Trauma

A distressing event
a disruption
unsettling.

A disconnection
from the experience
of self,
of others.

How can one
learn to settle
in a body
that's proven
fallible
in a world in which
we so desperately
seek certainty.

you were what I called home

I often wonder if you
remember the falling.
It felt like coming home to me.
Until the inevitable
came like the change of seasons,
we turned
unrecognizable.
 
The memory of what was
comes to me in flashbacks.
We grew up together in
hushed,
private moments
navigating the wax and wane
of an intimacy too mature
for what we could know of it.
 
I was 13 the first time you
threatened it.
I was 14 when you really tried.
 
The in between is what I remember most.
The scent of your
black Pink Floyd hoodie,
smelling of your mom's cigarette smoke
and Tide detergent.
 
Like something out of our control
what was once supportive and pure
turned toxic.
Expectations became chains.
You told our friends stories.
They called me a whore.
 
I learned to lie and manipulate.
Dishonesty
felt safer than
truth-telling.
The alternative
lead to an abuse
I still hear my own
voice use against me
13 years later.
 
Slowly I
lost myself in the sensation
of becoming nothing
beyond the pleasing
and the apologies.
 
Love and safety became
foreign and unattainable.
I sometimes avoid turning my
phone on ring
it reminds me of the time you called
so I’d hear every sound
of what you said I led you to do.
 
Now I exist in nights
that come
after a day of supporting others
and I wonder if love
is something
only other people can experience.
 
You tried to escape life
and left me holding the responsibility
in hands that I still
wash raw trying
to make peace with the shame.
 
I try to find new ways
in relating to others
and still find myself
staring into
hands
that do what they can
with what they know.
 
Now they aim to heal
rather than defend,
to absorb love
 
and yet
 
I was taught to swallow whole
the blame
to hold the responsibility
to jump to conclusions
before I am surprised with
another blow.
 
I'm now just beginning to
understand
that my home is meant to be
stable
and consistent in its
giving and receiving.
My home is meant to
grow rather than deplete.
 
What am I to do
when home
crumbles
from the very touch
of my own hands
scratching
at the surface
of love?
 

damaged lenses

Tonight street lights are the only stars.
A few burnt out and I do not see
the black ice on the sidewalk.
 
I fall
hit my head.
Shattered something in my eyes.
Grey turns into bursts
of red and blue
and all the things
that don’t make sense.
 
I ask two strangers,
 
“What does it look like?”
 
They tell me love is
orange and yellow normalcy.

I crawl to my car
reach for my glasses
in the glove compartment.
The colors fade and I’m seeing
for the first time
in 13 years.
 
Out loud I ask,
 
“What have you done?”
 
Sadness comes to me
petite and vulnerable
yearning to be seen.
 
She looks at me,
shakes her head.
The view shifts and I’m there.
I’m 13 and I’m falling.
I’m 14 and I’m calling his dad.
 
“Your son, he took pills.”
 
“What happened? Why did he do this?”
 
“I told him I didn’t love him anymore.”
 
I’m alone on my bedroom floor.
My mom listens outside my closed door.
She hears a flat tone in my voice
dissociated from the words I say.
 
“He did this because of me.”
 
My voice sounds older.
Older than 14.
Thick with pain and knowing.
 
I watch myself from the window sill.
I see the exact moment there’s a shift
in the eyes of a teenager.
 
It is then
I begin to believe I am responsible
for the feelings of others.
 
That love is torturous and painful
secretive and life-threatening
all-consuming.
 
It is this moment I believe
I am the victim
and love the betrayer.
 
The numbness of 14 consumes me.
The same feeling
that helped me dial the number
to tell his dad his son called
to say goodbye.
 
His dad is remarkably calm.
When I say these words
and that I was the reason for them.
 
A car beeps.
I startle and see a crack
in the glasses
that have sat in their case
for 13 years.
 
The frames are bent,
the lenses scratched and cloudy.
I remove them from my face,
fold them delicately in my lap.
 
I wait to feel.
Nothing comes.
 

Under construction

What is art 
if not
navigating conversations
Observing patterns
of thought and behavior
Responding in ways
that can be received
by the person sitting in front of me.

This is the craft
you’ll find it
ad I listen
In the space that’s held
for a person
to freely express all that’s in them.

The light and the dark
the in between.

My craft is understanding
trauma and its presentations.

My art is understanding my own.