GONE THE INFECTIOUS SCAB OF MEMORY

Hello again. For those following, you know that I spent two years in an unhealthy fake BDSM relationship. I was 15, he was 32. I was young, naive, hungry for love and acceptance. He was a pro at what he was doing. And next week is the anniversary of him callously removing my collar and throwing me out, stating I was too old. Two weeks shy of my 18th birthday. I was 17 years old, and had spent the previous two years as his abused sex slave. “You’re too old. I have nothing left to teach you,” indelibly written in my brain. I have spent the last twenty-eight years spending this month in great emotional pain, feeling rejected and not good enough, and all the other fun psyche damaging negative self talk. That ends today.

Today I pull off the infectious scab of his memory and forge a new narrative. Freeing me from his slavery was the best thing he could have done for me. Gone the beatings, the gang rapes, the honeyed lies. No more living in fear. Free to heal, to discover who I am without being coloured by him. It’s been a long, long climb to get here. But here I am. FINALLY! Slowly, painfully, learning and accepting it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t deserve what happened. I didn’t ask for what happened. And then he set me free. FREE!!! Too bad it took me so long to figure this out. That he was a paedophile, an abusive paedophile. As if there’s any other kind. And now I’m free. Free to re-write my narrative. Not my fault. And he set me free. He didn’t reject me. He set me free.

Here’s to a fresh new look on painful old wounds.

Alone in the Dark

Fortunately, most nights the prazosin does its job and my nights are nightmare free. Which is a relief after years of constant bad dreams and terrors. Unfortunately, it can’t stop the terrors. Or the somatic memories. Which are coming in full force. I always forget the body keeps track of the changing seasons, and the associated traumas that come with them. I ignore the tightness of the chest, the trouble breathing. The tightening of the body that indicates a collapse response. But to what? There is no reason for this sudden onset of dark memory. Until I look at the calendar, and realize this is the time of the great uncollaring. Two years a sex slave. There is no way to soften those words. The acceptance of the reality of the years I spent from 15 to 17 has been hard to swallow. The depravity, the cruelty, the bones of affection that kept me coming back. The collar that was supposed to indicate a commitment from him to me, me to him. In some ways, that collar was more symbolic than a wedding band. It meant my total submission to him. My mind, my heart, my soul, my body. And a promise to take care of all of me. To cherish that submission. Instead, I was trafficked, used, abused, and, jsut shy of my eighteenth birthday, he took the collar off. “You’re too old. There’s nothing left to teach you,” summarily dismissed. No contact ever again. Thirty years later, I’m still dealing with the aftermath of that cold abandonment. So much of how I see myself shaped by those cold, calculating hands.

And I lie awake at night, woken up by the spectre of his presence. Even now, there are times the agony of the missing collar hurts worse than the missing wedding band of a failed marriage. I swallow hard, expecting to feel the hard leather around my neck. It’s absence a hard thrust into reality. A reality where I feel my failure keenly. Even though, really, I didn’t fail. I was trapped. And even though the method of my escape was brutal and cold, I did. Not unscathed. Not whole. But free.

And yet I wake at night. Cold sweats. Rapid, shallow breathing. I feel his breath on the nape of my neck. The touch of the lash. The cuffs. As I type this, I need to practice my grounding techniques. The touch of the floor on my feet. I’m safe. I’m where I chose to be. I can leave. I’m alone. That’s the big one. I’m alone. I’m all alone. By choice. No one around to hurt me. No one to pin me down. I’m free to be the best self I can be.

GUILTY

A child on trial
Her torn innocence
On the stand

Ashamed and degraded
Her sins laid bare
For all to see

Being needy
Her greatest crime
Wanting to be loved

And she believed
His honeyed words
Even as violated her

A child on trial
Herself The Judge
The Jury, The Executioner

BROKEN

This one is a hard read. It was hard to write. Sexual abuse is a difficult topic, yet I find myself writing about it often. So much of my life has been spent recovering, it feels that’s my only identity at times.

