Lessons My Father Taught Me/What I Taught Myself – A Poem

Me, around the age of 8 or 9

My father taught me to read a person’s body language,

so that I could recognize when a punch was coming.

I taught myself to read what a person’s body was saying,

so that I could offer them comfort even if they didn’t say a thing.

My father taught me that it was better to hide,

because there was less of a chance that I would be hit.

I taught myself to shine brightly and to remain visible,

because even though I was afraid, I was tired of hiding.

My father taught me to hate myself and everything I was,

that I should be ashamed of the secret that I held within myself.

I struggle with self love and self care, but I finally believe

that I am worthy of both, and I no longer hide who I am.

My father taught me to hate everything that didn’t look like me,

that anyone who didn’t fit the right mold was worthy of disdain.

I taught myself to love those that don’t fit in, that don’t conform.

I’ve realized that life doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has

to be lived.

Overstood – A Poem

I thought I understood

but it appears that

I overstood the assignment.

In trying to figure out

who I am and

what I thought I was,

I’ve been listening to

what my mind wants

when I should have

been listening to my heart.

My body is sometimes

not my own as it rebels

against the boundaries

of its physical form

and I am pulled down

into the dark corridors

of my mind when what I want

is to know who I am.

I am in a world

full of misunderstandings,

slights of hand and everyday magic:

random bits of glass

that shine like diamonds,

caught for a moment in the sun,

the sound of someone’s voice

that reminds you of

a love that you had long ago,

the sight of a bird launching into flight

and you watch as the bird flies away,

a piece of red string in its beak.

It has been years that

I have not understood

where I belong,

but when I accepted who I was,

what I was capable of,

it appears that I’ve

overstood myself all along.

Looking at my fingertips,

I see a magic that defies

what I can and cannot do.

I simply am and that’s magic

enough.

Words of My Own – A Poem

I’m looking at the water within me.

It is a storm that wants to overtake me,

pummel away at the foundations

that I have built, the balance, the stability.

I have a fleeting moment

where I want to give in,

let the water overtake me,

the storm loud and taking away

all sound except for the rushing of water.

Yet, there are other sounds,

words that gurgle to the surface

of the water and I turn away from them,

but I can still hear them:

stupid, nothing, useless, idiot.

They are words that I’ve heard before,

words that I’ve said to myself all too often

much as I’ve weathered the storm.

I know the caress of its waves very well.

Watching the water as it undulates,

trying ever so hard to wipe everything

of myself away, I stare back at the wet void

and speak some words of my own:

awesome, fabulous, super, wonderful.

I know that the water is looking for a way in,

hoping that I didn’t put enough force

behind the words, that I don’t mean them.

I wait and for a millisecond I think

that the water will win, that it will take over.

However, the foundations hold.

I look at the water that I’ve held back and realize

that I meant the words after all.

This thought fills me with light.

I watch my beautiful emotions,

remembering well when I would let them

take me over. As I watch, the water

finds a new pathway that wasn’t there before.

I open my eyes and turn away

from the storm that so wants me to succumb.

Not today, I say to myself.

Not today.

Times Mirror – A Poem

I have had a hard time loving myself.

The mirror only shows me

what I don’t want to look at

but I’ve realized over time that I’m hearing

the thoughts of other people.

A previous boyfriend: “You’d be more attractive if you lost twenty pounds.”

I’ve rallied against these thoughts,

these voices of others that are on repeat

inside of my head, talking louder

than my own internal critic.

An ex-husband: “Gosh, try not to look at me head on. Your lazy eye is disgusting.”

I have struggled with how I look for years,

feeling like I’m never thin enough,

or attractive enough to fit in and to belong.

A not friend: “You’re welcome here, even though you’re not beautiful. We’re kind that way.”

For years, I’ve had to fight against the opinions

of people that in the end do not matter to me.

Why then did their words and insults

hold onto my mind, hurting me every time

that I looked into a mirror?

A dentist: “Oh you were born that way? And you just grew to be comfortable with how you look?”

I’m so tired of hearing all of these voices,

the weight of their words dragging me down

until it feels like I can’t hold myself upright.

I no longer want to be triggered the opinions

of other people and what stares back at me

from inside of the mirror.

My husband: “You’re perfect for me.”

I need to remember that I am more beautiful

than my voices think I am.

My husband: “I love your pudge. It’s one of my favourite things about you.”

The opinions of others don’t matter,

only what I think of myself does.

I need to start celebrating what I see in the mirror,

let the words from the past fade from my mind

and the mirror in front of me is so clear

that I can see all the past parts of me

I was taught not to love.

My husband: “Your smile is one of the first things I noticed about you. It lights up a room.”

I cannot hold onto time, for I am not a time lord.

There is no way that I can control what happened

in the past, but I can control my present and my future.

I can control which voices I hear

and what I see in the mirror.

Throughout my past, I was taught to hate myself.

In my present and my future, and now and going forwards,

I will try to look at myself with love.

I will let go of the voices, give them to the wind

so that they are taken away from me.

From now on, every time I see something

that I dislike in the mirror, I will shine brightly

so that all I can see is my light.

Mercurial Shadows – A Poem

* To my Beautiful Husband.

When I think back on nine years

of living with the unseen foe

that lives within,

I find myself going back

through the memories that I  

have inside of myself.

I flick through them as if

they are photos,

polaroids of memories that

are my talismans against

mercurial shadows that hide

underneath my skin.

I remember the joy

that shaped those moments,

the sounds of laughter,

music and the thrill of the unknown

before the light shone

through the clouds.

I know that there are many ways

that the shadows have changed me,

but I have also persevered,

embraced a new way

to handle the shadows,

be it with light or with the powers

of love and understanding.

There were time when the

shadows were made of

ice and glass and filled my body

with pain that could not be named

or understood but I still climbed

the mountain, still went on despite

or even because of the mysterious shadows

that filled my life.

I would part the shadows like a curtain;

on the other side,

you were always there waiting for me.

It was always your face that I saw,

your hand reached out towards me,

holding my hand through the pain

and the uncertainty.

You let me know that I was capable

of doing anything I set my mind to.

Though I carry the shadows

and the weight they bring with them,

you have shown me that I can

achieve what I thought were miracles

meant for others.

More than that,

you have shown me that the love

continues to grow between us

is the most amazing

miracle of all.

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