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The Parts No One Prepares You For

What is safety- if not an illusion of what will never be; it is a light on the horizon; a flame that will never quite catch; when he breaks into you- steals your soul right from your chest- you will be left weeping silently; as the room you have come to name solace- holds all of the pain within you; every time you close your eyes- you will see his face; you will feel his touch; sometimes you will cry- and that is okay- even when others tell you it is not; he will do things to you that you will never be able to utter to another being; fight, flight, freeze; become the songs of your emptiness; the shame will follow you everywhere for a while- she will be what wakes you in the night; healing will begin with a soft forgiveness; not for him- you will never have to forgive him if you do not want to- even if others tell you that you do; especially if others tell you that you do; every day you wake- those first moments in the morning- when you remember the truth of it all for the first time that day- those moments will be the worst; but you will get through them- even when you do not believe you can; each day will be scary and hard- it will feel like a battle you were never prepared to fight; but you will do it all again; oh how you will do it all again; let your body fall apart if it needs to; just never forget to pick yourself up again; and most importantly- the most important thing to remember- is this is your life- not his- not anyone else’s; this is your body- not once did it ever belong to him- or anyone else who believes they have a say in it.

Pride Month

So many people question why I never said anything; it always feels to simple to say- I really did not know; we bottled these moments not knowing how important they would be later; I wonder what our goodbye would have looked like; had we only had the chance; after that year together I could not go anywhere without thinking about her; our love was all hidden- which sometimes made it seem so much more real; most of our time together was spent hiding in her car; because neither of us had yet to come out; we hid our love in the closet along with all of the secrets we had both hidden in for years; our secrets tracing us back to each other; our secrets connecting us in a way- sometimes it felt we were the same; the irony of her dying on the second to last night of pride month has never been lost on me; it was the month we were supposed to be celebrating who we are; the month we were supposed to be proud of who we are; the month we were supposed to be celebrating our love; it was not the month she was supposed to die; the month she was supposed to die should not have come for many more years; the first time she told me she loved me- I knew she meant it; it took me longer to tell her- but when I told her I loved her I meant it too; I had never been more sure of anything in my whole life; she is the only person I have ever given my body to willingly; one afternoon we sat in her car talking about all of the things we would do if we were not scared to be who we are; the freedom we both felt in that moment could be felt throughout her entire car; the freedom echoed through the empty parking lot we were sitting in; I told her I could not wait to one day experience that freedom; she asked me what happens if we never do; the silence that fell over us reverberated throughout the car; quietly I told her- I was still proud of who I was; she smiled as she grabbed my hand and told me she was too; she died two nights later; the pressure of the whole world just became too much for her; I play our last moments together over and over trying to figure out if I missed something; trying to figure out how I really did not know; I think about that one afternoon in her car often; I hope she got the freedom that she always dreamt of; I hope now she is celebrating in the biggest pride parades there are; no longer afraid or ashamed of who she is; in the same way I am no longer afraid or ashamed of who I am.

The Shame this Body Inherits

I stare at my body in the mirror; tracing all of the parts of me I hate; I take all of the negative comments that have been laid on me- and carry them like my life depends on it; when the night comes- I will not cry like I usually do; I will not think of all of the ways I can try to morph myself into looking like someone else; anyone else; when I catch anyone staring at the scars on my back- I will pretend to not notice; when the woman tells me I could be so pretty- if it were not for the acne- I pretend I will not cry myself to sleep that night; when someone else comments on the excess hair on my body- I start to shave myself from head to toe; a ritual I do everyday- but pretend not too; a ritual I think is so fucked up I have to even do it in the first place- but am too scared not to; one night I stand in front of the mirror for twenty minutes trying to figure out if I have cellulite or not; trying to figure out why I am so ashamed to have a body; when they laugh at my body- I know this shame is something I will live with forever; when the doctor told me I had polycystic ovary syndrome- I was not surprised the first emotion I felt was shame; before I can even process the diagnosis- the doctor is telling me all of the things I can do to help prevent weight gain; the doctor tells me to be thankful that at least for now I am thin- because that might help me out in the long-run; people wonder why women are so full of rage; the diagnosis had barely slipped through the doctors lips before I was being lectured on weight I may or may not gain; as if that would be the worst thing to come out of all of this; one night I trace the scars on my back; one night I decide to only shave the hair that I want to shave; I am slowly taking my body back; there are days I still do not want it; there are days where all I can see is what is wrong with it; where all I can feel is what he did to me; but I have some days now- where I am not so ashamed of it; when they laugh at my body- I will try to not hear their laughter as the truth; I will try to not let the shame live in the home they have built; Instead I will work on building my own home.