Broken
Shattered on the bed
The last vestiges of my innocence
Torn asunder

Broken
Shattered on the bed
The last tears
I’ll ever shed

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Sense of self
Annihilated

Broken
Shattered on the bed
My will to fight
Crushed

Broken
Shattered on the bed
With kindness
In the aftermath

Broken
Shattered on the bed
An unfamiliar
Tenderness

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Dichotomy
Of words and actions

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Confusion
Leaves me
Whirling

Broken
Shattered on the bed

You hurt me
You heal me

Broken
Shattered on the bed
My broken body
My broken soul

Broken
Shattered on the bed
Discarded then
Like so much debris

HOPE

Hope: n. A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen
v. Want something to happen or be the case

Hope is a very pregnant word. Pregnant with promise, with desire, with expectation. A feeling of better things to come. A small word with big meaning. When things are black and stormy in my life, I hope they get better. Sometimes I feel this hope is misplaced, especially when I’m deep in the pit; when it’s hard to reach out a hand and ask for help. It’s getting easier these days. When my therapist says to hang on, the depth of these feelings in transient, I have faith in her word, and trust and hope she’s right. And she always is. I always come through. And lately I can say I come through unscathed. Weary, oh gods, am I weary. But it’s been months now since I’ve self harmed. Even the most recent scars have faded to pale lines, no darker than the rest of them. She tells me that self injury had a place in my toolbox of survival long ago, BUT THINGS ARE DIFFERENT NOW. And she is correct in that. I’m different in my body and being. I see the urges for what they are: lying monsters.

The monsters wail
Begging to be fed
Promising light after the blood
To slumber in the post pain haze

I know the truth
Of their existence
Never sated, always begging for more
The cravings deep

Alone in the night
With the monsters in my head
In my heart
In my soul
Filling the cracks with blood
In the place of tears

SOMATIC MEMORY

The past couple of days have been really really tough. Stuck between hyper and hypo arousal constantly shifting back and forth. Moments where I’m overwhelmed by fear and can’t breathe, and then moments where the slightest sound makes me jump. Even though my mind finds no connection between the here and now and this feeling of doom, I have a full blown fear reody response. My therapist did get back to me today, (YAY!) and she said it sounds like I’m having somatic flashbacks. I should have recognized this right away. What is a somatic flashback? It’s your body remembering, not your brain. “Memory is reminding you about the state of your being all those years in childhood and adolescence when you were in danger” is how my therapist worded it in her email to me today. I lived in fear growing up. Beatings from my father were a daily, consistent thing with him. The only thing that was. And I had a real rough session this week. Last week brought up a lot of history, how no one noticed the sad little me acting out and begging for attention. And this week brought more of that to the fore. And just like I did in adolescence, I’m living a double life of sorts here at home again. My parents don’t know about my cousin molesting me. They don’t know about the abusive relationship I was in at 15. They don’t know about my sexual assault three years ago. They don’t know I’m living with PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder. They think my therapy is for my anxiety. I have to keep so much hidden, while living in the house where I grew up abused. They say you can’t heal in the environment that broke you, but I am. Granted, things are different now. I’m a grown woman with a voice. My body and being are different. It’s now 2019 and I am no longer in danger from anyone.

So I orient to the here and now. I’m in my room, the room I grew up in, focusing on what’s different. My bookcases, the books in those cases. My bed. The decorations on the wall. The flooring. The sheets on my bed. All things that are from the present. Nothing in my room remains from the past except my bear, Bettina, who has been with me since I was six months old. She has been the one constant in my life. I have been struggling with the desire to self harm this weekend. That, too, was a constant in my life for many years. It had its purpose then. But things are different now. I need to remember this with the very core of my being. All my emotional parts need to recognize that we are no longer trapped in trauma time. I have so many new coping tools and a great support network. Parts of me may be trapped in the past, but I have the strength, courage and determination to show them a better future.

SAFETY CONTRACTS AND SELF HARM

I’ve been with my therapist for about three years now. One of the first things she did was put me on saftey contract. I am proud to say, in that three years, I have only intentionally violated it once. I say intentionally, because the things she considers to be self harming behaviour are myriad. Not using my seatbelt in the car, driving too fast on the highway, not eating right, even not maintaining good sleep hygiene. All of which I’m guilty of at some point. I’m finally at a point where my med compliance is no longer an issue, just a struggle. When I’m feeling good, I don’t think I need them. When I’m not feeling good, I feel what’s the point. So it’s a constant struggle. But the main focus of my contract is the obvious, direct ways I harm myself: drinking and cutting. And after yesterdays session, the struggle is real. I even reached out to her about it last night. She didn’t respond, but as I was in no real danger, I wasn’t really expecting her to.

