Small fragments of myself
Here and there
Given freely without thought
I don’t mind being generous
With the scraps
I’ve many pieces
Knit together into
Protecting who I am
Who would try to come close
At a respectably safe
Truth be told
Can be a bit
I’ve no complaints
The shell I’ve buried myself
Keeps me warm enough.
"Don’t forget where you came from"
Every time my boys cry
My little brother
Not even 7
Quickly wiping away tears
Because he was being called a faggot
A sissy boy.
A “little girl”
Those last two words hurled with a sneer
Because we all knew, having feelings was relegated to the card carrying vagina members
And that was shameful
Uncles and his own mother
Drug addled and bitter
Insults as poisonous darts
Piercing my gentle younger sibling’s soul.
I don’t forget where I came from
When I call them to me
My weeping children
Feelings are everything and sometimes can only be expressed through tears.
I hold them close.
I ask them to use their words.
Sometimes I am just as frustrated as they are.
But I’ll not shame them.
"Don’t forget where you came from."
I fucking remember.
I learned how to swallow the torrents of pain which threatened to
Break through the dam of my lids
Crying is for the weak
You’ll never break me.
I am Stronger Than All Of You.
When my mother called me a whore after I had been raped at 12.
When my grandmother told me I “shouldn’t have been out that late” after being assaulted and almost gang raped at 16.
When anyone I had ever put trust in proved to be unworthy of that privilege.
Yes. I remember where I came from.
I came from The Vicious Cycle.
I came from the Women Who Accepted The Very Least And Counted It As The Best,
I came from the Long Line of Toxic Masculinity Disguised As The Norm
I came from the Over and Over and Over
And Over AGAIN
Because That’s JUST HOW IT IS.
I remember where I came from.
My great-grandmother doing her best to shield me from the Bad Touch Uncles. Failing. Begging me to not anger my grandmother because she could not stand to hear her beat me. Shamed because it was a mirror of her past behaviors.
My grandmother crying in silence when she got the news her mother had passed. Becoming stoic in less than a second of being noticed. After all, she had to be “strong”. More guilt than grief for she hadn’t been kind to her ailing mother.
My mother nursing wounds in private which occurred decades ago because trust wasn’t her strong suit. Self-medicating in the worst way; escapism was easier than the thorny shit reality left to face. Homeless, drug addict, write off.
I remember where I came from.
I came from a great great grandmother who was married to a 27 year old man at the age of 12. A woman who had her first living child of a dozen at the age of 14. A woman married to a man who liked his little girls a little too much, which did not exclude his own daughters. A woman who never knew an easy day the way we know easy days.
I came from a great grandmother who took her 3 little girls, left her husband and the boxcar they were living in to search for something better. A woman who started fresh in Chicago, working several jobs, never taking a husband until her girls had married on their own for fear of what they would suffer at the hands of a strange man. A woman who worked hard her entire life to leave something of substance for her girls. A woman who failed at being kind to her daughters, whose love and desire to protect became unyielding suffocation and unnecessarily harsh discipline.
I came from a grandmother dedicated to never being as cruel in punishment as her own mother was, yet failing because she unfortunately had her mother's temper. A woman who decided that after all the heartbreak, she would rather spend the rest of her days alone. No one could hurt her if she didn't allow them into her life. A woman who raised her grandchildren in hopes to fix the past mistakes she made with her own. A woman who was sorry, but had not any inkling on how to apologize.
I came from a mother with a heart so huge and compassionate, you’d never see it past her stony exterior. A woman with enough demons to stock a second hell. A woman who has not yet forgiven herself for things everyone else has already forgotten. A woman who could have been a good mother, had anyone ever given her the chance and belief.
"Don’t Forget Where You Came From."
People toss that around like it means money. Stature. Material Bullshit.
I remember where I came from.
A long line of women
Who could have been
Were they not women.
Who were weak when they should have been strong, mistaking what it was to be either.
Who loved and were never loved back
Who woke up every day… wondering… Is This Fucking It.
Women who tried.
Who stopped trying because it just didn't seem worth it.
Women fierce and soft
kind and cruel
quiet and loud
Women who have taught me
just how important it is
to live life with
compassion and forgiveness.
How important it is
to know my worth.
I carry a piece of each
In random memories of their grimaces, frown lines creasing foreheads.
Black & white photos of forced smiles.
Candid polaroids of true joy.
Spontaneous thoughts and ideas of how to be better.
Song lyrics out of the blue which they would hum during the
few moments when they were happy
(a character trait of which I am happy has been passed down through the generations)
I'll never forget.
I am well aware
Who I am.
Where I came from.
should have known better
fruit is always the sweetest
right before it rots
I felt seen by you.
