Detective

My man wants to know my whole sexual history

My hesitation to unleash the demons from my trauma box only sets a wildfire of suspicion in his mind

I feel eaten alive at the crossroad of past and present men

He says that his woman must be held accountable for her actions

He references a religious belief that has nothing to do with me

I try to not fall over from the sexism

He interrogates me, my family and friends

Trying to connect loose ends

My body feels criminalized

Every time he learns of another ex-boyfriend

He guns down a line of accusations and invasive questions without end

He longs to latch on to that ethereal number of how many men have had sex with me

God only knows

When he demands that I relive the worst moments of my life

I want to end my life, though I do not tell him the invisible repercussions of his prying

I am a private person

With each new photograph he finds, he looks for clues

‘You were a pretty little girl’ he concludes upon examination of a picture taken during grade school, as if that were proof of my unchasteness

He dissects each word from conversation, trying to find deeper meaning, spinning stories where there were none before

Like a man watching porn, he is only interested in penises and penetrations

He has been marinating in his own scrotal sac for too long

To men like him, women are only important in relation to other men

I feel insane with rage

First I suffer a lifetime of molestation, rape and violation

Then I suffer being shamed and blamed for the crimes committed against my body, judged for events that occurred before we met

He is not worthy of hearing about my pain, he has not earned my trust

He may unearth old rumors kicking around this small town

But he will not find the rivers of tears I have cried

He will not see the countless non-consensual encounters I have survived

He will not hear my inner screams silenced by fear and lack of self-worth

I have learned enough to know that I deserve better than this

Lay down your case, detective

Put down your spy glass and quiet your inquisitive mind

What you are searching for has been in front of you all along

A good woman who loves you, committed her life to you, and wants to do right by you

Please do right by her

High

I’ve spent most of my life high on fructose and other forms of sugar

That sweet drug with bitter side-effects on body and mind

Unassuming and ubiquitous, I didn’t suspect that my sugar habit was the mastermind behind my anxiety, depression, insomnia, acne, and menstrual woes

There was no medicine that could counter-balance the unbalance I swallowed and wallowed in

Though my habits were formed before I had a choice, I choose to continue my addiction bite by bite

I didn’t find my groove with marijuana

I was too squeamish to inhale or inject

Alcohol was easy, that hand-me-down comfort

Alcohol made me easy, made me almost forget to feel myself cringe when I pimped myself out- I only valued myself if other people valued me, my body was a battlefield between my ego and my low self-esteem.

Dear sisters, gather yourself before you gather sugar, alcohol and other drugs. Once you cross the threshold of being physically intimate, men act like they own you.

It is your birthright to be free, your birthright to feel bliss.

With feet on the ground, now I know how truly sweet it is.

My Man

My man wants to know how many men I’ve had sex with.

I tell him the truth: I don’t know.

I don’t feel the need to know how many times I’ve been raped. I have no desire to quantify the horror, shame or mistakes. I might explode with rage if I focused on those who eagerly traumatized me for their own pleasure.

During my employment as a happy-ending masseuse, I ended up giving much more than the hand jobs I signed up for. Now I’m trying to create a happy ending for my own life but my man keeps asking me about the past. His questions awaken violent emotions in me.

The customers who paid for hand-jobs knew that I wouldn’t call the police when they raped me because I’d be incriminating myself.

My only crime was being born below the poverty line. Self-abuse and self-neglect were ingrained in me by my parents.

I was hungry and trying to get an education I couldn’t afford. I was told ‘here is the ladder you must climb to reach a better life.’ I set to climbing. I solved my financial problems creatively.

My man fixates on the absence of the number of men. I’d tell him if I knew, maybe.

His questions feel invasive and probing.

I used to be valued by men for what I could give- my young, beautiful body.

Now I am devalued by my man for what I have given men.

Men only value women in relation to other men.

When will I be seen as my own person, my own human, inherently invaluable?

My man bemoans what I don’t know; the quantity of traumas too numerous to count, too common to stand out in my blurred memory.

Yet he doesn’t complain about the food I put on his plate, the home I make, or the bills I pay.

I implore him to wait, let me tell my story when I feel ready. I don’t think I’ll ever feel ready. When he asks me about my sexual history I feel ill, anxious and hurt.

I find my breath, reassure myself that he didn’t mean to inflict suffering, and flirt with forgiveness. I remind myself that my spiritual groundedness is stronger than even my exaggerated stress response, my current perceived crisis.

He knows that I was a pushover, pretty and poor. For all of his scheming, jealousy and time spent thinking about me, you’d think my man would connect the dots.

Frozen

Frozen lover

Why are you so cold?