Self harm. Two little words. The act of hurting oneself. Doesn’t really sound too bad, does it? I even managed to inflict a bit on myself while in her office yesterday, squeezing my hand too hard and leaving deep imprints of my fingernails, took a bit of skin off. She commented on how easy it is to fall back into old ways of coping. It left marks which still are there, though faint, today. It’s so deeply imbedded in my pysche as the only way out of emotional distress, be it feeling too much or too little. And right now I’m feeling too much. Way too much. I can’t even define all that I’m feeling. I tried to in her office yesterday, and last night when I was dying for a sharp to drag across my skin. Lost. Alone. Sad. Melancholic. Overwhelmed. Not present. Broken. Hurt. And a multitude more floating through my brain and body. And that’s what’s so damn hard about this. The feelings are so strong, they’re painful. My body hurts from carrying them. The release of a little blood seems a fair price to pay for the relief. But one of the last things she said to me yesterday was, “Remember your contract. A promise.” A promise to her as well as myself to stay safe. And there are days I curse that contract. That promise. If it was only with myself, it wouldn’t be so bad. I could live with that. But the shame I would feel going into her office next week, and having to say, “I fucked up,” keeps me strong. That and the fact that there are no readily available sharps that I can access. I have a disposable razor in the bathroom, one I keep for emergencies like this. However, the fact of the matter is, I would have to dig it out, dismantle it, and then carry through with the very act I have sworn not to. Many opportunities to pause and think things through. Which she would not hesitate to point out. Something I really value in her is her refusal to accept bullshit answers and provide clarity when things are muddy to me. So rather than face that, I stayed in bed, my safe zone. Except when it isn’t. I try hard to keep my bed a safe place. Injuring myself in the bath, where it’s easy to clean up, or on the floor of my bedroom. My bed is sancrosanct. Not to say I haven’t used an x-acto knife that I forgot to put away while sitting there, focusing only on the imminent relief. That pressure valve which causes immediate and tactile release. But word is my bond. So I suffer. Like Tennyson wrote in Ulysses, “All times I have… suffer’d greatly, both with those/That loved me, and alone… One equal temper of heroic hearts,/Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will/To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

SISTERHOOD

A year ago I attended a twelve week group for survivors of sexual assault. I was hesitant to go, as my experience with groups wasn’t very positive. With a lot of encouragement from my therapist and best friend, I decided to give it a shot. I am very glad I did. A year later, and I have a group of women I now consider to be my sisters. Bonded in a way I never imagined possible. A group of women I can share both my highs and my lows with, and everything in between. An amazing group of women who are supportive, loving, and quick to both laugh and cry with you.

It goes beyond our shared traumas. We are able to share the common, everyday things, the small tragedies and the big joys. And the seemingly small thing of being understood. Unless you’ve been a situation where your whole world is shattered, you never appreciate the comfort in sharing that trauma with people who have suffered in ways similar to you. We’ve all experienced different things, and suffered differently, but we all have been broken. The Japanese have an ancient art of mending broken pottery with gold, silver, or platinum. Kintsugi. They are the gold in my healing cracks.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BORDERLINE?

I’ve been thinking about diagnoses and what they mean to the one receiving them. Usually they come with a sense of relief: I’m not crazy. These symptoms do mean something. But what happens when the diagnosis means you are crazy? What does that mean? I’ve been fighting the BPD diagnosis for years. Never had a therapist agree with it, though I’ve received the diagnosis from more than one psychiatrist. Recently there has been a movement in the trauma treatment community to change it to Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My current therapist, who is a gift sent from wherever such things come from, explained it to me in a way that made me feel a lot better. It’s not that I’m not fixable, which is the prevailing feeling among most old school practitioners; it’s just that my brain needs a different way of fixing it. I’ll never be neuro-typical. But I can learn to adapt and rearrange the way I process information.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD; also known as complex trauma disorder) is a psychological disorder that can develop in response to prolonged, repeated experience of interpersonal trauma in a context in which the individual has little or no chance of escape. (wikipedia) The resulting symptoms closely mirror that of BPD. The key difference between BPD and C-PTSD is that symptoms of BPD stem from an inconsistent self-concept and C-PTSD symptoms are provoked by external triggers. The inconsistent self-concept happens as a direct result of the early childhood trauma or ongoing trauma with no escape. Combine the two, you end up with a very fractured sense of self. Typical therapies for BPD used are DBT (Dialectic Behaviour Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), neither of which address the underlying trauma.

