The time before the last time I don’t recall the rest 

The last time that’s all there was. 

‘I’m sorry’ lullabies replaced the warmth of your arm around me. 

Nevertheless we fell into a deep slumber. 

Two nights the same but markedly different. 

Both with such peaceful rest I can recall them by date. 

It is the mark of perhaps the truest intimacy; The cradle of peace with which we sleep. 

Even on air when my every move adjusts you, we dance in slumber gracefully and without misstep. 

Every exhale exclaims I Love You, and every deep breath in is God. 

True comfort my soul is well in our joining. 

It is only with you I rest. 

Dirty, Ugly Truths 

I’ve been having panic attacks all day. I’ve slept to escape them but as soon as I wake the tightness in my chest is waiting. In many ways the feeling is so familiar it no longer startles me. No one should be so at home with terror. 

  I cried for thirty minutes and asked myself how I got here hoping in that there’d be some clue as to how to get out. Not back, but out. Disillusionment. Heartbreak. Expectations for a life that never belonged to me. Disappointment when the truth was revealed. I felt so discarded after P2AD left me with nothing but silence I went searching for my worth in other men. I wasn’t indiscriminate but I sure as hell wasn’t using my best judgment. I was doing whatever I could to avoid the pain of feeling unloved unimportant and unworthy. But I was looking in the wrong places. One big clue was that it was never enough. My loneliness seemed to be a black hole that no one could seem to fill. 

And then the rape. The needle scratch on the record. A sharp wake up call. No, I did not deserve it. No woman does. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t come at a time where I desperately needed to evaluate my life and my choices. Perhaps that’s the lie I tell myself to cope. If it is, I’m okay with that. Pills and therapy panic and tears I fought my way through three months of absolute hell. Determined to not BE how I felt, I needed to prove to myself and to others that I wasn’t broken. I barreled my way though my dissertation proposal defense and it felt like the moment it was over, the levy broke.

I had my first flashback in Jamaica. All of a sudden I could smell him, hear his voice and recall his touch on my skin. I reminded myself of where I was but I think in that moment it was the beginning of my realizing this was far from over. A roller coaster summer full of highs and lows lead to an September date who would try to force himself on me. I panicked. I pushed him off, refusing his kisses and insisted the date was over. Shaking. He said “what’s wrong with you, having some kind of flashback?” From there the unraveling began. 

I couldn’t focus at work. Guilt and fear that everyone saw me as this fragile broken thing. I couldn’t face my coworkers. I’d lost touch of that thing that makes me strong. So I dedicated my time to dissertation research and therapy. Weeks on end I told parts of my story and reflected on my actions my thoughts. Battling to reconstruct a new reality for myself that felt so counter from everything that I felt. For someone so governed by her heart, it felt like a betrayal and completely unnatural. Still I kept at it believing that at any point I would turn a corner and I would see the rainbow in the sky God put there just for me. 


That corner hasn’t come. Every piece of bad news feels like a hundred more pounds on my chest. My finances started to really crumble as my state disability checks stopped coming. Depending on everyone around me to take care of me I now worry I’ve become too much of a burden. The news is never good. There’s never a funny story anymore. And then Friday came. 

There was nothing especially wrong except, it was yet another day of no money, feeling anxious and overwhelmed, and having only hope. I feel like I took a shallow breath and let the balloon go. The last glimmer of faith that I would make it through this better and stronger. Something inside me broke or more aptly, something inside me was extinguished. 

I am not sure how to navigate right now. What to do with myself. I don’t know if I believe in my own magic anymore. My strong will and faith that used to carry me to impossible heights has left me to fall to my lowest low. I don’t know how to get out of this.  I don’t know who to turn to or what I would even ask of them. My dreams and purpose and all of that feels so far away and for some other being that is just not present in this body right now.

 I feel empty. 


