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The Truth

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.

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New Beginnings

The moon never apologizes for how much-or how little light she decides to cast upon the night; so I will learn from her and try to stop apologizing for the way I show up in my life; it was a Tuesday afternoon and I was crying; I was not crying from anything bad-for what felt like the first time in forever- I was crying from laughing so hard; we both started laughing and at some point it developed into tears and now neither of us can breathe in the best way; it is in these moments I realize the strongest things always make it through; there are so many days where the sadness camps itself inside of my heart and I cannot get her to go away; but the happiness is determined to push through; and when I really need her to show up- somehow she always does; there are bad things- but I am working on not letting it dictate the good; my happiness is all there is to separate him from me; he may have taken many things from me the night he took my body; but I will work on not letting him take it all away; I am standing in the middle of my new apartment- the one I worked hard for- the one so many people told me I would not be able to get- and I think of all of the people who have told me I would never be successful; I envision all of the nights where giving up seemed like the best option- sometimes the only option- and right now I am so glad I never gave up; I am learning there will always be people who will doubt your ability; there will always be people who want more from you than you are able to give; but in the end the right people will always show up; the right people will always be happy for you and support every decision you make; it is a Tuesday afternoon and the world does not feel like it is closing in around me; it is a Tuesday afternoon and I will accept the happiness and try to not diminish it; the moon never apologizes for how she shows up; and from now on- I will try to not either.

Wounded Love

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.

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.

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.

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.

When Anger Visits

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.

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.

Dreams and Rituals

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.

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.

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.

Dark Days

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.

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.

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.

Wilted Soul

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.

The Books Save Me all Over Again

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.

The Moon Helps Me Guide You Home

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.

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.

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.

The River

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.

The Loneliest Thing I’ve Ever Done

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.

Ashes and Memories

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.

Alternate Universe Where I Think I May Love You

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.

Moments

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.

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.

For Ellie

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.