I grew up always afraid of my father. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t. That’s how early the abuse started. He was never physically violent to my mother, but he was very much emotionally and verbally abusive. In typical abuser fashion, he never started until after they were married and she was “trapped” with a baby. My therapist explained to me that babies can pick up what’s going on around them, so if my mother was anxious, sad, or afraid, I would’ve understood something was wrong. When asked why she stayed, she recently told me she couldn’t admit to her mother that her mother was right. So her pride ruined my life. Well, my life up to this point. I’m taking charge of it now, and learning to say no to the shit I don’t have to put up with.

Add to the mix a cousin who taught me things no six year old should ever be aware of, a very abusive relationship at a young age with a much older man, and a more recent sexual assault, is it any wonder that my sense of self is fractured? I’m now learning that I matter, that what I want and feel are valid. Novel concepts to be learning at 45. I wish I had the confidence of my young sons. They know they’re important, they understand body autonomy, and while they may not yet know what it is, they live their lives with a purpose.

I long for the day when I can live beyond the day to day, minute to minute, second to second it takes to survive sometimes. But everyday I’m getting stronger. A solid therapist with strong boundaries is key. I’m very fortunate to have found one. She holds the space while I try to feel whatever emotions are coming up. She holds it without judgement and without forcing it. Which is what someone who has suffered much trauma needs. I am doing EMDR, (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) along with a combination of other modalities. I take a mood stabilizer to boost the effect of my anti-depressant, and I take an alpha blocker, which helps prevent the nightmares. Being taught coping mechanisms (Babette Rothschilde is an amazing source for this), I can even manage my panic attacks and flashbacks. I’m in a stable relationship, I’m a pretty decent parent, and a damn good friend. None of which should be possible if I was truly only suffering from BPD.

So what does the diagnosis mean to the one receiving it? In my case, nothing at all. It bothered me at first, and if I had received it years ago, before I started working with my current therapist, it might have destroyed me; taking away any hope of ever getting better. No, it’s a label that might help my disability claim, but that’s all it is. It doesn’t define who I am as a person. It changes nothing. My trauma work is the most important thing I can do for myself, and in doing it, I will free myself from the bindings of a difficult diagnosis with a less than helpful prognosis.

A BLACKNESS DARK

In the dark
Defenses are thin
The monsters howl
Begging to be let in

The rain falls down
A staccato beat on the roof
Echoing the tears in my heart
That will not fall

Access denied
Feeling aloof
To the pain in my soul
A blackness dark
Coats my very existence

The monsters wail
Begging to be fed
Promising light after the blood
To slumber in the post pain haze

I know the truth
Of their existence
Never sated, always begging for more
The cravings deep

Alone in the night
With the monsters in my head
In my heart
In my soul
Filling the cracks with blood
In the place of tears

HOLDING MY OWN

How good it feels to be away from the edge of The Pit. Despite being mostly housebound due to inclement weather, I have been feeling pretty good. Maybe because I haven’t had to be social. Who knows. I’m enjoying it while it lasts. Can’t help but wonder, though, if this is a shift toward hypomania. the pdoc I saw didn’t see a bipolar diagnosis. Borderline Personality Disorder, Complex PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and, finally, Persistent Depressive Disorder. She said there is a lot of overlap with BP and BPD, so sometimes it’s hard to get a clear diagnosis.

A new year always brings with it some reflection. I’m not the type to make new years resolutions,; my goals change as I grow and change. And I wanted to take the time to give thanks to the woman who led me through the darkness to the light. I wrote a poem for her, and gave it to her just before we broke for the holidays. She never said anything about it, so I should probably not be embarrassed by it. I thought I’d share it with you.