Waking up from a dead sleep gasping for breath. Drowning. Again. This is the knowing that it’s coming. I curl up in the fetal position and the tears begin to fall. Body tense. I remind myself that despite what it feels like, I can breathe. I’ve had to cut my nails short to keep from clawing at my skin. Something about the pain is soothing. Brings me out…but I know it’s not good so I try not to do it. Cold and sweating my pillow is soaked with tears. God I just want this nightmare to end. Please let it end. Let it be over finally. No more bad, please send me something good. I beg over and over again. Sobbing. Trying to hold tight to my faith and belief that I can overcome this moment. I feel the salty nausea in my mouth. My body wants the pain out in any way possible. And all I can do is cry. 

A funny sort of courage

I’ve had a thought on my mind all week given to me by my psychiatrist, he said “You are the same you, you have the same talents and capabilities. The same competency and intellect. That pet of you hasn’t changed, but the way you think about yourself has. This isn’t reality but it is because it’s your perceived reality. But it’s a cognitive distortion.” 

And it so clearly spoke to the war that has been raging inside me. The ever-present Knowing that I am bigger than my body and possess the talent and ability to do great things and the new pervasive feeling that I was too fragile too wounded to be of good use. It may well be that those doubtful parts of me always existed but I so confidently believed in the limitless mess of my own being I push them aside. Now they hold my hand tightly and we walk through life together. 

I figure, I just need to believe in my own magic just a bit more than I trust the story of my doubts. But how? 

When I say I’m tired

…it’s because I’m spending an exorbitant amount of energy trying to be okay. Convincing myself to get dressed. To take a shower. To brush my hair and look like something. God I miss those days when finding the perfect outfit for a day or an event gave me a rush and a thrill instead of anxiety and discomfort. I try. I remember what it felt like and I try to recreate the moment for myself. I play the old familiar soundtrack to getting ready–Beyonce–and I take the requisite time for make up then hair the outfit then photos to make sure he outfit photographs as well as it wears. But the joy….it doesn’t come. 

Panic washes over me when someone asks how my day went. I recount my day of usual nothingness, maybe a few short hours spent writing or reading, and I tell them “okay”. Never bothering to mention how hard it was to sit down to write or the two pills it took to focus enough on my dissertation. The fears and irrational obsessions I have to push out of my mind for doctoral level coherent words. Nothing ever worth keeping. Nothing ever feeling up to par. 

My best friend doesn’t feel like my best friend anymore. All we do is trader anger or frustration. I don’t find peace in our conversations so I stopped talking because I’ve run out of storage for hurt. I don’t know when that gets repaired. I can’t even think beyond the nap my body is yearning and aching to take. 

Not even six and I’m in bed and can barely keep my eyes open. And all I did today was pretend. And all I’ll do tomorrow is the same. 

I keep hoping that if I just keep my spirits up and stay faithful that the fog will lift and when something good happens I will be able to feel it. Feel anything other than tired. Tired from having to simply exist. 

And I keep crying because I know this isn’t right. That it isn’t good to feel like this at all or so often. So persistently. But I’m too tired to continue through the maze. So for right now I’m just going to sleep. Hope upon hope that there’s rest at the end. 

True True

I’d been trying to make something pretty from something ugly all day. In the middle of the night a window fan fell out of the window and straight into my face. Startling me awake and leaving me writhing in pain wondering what had just happened and going immediately into triage mode. I googled “how to tell if you have a concussion” with the first symptom being fatigue and disorientation. Well I was tired and confused but perhaps that was due to the trauma itself and the hour of day, it was roughly 4am. I anxiously stayed awake for an hour then decided it was safe to go to sleep, when I woke up again and walked into my bathroom I was greeted by a version of me who looked physically like I’d felt for some months now: battered. 

I am careful about that particular word as I do not mean to make like of domestic violence. Only it is the best word to describe how I’ve been feeling. I jokingly said to a friend, “2015 has broken me down. Am I being punished for something?” We laughed but there was a lot a truth in my rhetoric. Am I? 

Rotating ice on and off my face while binge watching Gilmore Girls, I got up to notice the bruising was spreading like a rash across my face. Tender to the touch I knew I would not be concealing or blending anything for a few days. Until I healed everyone would just know that I was hurt. 

