He told me i was ugly

so I knew myself beautiful

i wish that applied to only one man in my life

used to think the only way

to ever be whole again

was to set fire to their legacy

burn to charred crust

their tiny, petty cruelties

their thoughts tattooed inside my eyelids

their grimaces of approval

& sharpened malice vowels 

it has taken me far too many 

heartless heartbeats

to realize

i can only erase their fingerprints

inside my pores

if i don’t give them the power

to define me



I am not something you can unwrap like a guilty present. Usually, words come easily to me. I mold them, shape them, and release them to do my bidding. Now, I’m struggling. Clumsily wrangling them into mocking submission. A pied piper whose flute is suddenly damp and off-key.

It’s no mystery. This is my life, my story, not some yarn I spun to entertain hyperactive children or fulfill some English lit assignment. I can’t even really call it a story, as that implies a concrete beginning, middle and end. My muse has been robbed, and I am left with uncertainty.

I do know a few things for sure. I’m not entirely a victim. I am an outsider. I’m not as jaded as I should be. I’m terrified of going back to who I was. I’m not repeatedly hitting the self-destruct button anymore. I am damaged.

Sometimes, I don’t know what scares me more: the past or the present.

Sometimes, I want to be a voice for those like me. Those whose lives may not make headlines but should not be rendered insignificant.

Sometimes, I think I must have been a tyrannical sociopath in my past life to deserve all that’s happened in this one.

Sometimes, I wonder if anyone can ever help me see all that I am.

I begin to unravel, and I don’t know if I’ll make it to the other side. Fragments slip like silk through the sieve of my memory. Bits rise to the surface, angrily rattling their displeasure at going unacknowledged. It’s time to face all the ugliness, some of it my own doing.

Before you put on your mask of judge, jury and executioner, know this: I am a survivor. As I close my eyes and try to remember, I don’t know anymore if this is for you or for me. I do know that I have never been this exposed. In this literary striptease, not even a G-string of privacy will be left.

Hopefully, when all is said and done, you’ll come to understand just how relentlessly painful it is to unravel. And the next time you see a stranger, instead of judging them, you’ll try to peel away the layers.

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