A ship with a broken compass

Tossed on the waves

Hither and yon

Sinking slowly

Trying to find my way

By a North Star

Lost in a sky

Of darkness and despair

The clouds thick

Ever present

Blotting out the light

Along came a guide

Showed me how to mend

That broken compass

To fight my way

Back to the light

Behind the clouds

The siren song

Is still loud at times

But I have a gift

A toolkit

Cobbled together

Patiently guided

With grace and skill

To heal the wounded

Children within

RAVENOUS

Feel the need in your soul

The dark longing

Deep within

Face to the sky

Hungering for truth

For peace

Aching for something lost

An empty vessel

Full of want

Full of desire

Craving something so deep

It will never be sated

The ebony darkness

Caresses you

A lover that calls to you

Seductive and false

The moonlight dances

On the scars on your skin

On your psyche

It knows all your secrets

Even the ones

You keep from yourself

The hunger

The void

The vast emptiness

Within you

The one that calls for comfort

In any shape

In any form

The one that keeps

You up at night

Cold sweat on the pillow

The Beast has no name

Knows only it is ravenous

Rapacious

And under the moon

Most powerful

The starlight

Tickles its hunger

For flesh

For the blade

For release

In any shape

By any means

The Void so deep

An abyss in your soul

Nothing fills it

Nothing sates it

No warmth

No heat

Endless longing

Meaningless sounds

Spew forth

Conveying

How voracious

The appetite is

For flesh

For blood

Anything to take the edge off

If only

For the moment

BLOOD AND PAIN

When the heart weeps

Yet no tears come

When words won’t come

And all that is left

Is an unnameable

Something

That begs releasee

Escape

A way out

From the too too much

That cannot be

Identified

How does one

Find relief

From what one does not

Recognize

Except to let it out

In blood

And pain

SIREN

The last few weeks have been brutal. I know in the very depths of my being that things will get better, but right now they’re just so hard.

SIREN

I stare at the water

It’s aqua waves calling

Inviting to slip under

Into Oblivion

I walk away

From the Sirens call

The blades in my hand

Beckoning tantalyzing

One quick swipe

And freedom

I walk away

From the Sirens call

Through the heart

The silver moonlight

Dances on the thinnest of knives

Kill the heart

That causes all your pain

I walk away

From the Sirens call

I walk away

From the Sirens call

WHO AM I

Numb

An emotional lockdown

Fearful

That once the walls crumble

There will be no relief

Sorrow

Runs deep

Permeates my very essence

If I allow myself to feel

The full depths

Would I ever recover

Fear of getting “better”

Of never getting “better”

I’m not sure I could bear

That this is the way

It will always be

Yearning

For a family that doesn’t exist

For what worth have i

If I’m rejected by those

Who share my blood

That nameless ache

Undefinable

Intangible

Pervasive

Both physically

And in my pysche

A part of me

Steadfast

True

Who am I?

IF ONLY

It’s been a long time since I posted anything. Life has been dark and I have been in a state of broken disrepair, unable to write.

Tonight it appears the dam is cracking and I can write about the childhood that broke me.

IF ONLY

If my presence offends you

I can only beg forgiveness

And apologize for my sins

However slight

The pain

The tears

Never knowing

What might set you off

If only

If only I was quieter

If only

If only I was more docile

If only

If only I was the daughter you wanted

Not the one you received

Not wanted

Unplanned

A mistake

I don’t ever remember

Not knowing this

Shut up

I don’t want to hear it

You know why

Heartbroken

Alone in my room

Snot and tears

Mingling on the

Flowered bed spread

No succour

A pariah

Hours alone

Today you wonder why

I need so much

Time by myself

You trained me

Isolated me

Self reliant

To not need

To not feel

To not cry

WAY TOO FAST

Pulled down by the undertow

Staring up at the sun

Unattainable

Sinking fast

Tired of the fight

Can’t keep my head above the water

Current moving down

Way too fast

The salt on my cheeks

Can’t look up up

Overwhelmed by the tide

Way too fast

Drowning in my tears

Can’t breathe

Can’t see beyond the blood

Life drags by

Way too fast

SHAME AND SELF LOATHING

I’ve been struggling with the facts that I stayed in a very abusive relationship with a much older man when I was 15.  I stayed until he ended it shortly before my 18th birthday because, as he put it, I got too old.  Despite the reassurances of my amazing therapist, Vera, I somehow still feel responsible for staying. Over the holidays, my young teenage self was badly triggered and I spent a solid two weeks,  at least, battling the urge to self harm.  Angry Dude (another part of me that has separated from the rest) has been bubbling up with rage and the two have been feeding off of each other. I finally let Angry Dude out, with some careful boundaries.  NO SELF-HARM!!!  Instead, he did some writing.  Harsh, angry words at me for going back again and again.  Here is his story:
IDIOT
You went back

