Welcoming Springtime, Welcoming Scars.

Every time spring rolls back around and the sun compels me to roll my sleeves back up, I feel a certain sense of panic. People are going to see. People are going to know what I have done to myself. I am always overcome with dread, with embarrassment, with shame. 

The thing is, I understand your concern (and I’m also grateful for it). I also understand your fear. I understand it when you don’t understand. 

And I want you to know: I see you when you see. It’s alright. You don’t have to do the awkward double take when you think I’m not looking. You don’t have to apologize for the shocked wide-eyed glances nor for the worried or grossed out looks either. They make sense. I’m sorry for making you uncomfortable. You know, discomfort is one of the feelings that lead me to this. We can probably talk about that. (Ooh, bonding!)

My comfort zone is hiding. It is second nature for me to pull my sleeve over my hand and always keep it held tight with a finger or two. But how many bold and powerful things grow when buried beneath a comfort zone? 

I want to be bold. I strive for powerful.

The goal is to be soft and strong at the same time, to coexist with the good and the bad parts of myself.

So here it is, spring time, and you’re probably going to see. I want you to remember this: I’m still me. I still love to doodle, I drink my tea with too much milk, and I never know what to do with my hands. I love unicorns and Snow White and the moon. I’m working on loving myself, and God, aren’t we all? I was hurt, and sometimes, I am still hurting. I am the aching wounds of a girl whose soul has felt broken, and I am the resilience of the scars that stitched her skin back together. I am healing.

I am healing.

There is no shame in the process.

I am choosing unashamed.

I am choosing transparent.

I am choosing authentic.

I am choosing myself, in every form, in every season.

(If you have questions, please feel free to ask me! I am not a mental health professional, but I have lived with my particular brain and it’s disorders for a long time now, and I am happy to share my experiences. I love the opportunity to shine a light on issues that have been so darkened for so long. One of the things that has comforted me most is the knowledge that other people have felt this way too. Other people do what I do. We are all more alike than we think sometimes. Simply, we all do things. We all have our stuff. And talking about the stuff, starting the hard conversations, sitting with a friend in a place of pain – it is so important. That’s how we fight back. That’s how we learn recovery.)

(Here’s a portion of a blog that I love, a narrative about self-harm scars that feels like it came from my own heart. I’ll link the whole blog below. ❤️)

“Please don’t be afraid of the marks that you see. It is OK to ask for my story. It’s OK to acknowledge you see what is going on. I don’t mind. Please don’t look away with embarrassment or discomfort. Only through honesty and openness can we beat the stigma of this disease. This is an illness of great shame and secrecy. Please don’t continue to let it exist in silence. It is OK that this has happened to me.”

https://twloha.com/blog/the-story-of-my-scars/

Advertisements

Nurture.

(A poem for a little girl I once knew.)


A little girl, 

Maybe 5,

Cries in her closet alone.

Long hair, braided with pink ribbons,

Freckled cheeks, streaked with warm tears.

Rooms away, and yet,

Worlds away,

A family prays over breakfast.

The clinking of silverware with the bright peals of laughter provide a twisted soundtrack

To the quiet gulps of a hidden hurting,

A child consumed by a pain she is too small to carry.

No one hears her.

No one sees.

They’ll tell her that she is an absolute dream,

And she is.

Straight, neat letters written in her small, concentrated hand come home wearing badges –

A+, way to go!, perfect score!

Perfect.

Perfect.

Perfect.

Always so fucking perfect.

She learns to hate the word perfect before she learns to tie her shoes.

“But you’re perfect for ME!” they’ll cry out,

Justifying stacking the weight of the world upon the shoulders of a little girl,

Not yet tall enough to even see the view they’re already holding her back from.

A million expectations work like hands, 

Covering her mouth,

Stealing her voice,

Using her,

Taking whatever piece will soothe their own aching,

Fulfill their own dreams,

Tie together their loose ends with her own pink bows.

“You’re the one with the potential for all of us.

You’re the one who’s going to make it for all of us.”

A little girl is decorated with trophies,

And she can’t understand why she grows up compelled to decorate her arms in scars.

She is gold stars and her shy smile on TV.

She is artwork framed in the sunniest places.

She is easy to be proud of, because she’s all she’s ever been asked to be:

Good.

She is so good.

But she is two shaking arms holding herself together as if she’ll break without them.

No one ever held her.

No one ever peeled back the first place sticker to see the gaping wounds

Of a girl who was so good,

But never quite good enough.

Nurture.

Verb.

Care for, and encourage the growth or development of.

Sure, there was a bed with pink Barbie sheets.

There was a lunchbox, packed daily.

There was water, hot and cold.

The lights always turned on.

