The Peace and the Panic

I felt like I wasn’t being heard today.

My therapist and I do this weird little dance in which she asks deep, thought-provoking questions, and I brush them off because I don’t like talking about painful subjects. When I get rolling, talking about something I really enjoy discussing (like the project that I’ll get to in a few paragraphs) I can go on and on, and she sometimes interrupts me. I do know that she’s usually either trying to redirect me to something actually relevant, or just asking for clarification. But as someone who is frequently talked over and cut off in casual conversation, it’s frustrating for this to extend to therapy.

I’m on an as-needed schedule with this therapist, and she can usually work me in within a week of when I need to be seen. I really wanted to see her before the 15th of this month, which I did, but it wasn’t exactly the healing, plan-making session I needed.

I also realize my therapist is not here to coddle me, not here to give me a participation trophy or a pat on the back for doing the bare minimum. I’m past the days where I feel the need to celebrate getting out of bed and putting on clean jeans–and I’m thankful to be in a mental space where I can say that. After all, there was quite a while when even the bare minimum was monumental. What I want to avoid is stagnation. If I don’t keep challenging myself to reach new goals in recovery, I will start going backwards.

The reason December 15th is significant is that it’s “the day everything happened with Tim,” the day I was raped four years ago. As someone who can barely remember her own phone number, I find it extremely frustrating that 12/15/16 is forever burned into my memory. It was the last day of the semester, I was failing all of my classes, and the rest is history.

Every year since then, I’ve requested the day off from work. It’s more of a “better safe than sorry,” mentality because I never know how I’m going to feel on that particular day. I’d rather not have to go home from work because I freaked out, and then add the extra embarrassment of leaving early to all the other stuff that day entails. My therapist told me that this was unwise, that I’m giving the day too much power, and that I need to find a way to reclaim it.

Yes, but how?

As all good stories begin, I recently bought a piece of lingerie without trying it on. When I finally got around to seeing if it fit, it definitely did not. I laughed at how I looked like a sausage crammed into this thing and hung it over my bed post, intending to return it at some point. The more I thought about it, the more it meant to me. I’d glance at it as I passed through my room and think, “It’s kind of a slutty outfit… Where would I even wear it… What would so-and-so think… It’s kind of a slutty outfit…”

Native Tongue

Who taught you
the language of your self?

Remember the simple fables,
told in a voice both lilting
and guttural,
that spare inflection:
field, water, stone,
body, safety, house.

When your own tongue
is foreign in someone else’s mouth,
do not let another decide
who you are
to be.

Recall: body, safety, house,
introspection, self, harmony.

Before ever there were
tongues and mouths
bodies and water–


Creation is a necessity for me. I’m envisioning that piece of lingerie full of chicken wire, and then papier mache made from my journals of the year 2016. I’ll paint it, and ultimately I intend to burn the whole thing. It’s going to hang from a tree in my backyard. It’s going to be weird and it might not turn out right. But it’s a start.

Untitled Poem 2020

cerulean streaks in her hair,
rosy liquor in her glass,
she speaks to me
in that low voice of the damned
crying out for redemption.

girlhood, the de-emotion
the un-learning of
the girlchild code
of tender kindness

the demotion from
human to void to fill,
begging to be believed,
who is your God?

and is He a rapist too?

tell your false idols:
my God is a woman,
and She will walk you
all the way home.

At some point, I am going to have to come to terms with the fact that I am not a terrible person even though terrible things have happened to me. I’m going to have to stop expecting the universe to give me a fair treatment, to punish those who I believe are wicked.

I don’t think everything happens for a reason. I think things happen and then we find a reason. All I can do is keep going.

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