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.
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
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.
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.
* 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.