You don’t hear my invitation

To hold you and warm you

You don’t remember the nights of exquisite fire

You are a part of me

I can’t separate you from myself, nor do I want to

I see you behind my eyes

I feel you though I do not have you

If I had you, I would feel you more

But you don’t hear me

You want me to be your whore

Instead of the divine woman that I am

My fire cannot melt your frozen heart

But my warmth liberates me from your icy bondage

I wish you peace in your heart

Love Languages

If you want to show me that you care about me

Be gentle

Be non-judgmental

Don’t bully me or pressure me, manipulate me or coerce me

Don’t try to imprint your paranoid delusions on my mind

Don’t ever tell me what to do, when, or with whom

Control is not my love language

My love language is freedom

Acceptance

Shining light in darkness

Healing and growth

Leaning through the veil of illusion

Not argumentative protrusion into the autonomy of others

You asked me if you were ‘other people’ to me

Absurdly

Like a child wailing from ego injury, I reassured you that you were special, that you are important to me. You are, but for different reasons than you think you are.

Though we are separate, we are also not separate

We are one spirit

You have forgotten

May you remember

Until then, you babble on

Rambling brook

Carrying messages in bottles

Smashing against the rocks of my enlightenment

If you want to win the game, you have to play

To play, you must be playful

Stop making everything so serious, so grave

Stop pretending that you care about oppressed people

As you actively oppress me

You shout for the voiceless, marching with your fist in the air

As you silence my voice without a care

If you care about me, let me be myself, let me live my life

You have your own life to live, your own love language of anger and jealousy

To communicate, we must learn each other’s languages

I think I’m learning your language of anger when I want to shout at you, ‘Leave me alone, I’ve always wanted you out of my life, I’ve had enough of your abuse’.

I refuse to be controlling and jealous like you.

Perhaps you will learn my language and say, ‘I accept you as you are without judgment, I love you unconditionally, I support you as you follow your heart’

Sleep Talking

Long ago and far away
On a bus grinding through the night
The air thick with sweat and grime
All we had was time
Beer and ice cream on my lips
Bitterness and liquor on his
The man next to me said that I was afraid of talking in my sleep
He overstepped the boundary that I failed to establish between us
Sometimes when I wake up alone, I wonder if my lover heard me sleep-talking and left me to wallow in my past
I want to tell him the truth about my life, but I fear that he would stop loving me,
or worse- rehash it endless times and tell his religious family who would judge me as a hell-bound, lying, baby-killing whore
They’d be right, in a sense
I have exchanged sex for money and I’ve had 3 abortions, each one horrible in its own way, but not as bad as being stuck in an abusive, disempowering situation
Judge not, motherfuckers
I don’t want any man to judge the decisions I’ve made about my body
Least of all a man who is financially dependent on my career: a profession which swallowed my fetuses whole
My past is nobody’s business but my own
I don’t want to be given a hard time for the hard times I’ve already been through
I’m trying to heal and move on
I’m trying to meet myself with compassion for the trauma I’ve endured
I am strong and tough and vulnerable and delicate
My dark secrets are at once more innocent and scandalous than my jealous partners imagine
I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore so I stopped being pregnant
You weren’t supporting me by being broke and leaving me shamefully unmarried
I didn’t want to spend the weekend with you so I didn’t
I regret the weekend away because the other men treated me both better and worse than you, but I love you- painfully clear now that the hormonal storm of pregnancy has simmered down
Why do I set myself up for drama and disaster? I’m trying to heal but your rehashing of the past dredges up emotional detritus, dragging me back
My old stress addiction dies hard
I clamp my jaw
My teeth grind like a bus in the night
I pray that I didn’t sleep talk last night

Triggerfinger

I wish I wasn’t so easily trauma triggered
It doesn’t take much to push me out of touch with feeling safe
A slightly raised voice makes me lose all choice but to
freeze and collapse
The physiology of my stress response takes over
Though I try to stop it, my heart races, my pulse pounds, a heaviness crushes my chest, suffocating me, it feels like I can’t breathe
How long has it been since I last took a breath?
Now I make a conscious effort to unclamp my rusted-shut jaw from my tongue but the battle is not so easily won
Years later the everyday trauma tape continues to play on loop I feel like I’m still in those moments when I didn’t know what to say, the epic fail drags me down into a pit of mental battering and spirit shattering
‘Good enough’ remains just out of reach
I hold the tension in my body and the voices of my aggressors echo between my ears
I’m caught between anger and tears                                                                                Regretting the past and fearing the future
I worry that if I ever get married or have a baby, my ex-partners will come after me in fits of blind jealousy
The ex’s that have expressed ill-will and death-wishes to me,                                                the ones with guns, violent tendencies and criminal histories                                               God, will I live my whole life without ever feeling safe?                                                    Mental abuse is physical abuse: you can see it, feel it, measure it in my body                       It is detrimental to my health and wellbeing                                                                                    I meditate on being held in a sphere of protective light                                                          and pray that I won’t have nightmares again tonight                                                      Healing the mind is not easy                                                                                                               I am humbled at how quickly I slip into depression and anxiety                                           my constant companions of which I am never truly free                                                       The next time my trauma gets triggered, which will happen soon                                      May I relax the grip of my fingers and remember that I am held in safety                      even when it feels impossible to believe                                                                                          I find peace in remembering that not even my trauma,                                                      which seems to be at the very core of me                                                                                      Is mine to keep                                                                                                                                   All things end eventually