Convincing Love

It was the night where I convinced myself that this is what love is supposed to feel like; the more I convince myself this is all okay- the less I question how wrong this all feels; there is so much chaos running through us; so much anger filling up all of the empty spaces in the room; when I am with you- I watch my body float above us- I watch it fly away into the sky as I hope it comes back for me one day; this love feels like a giant ending I never even knew I wanted to begin; one night my dog gets stung by a bee; I drop the jar I am holding- glass flying everywhere as I run to her; she runs just as fast to me; we meet in the middle as she jumps into my arms and lays her head on my shoulder; it was in this moment that I realized the love you give- is wrong; because when someone you love is hurt- you will never blame them for the pain; even if it is their fault; instead- you will do everything in your power to help stop it; above all- when you love someone- you will never hurt them and label it as love; label it a sacrifice; label it as a necessary pain; that is not what love is supposed to be; amidst all of this turmoil is where real love used to lie; one night I cry in your arms; you do not say anything- you just let me cry; and in this moment it really feels like you love me; and in this moment the confusion comes back full force; in this moment I convince myself- you really do love me; I convince myself this is what love is supposed to feel like; I convince myself this is all okay.

Narrative on Love

*Updated Version of The Words That Create Us

We are lying together one night- I notice her staring at the books piled on my nightstand and I know the questions that are about to come; I know she will never understand my love of reading- she will always make fun of me for it; she tells me I am reading my life away; she laughs as she tells me I act as if I can read myself into another life- I would be lying if I said I never tried; I collect books and follow them like a map- follow them until I am able to find myself; one night she rips a page out of my favorite book- she tells me she wants to keep it as a memory- each night she rips a new page out; it feels like she is ripping pieces out of my life; one day I write a poem for her; when she destroys that too- I do not know why I am surprised- why the sadness rolls over me like a wave in a lake that is usually so still; when I tell her I do not love her- she asks me if that is what the books are telling me to say- she says the books are giving me an unrealistic expectation of what life is supposed to be; she gets mad- accuses me of reading so much so I can become smarter than her; she tells me that no one will ever love me the way that she does; I know then- the lies she feeds me is what has been keeping us together; I have lost so much by loving her; when she tells me she does not think she loves me- I wonder why it seems to mean so much more when it is coming out of her mouth; why when I say it- it always seems to fall flat; my love for reading goes against the narrative she has created; the one where she is always smarter than me; the one where I am not supposed to have any thoughts of my own; there was a time I used to worship her love; I used to think her love would be what saved me; I still worship it to an extent; when the nights are long and lonely- I still wait for her love; I still look for it every night when the fear starts to move into my mind; I still hope it will one day feel like what I read it can feel like; words are what we are created from- they are what create us; which is why when she tells me no one will ever love me- I sometimes worry those words will become the last lines of my story- I worry she will create a truth from those words; maybe I am trying too hard to read myself into another life; the trouble is I will never be able to read her into a different person; no matter how many books I read- she still may never love me; and I may always love her too much.

