost somewhere transitioning between darkness and light- it was my favorite time of the day where the moon and sun both grace the sky and live in unity; it was the first time I think I really truly knew what love was; you did not say it because you had to, you did not say it because you felt that it was expected in the moment- you said it because I think for the first time- you really meant it; before you let the words slowly walk through your lips- we were revealing our deepest secrets to each other- we were tracing the scars of our traumas back as far as we could remember them; we sat in silence for a few moments before you finally let the words out; they hung in the air for a moment before I felt them carefully lay themselves on my soul and inside my heart; that night I opened my bedroom window and told the moon the story over and over again as she listened to every detail and smiled along with me; I told the moon goodnight and as I fell asleep I bottled the feeling of your love and stored it in my heart so I could feel it forever; every night as I fall asleep I pull that feeling back out and clutch it as tightly as I can- so I can fall asleep feeling your love wash over me all over again; even though things are not the same between us anymore and I had to let you go- I never have to let that feeling go; I still tell the moon the story over and over again most nights and she still smiles along with me; except- I no longer close the window when I am done talking to the moon; I leave it open hoping I can help you find your way back to me; the moon shines her light over me as she helps me guide you home; I hear the wind whisper your name and I know we are together; I see the shape of your body in my dreams- your gentle touch a not so distant memory; I saw you the other day and you looked so different from that October night; I do not tell the moon the story of that night as often anymore; I cannot keep living on a memory that does not represent who we both are any longer; I stopped leaving the window open for you as well; I do still hope the moon helps me guide you home; but I do not think I want her guiding you to my home.
It was not until much later that I realized I think I may hate him; or at least not all of him, but part of him; most of him probably; in the beginning I just felt confused- I create a story where maybe in it- he is more broken than I am; or, maybe- neither of us is broken- more like just lost; but also probably broken; sometimes it feels like you cannot be one without the other; I wonder if he thinks about what happened as often as I do; I hope he thinks about what happened as often as I do; the details live in the dark house of my bones- sometimes I find shelter in this darkness; I cannot escape it- so instead I create a home out of it; there are times I begin to write about him- but I always have to stop because how can I write about the pain he caused in a way you will understand? there are days where it feels like once I disclose this secret to someone- it should no longer hurt me- it should no longer matter; yet it continues to hurt- I worry that you do not understand this pain; this is not the type of pain that hurts until it no longer hurts anymore- it is the type that hurts until it hurts even more- and when I feel that it cannot possibly hurt any more- it somehow always does; I have been told that forgiving means growth- forgiving means forgetting- forgiving means moving on; but he came in and fucked up my life and for that I will not forgive- I do not have to forgive; I am slowly learning how to grieve the loss of my own body; I kneel in reverence to the pain; the scars on my body a constant reminder of the sacrifice I give; forever I yield.
How do you explain to the people you love- that even though your heart loves differently, you are still the same person you always have been; how are you supposed to ask for forgiveness for just being who you are? And, if in some way, I end up being wrong- who do I apologize to? If I am wrong, do I have to give a piece of my heart to every single person I came out to? When the therapist told me that being gay is a choice- if I just decided to be straight- all of my problems would just go away- I wanted to tell her about all of the times I pretended to love a boy just to please others; I wanted to tell her about all of the days I spent questioning my own validity; how are you supposed to tell the people you care about- who you really are- when the one person who was supposed to help you thinks you are disgusting; how do I explain that being gay is not a choice; that my heart may love differently from theirs- but that does not mean it is wrong.
They pull a girl from a river somewhere- and I cannot help but wonder- will that ever be me? I am sitting here trembling as I tell you the darkest secret I have ever held on to- and you ask me if I ever actually said no- you wonder- out loud- if maybe I did not fight as hard as I could have; I want to tell you about the river and the girl they just pulled out of it- how everyone is trying to figure out what she did wrong, what she could have done better; they put more effort into blaming her than actually trying to find the person who did it; there are days where I feel my shame walks into the room before I do- where the world feels no bigger than the house I hide myself away in; when the boy calls me a dyke- all I can see is that river; there have been many rivers in my life; when the man told me I would be prettier if I would just smile; when the man told me if I just relaxed it would not hurt; when the man laughed and told me- you know you are so small; and I realize- I am so small- and this world is so big; and there are so many many men; and even more rivers.
It was the day you told me you loved me; except it sounded more like you were trying to remind yourself that is what you are supposed to say- what you are supposed to feel; it always seems to feel like that- like asking you to love me is asking for way too much; every day I break my ribs to try to fit them perfectly within yours; showing you I will do anything for you- showing myself that the world shatters around me everyday, but so far- I have yet to shatter with it- but maybe I am breaking with it little by little; this loneliness floats through the room carrying whispers of abandonment; one night I ask you to tell me the story of your first love; to tell me the story of how wrong it seemed to others- but how right it felt to you- every time you tell the story- I hope to find myself somewhere in there; I don’t know how I got here most days- why I am so hell-bent on getting you to love me; one day you tell me- it’s pathetic really, how I will follow you anywhere- like a lost dog just looking for some place to turn- when you laugh I try not to cry; loving you has been the loneliest thing I have ever done; one night you trace the tattoos on my arms- you ask me how I could do something that will plague my body forever; I look away as I realize you do not understand the weight of your question; this is the only place on my body that you have never been- it is the only place that has not been plagued by you.