Again and again

Knowing full well

What was in store
IDIOT
You hungered for 

His small mercies

Carfully played

After he used you
Good Girl

My Slut
Positive reinforcement

Being claimed

Being wanted
IDIOT
Was it enough

Was it worth it
The fist in the hair

The violent sex

The beatings
Was it worth it

Going back

Again and again
IDIOT

Not strong enough

To walk away

Though given ample

Opportunity
IDIOT
You let him do things 

No one should endure

Just for his approval

Those damning words

That get me every time
Good GIrl

My Slut

IDIOT
How could you not see

The end

How could you think 

It would last forever
IDIOT
Did you really think 

He wanted YOU? 

Claimed

He said

Your heart

Your body

Your mind

Mine
IDIOT
To be so naive

The beatings

The gang rapes

The timeouts in the closet
IDIOT
There was nothing you

Wouldn’t do for him

Nothing you wouldn’t

Let him do
Your innocence

Your dignity
You gave it all up
For what? 
A gentle touch

A kind word

Thrown like a bone

To a starving dog
IDIOT
You lost so much

Of yourself

Unable to find

Your true self
Given all up for

A gentle word

A false sense of belonging
IDIOT
How could you not see

What he was doing to you

Using you

Corrupting you

Defiling you
IDIOT
How could you believe 

How could you keep

Going back

For more

And more
IDIOT
Now you’re broken 

Beyond repair

Vera can’t help fix

The shattered

Remnants

Of your destroyed

Soul
IDIOT

ALL ALONE

I met him when I was 15.  His wife brought me home to “meet” him.  He took my innocence and made me his. Shared me with his friends. Trained me to do his bidding, to serve unflinching.  Scars I’m still trying to heal.  Thanks for coming on the journey to healing with me. 
You take my hand
I’m all alone

You caress my body

I’m all alone
A crowd of strangers 

I’m all alone

Touching me

I’m all alone

Entering me

I’m all alone

Your words try to comfort me

I’m all alone

Empty words of love

I’m all alone

INTO THE DARKNESS

The lengths that I would go through

Begging on my knees

Not to go

Go into the darkness

Into the past

The broken girl

Fractured and shattered

Oh so many hurts 

Overflowing

Into my today

No brakes

Flying through

The memories

Terrified

Overwhelmed

Wanting to hide

Being on my knees

Not to go

THE RAIN

I feel the rain

Cold against my skin

A counterpoint to the tears

Rolling down my cheeks
Thunder crashes

In the skies above

Echoing the tumult 

In my heart
Lightning jaggéd

Against the sky

Bright flashes of pain

Reverberating 

Through,my soul

EBB AND FLOW

Old familiar wounds

Never quite closing

Never fully healed
Open at a touch

A glance

A memory
Tearing apart

Once again

My heart my soul
Who am I

Besides a ball of pain

Ebbing and flowing

Like the tide

ALONE IN THE LIGHT

Alone in the night

Lights out

In the dark

A silent scream

As you touch me

Alone in the night

You haunt my waking hours

My sleepless nights

Can’t breathe as your body

Crushes mine

Alone in the night

Une shed tears

I can’t turn you off

Or make you disappear

Alone in the light

I feel you

Smell you

I can’t escape

What you’ve done to me

VULNERABILITY PART TWO

I was talking to my therapist this week about tears, and how I’ve only cried once in the past 12 years. Which led her to using dirty words like vulnerable and feelings. I made the mistake of saying that crying is weakness, which, of course, turned into a long, mostly one-sided discussion on how tears are human and to be human is to be vulnerable. As is often the case, I didn’t have a lot to say at the time. It takes a few days of ruminating and processing to be able to articulate my response. So I send her an email at 1:30 in the morning: When I cry over something, it’s a physical manifestation of something I am vulnerable to/about. When I open up and allow myself to be vulnerable, I am displaying my weakness. Once that happens, I am open to being hurt. So no more hurt means not being vulnerable.

And as is so often the case, the epiphany came through my poetry.

My eyes are dry
No you won’t ever see me weep
Break my bones
You’ll never see
My broken spirit

The broken soul
You toyed with
You’ll never see me cry
Never know the hurt
You laid upon my heart

Careless caresses
You never meant
Empty words
That belied the truth

Hard and jaded
No one touches me
In the secret places
of my heart