This Grief

I search for home in places it does not live- I search for it in places it does not build; I have been searching ever since the day I lost my body- ever since the day my body was taken from me; this grief is unlike any other; the way it wraps itself around my heart and kisses my soul; this grief- it is an echo- a silence- a sound that never quite seems to be finished; I dissolve away into it- my body desperately begging to be mine- and mine alone- again; I see her staring at me one day- and I know we are thinking the same thing- I know we both see the broken pieces of myself I am leaving behind; she always is there to help me hide my body away- I know she is just as ashamed of it as I am; she collects the broken pieces of me- ties them up and hides them away in a dark closet; I wonder if she realizes- I was the one who was raped- not her; she has always seemed to be so good at erasing my pain and carrying it as her own- making my pain the biggest burden in her life; one day she asked me- how could I write poems about all of the bad things- how could I just put it all out there for the world to see; I looked her right in the eye as I asked her- how could I not; this grief- it is an echo- a silence- a sound that never quite seems to be finished; this grief is begging to be written about.

I Gave (She Took)

I see her trying; I see the heart she wants to have- but just does not know how to own; I gave my body to her over a year ago- I wish to have it back now, but am too afraid to ask; I know there are times where she wishes me to be different- probably in the same ways I wish she were different; her kindness used to be the last thing I would look for each night- as I set the day down I would pray to some power that I am not sure I believe in- asking for her to feel forgiveness- asking for her to feel my love; when I am with her- the darkness can be vast at times- it can take over all of my soul; most days I am with her all of the time- but I am not sure I want to be; I gave my body to her a few months ago- I am still not sure how to ask for it back; it is too easy to think of all the times when someone hurt you- and let that become all you are; it is too simple to think of all of the bad things that have happened to you and let it swallow you whole; when she tells me she does not love me- I have to learn to believe her; I gave my body to her a week ago- I write a poem for her- asking if I will ever be able to have it back; being with her is always begging to be a part of something important- I let my body dissolve into whatever she wants me to be- somehow I am still always wrong; it is hard to love someone who on most days they seem to love being right more than they love you; I gave my body to her yesterday- I want to ask her why she keeps taking it from me- I need to know what she wants with it; I write out the definition of consent over and over again until I have it memorized word for word- even then she is still able to convince me that I have the meaning wrong; I gave my body to her this morning; I gave my body to her a few hours ago; I gave my body to her an hour ago; she took my body a few minutes ago- I no longer wish to have it back.

Small Moments

I am sitting on her bed watching her stand in front of her mirror as she examines every inch of her body; it has only been five minutes since she told me she does not know if she will ever be able to love anyone; I wonder if maybe in her mind it sounded gentle- I wonder if it was supposed to sound gentle- I wonder if she is even talking about me at all; I do not know why I am still here- why I am not sitting on my own bed- or standing in front of my own mirror; there are many days I wish I never met her; the ashes of her love haunt the halls- as the ghost of what was- the ghost of what will never be; I cannot stop thinking about how two hours before this moment my therapist asked me if I knew what love was- if I knew what it is supposed to be; she wanted to know if I have ever felt it before; I know now why everyone always wanted to point out the bad about her; they would 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 her 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- I repeat it over an over like a promise I was trying to keep; but maybe being broken is okay- things do not always have to be pieced together so perfectly- it is okay for things to be apart sometimes; there are days where she has burned me so badly- yet, I still do not hate her; sometimes- the weight of her words causes bruises to bloom all over my soul and to 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.

A Promise to Myself

I did not quite know what to do the day after; when the sun still rose- I guess, I was almost surprised; surprised the world seems to just move on without us sometimes; it was the day I truly realized everything we could lose in an instant; it was the day I stopped looking at my body; 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; from the beginning they told me I was too quiet- which is why most days I blame myself for what happened; I thought I must have somehow consented to what he did to me- I thought my silence must have somehow meant yes; 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; the details of what happened 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; the pain he caused will live inside of me forever; there are days where trying to heal feels way too much like being punished for what he did; I am slowly learning how to grieve the loss of my own body; 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 inside of my mind- I write 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 along 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; there are days- where it feels like he is still trying to take the power away- on these days I promise myself I will never let him take all of me away with it- I promise myself I will not shrink away to what he wants me to become; and on the days- when this body feels like it no longer belongs to me- I remind myself that this body never belonged to him; I never belonged to him; I kneel in reverence to the pain; the scars on my body a constant reminder of the sacrifice I give; forever I yield- but no longer to him.

