Push

My husband pushes me with prodding questions about my sexual history

It enrages him that I don’t display the intimate details of my past like trinkets at a flea market

He pries with jealous tones in his voice

He has nothing better to do than ‘solve the riddle’ of how many men have slept with me

I tell him the truth; I don’t know

I don’t tell him why there were too many to count. Early abuse trained me to be sex-trafficked, I was overworked and undersold

There are experiences in my life that I didn’t ask for

Uninvited guests who ruined my party

I have been violated more times than I’d care to tell

I don’t want to relive that hell

He is undeserving of such personal and painful information

His prying unlocks in me that deep dark, that suicidality that was once my constant companion

Standing face to face again, it is clear how much I have healed over time, and yet

I understand why ending my life is a natural conclusion

To take back my body, reclaim my flesh as my own

To liberate myself at last from the unbearable physical memories he invokes with his dredging interrogation

He cannot fathom the damage he causes

We end this round shouting

I dread and prepare for the inevitable; the next time he broaches the topic

When he demands out of the blue that I recap the worst moments of my life, I feel energetically destroyed

I start to count the cars on that long train of trauma and feel like a trapped animal, desperate for a way out

My old friend suicidality extends a hand, ‘I am here for you, when you feel pushed.’

He and She

He

He drugged her and got her drunk

He did things to her she’ll never forget

I wonder if he’d regret it if he could fathom the depths of the wound he inflicted so easily

She

She started to cut herself to release the pain

She smoked, swallowed and sniffed but could never escape for long enough

Does he ever think back to that night and wonder how she must have felt to be violated

Does he ever imagine the horrors rippling through her body still?

Does he see the selfishness and the cruelty of his actions?

She overdosed last month

She was revived in time

She is still alive

Tears flow from her eyes

She comes to me for relief

I hold space for her grief

I cannot undo the wound or the crisis which ensued

I can only offer a new way for her to view her pain today

The struggle is real

She will feel how she feels

But in harming herself she only perpetuates his actions against her

Together we form a plan that will allow her wound to heal

Cortisol

This cortisol currency you pillage out of me from depths unseen

Cannot mean as much to you as it means to me

Your hands remain empty as I am depleted

You are the storm-maker but I will not be defeated

I’m recycling my resources

Your hot air will run its course

I will hold steady

So go ahead, shake my tree

I have plenty of cortisol, from depths unseen

Enough for you and for me

Hard to Break

I am human, with a messy human body and mind

I don’t intend to hurt anyone, yet I have a habit of leaving a trail of broken hearts behind me

I’m gifted at making people feel loved and special

I celebrate their strengths and passions

I serve up what everybody craves

When I cease to deliver their fix, they protest that I’ve misbehaved

I’m trying to shake this old survival skill that used to protect me but now makes me ill

I’m trying to garner new abilities, but ancient habits are hard to break when they are built into your anatomy

Too Much

Are you upset because you feel that you gave too much, darling?

Too much love and affection, only to end in rejection?

Too much energy and time, too much of your body and mind, did you spend too many of your dimes?

Too many gifts, too many kisses?

You were too much for me

I risked my life for you, with every imposed act of unprotected sex

Your arms were prison bars to me, your body was a wall I couldn’t make fall

Finally free with the help of geography, I set to work separating you from me

I told you so many times that your love was toxic for me

You cared only for yourself, I was an object on your shelf

We both gave up the chance to be with dozens of other lovers

I gave you the best years of my life and you riddled them with strife

I thank you for all of that, even though being trapped in an unhealthy relationship damn near killed me

You were my drinking buddy and my drunk enemy

You never kept the peace for long

A loud grievance about how the world did you wrong was perpetually erupting

Despite the fact that you were a spoiled, silver spoon over-fed blond haired, blue-eyed white American male

Honey, your complaining is still ringing in my ears

You gave me the time of my life, never after

Our friends went out of their way to keep us apart because the damage we caused each other was so painful for them to watch

Our approaches to life are opposite

I ask what I can give

You ask what you can take

No wonder you were so fond of me

You want without end

I could never satisfy you

I am at peace now, and I wish the same for you

I no longer feel torn by my simultaneous love and loathing for you

I feel only grateful to have survived our relationship

It was almost too much

Unlikely Pair

‘Why is a pretty girl like you talking to a guy like me?’ he asked.

I told him truthfully, ‘You are the guy in front of me right now.’

Sensing his mistrust, I elaborated:

I’ve been chewed up and spit out, tumbled round and all about, fumbled and dropped the ball, felt smaller than no one at all.

I’ve been kicked around and smacked down, fallen hard in every town, pulled by the undertow

Where I’ll land, nobody knows

I’ve been chomped, gnashed and lashed out, and finally washed up on your shore

What more are you looking for?