Sadly, I failed to notice
Just how blind you were.
if you believe the stories
i am the breaker of hearts
the stealer of souls
the crusher of the dreams
carefully crafted in their deluded minds
i am the cruel
draining all livelihood
leaving a trail of
emotionally annihilated husks
in my wake
if they ever took a minute
to examine their reflection
perhaps they would see the truth of things
but i suppose
look into a mirror
when they spend their time
sitting in the dark
i am not the one
to illuminate their surroundings
my light is my own
i met someone
with a quiet intensity
excellent at small talk
by the neighborhood locals
could seemingly be found
much like a discriminating buyer
at a curio shop
i have been inspecting
in the hopes of
i decide to put forth
i do not like
being this way
but i have
been subject to
so many instances of
my heart’s wallet
when the damage has been done
and the tears
words of remorse
scattered atop the debris
of the aftermath
always making promises
with no ability
to follow through
loses all meaning
saves me the time
and mental upheavals
of having to absolve
or be absolved
it is suitable
there’s a lot of people who come through the corner bar. the neighborhood middle class regulars needing a break from the kids. labor guys covered in dirt and dust, always ordering domestic. the ones who NEED the drink, hands jittery, searching for the crumpled up twenty borrowed from a friend.
and then there’s the one offs.
the ones who stop in and you never see again.
the random passers-by who had a good day, a bad day, need to pass some time for an hour or so – i am always amicable and of service, but reticent. it’s my nature.
such is the way of the local watering hole…
i think as i clock in for my shift.
another slow night. more of the same banal small talk, random chit chat with the same people, repeating the same stories, retelling the same jokes.
he walks in. a one off. older, 60’s maybe, quiet at first. kind eyes. i can always see the truest intent of someone in their eyes. i am comfortably friendly.
the night goes on.
he likes to talk, he explains to me that he’s a first generation italian and an extrovert. i respond that i am neither.
“well, that’s a shame aaaand you’re in the wrong business, hon.”
don’t i know it.
i am tired.
the constant conversations with the crowd are draining me.
even the one off.
though we’re keeping it to a basic back and forth.
nothing too personal.
hobbies, dislikes, pet peeves…
and now the bar is emptying.
he asks to close out.
i hand him his check, he signs the slip, but before he goes – he grabs my hand.
“listen. i’m an empath.”
i am visibly cynical. there is no hiding the defenses going up.
“oh you.” he pats my hand with the other not holding it.
“listen, i’m an empath and i’m not telling you this for any other reason that i’ve known this about myself since i was a kid. and i can feel your hesitancy right now, but hear me out. as an empath, we can always tell when there’s another one of us. you, my dear, are an empath.”
i begin to disagree, but i am cut short.
“you can call it highly intuitive if you want. i get the feeling you don’t like labels. but i bet you probably know what someone is feeling before THEY even do.”
i am silent. he’s not wrong.
“the only reason i’m bringing any of this up is because i can tell you been through some things yet still remain a KIND soul. you have a good heart. and i just want to say that i think it’s wonderful that you haven’t let those things make you hard. your kindness, your goodness – are beautiful qualities to have. and to have kept them this long… *pause*… just be careful. there are people who will take advantage of that. know when to walk away.”
i think i mumbled thank you. i was a bit taken aback.
he stood up, fit his winter hat about his head, gave the smallest smile tinged with the tiniest speck of rue, and left.
were it not for the credit card slip, i’d say he wasn’t even real.
he was. and his words landed.
lately, i’ve been second guessing decisions i’ve made… this was a needed jolt to the senses.
and i know i don’t always listen to the Universe. 90% never.
okay, love. i hear you. loud and clear.
*paying attention… paying attention to the Universe when it is talking to me.*
I miss your friendship
So much more than your presence
Next to me in bed.
It hit especially hard this morning.
It’s been a a good long while since it has happened. The weight of the past crushing me while I sat in my car waiting for the light to change to green. All because I took a minute to examine my surroundings. The neighborhood hit with gentrification. All the old replaced with new.
The burger place was now a bank. The corner pharmacy now empty, a For Lease sign clinging to the storefront, dusty and tattered. I knew this area once. Long ago, another life, a homeless teen sharing a basket of fries with the other delinquents. Lifting bags of chips and hygiene products from across the street.
I drove past the alley I slept in.
Before I learned that my body was a commodity that could be exchanged for a night out of the cold.
All the independent coffee shops with the bottomless cups keeping me/us warm during the long days…gone.
I felt my eyes welling.
I tried to shake the shadows off.
I kept driving. Taking deep breaths. Fighting against the rising tide of panicked sadness. And then I saw the greasy spoon I took my first child to when he was still in diapers. Yet another version of myself that I couldn’t bear to be reminded of. A young mother who knew nothing of receiving unconditional love but poured herself into loving a child she could barely care for and knowing it. Letting him reside with his father because she didn’t have her shit together enough to provide for him the way he deserved.
Drinking until the guilt faded into the next sick hungover morning.
The guilt turning into feelings of being unworthy.
Being unworthy turning to multiple attempts of suicide.
I always failed.
Because at my core, I was a coward. I didn’t want to live. But I was afraid of dying.
The pall was enveloping me quick.
My cheeks were wet with tears. This city, which I had tried to run from before, was bombarding me with all the things I had tucked away so neatly. Or so I thought. My mistakes, failings, friendships, loves, heartbreaks – my heart was flooded, drowning. No use now. So I succumbed to the tide pulling me under.
Sobbing, I thought of you.
How we were going to “make new memories to replace the old”.
There is no such thing.
The old will always resurface. Intertwined, reminding of us of who we were. What we have been through. We can be grateful that we have progressed. We have transcended the previous models. I am Me, Model 273. Maybe. I don’t know, I’ve lost track of the many skins I’ve shed. I just know that I will continue to evolve and that soon, the places and time we shared together will eventually join the rest.
Another shadow following me until I stop moving.