Freedom

From the top of the ferris wheel of young love

You came to exist within me

Though I will never see your face or hear your heart beat

I carry you with me still

I had lofty goals of starting a family while starting a career

With less than 9 months to solve big problems, reality set in

I was privileged enough to have a job but not privileged enough to have maternity leave

I searched desperately for arms to hold you while I worked, considered everyone I knew, and found no one because everybody else was working too.

I am grateful for my freedom to choose what I do with my body

I take responsibility for my abortion but I must acknowledge the role that US healthcare un-system played in my decision

Why is it that so many nations have figured out how to provide years of parental leave, afford their citizens healthcare as a human right, give freedom to live without fear of financially devastating medical bills, yet we cling so bitterly to our ‘freedom’ that it poisons us to death

Our freedom is an illusion- the uneven distribution of privilege in America imprisons us in different ways while blinding us to each other’s struggles

Dear one, I blame myself for your abbreviated and hidden existence- I chose an unforgiving career with militant training and rigid requirements that didn’t allow space for the expanding curves of my female body

I felt trapped between the walls I planted myself between, I searched but I didn’t find room for you

I prioritized service to others so much that I had nothing left to give to you

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.

Those words don’t come close to expressing the raw maternal emotions I feel for you, little one.

The air above my closed lips crushes me, impregnated with secrets

Even if I had managed to keep you, American freedoms might have killed you in your youth. We have racism and freedom for gun violence in this country, dear one, and you would have been born brown.

The lack of support for pregnant women and new mothers in the United States is barbaric.

Instead of taking away our constitutional right for abortion, give us a constitutional right for maternity leave.

Instead of the right to bear arms, I wish I had the right to hold you in my arms.

Swallowing Fire

My unspoken sadness and madness

Burn like hot coal in my throat
My sore neck holds the tension of another night’s nightmares
Running from persecutors with unknown motives
Even in my waking life, I don’t know why some people get so mad at me
How tempting to cut them off like a gangrenous limb
I hesitate when my persecutors are my family
Stubborn old fashioned tradition of gritty endurance
Ancient dynamics, drama on loop
My sister, abusive and oppressive
My parents either didn’t notice or didn’t care
I used to want to be saved, wanted my parents to protect me, to show my sister that I mattered. That will never happen because it hasn’t happened yet
My rescuing is entirely my responsibility
We are grown as hell
I notice and care about the years of mistreatment and terror
I will protect myself
Though I’m not sure how
Though my throat is scalded with all the fire I’ve swallowed
Fire I’m getting ready spit when I tell you what you are

Bouncy Ball

Resilient sphere of color

I throw you down but you only bounce back higher

Dancing down the stream
You get caught on rocks and fallen leaves
I free you and follow you down the babbling brook
Your journey is again halted by forest debris
I dislodge you with a stick and you bound onward
Carried effortlessly by the water
I was told that all rivers flow to the ocean
I am determined to travel there with you, to see this through
Then I learn that water sometimes moves underground
Branch still in hand, we are both stuck on land
I didn’t account for this
Years later, I am an adult in a high-pressure profession
Just now pausing after years of running
As if I’ve been chasing a ball down a stream
Bouncing from one goal to the next
I am bewildered by the restless movement which only distanced me from my heart’s desires
In exchange for passing tests, I received more tests
No one ever asked me if I want to be tested
I value serenity and peace, meditation in nature
I was already where I wanted to be
When I was a girl with a rubber ball
Bring me back to that forest stream
I will stand in it
Let the cool water wash over my feet
Bouncy ball by my side
In stillness and simple satisfaction
We will stay

Salt

My patient had hypovolemic hyponatremia

His serum sodium was low, and we all need salt in our blood to live

Overall, he was dehydrated- dry, though his blood pressure was high

I looked at his moist tongue, and didn’t see the storm clouds amassing in the sky

Until my attending physician came thundering down

Pummeling my eardrums with his voice so loud

Taking lightning strikes at my fledgeling ego

Making me feel scared, small and trapped

How dare I not approach this case the same way he would

How could I take a vast constellation of data points, and see a different image than him?

How dare I not know everything he wants me to know when he thinks I should know it.

The audacity of me!

I went into this job to help people, but who helps me when confronted with an abusive boss, the way I am all day every day?

I have grit, and that’s it.

How can I justify the harm I inflict on myself by trodding this path of not harming others? Am I not also a person worthy of non-harm?

I drag myself through another day of sheer exhaustion, violent levels of stress, junk food scavenging, flooding my veins with the same poison I encourage my patients to avoid.

I practice this art of self-abuse day after day, year after year.

I don’t have the time or personal space to cry, until many hours have passed by, and my work, imperfectly executed, is temporarily done.

Tomorrow, more work will come at a nauseating pace, in unpredictable swells and storms.

Tonight, I cling to the knot I’ve tied at the end of my rope.