But was there anyone to care for the lights that were always off 

Inside the heart of a child too tired, too bogged down, to reach for a switch?

What does “I love you,” even mean when there’s always an understood “but” afterwards?

How long can someone float along a sea of expectation before they lose their pace and drown?

What does it mean to be perfect for someone else, and why can’t she just be good enough for herself?

Why isn’t she good enough?

Why isn’t she good enough?

The accomplishments were warped screams, the only way she knew to say “notice me!”

The only way they would notice her.

And all they did was build a facade, 

Make up a daydream, 

A mythical creature of who she could be if she wasn’t so unbearably sad.

It never felt like her.

Never felt authentic.

Never felt deserved.

And when the accomplishments stopped coming, 

She realized her voice had been taken long ago,

And she didn’t know how to squeak out a cry for help. 

She had learned how to be a million wonderful things,

But she never quite learned how to need what she needed most.

She needed to be held.

To be consoled.

To be seen.

To be heard.

To be believed.

To be honestly and unapologetically loved for who she was – good grades and pink hair bows and even for her sad brain.

Especially for her sad brain.

I know her, and I know her well,

For I am weathered and I am wise.

I am the product of abuse and neglect

And of my own resilience.

I have carried so much pain,

And so much guilt

That was never truly mine to carry. 

My shoulders have ached with the aftershocks of letting it all go,

But there is a certain strength that comes from carrying such a weight for so long.

My arms have learned how to hold together what hurts, how important their touch is to the broken.

My eyes have been trained to see the invisible sorrows, the ones etched not just on wrists or streaked down faces, but the ones plaguing brains and shattering souls.

My voice still shakes sometimes, but it is loud. It does not dare to be drowned out. It makes waves. They will hear it’s echo.

A little girl,

Maybe 5,

Cries in her closet alone.

I go to her, pull her close to me, and listen to her sobs.

I hear her.

I understand her. 

I hold her tight, and settle in.

We breathe in, we breathe out, together.

We will hurt, we will heal, together.

I will take her with me wherever I go.

And this time,

I will nurture her.

mirror.

(I wrote another poem. I’m finding myself a lot in free verse lately. I don’t know exactly why I chose all undercase this go-round, but I like it. I hope you do, too.)

mirror:

“mirror mirror, on the wall,”

so your favorite fairytale reads

and you,

you’re just so relieved that your mirror can’t speak.

can’t mention the chip in your tooth,

nor the clumsy scars above your left eye,

and not a single word about the way your skin breaks out because you’re just too fucking tired to change your pillowcases

sometimes.

it makes for a twisted story, doesn’t it?

the broken princess 

loves the moon and words and air plants and coffee and anything pink,

loves things until her soul aches

but her heart never quite learned how to hold love for herself.

i collect mugs

and unicorns

and scars

and nightmares.

you know, no amount of furniture rearranging changes the fact that

this room i grew up in

is the room i was raped in.

and underneath the pretty area rug 

is still a shadow of the blood belonging to a quiet and trusting 16 year old.

her blood still boils inside my veins,

tell me how i’m supposed to forget.

tell me how to comfort her

nurture her

believe her

hold her

because god knows no one else ever did.

he liked my hair long and straight

it took me until 21 to cut it all off

and with the weight of hair off my shoulders

i pulled him out of my lungs little by little,

and i pulled bottles and laughs and there were vodka-soaked kisses and something even a little bit like love,

but somehow i always ended up in bed alone

throwing up on the floor,

and i don’t know if i’ll ever feel like i’m done purging his ghost from me.

how do i unlearn the things he beat into my tired bones?

how do i remember even now, that perhaps i am not made up of mistakes but rather stardust?

how do i hold this body with the tenderness it has never known?

how do i love when the trust has been fucked out of me?

how do i even love the girl who is left in the mirror?

and all i know is this:

some questions don’t have answers,

and healing does not come easy.

but look for the hands reaching for yours, and they will not let go.

they will not always let go.

they will not always let go.

reach back for the one in the mirror sometimes, too.

learn to like your curls and the blonde that shows in the sun,

the honesty in your blue eyes,

the dimple that comes out to play when you laugh.

sweet girl, don’t ever forget how to laugh.

he didn’t take that from you.

he could never take that from you.

you are stitched together with the care that you have created for yourself. 

how powerful a thing

to reflect your own light.

and when you sleep through the night at 25, say a prayer for every step you took on your way back to yourself. 

and keep going,

keep believing in princesses and magic and therapy and miracles and hard work and perseverance and in yourself.

goddamnit, believe in yourself and your 

broken

brave

beating,

still beating heart –

in the girl who is made up of pain and so much unapologetic hope,

of a past and of a future.

meet her in the messy parts.

see her.

notice what’s real, and notice again.

mirror mirror on the wall, 

repeat to yourself, 

you are not loveless.

you are love.

you are love.