An Elegy for the Truth

Sometimes- the people who say they love you the most, do not 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 their own self for you; sometimes- love can mean sacrifice, but it does not always have to; there are times when we are laughing and I can almost see everything being put back together; these moments always seem to fall apart at the suggestion of love entering the room; I write an elegy for this love- hoping I will no longer let it call me back; I tried to tell you the truth once- the same truth I tried to tell the counselor; you both shut me down the same way; the truth has a hold on everyone; we all carry our own secrets somewhere on our body; I write an elegy for my truth- hoping I will no longer create a home for it- hoping it will no longer be the home I want to crawl back to every night- but I am learning you cannot just write the truth away- and hope that it no longer exists; the same way I cannot just write you away; the counselor wants me to tell her about this truth; sometimes I think she wanted an interesting story more than she actually wanted to help me; I write an elegy for this counselor- hoping that I will no longer miss her- hoping I will no longer be angry at her for not always believing me; I write an elegy for everything I no longer want to feel or remember- I leave them everywhere I go- but you cannot just write memories away; you cannot just run away from memories; the counselor asked me one day why she should believe me; I did not know how to answer her- you see- that is the thing about the truth- you cannot see the truth; you just have to believe it.

For Leaving

When ever something bad happens I always go searching for the poetry that will be able to bring what I am feeling alive in to words; now I no longer turn to others words for the comfort- Instead I craft them in my own soul and let them spill out on to paper; for a long time- I refused to write about you; how your laughter always could bring me home; how our love was as close to perfection I think anyone could dream of reaching; how this love was not enough to save us- to save you; when the sadness begins to ignite itself in the dark of the night- that is when I feel most close to you; I know that darkness has a home inside of us all- which is why I do not blame you for wanting to leave; for actually leaving; you often spoke of the sin of our love- the way the innocence of it angered you; how could something that felt so natural- be deemed so wrong- so disgusting; I think we both knew that our love was not wrong- that we are not wrong; but you can only have the judgement of others hatred carved down your spine so many times- before you start to believe- we might be broken; when you left- there was an aching emptiness lighting up every room I walked into; every night I talk to the stars- hoping maybe we are still looking up at the same sky; hoping that the moon and the sun are able to keep you safe; I still write love letters to you- leaving them everywhere I go- hoping that- wherever you are- you are able to find them; I think we both knew we would not always be together; we both knew our love was not meant to last forever; but- is that not what young love is supposed to be- stupid and unforgiving; we both would promise that we would never burn in the fire right in front of us- that we would not let this love go up in flames- and in a way- I guess we did that; in the end I was the only one to get burned; sometimes- I still do not understand how you could just walk away- why you never did really say goodbye; when the wind blows- I can still hear your whispers in the night- I wish you were here now; this loneliness lives in every room I enter; I am sorry this loneliness lived with you too; I am sorry that it lied to you about who you are and about who you could become; I am sorry that I could not save you from it; I am sorry that some days I am still mad at you for leaving; for leaving; for leaving; for- never being able to come back.

Secrets/Honesty

I try to find safety within the walls of my own body; I know there will come a day where I will no longer see my body as the enemy; where I will no longer wake up and see my body in the shape of a knife- looking to cut out all of the broken parts of me; the secrets we keep from ourselves are often the most dangerous ones; we all want to think of our bodies as our homeland- as the place safety will always come home to; but some of us are not that lucky; I often find myself wondering whether or not you are one of the lucky ones; sometimes- I miss the version of you that existed when we first met; the version of you that seemed to understand me; now- I do not always know how to carry your love- most of the time it just feels too heavy; let me carve you the stories of my traumas as I pull them from the depths of my body; let me show you how everyday I bathe in the well of my own secrets; let me help you love me again; let me help me love me again; one day- I saw the sun set in your eyes- this sorrow connected us so deeply- it was hard to tell where your hatred for me ended and where mine began; your hatred for me- was supposed to be a secret- as is my hatred for myself; I do not always want to be the keeper of your secrets; this honesty lives somewhere deep in my chest; I do not know if I will ever tell anyone the whole truth- but I am hoping to tell parts of it; the scars on my arm tell me maybe the truth is not hidden so deep inside of me- maybe I am not as hard to read as I thought I was; one night we lie on the floor laughing together; right now you do not look as scary as usual; I want this moment to never end; my biggest hope is that you feel the same way.