Later on facing myself again I was trying to snap a picture to send to a friend of mine. I hated them all. Each photo that showed the bruise well was unflattering and when I tried to “look effortlessly pretty” all bare faced and hair up, you couldn’t see the bruising as well. But I saw it. Each time k looked in the mirror it’s the first thing that called my eyes attention. This purple and black badge of bad timing and ill-fated circumstance was a lighthouse on my face. And in that moment I said to myself 

You have a choice. You can capture the pretty or you can capture the truth, but you can’t have both. 

I almost immediately started to cry. I tried to shut my eyes to stop the tears from falling but that only hurt my face more, so I had no choice but to simply cry and to BE as battered, as ugly as I felt. And even though I snapped a picture of the truth I still hate it. I wanted to edit it or remove a blemish, fix the lighting, see if it looked better with my hair up versus down and on and on and on. I was doing it again. 

Fact of the matter is, pretty isn’t always the truth and the truth isn’t always pretty. But there is something radiant about capturing a thing as authentically as you can. Pretty or any synonym thereof is not the only thing of value, I had to remind myself. Let go of what you think it looks like and just tell the truth. 

The real truth. 

I spoke with a friend of mine from high school recently and we discussed the guise of social media and how happy everyone seems to be. We revealed to one another our own ugly truths and found comfort in knowing we were not alone. Truth is not always convienent or kind or crafted and tactful. Truth is not always clean and orderly, socially just and insightful. Truth is. It just is and anything else is our stuff that we add to it. It is ugly or beautiful at our whim. A blessing or a curse with just a declaration, truth is like oxygen. We can’t live without it even though we can’t put our arms around it or kiss it goodnight. Nevertheless it’s there or we would not be. 

So I stopped trying to make myself be something I wasn’t in the moment. Now wasn’t the time for pretty. Now was the time for real. And I asked myself to consider that real had its own beauty and its own value much different from pretty. And I obliged myself.  Smiling at my decision I winced again from the pain. Oh yes, I remembered now, I was hurting. And here I had forgotten, in the midst of the True True…


Truth Art and Suicide

I’m laying in bed with a pain in my right side, sharp and intense and tears flowing a bit too liberally down my cheeks. I just watched Mara Akil’s BET show Being Mary Jane and witnessed both a suicide of a supporting character and how each other character was then affected by it. 

In some ways I feel exposed. As though the deepest darkest secret I’ve ever housed was just displayed for all the world to see. In other ways I feel so sad that anyone should ever feel so unheard unloved and insignificant to end their own life. When Mary Jane admitted that she would ask her friend how she was doing without a real want to hear her truth, I broke down. Because I’ve been both Lisa and MJ. 

  I’ve felt unloved unheard and insignificant. “She died because of the silent treatment…” I winced. It was as if everyone in that room could see how the sum of their interactions added up to all the pain housed in this now lifeless body. Selfishly I wondered if those who chose to answer me with silence would ever consider the pain they caused? 

I’ve also felt so consumed in my own life my own experiences my own emotions that I did not check in with those around me. I have been the silent one. And I have been the one to skimp on giving significant attention to friends’ troubles without diverting attention back to myself. I have been self-centered and involved only in my own orbit never minding the other paths I affect. 

I can feel the anxiety spreading throughout my body and even my hands feel tight as I type. The desire to be relieved of pain is so destructive. We drink because of it. We smoke because of it. We get high, have sex, risk our lives in various ways just to “feel alive” because our stasis is in a vice grip of suffering. I can’t name all the ways I’ve tried to escape it before falling deep into the pit of depression where it holds you captive and makes you feel all the things you’ve been avoiding all at once at amplified. That’s why it hurts all over your body. 

I know the havoc I’ve caused in my life escaping pain. While I never had a plan, I also know I fantasized and romantacized the freedom I perceived in death. I didn’t actively want to die. But I also didn’t actively want to live. I cried just this morning wondering if there’ll be a morning soon when I wake up at peace. When I wake up not thinking immediately of my first reprieve. 

