IOP

Ten days of therapy.

So many faces and handouts and cups of hot-chocolate-coffee.

It’s my last day, and I couldn’t(wouldn’t) sleep last night.

I never wanted today to come.

I told my group how much they have changed me,

How my preconceived notions of “crazy” were shattered by them,

How every single one of them had been through something that resonated with me.

It’s funny, I think back to the night before my very first day

And I did not sleep then either, afraid of what the next day would bring.

I told the social worker I used to be caught up in the fantasy of depression;

Used to steep myself in my trauma and show everyone my battle scars from being broken like badges on a vest.

But now, this class, has taught me the romanticism of recovery, and I am steeped in becoming better.

Know When to Get Off

Here I am,

Riding the subway like every other New Yorker;

Getting where I’m going like every other person with somewhere to be.

I am one with the fluidity and I love that about this city-

You fit in because you stand out and the only requirement

Is Know When to Get Off.

I am here.

And suddenly, we realize it’s our stop; too late.

My sister grabs my hand and she flies through the door;

Me, right behind, barely squeezing through.

And then they are shut.

And I am realizing the real horror is not getting trapped in the subway doors but

Being left behind and not belonging

Anymore.

My Boy

My boy

Is smiling;

Grinning from ear to ear.

He’s got one dimple on his right cheek

And it just

Lights me up inside to

See me reflected in eyes

That bare even a mere resemblance to mine.

To call something your own

That breathes outside of your lines-

It’s heartbreaking

Ad beautiful

And like being drunk

On the finest wine.

Peace

My father and I had a complicated relationship.

We could talk for hours on the phone or

Giggle like girls over blackberry cobbler with ice cream and

He could tell stories like no one I’ve ever met;

He’d swoop you up into his world- his fantastic world-

And all you could do was

Pray and hold on.

But my father has done some pretty terrible things.

He has hurt so many people close to me.

And this is a bond I wish we didn’t share:

That our struggles have affected the ones we love.

Forgiving my father has come to define me

Because if I cannot take the broken memories and make them holdable

Who am I to ask the same of others?

I’d forgiven him for the past and forged onward,

Triumphant in small talk and small hugs and things that didn’t tip the impending iceberg.

He had been doing so well, we had been doing so well,

That I forgot things could go wrong.

But they did, just the other day,

The iceberg imploded

And he had words that cut me sharper

Than any knife or razor blade I’ve known and let me ask you this:

How do you forgive the past if it keeps reaching up under your pillow at night to grab you?

How do you forgive a man who will not forgive your space and growth?

The answer is you don’t have to,

And this says nothing about you and everything

About the one you are trying to forgive.

Survival Taught Me Empathy

I have been praised for my empathy.

As if it was a trait I had acquired by any means

Other than from the flames of survival.

There is no easy way to tell them

It was never my throat he held up

By the fireplace,

Never my body he pushed or punched or

Tried to drown.

It was never me,

And that never explained my pain away

Or eased my sister’s suffering,

Or my mother’s bruises,

Or the bodies of our dogs.

I learned empathy from the struggle I witnessed;

My own part in the matter relevant

Because I took in the pain,

Took on the pain,

Shook the pain,

Looked the pain

Right in it’s damn face

And held my sister,

Mother, closer,

Letting the fissure bind us like spiderwebs;

See-through but

Unbreakable.

Empathy wove our struggle together,

And made us stronger for the battles we each faced

In private.

Running

I used to crave the friction

Of toxicity in my life;

Something to lean against

That always pushed back.

My boss once said

Misery loves company and

I have found myself in the company

Of many a miserable man.

But you have come out of the shadows,

Running, and I never knew

I could crave stability

Like I crave your arms.

You are predictable in the most wonderful way.

I can always count on

Your love.