Invisible

I grew up in invisible poverty

Not in a city housing project, but surrounded by trees- keepers of my sanity

Unfortunately, I didn’t cling tight to that original green

I left the nature that uplifted me to get swallowed by the big city

I did hard time in the belly of that proverbial whale

I was a natural at drinking at bars and hitching rides from strangers in cars

I ran as fast as I could in the workaholic race without stopping to realize that I was headed away from that which my heart truly desired- tranquility and peace

I recreated the high stress of my childhood without seeing my own role in the process

Perhaps the cycle of trauma is not fully broken, yet I am breaking free

The chains that bind me are invisible, yet I feel them loosen and weaken

I get stronger every day

Doc

My patients come to me and say, ‘Doc, I have pain’

All of life is pain and comfort, my powers are few in the face of this universal truth

We try all manner of pills, topical treatments, injections and various therapies, yet the pain persists

Soul pain lies beyond the reach of western medicine

My patients come to me and say, ‘Doc, I cannot sleep’

All of life is fear and relief, effort and rest, I’ll do my best

I send multiple prescriptions, adjust doses, fill out piles of disability paperwork

I work extremely hard so that my patients don’t have to work at all

Although we share the same afflictions; anxiety with panic attacks, depression, insomnia, PTSD, nightmares

Perhaps my patients are doing more for themselves than I will ever do for myself

They are allowing themselves to be helped, although nothing we’ve tried so far seems to help much

No cure in sight, just a lifetime of refills

I’ve yet to outwardly acknowledge the inner storm that rages below my placid surface

My family conditioned me not to feel my feelings, trained me to exist only in service of others, to live for their benefit

The few times during childhood that I made the mistake of showing that I was human, that I was hurting, I received swift and searing backlash

Perhaps my patients are healing me by showing me what it looks like to be vulnerable, by saying ‘I can’t do this’

Yet I fear that I am keeping them unwell, allowing them to accept the sick role without hope of cure by signing their disability forms, by saying ‘you don’t have to do anything’

How will they ever heal themselves if they don’t have to?

How will they gain meaning from their experiences if their feelings are dulled by the drugs I prescribe, if I enable them to spend their life alone and inside?

I show myself how strong I am by forcing myself to function full-throttle in the world despite my invisible disabilities

How will my patients know how strong they are if their strength is not tested?

Am I secretly as callous as my parents, though I act with compassion?

Should I be more like my patients; take it easy and ask for help, or should my patients be more like me and tow their own weight, accept the normalcy of adverse human experiences, work even though they haven’t slept in days, like I do?

I have PTSD, nightmares, insomnia, panic, crippling anxiety and depression, but I carry on because I have to, or so I believe

Maybe I don’t have to do this anymore

Even though I work like a dog and pay my own way through life, even as the taxes I pay in part to support my patients’ disability benefits bleed me dry, I prefer the freedom to create my own life to dependence on a system that provides too little too late to survivors of child abuse

I want to stop asking my patients what is wrong and start asking them what is strong

We are all warriors

May I be a warrior of peace

May I heal myself in order to light the way for others on their healing journey

Fairytale

The story of the love of my life was like a fairytale

I followed the promise of the afternoon breeze right to my love

On our first date we went for a walk on a winding, icy path through the woods, during which I fell into his arms repeatedly

The pull into each other’s gravity was too strong to overcome

I got knocked up right away

We planned it that way

But it didn’t stay

I was sick with fatigue, nausea, and depression and didn’t have the time or money to have a baby

I thought he would step up to the role of a caretaker but he had his own self-imposed obligations

Not a day went by that he didn’t lose his phone or his wallet, how could I raise a kid with him?

No one, not even him, supported me the way I needed

As soon as the abortion was scheduled I joined a dating app

Still pregnant, I went for picnics in the park with strangers and drank homemade sangria which had warmed in the afternoon sun

A few bad dates later and my sanity returned to me in the clarity of my non-pregnant state,

I realized that he was actually pretty great

Sure, he didn’t own the condo or the SUV and wasn’t offering me the lifetime of security that the dating app men were, but he felt right to me

So we got back together

I cheated on him once while he was out of town and I was planning on breaking up with him when he returned, except I didn’t

I think I will feel ashamed of my misdeeds my whole life

Then we got engaged, married, and I am pregnant again, except now with more time, money and support than before

He no longer loses important things

We are living happily ever after

Except for every time he rehashes the past

Which is too often

I don’t want to talk about every sexual act I’ve ever done with a man, yet he harps on the topic

I wish I hadn’t created such a horror film of a life

I’m trying to sculpt a happier future

For me and the little one

I keep thinking I will stop swearing and start glowing

Holy shit, I’m pregnant

Although I am wary of parenting because my own childhood was awful

I will do a better job than my parents

Every day is my happy ending