River Diver

We arrived at the river and stripped down to our swimming gear.

He ran towards the water, confident in his decision to make the dive. He flew through the air, smiling at the expected coolness of the water on the 90 degree day. He angled his body down, face first – in anticipation – and then hit the water. But when he came up, he was no longer smiling but snarling, because he had not expected such a shallow point of contact.

With his upper lip cut by the top row of his teeth, we applied emergency “stitches”. Being over 100 miles from home, and being young, we found no reason to leave to find help. Somehow – with pure luck? – we found super glue in our car, and that served its temporary purpose. After a few minutes in the blasting sun – to quickly dry and close the torn, fleshy wound – we swam in the river until our limbs would not support us even in the shallow areas.

As we drove home – exhausted and sun-kissed – we knew that we would always remember the day that our dumb ass friend cut his lip open in the first five minutes of our day trip to the river.

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Spirals and Squares

Sometimes I work for attention
Not because I believe it will help
Or lead to successful endeavors

Rather, I crave attention
To be seen as better than expected
Or more worthy of attention than others

I abhor myself
My longing for validation
The fact that I must hear
“Great job!” “You did well!”

To know that I am doing well
Rather than assessing my own
Perseverance and worthiness

There’s something inside me that longs
For approval and rejects critique
But I work to achieve great things
To be unique

Yet here I am, a wondering poet
And I search and I scratch
To understand and clarify

What’s inside
What fuels me
Who …
Who Am I?

I don’t want to be this petty
Sniveling girl
Who cries for attention
Who begs for more time

To understand my intentions
Would take a great psychiatrist
So I simply pour it on paper
Technically, I Write

Working on Me

I have anxiety. I hate being in the car, I hate walking alone, I hate being in the dark alone, I hate being alone, I hate feeling alone, and some days I hate leaving the bed because I’m scared that I’ll have to bee alone. I watch Netflix because it makes noise, and I feel less alone.

I am not going to let this fear own me anymore.

I am a strong person. My husband loves me. My family loves me. I am successful, I am smart, and I am never alone.

This anxiety is scary, but I am not in danger. I only perceive danger, but there is none.

Calvin is safe. Calvin is healthy. Fear does not own me, I own fear. I can control it. If something bad happens, I can control it. It is not permanent. It will not last forever.

When Death Comes for You

Fill the emptiness

With work or regret

It makes no difference to me

Your life is your own

But to me you belong

Forever now, never more

Or less

As a matter of fact

You’ll cry

And smile

Laugh

And then you’ll frown

The feeling inside

Never waning

Just gaining

Consuming your trepidation

Then all at once

In the blink of an eye

A split second of a breath

The last of all and many

I take what is mine

With or without convent

Because your life is your own

But for me, you are meant

The First Taste is Free

Some days the darkness

An unwelcome resistance

Concedes to sunlight

I am not afraid of the warmth

Or the breath of fresh air

That success represents

But rather the unknown afterlife

That begs to persist

After success sees daylight

The ever growing mountain

The cyclical repeat

That success everlasting needs

For to remain evergreen

Once you began working

Like a cog in any machine

Your work it’s forever lasting

Doomed to climb or retreat

For like the Tao details:

Work begets work

The more complicated the machine

The more time spent to maintain

Words From The Darkness

Sometimes it is the silent voice that cries the loudest; the quieted voice that most needs to be heard. Sometimes no voice beckons for fear of being misunderstood, or fear of being an interruption. Sometimes that same voice, speaks loud and repetitively, to confirm its own existence.

To be silenced is to be disheartened and imprisoned by impatience and unintended cruelty. And then, sometimes, it ends abruptly.

For Sale: Stories of Abuse; Price: Scholarships and Grants

As someone preparing to graduate with her Master’s degree with a large chunk of student loan debt, I have done a lot of thinking about how I’m going to pay for said student loans. Obviously, I am applying for jobs – most recently, my dream job – with high-hopes that one of them works out. However, I cannot help but wonder how my balance would have differed had I applied for grants and scholarships.

People often remind me that I could have used my life experiences with abuse, traditional first generation education, etc. to get money for my education. There were many factors that would qualify me for grants, but it felt wrong for me (personally) to  explain every scar to possibly be rewarded. I would have to talk about the times my step-dad (a convicted child-molester) would threaten to walk in on me while I showered because I was taking too long: time I spent hiding from him. I would have had to talk about the times when he would make me give him a hug in the morning, fresh out of bed, in only a sports bra and panties; and that I slept in those because he would watch me sleep in the morning before waking me up.

I would have had to tell them all of those things, plus the time that someone close to me, my only saving grace at the time, almost committed suicide as my aforementioned step-father lay dying of cancer: I was 16-years-old. Or of the abusive boyfriend that I luckily only dated for a few months, whom I decided to break it off with because he was three years older than me, and looking for something that ryhmes with “by turginity”; which I had no interest in losing to him. Or, I would have had to tell them about being in elementary school, around 10-years-old, lining up my stuffed animals as I prepared to end my own life. The only thing, rather the only person, that stopped me from going through with it all three times was my mom. I didn’t have my parents around full-time growing up, but I knew who they were. I lived with relatives because they couldn’t get along (see the stuff about my step-dad). I grew up hating my dad because other people told me I should. I grew up having visitation rights with my mom because other people told me I couldn’t live with her (again, my step-dad).

This didn’t stop me from applying to scholarships my senior year of high school. My mom was poor, I had spent my measly $2000 of college savings to pay for utilities, so I needed something. But I only talked about my step-dad’s cancer. I told them that he was a good man, that I loved him, and that his 7-month battle was the only damage that had been done to me. But it felt wrong. Every sentence, every paragraph, and especially the acceptance speech I was required to give made me sick. I felt like I had lied, and I made the decision to not pursue anymore extra-curricular money. It meant that I worked 32+ hours a week for a call center that didn’t treat their employees any better than my step-dad had treated me. It meant that I almost had to drop out of school after finally moving to a new city for said school, because I couldn’t get a new job soon enough. It meant that I worked more than I played, and I took on every experience-garnering opportunity I could. I didn’t spend my money or time partying, or enjoying, or exploring through college. I spent my time working.

And now, with almost $80,000 in debt, I wonder if it would have been worth it. I wonder if telling people what I’m telling you today – things I had only previously told my husband and a therapist before – would have saved me this debt I will live with for most of the rest of my life. If I had talked about it before, when I barely understood it myself, and asked for money before: would that have helped me; and would it have been worth it?

But at the same time, I wonder why I have to talk about these things to receive money. Why do I have to relive each moment, each experience, and spend time convincing people that I went through this just to get help? Why do I have to talk about how dirty it made me feel, and how I would actually felt like my step-dad was watching me after he died: then as a spirit without walls to stop him from gazing at me (which I believed for close to a year after his death). I believed that a monster lived in my life, and I sometimes still have nightmares that he has come back to life, or that he faked his death. I wake up crying, unable to fall back asleep for hours.

So tell me, was it worth it? I feel so accomplished, strong, and empowered. But I know that I will not feel that way when I get my first bill. And I definitely don’t feel that way when people say, “They have scholarships for everything nowadays, you know? You could have avoided that debt,” or my favorite, “it’s your fault you have that much money to pay back.” I’m so glad to know that, for the small price of my abuse stories, I could have escaped close to debt free. What a price for a debt-free education.