I take the ashes from all of the times you have burned me with your words- and I scatter them around my body; the ashes always seem to fall into place so perfectly- almost resembling their own kind of poetry; after sitting with them for hours, I gently scoop them into a jar; It is not long until all of these jars are taking up space in the spare room down the hall; some nights when I cannot sleep I quietly creep into the spare room and pick up one of the jars- I carefully sit down and place it on the floor in front of me; I stare at it for hours trying to recreate the exact feelings of the moment those ashes were created from- and for a few seconds, I think I understand you more than I ever have before.
The sun is beginning to rise and your love is the first thing I feel; when we share our bodies with each other I will not cry- and even when I do you love me anyway; which makes me love you more; sometimes, I feel your sadness pounding it’s fists against the walls- just begging for a way out- in these moments I feel like you understand me more than anyone- I feel like we can almost be the same person; when your anger starts to glow through your body and out into the world- I do not get scared- because in this world your anger is not directed at me; in this world I like to think you really truly do love me; which is to say- I don’t think I love you, but I also don’t hate you- but in this alternate universe I think there’s a chance I may love you; in this alternate universe we can be anything we want; which is why one day- when the sun is beginning to rise and your love is the first thing I feel; I will crawl out of bed slowly- as I pick up the bags I packed days before- I will not look back, I will not say goodbye; because my leaving is my way of saying- I think I may love you.
Everyone always wants to point out the bad about you; they say to forget the good times because even monsters can look beautiful in certain light; in the beginning- I tried to see what everyone else saw; the way your anger splintered the walls- the way every morning I would slowly try to place them back together- the way I always told myself, we are not broken- I am not broken; but maybe being broken is okay- things do not always have to be pieced together so perfectly, it is okay for things to be a part sometimes; there are days where you have burned me so badly- yet I still do not hate you; sometimes, the weight of your words causes bruises to bloom all over my soul and spill out onto my body; one night we lie together crying; one night we lie together laughing; one night we just lie together; I want these moments to be the most important things I do in all my life.
I hold the shame in the palm of my hands- I press them together as a sign of prayer, I beg for your forgiveness- I gently place my hand to my heart and let the shame light up my entire body; I carry out this ritual every night- hoping for salvation to come visit me in the day light- hoping that if you see who I really am; that maybe- you will not run away.
I think he may have forgotten about the grave, somewhere deep inside of me, holding all of the secrets- his secrets; I don’t think he ever saw me as a person, I was simply just a means to his end; when he laughed at my body I knew shame was something I was going to live with forever; sometimes, when I close my eyes- his face is all I see- someone puts their hand on my back and it’s as if my world is ending all over again; shame and grief often times live on the same street- and almost always in the same house; I promise him I will not tell anyone what happened- it does not matter that I broke that promise anyway, because when I tell the counselor what he did- she says she does not believe me; sometimes, trying to heal feels way too much like being punished for what he did- because of him I’ve become part apology and part shame- these parts always seem to take up too much space; I look up to see the counselor staring at me- asking me, why would I make something like this up; why would I lie to her; as I apologize once again and bury these secrets back into their grave- all I can think about is what she’s really trying to say- why am I trying to take up so much space; what could I possibly do with all of that space.
She’s the only one there to save me from my nightmares; there are so many nightmares- she looks at me with her big brown eyes and gently lays her head on mine, her heartbeat is always what brings me back to safety; I love her more than I love anything- she has saved me more than she will ever know; you see no one wanted Ellie- she was the last one left in her litter all because her back legs didn’t work- all because she wasn’t perfect; from the moment I first held her I knew I was never letting her go, her heart now has a home in mine; her love is a light in the middle of a dark forest- in the center of a broken home; on the days where happiness feels like an emotion that exists nowhere in my body- she still can make me laugh; while the waves of my life drown me over and over again, me and Ellie continue to save each other everyday; I know we really truly love each other- in the most forgiving way; the morning comes, and once again I do not know how I will make it out of my bed- how to make it through another day- Ellie lays her head on my chest and looks at me once again with her big brown eyes reminding me we will get through it together, reminding me I’m no longer alone; her heartbeat once again brings me back to safety, telling me we have to get up- the day is calling; and once more we will save each other all over again- like we do every single day.
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.