Yet…somehow we aren’t supposed to talk about it. Let’s distract ourselves with a pumpkin spiced-Pinterest-perfect life only to discover that joy cannot be found in the perfect Christmas card or mini quiche. And who do we think we are fooling with these lies?! I appreciated most MJ’s call to get real. And the promise to love even the ugly truths of our loved ones. Even at my worst…find the love you have for me and cling to that. 

Above all, even my own emotions and experience with suicide, depression and pain I love how healing it is to see it depicted through artistry. To know that someone else knows this pain so intimately that they can tell their story, my story, with enough depth and detail to bring me to weep. The courage and authenticity in that artistry…there is so much power in it. And God I promise, I am going to use my own art to the same end. To tell ugly truths and bring healing to festering hurt. Even as I recover…especially as I recover. 


Spine twisted into knots I curled up on my bare mattress trying to breathe thinking two thoughts at the same time: I can’t breathe and you’re going to survive this. The “this” I meant was not just that moment but this entire year…two years of losing finding and refining who it is that I know myself to be. 

It has been present with me lately that I’ve experienced two of the most difficult experiences women, sadly, far too often experience: rape and miscarriage. I must say I was much more equipped to handle the rape…even though I have anxiety attacks, carry a constant fear, have flashbacks, etc. If I had to rank them, the rape was easier. 

When I think about the day I found out, it takes my breath away. That’s how I felt. When I found out in one day I was both pregnant and not…I hit the floor. I felt like the world just collapsed around me and all the stars went out. I remember the feeling of isolation because I was alone and the only person I knew for 500 miles in any direction, was the father. I was devastated. And it is only just recently that I am able to openly admit that. Talking, literally talking about it is something I have yet to conquer. To be honest, I am not sure that it’s a mountain I even want to climb. Perhaps on this one my inner work is sufficient. Not every trial is for public consumption. Some things are allowed to just be mine. 

So when my therapist asked me to explain what feeling “raw” felt I told him like your body was inside out. But really it’s more like your body is covered in healing but exposed burns; the pink tenderness of vulnerable flesh. Praying to God no one bump into you, and your body unable to discriminate between loving touch and sadistic influence. It all hurts. 

The only thing that helps is time and armor. Telling myself that it’s okay to need the armor of medication. The armor of solitude. The armor of silence. The armor of friendship. The armor of family. The armor of kind thoughts. Whatever it is I need, it is okay that I give it to myself in order to dress my wounds and heal. 

Mr. And Mrs. Gray 

I am not as full of sadness as my pinterest pins would lead you to believe. Nor is my heart as broken. Still, though, there is truth that lies in the lyrics of songs buried between the words there in the pauses and sharp inhales. The remembrance of pain pushing through the breath and emanating off the tongue into beautiful audible tears streaming down a soft cheek. 

It will never make sense to me why it isn’t or wasn’t or couldn’t be. Why what was broken can’t be fixed but I only know that it can’t. I’ve learned that lesson over and over again. The loss of a soft smile. The loss of a heartbeat. The last of relief that follows an exhale, all unrecoverable. And this…it feels so close. I want to push it out into orbit and never hear from it again. 

Fear is a curious thing isn’t it? Sometimes it makes us impetuous and reckless and others stoic and paralyzed. I think about how I react to fear. But quickly push the idea out of my head. When was the last time I was afraid?  When was the last time I wasn’t? Maybe in ignorance there there is peace. Or perhaps it was a politeness than never need be addressed, whichever it was it gave me rest. 

Because of that I’ve wondered and was asked would it take another decade to allow someone so deep so close so In that they could quiet my storms. No, it wouldn’t take a decade. No, I never want anyone that close again. No, I don’t mean that…except a very large part of me does. 

Await and jumping at every sound, undermedicated for my circumstance yet overmedicated for my liking. Everything sits at opposite ends of the see-saw. Sick and well. Single or taken. Mr. And Mrs. Black and white. I’d give an awful whole lot to just wade in gray for a while and not be set on fire for doing so. 

Don’t you wish it was okay to just not know?