Three years ago, looking in the mirror was the hardest part of my day. I would brush my teeth and get dressed with the lights off, only flicking them on to check that I didn’t get any tooth paste on my face, before flicking them off with a churning in my stomach. The mirror showed me a person I didn’t like to see. She wasn’t unattractive really, she just wasn’t the person I wanted to be. Feeling this way continued for over a year, and I’m honestly not sure why I let it go on for this long, but I know I’m not alone.
The girls you see on social media or in the hallways at school or walking down the street after work are not nearly as confident as they seem. The skinny girl who seems to have it all together goes home and cries, wishing stores actually sold her size, just as the girl with the curves you envy does the same. The girl with the bright blue hair that shines a smile so bright you think you’ll go blind is hiding a depression darker than even the blackest night, just as the girl wearing all black wishes she wasn’t breathing as she takes another swig from the bottle.
The mirror isn’t nice to any of us. There is no secret, no switch that will allow you to love yourself. There isn’t a single person who looks into the mirror and loves every single thing they see. I promise you that. If I can promise you anything, it is that you are not alone. It took me over a year to realize that I didn’t have to force myself to love the girl I saw every morning. I didn’t have to love her – but she had never stopped loving me. No matter how many times I turned the lights off on her, pinched her rolls between my fingers, pulled at her frizzy hair, bit her nails – she still loved me despite it all.
Today, looking in the mirror still isn’t fun some days. I dread turning on the light and seeing that one tooth that sits back too far. I know I am going to grimace at the little hairs that grow above my lips where they shouldn’t. My stomach turns at how my hair never lays flat, always sticks off in random directions. But I still do it. I still turn the lights on. I still give her a long look and a smile, and I tell her I love her.
Sometimes I wish I lived in a tropical paradise so that
every year as the ground begins to freeze
maybe my heart and body would have a chance.
They tell me it’s seasonal depression as the snow begins to fall
and so does my stomach but I think I would prefer to call it
seasonal happiness for me who gets
maybe two good months of easy smiles
and forces them through heartbreak the other ten.
My heart loves the Holiday spirit but my body hates the cold
my body loves the hot chocolate and festive music but my heart hates
the forced nameless sadness that makes itself home in my chest.
They tell me it’s normal and that it will pass
but for twenty one years I have lived every day
waiting for it to pass.
Maybe next year this seasonal happiness will stay.
Never have I wanted to be a better person more than when I look into your eyes –
This isn’t to say I am a bad person, but when you look up at me
I want to be a saint.
When your tiny fingers close around mine I know I can’t give you the world
but I would give you mine in a heartbeat.
Holding you even for just a moment glues my wounds shut and
for those few seconds I feel like a little kid again –
When your blue eyes seek mine for answers I know I can’t protect you
from every evil in this world – you have a Daddy and Papa
with big hands and even bigger hearts for that –
But know my arms will always be a place for you to rest and know
my ear will always be here to listen and know
no matter how far away I am
I will always drop whatever task is at hand
if you ask me to and I will drive or I will fly or I will crawl but I will
I did not give you life baby girl – you have the worlds best Mama given to you by the worlds best Nana –
but know Auntie would give her last breath if it meant you could have just
(A poem explaining my absence lately)
I owe no apology for taking a break mentally or emotionally
to anybody who picks and prods into my whereabouts
I owe no apology for living this life the way I choose however
I owe an explanation for the way my body has changed
I owe an explanation for the way my mind has grown because maybe
someone could learn from me when I walk into a room and
I no longer think I am the ugliest or the dumbest
I owe an explanation for this growth that sprouted from
planting myself in the dark, in the silence, alone
Light coming in from slats, reaching me in the deepest corners so that
when I stepped out
my wings unfolded.
I owe no apology for taking a break but I do want to let you know
you can take one too.
Before my feet even cross over the invisible line between real world and hospital
I have already convinced myself I am dying of ten different incurable diseases.
I have started my list of “things to do before I die”
- Stop stressing so damn much before there is even stress to stress about
I walk out of the doctors office with a prescription for an anxiety drug that will
“help me not worry so much” and the memory of a very tired doctor repeating that
I was not going to die any time soon.
But what if that truck swerves into my lane and hits me?
What if my car bursts into flames as soon as I shut the door?
What if today is my last day? –
I am not afraid of death or dying
I am afraid of everything.
When the ground began to shake, forming human size gaps in it’s core,
we knew this was the end.
When the trees began to fall and the sky began to rumble deep in it’s belly
we heard the cries.
Mothers reached for their children,
Fathers didn’t have arms big enough to hold everyone they wanted,
Doctors rushed to save any life they could,
Fire fighters tried in vain to stop the burning,
Police officers fought to regain control –
I held onto myself, watching as the world I complained about so often
fell in shambles around me and all I could think was
if only we could go back a few days
Maybe I could stop the burning before it began.
I left my tongue under your pillow last night
after the kissing and the touching and the lack of talking I tried
to tell you how I felt but my tongue slipped from my mouth and
now it’s stuck there under your white pillow case
wiggling, desperate to be heard so if you see it
please give it back.
I left my hands in your bathroom after I was done cleaning up
after the caressing and the lack of snuggling
I tried to reach out to you
to get you back but my hands disconnected and now
they are somewhere in your bathroom searching for something
they will never find so if you hear them
please keep them safe for me.
I tried to leave my heart with you
the only piece of my body I was willing to give but
you wouldn’t take it –
maybe this is why my body began to fall apart
leaving parts of itself where only you will find it
maybe my heart wasn’t good enough but maybe my
tongue or my hands
Your body is in perfect working order in regards to your physical health still
your heart feels as if it may shatter into a million unrecognizable pieces without warning
so I have bought you some duct tape. I have called out of work and canceled my meetings. I have brought with me some wine and my collection of mixed CD’s that were collecting dust and I have brought with me my heart.
My heart isn’t working right either. With each breath I can feel the pain slowly inching closer to my chest, working it’s way into my emotions but I am still breathing.
You are still breathing. We are both broken. Maybe alone, broken beyond repair.
You get a little tipsy and start whispering to me about suicide. It’s not a mistake. The words that roll off your lips are intentional, your eyes well up with tears.
Your heart is splitting and it can’t take much more.
So I am going to reach into my chest and break my heart in half and gently, I am going to do the same to yours, and we can trade because maybe having a friend with you with every breath you take is really the only thing we need
and if I can save you maybe I can also save myself
if there is hope for you maybe there is also hope for me
so take this – the only thing I have to offer and
do with it the best you can
the best anyone can with two halves of two broken hearts.
-A Kinda Pretty Mess
One night I realized I had been ignoring the loudest answers the universe
had been trying to give me –
each time I screamed into the void and heard nothing in reply I
sank to the ground in defeat convincing myself
there were no answers
convincing my wounded heart that I had sunk the lowest
I possibly could and this was the end –
the silence echoed in sorrow each time I turned away defeated
trying to signal me with ringing cries as each time
I sunk to the ground
Except tonight –
Tonight I listened and finally came to see
silence is the loudest answer of them all.
I’m at a shopping mall browsing through clothing racks
to maybe fill some of this emotional void with material items when
I hear them fighting two rows down
his voice is louder but she is clearly winning
cutting edge tongue to throat rips
he storms off and outside lights a cigarette
she continues to shop now with a stern look on her face
daring the fabric between her fingers to tell her she is wrong.
My mama used to tell me I would start fights just to win them
I worked with a man who never missed a chance to remind me my attitude was
what he meant to say was –
your attitude is intimidating when worn by a woman.