A Voice for 25.

(I wrote a poem today. It has been a long time since I’ve written in verse, and this messy and rambling brand of verse made me cry. It was a good cry. So. Here’s how that cry came to be.)

(Another side note. This blasted website wouldn’t let me space this the way I actually wanted to. Le sigh. Imagine that it just.. works better.)

You’ve always been an odd little duck. 

But you were quiet. 

You were good.

You kept your hands to yourself, and you always colored inside the lines.

You did what they told you.

You always did what they told you.

Except.

You used to beg to stay inside for recess, because oh my god, there were so many books to read.

You liked books more than people.

Liked that you could trust them more than people.

Liked that they didn’t ask anything of you, need anything of you, demand anything of you.

You were too little for all of that expectation.

But you held onto it anyway.

The first time you thought seriously about dying, you were 9.

It was third grade.

They had asked your whole class where they saw themselves at age 25

And the first thought your haphazard and faulty little brain wove together was

“I don’t think I’ll be alive then.

Sad people don’t get to live that long.” 

Fast forward.

In 25 sleeps, you’ll hit 25 years on this Earth.

This sometimes stunning and sometimes broken Earth, spinning anyway, because who’s to tell an entire planet that it’s too broken to spin?

Sometimes you feel like that.

Sometimes stunning.

Mostly just a little bit broken. 

A little bit used.

A little bit more abused.

And sometimes, you feel like you’re carrying the whole damned and broken Earth.

And it never stops. 

You beg it to stop.

How do you hold your shoulders up under the weight of the world?

How do you tell them that you can’t possibly carry any more?

How will they even notice that you exist if you aren’t there to be a shelf, collecting dust from years of neglect, but still housing their insecurities and blame and insane expectations?

You are there to be a doormat.

You are there to listen, but never speak.

Do, but do not be.

You used to read, but now you just sleep.

And you wake on stories that leave you screaming the word you never learned to say,

The one he choked out of you with a strong fist at your aching throat,

The one that was halted by a sweaty hand holding you down while he stole not just your voice, but your dignity and your childhood and your heart,

The one you cried silently while your throat burned the taste of death, when you first learned that even the strongest love can’t anchor people back to life,

The one they didn’t hear when they were depleting you of money and free time and a good night’s sleep,

The one they chose to ignore when you needed anyone to stop echoing the worst beliefs you already held about yourself.

No. No. No. No. No.

You used to color inside the lines.

Now you color on the inside of your arm.

The lines are shaky and scattered,

A pattern of pain,

A picture of the most vibrantly alive brand of death.

Some would call it a cry for help,

And they wouldn’t be wrong,

Not at all.

But help never came,

Never heard you screaming because you didn’t.

You couldn’t.

And no one has time to listen when the crying comes only from shaking hands pulling their sleeves tight to a red-hot wrist,

Or the constantly tapping foot, trying to run out of a body attached to a mind that is constantly demanding – ABORT MISSION,

Or the snap of a rubber band, the cancelling of plans, the bitter and dry delivery of death jokes masked by a laugh.

“Are you okay?”

“Am I ever really okay?”

Deep breath.

And another.

You can breathe again.

You can.

The shaking always stops.

The bleeding always stops.

The yelling always stops.

After a while.

And maybe you can tiptoe to the after, and maybe there is still a page in a book to write the chapter you’ll call 25.

Your bones will ache when you get up from the shelf they built for you, 

When you dare to unfold from the box they shoved you in.

Get up anyway.

It will rock the boat.

And much to your surprise, you will not drown.

You will float on to the healing,

To new friends and new jobs,

To the kinds of love that do not bruise,

To the comfort and hope waiting for you on couch in therapy,

To the warmth of dogs that love you only because you woke up,

To picking up a book again,

To learning to dream again.

You were not good only because you were quiet.

You were good simply because you were.

Maybe your power doesn’t come from your complacency.

Nor from the running, from the burying, from the hiding.

And maybe it never came from razor blades drawing patterns in red on bright white sinks at all.

Maybe it is in your Wednesday afternoons, the post-it notes and coffee that keep your hand steady while your stories lead the way.

Maybe it is in the new badge that swipes you in to a place where you belong, to a people like a puzzle where your piece made all the difference.

Maybe it is in the mornings you wake up early enough to see the sun. Early enough to remember that there is a sun to be seen.

Maybe it is in your very soul. 

In the new idea that your soul can house a voice.

And that you do deserve to have one.

“How are you today, Rianne?”

And I clear my throat, and it feels a lot like an iceberg finally melting away in spring.

A restart.

A rebirth.

There are waves to be made, and they will hear me crash this time. 

