my mother’s daughter

every time your words pierce my fragile mind, i find myself six years old again. staring at my thighs and wondering why they can’t look like yours
why i can’t be what you want

you have a funny way of pushing me away, then dragging me back into your twisted games, your crooked lies. i never wanted to see that the most lethal danger to my peace has been you

but yet again, i am taken back to when i am nine years old
and you don’t allow me an ice cream cone
not really a big deal, except i watch my friends eat guiltlessly as i sit staring at my thighs wishing i could burn them away

and now i think to myself, it’s always been the same with you.

because now i am thirteen years old and i step on that ruthless black pit every morning like clockwork
the digits burn into my mind, as i cry because another tenth of a pound is going to make me lose you

but i never had you, did i? i was always asking for things you couldn’t give
how selfish of me
unconditional love is too much to ask

and now, six years later and i find myself hunched over in the bathroom, doors locked, eyes watery, red scratches on my thighs
my finger has found a home in my throat and i think about how i could never find a home in you, and never will.

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monsters under the bed

little potted plants
white duvets
crinkled sheets
and a bleeding heart

dim lights
stuffed giraffes
my favorite sweater
and tear stains

how terrifying it is to
be in a place so safe
but feel so
in danger

dear life

There are no words in any language to describe the feeling I get in my chest, like something awful is happening even though I’m halfway through a laugh with my friends.

I hate the way my throat grows a lump big enough that I swear it could crush my entire body. Sometimes I wish it would, because God knows it’s already crushing my spirit.

I’ll never understand how I can stare at a wall and feel so empty, so hollow, yet feel everything all at once. Underwhelmed yet overwhelmed by life at the same time.

I don’t know how I can sit across from a person every week, protected by four comforting walls and a promise, divulging every nook and cranny of my mind, yet still feel like I am losing control.

I can’t comprehend why it brings me comfort to cause my body pain. How a sting can feel like relief. Like the hurt is flowing out of me, yet regret and disappointed rage in.

And so the cycle continues.

worth it.

the heartbreak and pain
were not accidents
for they led me down a narrow trail
accompanied by old monsters
lonely and shattered,
i fought them off

there i was,
winding through the forest and crawling through the gravel
torn up

on an isolated and dangerous path
that led me right to you
and to myself

conditional

guilt suffocates me like cellophane
each layer clinging tightly to my body
one for each year of heartbreak

she says her love wraps around my being
what she doesn’t know is
it fights so hard to break through the barrier she has built
it pulses against me
unable to penetrate the 19 layers of pain she has provided

and through tears
she whispers,
“you know i love you, right?”

despite all her cruel words
she expects me to know this
to wholeheartedly embrace it

i can see it,
but i cannot feel it
for guilt and shame overwhelm my senses
and suddenly i am drowning in my memories
admitting to a love i do not feel

wrapped in this godforsaken cellophane,
a gift from my mother
i am bursting with emotion, yet empty

wrapped so tightly
desperate for love
i walk around suffocating
desperate to feel
something she cannot provide

         —i know you did your best, mom

recovery

i use to swing along the line of life and death in my mind
teetering with reasons to stay and reasons to go

how could i ever think such thoughts when there are sunsets that make even the most pessimistic of people stop to gaze,
with hues of orange and pink and lilac
covering the horizon in swirls and gradients so beautiful that only the naked eye can capture its true essence

how could i ever think such thoughts when there are sunday mornings filled with pancakes and my father in a small café
hearing the clinking of coffee mugs and the strange yet familiar laughter of strangers

how could i ever think such thoughts when there are beaches with velvety sand and a symphony made up of gawking birds and the sound of the ocean kissing the shore,
filled with naps in the scorching sun and the reading of new novels that have been left in my bookcase for months

how could i ever think such thoughts when there are soft kisses and passionate kisses laced together with sweet smiles and the whisper of “i love you”, leaving even the most grounded of people up in the clouds

the sad thing is,
i know exactly how i could think such thoughts
because they once took up all of the vacancies in my mind
they are unwelcome visitors that still bang on my door from time to time

to the broken:
i hear you,
i see you
i will hold your hand until you see light again, just as people have done for me
and i will walk with you until the heaviness turns to feathers of hope

clouded

how do i stop fearing the future when i also fear the present?
why is the past so haunting yet so inviting?
on which side of reality will i finally be content?

                  —anxiety

it ends here

at one year old, i giggled and toddled around,
and at 5 years old, i began to understand.
at 6 years old, i proclaimed my need to lose weight off of my thighs.
time came and went, but the message remained the same.
as other mothers passed down a love of baking or hiking to their daughters, my mother held my hand and walked me down a self-destructive path.
at 14 years old, i began counting calories.
at 17 years old, i found my finger down my throat and lines on my wrist.
at 18 years old, i crumbled.
& at 19 years old, i learned how to walk away.
how to run away.
escaping the lies that had been fed to me along with a 900 calorie diet.
i learned that strong is all that matters.
i learned that words said to try to shrink my thighs and my hips can be silenced by the fortitude of my own thoughts.
most importantly, i decided that
this ends with me
when I have daughters of my own, i will pass down a love of running, not because it will make their bodies thin like bending branches, but because it will make them strong.
i will show them the wonders of writing and emptying out every nook and cranny of their brains.
i will expose them to different cultures, exploring new food, excited by the flavors and not trembling because of the calories
i will show them how to love themselves, and hold their hands when they do not.
i will never comment on their bodies,
only their brains, their hearts, their spirits
above all else, I will love unconditionally
because
this ends with me

“what’s yours, is mine”

laying in your low-lit room,
engulfed by your arms and your company
i hold onto you as my heart starts beating like claps of thunder
faster and harder as the storm begins
my breath quickens, in competition with my heart
shallow and starved
i am drowning in myself
the cruel reality leaves my lips and sticks in your mind
you hold me
running your fingers through my shaking hands
kissing my forehead, wiping my tears
my tears turn from ones of fear to ones of awe
we fall asleep intertwined and i wish
i could stay here
forever

—his first glimpse at my anxiety