At home, my partner speaks to me, but I do not hear him.

He softly reaches out to me, but I do not feel his touch.

He serves me dinner, though I do not feel hunger.

I try to breathe through my shell-shock, remind myself that I am safe, worthy, lovable.

As if concussed, I feel foggy, irritable, and want only to cry.

I close my bedroom door, and I finally let my tears fall, though I don’t know how they will ever stop.

I take stock of the things I am grateful for.

I have energy to release:

I visualize a cord of light between my attending physician and I, solar plexus to solar plexus, and I send his rageful, toxic energy back to him, riddled with his scathing judgement.

I send him back the shame he so generously tried to pile on me.

That is his energy, not mine.

I feel the sting of tears as they dry on my cheek- my personal Sahara.

For a minute there, I lost myself.

I feel raw, delicate.

I cried so much, I have lost volume and salt like my hypovolemic hyponatremic patient.

This time, I know the recommended remedy: fluid.

Keeping myself fluid, I bow in respect and gratitude to the teachers on my journey- those who still trick me into believing that I am lesser-than, who make me temporarily forget that I am a dreamer in this cosmic kaleidoscope.

I bow with respect and gratitude to water, and salt.

Poetry

Poetry won’t stop leaking out of me
My hands get a tingle
My mind sings a jingle
I search for paper on which to scratch
Anything within reach
Backs of receipts, napkins, old scraps
All other activity falls to the wayside
Until I see the poem before my eyes

I write about the unspoken suffering of my life
Of being brutally silenced
Since infancy I was trained not to cry when I wanted to cry
My feelings were an inconvenience to those by my side
I came to understand that my needs were not important enough to be expressed, and if I made the mistake of even showing how I felt through my face or my body, such truth was beaten out of me by those closest to me
Far worse than the violence was the mental abuse
and even worse than the mental abuse was the neglect
Sometimes I felt invisible and other times I felt like I wasn’t invisible enough
I wished that I could fly away
The shouting was so loud, where could I hide?
I locked my door but they always burst inside
No boundaries
I cried in secret silence everyday
I learned that I existed to be what others wanted me to be
I delivered what was required
Though inside me raged a fire
The primordial desire
To be free
I’d give anything to live just for me

When I became grown, I left home
But my well-trained brain followed me wherever I roamed
Autonomy is foreign to me
I met many lovers but they always chose me
Because I pleased them easily
I never returned the favor
Of serving up the criticism they so abundantly showered upon me

Joyfully, I recently discovered that the suffering of my life has a name;                                                            Narcissistic Abuse
There are healthier ways to love, ladies and gentlemen
I want more harmony and less harm done to me
I am trying to create a life that I want to live,
One where I give from my heart instead of feeling like a marionette jerked around by the malicious hands of fear

I want to tell others how I feel and what I am thinking
Speak from my heart
Release my throat chakra
Weave a tapestry with the golden thread of my truth
Relentlessly I work at this nearly impossible task
Like a seed below the soil, the only place I have to grow is toward the sun
But healing my mind feels like building a castle on quicksand
My efforts collapse, fall and fail every day

I must remember to give myself compassion, the way I try to give my abusers compassion
I have succeeded before in speaking my mind
With every break-up, no matter how clumsy my wording or how long it took me to work up the courage
I want to tell my exes that when I hurt them by finally breaking up with them, it was because I was trying to reclaim my life and honor both of us
God, have I suffered at the hands of men
When they hurt me, it was because they were trying to get a rise out of me, or hurt me out of spite
I want to tell them: Get a life, you jerks

May they stop terrorizing me and find inner peace swiftly

I feel awful about the things I’ve done that I didn’t want to do
Especially the things I’ve done with men
The sex was violent, violating, painful and humiliating
If only I could forget it, but even my body remembers
I think I will always see men as perpetrators, even though not all of them are
An overwhelming amount of the ones I’ve known are
I struggle to shake them off me when they’re ready to rape me yet they’re nowhere to be found when I’m ready to abort our unplanned pregnancies
That excruciating physical and emotional pain is just for me

The bloody landscape of no man’s land

I understand that as an adult survivor of child abuse, I attract abusers
I’m developing a repellant
By noticing patterns and breaking them
Prevent problems before they start
The best defense is a good offense

I still worry
Worry that my heart will always feel broken
Worry that the countless times I was raped will catch up with me in the form of STDs or infertility
I worry that I will always live in fear
I worry that I will always worry
I worry that I will feel sad and mad all my life
I worry that I will continue to suffer though I shouldn’t worry about that because suffering is guaranteed and worrying will do no good
Life is pain
That’s the rule of the game
I can still win the game of life even though I was born with disadvantages, for my advantages are greater still
I have hope and heart
I’m writing a happy ending to my story
I am writing with a golden pen of glory
I am writing unstoppable poetry
Until victory, always

Thank you.