Sometimes it will be stunning.

Sometimes it will be broken.

But this voice will always be mine. 

It has never belonged to anyone but me, and that is its power.

I listen to it the way I always needed for it to be heard, and for once, I know how I am.

“I am here.

I am alive.”

Two years.

2 years ago tonight, I set out with a bleak, haphazard, and panicked plan to kill myself. Some of my memories are hazy, but they include a lot of shaking, a lot of crying, and oddly enough, a lot of hope. 

Someone intervened. And the thing is, someone or something will always intervene, if you let them. Hope isn’t always elaborate sunrises or birthday parties. Sometimes hope is a milkshake and a hand to hold when yours won’t stop trembling. Sometimes it’s the job you thought you wouldn’t get, or the favorite book you’ve read 500 times, or BOGO coffee on a random Thursday. It can find you, even at your lowest.We all break. We all do things. We all have our stuff. Every last one of us. (You still don’t have your shit together? Thank goodness. ME TOO.) And what a brokenly blessed relief it is to never truly be alone in the dark places. We are so lucky to get to break alongside other people, to join together in the hurting and the healing, to sometimes be the leaner and sometimes be the leaned upon. It is a back and forth that I’m happy to still be a part of.

So I guess this lengthy and rambling post (I never stopped being a writer..) is to simply say this: I’m glad I’m here. 

I’m not ALWAYS glad about it, mind you. Life took some sharp downward turns in the years after. Life is also sometimes generally unkind, and just being a person gets to be a tricky business. But in these 2 years, there were also beautiful surprises and incredible opportunities. There was still kindness and there was still grace, even when I didn’t think I deserved it. There is so much that I would have missed. I guess it’s all worth sticking around for. I still have songs to sing too loudly to, crude jokes to cry laughing at, art to create, chances to take, help to actively keep choosing, progress to make, and stories to tell. Here’s to telling the one where I made it out alive. ✨❤️

Bad days deserve unicorns, too.


When the ocean attempts to swallow you whole, I’ve found there are always things that will keep you afloat – no matter how treacherous the waters. The caramel corn on a day that feels like fall. The job I was certain I wouldn’t get. The doggy kisses without rhyme or reason. Life is filled with tiny, good moments, and they do add up. 

These moments will save you.

They will save you on the weird brain days, too. Some days you find, all you can do is exist, and you know what? Your productivity does not define your worth. You are not worthless because you’re crawling out of your skin and you don’t know how to be. You are not worthless if and when your depression makes it hard to complete tasks. You are not worthless when you thought you had it all control but some days – you still don’t. You’re allowed to hurt.

There is a time for bath bombs and writing meaningful blogs and baking cookies and texting your friends. And there are days where all you can do is come home, cry, hug yourself, and remind yourself that you’re still a good person. And maybe you still draw a unicorn. 

Maybe that’s where I am today. And maybe that’s okay. 🦄🦄🦄

Me too.

There’s a post going around social medias stating that, “if everyone who has been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
And so I echo my fellow humans: me too.

You shouldn’t have to out yourself as a survivor in order for people to grasp the magnitude of how systematic and horrifically common sexual assault and harassment are. And if you, as a survivor, need to keep silent on this one, then I respect you. I will speak for you. You owe no one your story, and for the people who owe you an apology you’ll never get – I am so, so sorry. You didn’t deserve it. You never did.

It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female or otherwise. It makes no difference if you were wearing a parka or a bikini. And no, you don’t have to be someone’s daughter or mother or brother or a celebrity in order for what happened to be valid. You are human, and so you deserved respect. You deserved decency. You deserved better. You belonged to yourself, and you still do. You are still a castle, and they did not tear it down. You are still composed of royalty. You still house dragons to fight for your soul. The kingdom lights still shine, and you are still who gets to open, and close, your own doors. No one took your power. I promise. 

It was not your fault. It was not your fault. It was not your fault. No matter how many times you wake, dreaming again of him touching you in places he has no right to touch you, no matter how many times you run out all of the hot water trying to wash him out of your skin, no matter how many voices make you jump because they sound just like the first boy who called you beautiful before he called you a whore in the very same tone – none of it takes away who you are. Your worth was never defined by what they did. Your worth is bigger. You are brighter. Your soul is bolder, and your heart? It has more love than they’ll ever know. 

You’re not broken. You never were.

You’re one of us. We’re the hands held tight in a chain stronger than those who hurt us. We’re the ones who made it out. And we will continue to make it together. We scream and shout and throw our middle fingers up together. We can teach those around us, raise our children, and plead to our friends to know respect, to give respect, to demand respect. We can change the future together. 

You’re not alone, and you never were.

You never will be. 

Me too.

Me.

Too.