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I am Everything (And Nothing)

*April is an important month to me. Not only is it National Poetry Month, but it is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. These two events collide in my world in an unfortunate way, but I am taking that pain and turning it in to something, that I hope in a way, can be beautiful. I am also taking control of what happened every time I write a poem. I know that what I write is not for everyone and I respect that, but I hope people can respect me and understand why I am writing these poems. Thank you to those who read and support my poetry and have nothing but positive things to say.*

Tonight when I cry the whole world will fall to its knees; tonight everyone will know the pain I feel; behind these walls I know I am nothing- but I try to pretend I am everything; when I cry tonight I will not promise myself this will be the last time; there is no shame in crying; no shame in reaching deep into yourself and prying out the broken; when I cry- do not tell me everything is okay- because nothing is okay right now; right now- my body needs to fall apart- in order to put herself back together; tonight- my body belongs to me- I will cherish every second she belongs solely to myself; the walls surround me; create a false hope of safety; the world outside is so big; behind these walls I know I am nothing- but I try to pretend I am everything.

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.

Part Three

I live in a body that was never really mine; I count backwards from ten- try to find the number that will make all of this mean something; try to find the number that will convince me that all of this is okay; my assault is a story told in three parts; part one- your love is unconditional; you come to save me from the wreckage- you promise me you love me; you promise me you will not hurt me; I believe every word you say- even when I know better; part two- your anger begins to explode into small moments throughout the day; your dislike for me slowly becoming the loudest thing in the room; you tell me you know what is best for me; tell me you are helping me; you tell me I am always wrong- yet you still tell me that you love me; still promise me you will never hurt me; I still believe every word you say; part three- you steal my body from me- claim it as your own; when I feel you inside of me- I have to pretend to just not; I spend hours in the shower scrubbing away your touch; call a rape crisis hotline- hang up on the first ring; call again and again- only to just keep hanging up; I write down all of the reasons it is my fault; I ice the bruises- wash all of the wounds you left behind; try to call the hotline just one more time- but the fear and shame are just too persistent; the walls collapse around me- I see your face every time I close my eyes; there is a forgetfulness that takes over the memories- a wall that closes around my mind; I wish to forget every detail- yet I am fighting to remember any of the details; I call the hotline one last time- when the person on the other end reminds me I am not alone- I want to tell her that that is the problem- instead I just hang up; I check all of the locks three times; I look for the moon through my window- make sure she can see inside; I promise the moon I will make it to the morning; I follow the moon on my drive every morning; I thank her for getting me through another night; before I start my day- I count backwards from ten- try to find the number that will make all of this mean something; try to find the number that will convince me that all of this is okay- learn to accept- that maybe I will never be okay.

Silent Ache

I trace the flowers planted out front; breathe in the love you once so seamlessly provided; it was just a spilled glass of water- yet always so much more to you; I return to the site of ache every night my foot touches the doorstep; I open the front door- careful not to keep it open for too long- for fear all of the bones of trauma that live here will tumble out; my body covered by the hands of your shame; I pray to the stars in the night sky- pray one day there will be a way out; behind these walls- only loneliness exists; I drown over and over again in the secrets I keep for you; I feel the ache between my thighs- the only proof I have you were ever here; my rib snaps in half; I offer you a part of it- I give you pieces of me in hopes it will feel less like you are taking all of me; guilt builds a home inside of my body- she invites shame to occupy every space you have not touched; when the blood comes- I will ignore it for as long as possible; the door to your love has been locked for a long time now; I follow the destruction you always leave behind; I carve more pieces out of my body for you; I spend nights scrubbing away your touch; to live in a body that has been raped- is to live with a silent ache only I will ever know is there; some of us can build a house made of stone- turn the trauma into strength; but what are you supposed to do- when the trauma seems to be breaking you- instead of making you stronger; what happens when you cannot build a house out of stone; what happens when you are simply too tired to rebuild what once was; how do you rebuild yourself- when you cannot follow the narrative everyone else has written; my body hollow and bruised; loneliness lives in every corner; I say goodnight- and I try to not mean goodbye; I watch my body being taken from me night after night; day after day; I watch the shame wash over me- she haunts me through every room I enter; my nightmares occupied by your face; I try to scream- but no sound ever seems to come; I cling to the idea that this is all just a dream- but the quiet ache always returns; I am bruised and broken; my soul damaged; I return to the site of ache- breathe in once- quietly push the door open- careful not to keep it open for too long- for fear all of my secrets- your secrets- will tumble out; my body always covered by the hands of your shame; to live in a body that has been raped- is to never fully own your body again.