My True Heart

When the wind blows- I can hear the whispers of my true heart beating against the sky; salvation lays her head on the backs of the broken- she beckons me to come with her as she patiently helps me wash the shame off of all of me; she smiles as she tells me stories of my true heart; she tells me there will come a day where my true heart will hold all of this shame in her palms- not her fists- because she will not hide it away because she will no longer be afraid of it; I will no longer be afraid of it; I try to remember a dream I had- one of a girl who was well; she resembled me- but her life was full of light; I know this version of me exists somewhere; I know she is out there holding onto my true heart; how lucky we are to have a heart somewhere out there still pouring out love even when we do not always feel it- or see it; I know there are multiple versions of my heart that exist; I separate them by categorizing them as before the bad things happened- and after the bad things happened; I do not think one heart is less deserving than the other- I just think they are different- the way there are different versions of yourself for everyone in your life- there are different versions of your heart for every moment throughout your life; sometimes- I wonder about his true heart- I wonder if it was with him the day he raped me- I really hope that it was not; I hope like me- he was searching for his true heart too; I hope he found it; I know evil is never born- it is always created; salvation visits me regularly- she shows me there is more out there to live for; she tells me who I am now is not who I will always be; I spend my days trying to figure out how to go home to a body I no longer want- I spend my days trying to figure out how to run away from this body; I know my true heart will not have to spend her days doing this; I know my true heart will not see victim as her only trait that still lives; I know my true heart will not let the shame and grief take over all of who she is; I know there will be a day where the world will not feel as small- or as big- as the space my body takes up; and try not to worry- because I know my true heart will be coming home so soon.

The Heart That Loves Differently

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.

Reverence

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.

Daylight and Shame

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.

Secrets Always Lead to Apologies

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.

Secret Shame

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-
just emptiness

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.

The Road Home

Sometimes, it feels the more something happens- the less it should bother you; the more it happens- the less it should intrude in your dreams- make it so every time you close your eyes- all you see are nightmares; all you see is the stuff you never want to talk about; the pain starts somewhere deep in my body; it travels slowly- making sure to hit every surface; there are so many days- my whole world exists in this one single room; these walls become a confidant and an enemy; the sheets entangle me in all of the secrets they hold; this pain will always live in these walls- in this room; I can never seem to run far enough away- the truth will always follow me no matter what; I wear a key with the word strength engraved on it around my neck every day- in hopes I will one day feel the strength to build a house out of my bones; I hope to feel the strength bloom inside of me; I hope one day they will be able to see this strength; maybe then- they will no longer be able to hurt me; one day- I am hopefully going to look back on these moments- and see the strength was always with me- even when I did not feel it; this loneliness right now- is a boat stranded in the middle of the sea; it is the light at the end of a desolate road; but one day- this strength will be what is lighting that road; that road- some days I can see it so clearly; I am slowly working on building that road; that road is somewhere far far away; that road is home; and I am aiming straight for it.

My Body

I watch you make decisions about my body; we all watch them making decisions about our bodies; waiting until we leave the room; building mountains no body wants behind closed doors; what is the sense in a future- when your whole future could be decided by others; the night I was raped- my first thought was hoping he did not make me pregnant; he took my body from me and in an instant he could have left me in charge of another life; a life where I would be blamed if I did not see it through; he took everything from me- but in that moment I could have easily become the monster; I could have become the one who did something wrong; the one who will one day end up in prison longer than he ever will; I learned long ago to hide my body; because even when they are the ones who did something wrong; the blame will always be placed on my back; after they burn us- they will ask us where the scars came from; they will tell us we need to hide them; I have been hiding my whole life; sometimes- I get tired of always hiding; always being afraid of what is around the corner; the problem is- I have never learned how to not hide; the decisions about my body have always been made for me; I want to create a home out of my body; make it a home that does not belong to anyone else; build a home I am not afraid of; I learned long ago to not fight back; if I were to accidentally hurt the person who was was hurting me- most likely I would be the one in trouble; the system has always been built against women; the system has always been built in favor of white men; I watch you make decisions about my body; I want to fight these decisions- but there are so many days where I am just too tired; there are days where the system has been stacked against me so much- I do not even know how to begin fighting it; there are days where I am okay with hiding; but I will never stop fighting- in any way I can; I hope one day I will get my body back; I hope so many others will too; I hope the mountains will shrink; even if only a little bit; I watch you make decisions about my body; we all watch them making decisions about our bodies; yet we will continue to fight for our right to choose.