When the moon begins
to ignite the sky at dusk
I like to believe
she is calling my name,
sometimes it’s just nice to know
there is something out there
that can break up the darkness;
in some lights we all look the same-
he no longer resembles a monster-
I no longer his victim,
there are days where it feels like every one knows
exactly what happened,
like a chandelier where crystals shine in the light,
my secrets shine in the sun
my brokenness on display for all,
he told me no one would believe me
now there are days-
I don’t always believe it myself;
no one teaches you how to grieve
the loss of your own body,
but as a girl you are taught many
different ways to prepare for it-
which only makes the weight of
the blame heavier,
I should have fought more,
I should have said no,
I should have done something,
because then and only then
this really would not be
Sometimes, the people who say
they love you the most,
don’t really understand what love is
or what it is supposed to be;
they want you to break yourself for them,
but they would never think of
breaking themselves for you
Sometimes love can mean sacrifice,
but it doesn’t always have to
I explained to her once
how sometimes I feel
I’m the shoreline
just longing for the ocean
to come kiss me goodnight,
when she did not run away
I knew I felt something for her,
when I admitted to her
how I hold death like a prayer
in between my palms
she quietly whispered how she did too,
and it almost felt like we were one;
her sadness has a home inside of me
and even though she often
holds back her laughter
I know it is what’s lighting my soul-
this emptiness has become too much to bear on most days
but she always reminds me
I’m never alone
she once told me
her soul looked like a well
with no water waiting at the bottom-
how her voice
gets lost in there,
suddenly my whole life made sense.
I convince myself
the sky is calling me home
she asks me
if I want to build a house
out of the clouds,
she asks me why
I won’t call her by her name
why I won’t introduce her to my family;
she wants to know if I love her,
and I do.
I love her like you’re supposed
to love yourself
except loving yourself
isn’t that easy,
I still refer to her
as a separate person
even though she is a part of me
I still refer to her as her
instead of by what she really is;
but depression will do that to you,
she will move into
the dark house of your bones
she will tell you
there is not enough room
for all of this shame and sadness
she will leave you longing
for the girl you never quite were
as you struggle to create space
for her to live comfortably-
she moved into my heart last week,
as she carved her initials into my soul
I knew her and anxiety would get along just fine
I always feel them dancing in my rib cage,
running up and down the stairs of my chest
and not a day goes by where
they don’t hold a party in my brain,
she and anxiety have become
a powerhouse couple
who use my body as their refuge,
every day I drown in the well
of her secrets
as the blood of her shame
washes over me once again.
This was a poem I wrote in March of 2018. I wanted to go back and edit and be able to bring this poem back to life. This poem lives deep within me. I both loved and hated writing it. It is heavy, but it also is important.
I’ll never forget the way
January wrapped her arms around me
as she kept me safe from my own mind,
seems to be calling for death-
I see casket and February
as two words with the same meaning
but when I read more suicides
happen in spring
than any other time of year,
I felt the bones of my soul breaking-
How do you grieve a body
that has never actually left?
especially when that body
belongs to you;
will March hold me in her arms
just as January did,
will casket and April
begin their transition into one,
will the little hope
I possess begin to
dwindle from my body
only to become lifeless in May
as June gently places
me into her soil;
perhaps I will make it through the spring
to feel the gentle touch of July
as she begs me to
just give August a chance
will September be just as kind as February
will October love me like nobody else does
will November, the month of my birth,
be able to keep me from death
as she passes me safely off to December
only to have January wrap me in her arms
once again as she promises me:
this year will be better,
this year will be different,
this year will be less lonely;
these months pass me from one to the next
they whisper how their soil
is not good enough for my bones yet
I tell them I want to be a tree-
I know spring is the best time for planting.
but today I will listen to March
as she quietly pleads
to let her pass me to April unharmed
so April can tell me
how the twelve of them love me
even though nobody else does,
so tonight I will let March hug me
and love me like nobody else does
and with tears streaming down my face
I will try to hold on
even if it is just for the night.
From the beginning
they told me I was too quiet
which is why when I was assaulted
I blamed myself,
I thought I must have somehow
consented to what he did to me
I thought my silence must have meant yes;
trying to heal feels way too much
like being punished for what he did,
I have thought about leaving forever,
but I never want to give him the satisfaction
he has taken so much from me already,
when the night gets lonely
and the world seems no bigger
than the space in my mind
I write over and over and over again
that I will be okay;
when the world feels like it is
shattering around me-
I promise myself I will not shatter with it;
on the days when all I can think about
are the details of what he did
I remind myself I am not the broken one;
and when this body feels like it no longer belongs to me-
I remember that this body never belonged to him.
Last week I started to write my suicide note
so far all it says is:
I can’t bear to tell you about the pain
that has consumed me,
how my body is no longer mine
how it hasn’t been for a while now.
I picked out the date for my death,
it’s not for a few more months
my heart feels like a weight
I have never been trained to carry
I’m sorry that I never told you
who I really am
my body has become a casket;
I bury my secrets inside of me
hoping that the ghost
is not too noticeable.
The other day you asked me
why my smile looks so different,
why my eyes look so tired all the time,
I didn’t know how to answer.
Loneliness has become my closest friend-
isolation my only defense mechanism,
I stopped going to counseling
after I brought up the assault
and sexual abuse
because suddenly I was too exposed,
the pain became too raw-
everything too real.
I thought my counselor would hate me
just as much as I hate myself.
Guilt and shame crush my soul everyday,
they grind my bones to dust
my skin is a canvas for pain;
I draw the hurt I feel inside
onto my body hoping you understand
how deep this sadness runs;
sadness is an indescribable pain-
all five oceans live in my chest,
they drown me in their waves
as they throw me into their shore;
I cry for help-
but no sound ever comes out.