Alternate Universe

In another world- I think maybe this all would have made sense; in another world- I may have been strong enough to actually leave; I stand at the casket of your love- your love that never really existed- but I convinced myself it did anyway; your love that is now just bone ground into dust; I convince myself of a lot of things when I am with you; I will turn into whatever you want me to be- which I know is sometimes the problem; my sexual orientation is still the loudest thing in the room whenever I am with you; to you I represent all of the sins of the land; to love the way I do- is to throw flames into an already burning fire; I know you see this love as a sacrifice; you see me as the greatest burden to enter every room; I watch you fall; I watch the whole world collapse around us; yet I still do not know how to leave; I know there is another world- in which I am unfazed by the fact that you do not love me back; there is another world where you tell me you may never love me- I learn to not hope for anything different; I learn to not chase something that does not exist in the first place; the thing I am learning about this love- is there is always a wrong way to be something; there is always a wrong way to live; in this world- I spend no more time convincing you to love me; I take the time you have granted me and put the hours back into myself; I take the hours and build a home out of what I love; without you in my life- I have so much time; and so many glorious things to fill it with.

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.

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.

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.

When Light Fades To Dark

Every morning the bright yellow ball caresses the earth- demanding everyone to be aware of its existence; always rising in the east and setting in the west- its presence will forever be counted on; but- with light- always follows darkness; when the light begins to fade- the darkness will shortly follow; this darkness creeps in ever so slightly; until- all in an instant there is nothing but blackness surrounding you; but- when the light fades to dark- there is one thing you can always count on; the magnificent ball of light will always rise again; and the beauty it beholds will take everyone’s breath away all over again.

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.

You Could be my Father

When an older customer informed me

that he liked skinny girls and

he wanted me to come to his house,

if no one else heard,

could I pretend it never happened?

But when the woman behind him laughed

as I stood there hearing nothing

but his comments,

her laugh,

and my heartbeat clawing its way up my chest

I could no longer pretend it did not happen

it became as real as the sun shining outside

and the blaze was terrifying

as it took my breath away and made me feel faint-

in that moment I loathed him.

and her.

and myself.

I hated myself for having a body

and I hated myself merely

for hating myself.

this feeling was all too familiar

it was the same feeling I had when

the man told me my jeans were too tight

or when the delivery guy hugged me

or when countless other men

provided me with unwanted comments and touch.

In these moments I wanted my

flesh to become one with the walls

and I thought maybe if I stared hard enough

at the ground I could become it.

I did not realize that having

a body was an invitation

for others to say or do whatever they pleased.

Society Says

When the moon begins
to ignite the sky at dusk

I like to believe
she is calling my name,

sometimes it’s just nice to know
there is something out there

that can break up the darkness;

in some lights we all look the same-

he no longer resembles a monster-

I no longer his victim,

there are days where it feels like every one knows

exactly what happened,

like a chandelier where crystals shine in the light,
my secrets shine in the sun

my brokenness on display for all,

he told me no one would believe me

now there are days-
I don’t always believe it myself;

no one teaches you how to grieve
the loss of your own body,

but as a girl you are taught many
different ways to prepare for it-

which only makes the weight of
the blame heavier,

I should have fought more,

I should have said no,

I should have done something,

because then and only then

this really would not be

my fault.

Hopeful

From the beginning
they told me I was too quiet

which is why when I was assaulted
I blamed myself,

I thought I must have somehow
consented to what he did to me

I thought my silence must have meant yes;

trying to heal feels way too much
like being punished for what he did,

I have thought about leaving forever,
but I never want to give him the satisfaction

he has taken so much from me already,

when the night gets lonely

and the world seems no bigger
than the space in my mind

I write over and over and over again
that I will be okay;

when the world feels like it is
shattering around me-

I promise myself I will not shatter with it;

on the days when all I can think about
are the details of what he did

I remind myself I am not the broken one;

and when this body feels like it no longer belongs to me-

I remember that this body never belonged to him.

Oceans

Last week I started to write my suicide note

so far all it says is:
‘I’m sorry’

I can’t bear to tell you about the pain
that has consumed me,

how my body is no longer mine

how it hasn’t been for a while now.

I picked out the date for my death,

don’t worry,
it’s not for a few more months

my heart feels like a weight
I have never been trained to carry

I’m sorry that I never told you
who I really am

my body has become a casket;
I bury my secrets inside of me

hoping that the ghost
is not too noticeable.

The other day you asked me
why my smile looks so different,

why my eyes look so tired all the time,

I didn’t know how to answer.

Loneliness has become my closest friend-

isolation my only defense mechanism,

I stopped going to counseling
after I brought up the assault
and sexual abuse

because suddenly I was too exposed,
the pain became too raw-
everything too real.

I thought my counselor would hate me
just as much as I hate myself.

Guilt and shame crush my soul everyday,
they grind my bones to dust

my skin is a canvas for pain;

I draw the hurt I feel inside
onto my body hoping you understand

how deep this sadness runs;

sadness is an indescribable pain-

all five oceans live in my chest,

they drown me in their waves

as they throw me into their shore;

I cry for help-

but no sound ever comes out.