Who I Am

I am not quite sure who I am; I think I lost myself the second he touched me; I leave pieces of who I want to be- who I think I could have been- scattered around me; when they ask me- if this is why I am so quiet- I pretend not to be offended; I do not think that being quiet is the worst thing to come out of this; the thing I am learning about shame- is that it is something you do not feel- until other people tell you that you are supposed to; the therapist tells me I need to start talking more- when I ask her why- she replies with- don’t you want to be happy?- I cannot remember telling her that I was not; I never understood why me being quiet bothers others so much- why they think this is the root of all of my sadness; why everyone wants to fix me so badly- without even asking me if I want to be fixed; I do not need to be fixed; this is not something I blame him for; he did not do this too me; this is just who I am; it feels like everyone wants my shyness to be something inherited from the trauma- if it was inherited than I can work on changing it; somehow- even with being quiet- I have always been too much; the way it has always been too easy to be too much; I picture myself in another life; one where none of the bad things have happened; one where I never met him; when I picture this life- I hope I am still quiet; I hope I still get to be the one part of me I always knew I was supposed to be; I hope I get to still be the one part of me that was never altered by him- the one part of me that had nothing to do with him.

The Weight of Pain

I have tried to send this part of me away- so I will never have to feel the weight of your disappointment tearing into my back; I thought if I was able to disappear- it might make you love me; this ghost floats through my body- floats through every room I walk into; I am sorry I am filled with the wrong kind of love- the second I came out I knew I would be spending the rest of my life chasing your forgiveness; I do not think there is anything more painful than having to live a life where you never get to be who you truly are; I never wanted this sadness to build a house out of my body- to call my bones its refuge; I never wanted to be gay in a world where to be anything different is to ask for a death sentence; whether it be by my own hands that end it- or someone else’s; I beg my limbs for forgiveness- tell them I need someone else to help me carry the weight of all of this pain; I have never known a sadness to be so heavy; I have never known a love to be so light.

Book Review: When We Were Innocent

I have recently been loving World War II historical fiction books. I used to always try to stray away from them because they could never keep my attention, but lately I have a new appreciation for them. When We Were Innocent by Kate Hewitt was so interesting because it was historical fiction mixed with contemporary fiction. I loved that the book went back and forth between present and past. It flowed well and I simply could not put the book down.

Libby Trent has spent her life working hard and building a life she is proud of. She lives in Virginia with her husband, her two kids, and her father has moved in with them as well. But one day her world turns upside down when a government official shows up at her doorstep and tells her that her father is not who he says he is. He tells her that her father is actually a Nazi War Criminal who escaped Germany at the end of the war and he has stolen someone else’s identity. Now Libby has a choice to help them bring a case against her father, or, to try and protect him at all costs.

Right from the beginning the story had me hooked. I just wanted to know everything and I could not stop reading. All of the characters were interesting and complex. It felt unlike anything else I have ever read. The book also portrayed that sometimes things aren’t always just black and white or either right or wrong. Sometimes there is a middle ground and it is okay if there is.

I rated this book 3.5/5 stars. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. I believe a wide variety of readers would enjoy the book. Personally contemporary fiction is one of my favorite genres so I loved that it was a huge component of the book mixed in with some historical fiction.

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Hotline

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.

Book Review: Into the Water

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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins was not the best thriller I ever read, but I still really enjoyed it. It kept me guessing the entire time, I found the plot to be interesting, and the characters were well written. I also loved the older stories that were mixed in with what was currently happening.

