Rain.

(Written 6/21/18.)

It rained today,

Not just the quiet pitter-patter,

But as if the whole bottom of the sky fell out –

And I thought of you.

You were destructive like this.

You could have just watered the flowers,

But instead you were the storm that pulled roofs off of houses

And tore me from myself.

It rained today,

And I remembered the showers I took.

All of those showers I took.

I foolishly hoped that I could burn my skin off,

Make it mine again

And get your fucking hands off of it,

Out of it,

Untwist them from my neck,

Pry them off of my mouth.

Get them away from me.

Get you away from me.

Shaking on the shower floor,

Teeth chattering,

Heart racing,

I kept my eyes closed

So that I didn’t have to see the blood swirl down the drain

Blurred by tears that escaped my eyes anyway.

Tears you didn’t deserve,

But I did.

It rained today,

And I imagined what it would look like

If Heaven could cry too.

A song of sadness for the girl

Who was raped on the floor of a church.

Perhaps each crack of thunder

Echoes the “no” I wasn’t brave enough to say.

But I’ll never get the sound of my own catching sobs out of my brain.

Where was God in his own home that night?

Where was he?

Why couldn’t he save me?

Why wasn’t I worth saving?

Maybe the sky cries now

To give me permission.

We are both sorry.

We were both too afraid to speak then.

We are both hurting now.

It rained today,

And I heard all of their words in the crashing craziness of it all.

“Pretty enough to get off to, but not really for forever” he told me.

“Too much emotional baggage,” was what the next one said.

“Too fat,”

“Too nerdy,”

“Too quiet,”

“HEY, I told you to be quiet,”

“I’m sorry,”

“I won’t do it again,”

“Be good, you’re supposed to be quiet and be good,”

“He wouldn’t do that to you, you’re lying,”

“You’re no fun,”

“You’re too uptight,”

“I always knew you were crazy.”

“If I had known you’d just lay there and cry, maybe I wouldn’t have even bothered.”

“I love you.”

Where was the love? 

Was there ever really any love?

I was grasping at crumbs and pulling them close,

But you never left me satisfied.

There was a hunger that went untouched,

And a sickness that you kept perpetuating.

Your brand of “I love you” was never made to fulfill,

But rather,

To infect.

Yesterday, it didn’t rain.

My therapist called me “love-starved” and I felt my eyes fill.

I pinned those words across my heart.

A gold medal for the heart that weathered the storm,

That made it out alive.

What a brokenly blessed relief to put a name to this pain,

To validate the emptiness,

To take notice of that aching,

That hunger.

“I don’t know exactly what I needed or wanted,

But I know that I never got it.”

Words that I spoke on the same couch

On different days,

And they ring true now.

The boy who raped me

Didn’t love me,

Oh my god, I just wanted someone to love me.

I needed love.

Honest, unconditional, respectful 

soul-cleansing 

love.

It rained today, 

And I cried for the girl who was love-starved.

I mourned for what she lost –

The sense of control,

Her dignity,

An ability to trust,

And the ownership of her body.

My body.

My body flinches still,

Freezes in fear still,

Houses scars and sadness still.

And it houses a heart here too.

It still knows how to love.

Despite all of it,

I still love.

Maybe,

Not all was lost.

It rained today,

And I fed myself the love I was so starved for. 

This body is still healing,

This brain, this soul, they are healing too.

I will bandage the wounds and

I will put armor around this heart.

My body will belong to me again.

No one will have it unless I let them.

There are takers and there are givers,

And I will choose to be the leaver.

I will leave him.

I will leave what he did to me.

I will leave the pain of the girl on the floor of a church,

And I will let go of the guilt that she never should have carried.

I will grieve hard, and grieve well.

Because my god, there is such a loss to grieve.

But

It rained today,

And I washed him out of my hair.

The air was lighter to breathe and the tears were lighter to cry.

He is gone.

He is gone.

I am here.

I am still here.

It rained today,

And it felt like healing.

It didn’t put everything back together,

But perhaps it watered the broken things.

Perhaps it can make things new again.

Perhaps it can make things grow.

It rained today,

And I didn’t die.

Not on the floor of a church

Not on the floor of my shower.

Not by your hand.

Not by anyone else’s.

It rained today,

And I came home to myself.

I stopped thinking of you.

I started welcoming back me.

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Father’s Day.

(Another free verse. To the kids in the same boat as I am today, where something is missing or it is broken, if you’re recovering from his presence or his absence – I hear you. Grieve hard and grieve well. Grow, anyway. 🌻)


Wanted:

A dad who would build me in trust,
But instead I got a man who only built walls.

You built up a whole house

With no spare room for a little girl

Who only wanted 

To learn to love.

I knocked on every door, and you never once let me in.


I don’t go knocking anymore.

I don’t look for anything there anymore.

Your house isn’t a home,

It’s a wasteland.

And I won’t be caught wasting my time.

You know, 

Everyone sees my mother in me.

Her eyes,

Her nervous energy,

Her passion.

But her straight red hair had no say

In the unruly brown curls I got from you.

Some days, I think I borrowed some of your anger as well

But I’ve channeled it right back at you.

Curious how

You gave me a cure

For a hurt that you inflicted.

What broke you so badly that you couldn’t ever find a way to love us?

Your house is haunted.

The ghosts of what could have been dance freely, living the dreams that you never dared to fulfill.

A little boy plays catch in the backyard with his dad.

The girls hold your hand, beaming, at the father-daughter dances they both ended up missing.

Birthday candles,

Lost teeth,

Cookies for Santa,

The walk down the aisle that you won’t ever get,

Because goddamnit, you already gave me away.

You know, I’ve known so many men who look like you,

And so few who look like love.

Weren’t you supposed to look like love?

Weren’t you supposed to teach me what love looks like?

I’ve spent 25 years learning how to accept a love that doesn’t hit or yell,

A love that boasts of honesty,

Of acceptance,

Of genuinely wanting to have me around,

A love deserving of holidays,

And a love that always leaves the lights on,

And the door unlocked.

Everything worthwhile I’ve come to know

Has been learned without you.

And God, I’m so grateful

For a pride that was born for me

By me.

You own no part of the goodness that I am,

And I’m sorry for what you’ve missed.

Your house could have echoed with a child’s laughter,

And instead, it echoes the emptiness that we couldn’t fill.

Not because we weren’t enough,

But because you were hardened and mean and self-absorbed.

You wouldn’t let us in.

You did this.

Not us.

Not me.

Keep your padlocks.

Keep your keys.

Keep your hurt.

Keep your anger.

I built my own house and made it a home. 

I grow flowers in the front yard and I keep a room for a little girl who never knew a parent’s love.

I’ll love me this time.

I’ll cry and I’ll heal and I’ll grow.

I’ll learn how to mourn the vacancy.

And I’ll hate that there’s always a vacancy.

I hate you for what you did but

I’m still grieving for what I never got.

Today doesn’t belong to you.

Neither do I.

Neither do I.

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/

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. ✨❤️