One day a single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a teenage girl had met the same fate. Unfortunately, these are not the first women who have been lost to this water. These deaths disturb the river and bring up history and secrets that have been submerged for a long time.

I love a good thriller and this one did not disappoint. Throughout the entire novel I kept second guessing things and trying to figure it out myself, but I was unable to. Right when I felt I had it figured out something else would happen. I also loved that the story was told from multiple points of view. I enjoy hearing things from everyone’s perspective because it always adds another layer to the story.

I gave this book 3.5/5 stars. I would highly recommend it if you have not read it yet. It had a lot of strong characters, the plot was well thought out, and the overall writing was very good and was able to keep my attention. I found it to be a good summer read.

Book Review: The Scarlet Dress

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The Scarlet Dress by Louise Douglas honestly surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. For some reason I was just not really anticipating much going into it, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked it. It even made me go on and read more books by Louise Douglas.

Twenty five years ago, Alice Lang was wearing her favorite scarlet dress when she disappeared. It was the summer of 1995, Alice Lang was 22, and she rented a caravan on a holiday park on the outskirts of the holiday resort, Severn Sands. Alice befriended Marnie, who was a shy little girl, whose father is the parks caretaker, and her mother died a few months earlier. Will, whose mother runs the bar in Severn Sands, ends up falling in love with Alice, and becomes jealous of anyone else she is with. Tensions begin to rise and one evening Alice disappears from her caravan. She is never seen again. Only her scarlet dress is found when it washes up on the shore. Now, it is many years later and Alice’s body has been found.They must now string together secrets of the past to find out what happened to Alice.

This book was so interesting to me for some reason. There was just something about it that hooked me in right from the beginning. I enjoyed all of the characters, I felt like the writing was really strong, and I loved the way the story developed. I was invested from the beginning and that does not always happen in a book. It was not only about what happened to Alice, but also about the lives of all the other people living in the holiday park, which I really enjoyed.

I gave this book 4/5 stars. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has not read it. It is also included on Kindle Unlimited, which is a plus. I am so glad I decided to read it. The cover instantly drew me in and made me want to see what the book was about. I look forward to reading even more of Louise Douglas’ novels.

Book Review: Too Late

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I don’t even really know where to begin with Too Late by Colleen Hoover. After reading a lot of books by her I have discovered that her novels are always a hit or miss for me, and this one was a complete miss. I considered not even finishing it multiple times, but there was a part of me that was just curious enough to keep to going so I could find out what was going to happen.

Sloan is the type of person who will do anything for the people she loves. Every day she goes through hell with her boyfriend, Asa Jackson. He is dangerous and morally corrupt. Sloan continues to do whatever she can to make it through, until she is able to find a way out. But then one day Carter shows up, and he changes everything for Sloan. To Asa, Sloan is the best thing to ever happen to him, and he will not let anyone or anything, take her away from him. Asa does everything he can to stay one step ahead in business and one step ahead of Sloan and he will not let anything get in his way, including Carter.

The first thing I want to add, is a warning for domestic violence, and sexual assault. That is a huge proponent of this novel, and I wish I would have seen a warning before I started reading this book. This was quite possibly the worst book I have ever read. I have read quite a few of Colleen Hoover’s novels, so I know she is a good author and that I have enjoyed her books in the past, so this is not anything against her. This book was just not good. First off, there were super graphic sex scenes, which I would actually call rape scenes, and I felt like that didn’t need to be there. I am not a prude, or morally objected to sex in books, but this just took it too far, in my opinion. Secondly, the writing just seemed all over the place to me and the characters didn’t seem fully thought out. One of my biggest problems with this novel though, is I don’t believe this is the type of book, that people who have been though domestic violence or sexual assault, want out there to portray what those relationships are like. It almost seemed like it was mocking domestic violence, abuse, and sexual assault in a way. It just didn’t sit right with me.

I gave this book 1/5 stars. I would give it less if possible. Obviously, I had a lot of issues with it and I wish the novel would have been thought out a little bit better. I wouldn’t recommend this book. I don’t think it is worth it and Colleen Hoover has much better books out there and I don’t think anyone needs to waste their time with this one.

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May Reading Wrap-Up

It is officially June, so this post is dedicated to all of the books I read in May. Unfortunately, I did not read that many books. For whatever reason I was just having a hard time getting into reading last month. I have high hopes for June though! In May I read 7 books. I really enjoyed all 7. I don’t think I disliked any of them. The 7 books I read in May were:

  1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  2. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
  3. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  4. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
  5. The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
  6. The Scarlet Dress by Louise Douglas
  7. Circle of Doubt by Tracy Buchanan

Of these 7 books my favorite was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. That is shortly followed by Anne of Green Gables though because that is a classic. I have the box set of the Anne of Green Gables series and I haven’t read them since I was younger, so I decided to work my way through it and am currently reading the third one now. I would also highly recommend The Book of Cold Cases this was my second book of Simone St. James and I cannot wait to read more stuff by her.

I wouldn’t categorize any of the books I read this month as not worth it, or say any of them were not for me. I enjoyed all of them. My least favorite would have to be Circle of Doubt by Tracy Buchanan, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I would recommend all of the books on this list. I really look forward to seeing what I will read in June. So far this year I have read 46 books!

Book Review: Everything We Didn’t Say

Everything We Didn’t say by Nicole Baart was a fantastic thriller mixed with family drama. This novel sucked me in and kept me guessing throughout. I couldn’t wait to get to the end to see what was going to happen. I love a good thriller, but find that often times they don’t live up to my expectations, but this one did.

Juniper Baker had just graduated high school and was involved in a summer romance when Cal and Beth Murphy, a couple living on the neighboring farm, were brutally murdered. When Juniper’s younger brother became the prime suspect, her whole world collapsed. The fun of that summer disappeared in an instant. Juniper left and promised herself she would never return to Jericho, Iowa. Now though, she is back in town to help an ill friend manage the local library. Juniper really returned though because she wants to repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, who has been raised by Juniper’s mother and stepfather since her birth. Juniper also wants to solve the infamous Murphy murder and clear her brothers name once and for all.

This book was so good. I could not put it down. I felt the characters were well written, the plot kept me interested throughout the whole book, and it was able to keep me guessing up until the end. This was another one of those books where I just randomly picked it for my Book of the Month box and I am so glad that I did.

I gave this book 4/5 stars. I would highly recommend this book if you enjoy thrillers. I wish I could read this book again for the first time. I really want to read more books exactly like this. Because I read so much, sometimes I find it hard to keep interested in certain novels and plots, but this one was different and was a refreshing read for me. If you have not read this novel yet, definitely add it to your TBR!

Book Review: No Time to Say Goodbye

At this point I have read a few books by Kate Hewitt and No Time to Say Goodbye was not my favorite, but I still enjoyed it. I think Kate Hewitt does a good job of writing about real life experiences. With her books I tend to get drawn in and almost forget that I am even reading.

Nathan West loved and adored his wife Laura. But now Laura is gone. She was killed in what seems to be a random act of violence. Laura is what held the family together and now Nathan feels life without her is meaningless. Nathan is trying to hold the family together without Laura. He is trying to help his three young daughters as best he can while they all move through the grief in different ways. Nathan ends up turning to Maria, a friend of Laura’s. Maria is helping Nathan see how Laura really felt about him and things at home. Nathan doesn’t really know if he can trust Maria and Maria is holding something back from Nathan. This secret Maria is holding has the power to completely destroy the friendship the two of them have built.

Like I said earlier, this book was not my favorite, but I still was able to enjoy it. It had a very real life feel to it which I really liked and that always makes me appreciate a novel more. I think the characters were well written and sympathetic. I also enjoyed the growth of the characters throughout the novel.

I gave this book 3/5 stars. Not my favorite, but still enjoyable. I would recommend it if you enjoy contemporary fiction. I would also recommend Kate Hewitt overall if you enjoy contemporary fiction. Her historical fiction romance novels are also good, from the ones I have read so far. I look forward to reading more of her novels in the future.