Tango With Death

Someone asked me “what if you go to hell?”

I had to refrain from saying I had already seen it in the illness that took me away from this realm

Coming back to earth was a feat I still haven’t totally accomplished

I could not tell you the exact moment I felt death’s breath on my neck but 6 years on he still reminds me he hasn’t left

There are years lost in translation, still in the dark because I didn’t know how to turn on the light

You cannot bring the dead back but you can revive those on the brink

And I cannot shake the survivor’s guilt

There are people whose hand betrayed them and stripped them from this world who had more to give than I

The ground still knows the soles of my feet but it has forgotten yours

Hell was seeing you fade in front of me

Hell was replanting my feet on the earth after the voices told me to leave it all behind

Some days I still think of taking up that offer

And some days that is hell

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Windows

Poets write a lot about people having windows you can see into souls with

Often about how the morning sun glitters through, covering everything good in gold and leaving the bad in darkness

But we are more stained glass than perfectly clear

Refracting light color coating parts of us that we don’t want people to see

How I felt guilty that my friend died and how 3 years later I wished it was me instead of him – he was much kinder than I

I wish he was still around so I could see the man he would have become

How my heart still aches for her to come back but I know she never will

I still dream about her but she’s hundreds of miles away barely remembering my name

How I regret getting sick like this

Suicide still hangs at the back of my mind as an illuminated exit sign, never leaving but not as prominent anymore

How I learned happiness after the man who’s outside was pretty but inside left me a ruin of who I was before

If only he cared to see me now

Souls are dark twisted things shaped by who we were and who we are

The bad parts of us don’t hide in the corners

Body

We all live in these vessels that carry us to the grave

Souls occupying until it feels like the right time to leave and start over

Leaving behind mourning of who was once in this now shell

My body has endured me opening it up in attempts to let the unease fly free

The chemicals my brain has been known to produce are out of date

The boards of this ship creak and let water in – only replaced when I am but nearly drowned

My skin is decorated with tattoos for a love I can no longer whisper the name of

His name still feels like a house fire out of control in my chest

I no longer wish for him to recognize my soul as one he once so intimately knew

This vessel I own in this life is littered with stories told and those yet untold wait to emerge through the old, the weary, the hand-me-down

I have not sank yet but dear god I know people are waiting to see the day I no longer exist on the same plane

But this worn out body has not seen its last days yet

Daily Prompt: Foggy

Empty planners are scattered across my room

I buy them in an attempt to remember things I need to get done but the key is remembering to write them down

A symptom of PTSD is memory issues

There are years clouded with smog dark enough to only let a few moments escape

A heart breaking in silence, knuckles to skin, going silent

Good years have a mist, moments slipping away to it yet many remain intact

There are years my existence was lost in all but photographs

I still walk around in a haze not sure where to put what memory

Unsure if this is all a dream or if I am actually here

via Daily Prompt: Foggy

Love Notes

My body –

I am still learning ways not to destroy you

You are the vessel that carries me to the end

When you are gone, so am I

I decorate you to forget I once set fire to you so I could feel the warmth in my bones again

Because it was so cold

 

J.D.B. –

Love letters signed by you still litter my floor

All tear stained with the memories I try to block out

You were my worst mistake

I hope she tastes sweeter

 

A.M. –

I am sure I was your worst mistake

I want to plant forgiveness in your heart

But I know it won’t change your mind

 

J.S. –

When I imagine my wedding, you are standing there at the end of the aisle

Come home soon

 

My skin –

Your need to be red all the goddamn time gave people lots to pick apart

I tried to hide your imperfections with no avail

Deciding to be proud of you was my greatest achievement

Collisions of people are mapped out on you

Generations of triumph and hardship are written out on you

I am so sorry I ripped you apart for so long

 

Life –

I regretted being brought into you for years

You made me feel your weight too early

But you handed me laughter when I needed it

I am forever grateful for your gift

Even on the days I want to retreat into the darkness

On Accepting Death

For so long I have been grieving my own death

Feeling uncomfortable with every year passing that I’m still alive

I thought I would have been dead by 6 years ago

And 7 I accepted that I would float into nothing

While my body floated in rivers that were my family’s tears

All left of me dust

Deaths of idols, acquaintances, pets all reopen wounds I thought I healed

My soul aching for the embrace I once knew so close

Mourning the loss of souls in the existence I knew them in

While skipping a beat to mourn moments I nearly let mine go

A familiar voice tugging in the back of mine to let go this time

“You may have a chance to escape this time”

But I don’t

I never do

Prompt

I am but a puzzle of a family of artists and a mentally ill family

I am created of puzzle pieces fitting together, a mosaic of sorts

Coping with mental health via creation

Documentation of storms inside my brain created on paper and canvas

Manic states more than depressive

Mania is filled with color and ideas shifting around trying not to overthrow each other

Depression only looks for the darkness

Either state has me fixate on dying

How afraid of it I am or how I welcome it with open arms

Creating and destroying keep my hands quiet in every moment my brain decides not to be

via Daily Prompt: Create

A Time Capsule

For every year of mental illness I have endured

 

2009

Each scrap of food left on my plate

Turning into nearly entire meals

I am sure they have decomposed by now

2010

The bones starting to poke through

Her aggressive hands

The toxic words forced down my throat telling me I am nothing more than her friendship dictated

2011

The first drops of blood staining my bathtub

Dozens of razors, knives, and scissors representing an addiction and all the stark white scars they left behind

Frozen veins from each time she buried my heart further into the ground

Dozens of bruises carefully crafted by her hands

Every skipped meal my body would wish it had years later

2012

The hospital bracelet

Mapped out plans of my funeral, thought out in black ink in what I thought would be the last remnants of my life

Weeks of therapist visits and psychiatrist appointments

All the anxiety attacks induced by the slightest mistake

Every pill I tried with failure

2013

Each hallucination from bugs under my skin to phantom voices and sights

Fears of human touch and living

Hundreds of scars making a home of my skin

All the pills ingested to keep my head close to above water

A year’s worth of cigarettes

2014

Lost love and gained love

His gentle words turning violent yet tinged with roses

Each positive coping skill trying to overthrow the negative trying to still kill me

Intrusive thoughts whispering sweet nothings about how I won’t amount to anything

A year’s worth of cigarettes and additional scars

More pills

2015

The first joint I smoked

Scars and cigarettes engraved on my body

A love so volatile I thought I would drown in his poison eventually dying out

Learning to be alone and to be ok with it

Thoughts of death and self hatred

Trying to love myself the way I should be

A high school diploma

2016

Thoughts of death intermittent but acceptance of the day

Pills, scars, cigarettes

Another love blossoming and wilting

Anxiety attacks over nothing in particular

2017

Wishes of happiness but acceptance that happiness is a passing emotion rather than a permanent state of mind

Another year of pills, scars, and cigarettes

His words still haunting my dreams, waking up sweating, checking for his blood on my hands knowing he’s still alive somewhere

Flinching at hands on my face and arms

A constant state of being on my toes ready for fight or flight

Five

Five good things that have happened to me, 5 years and a day after the hospitalization date that kept me from committing suicide

1.) Relearning to laugh

By the time I reached my breaking point, I could not muster so much as a smile

Teaching myself to laugh again at even the smallest of things was a hurdle

Now I laugh loud enough, often enough for people to recognize it as me from opposite ends of halls

Laughing at minor inconveniences was one leap I made, knowing it would soon come easier

Yet I acknowledge that there are hard days I cannot let the tiniest of giggles out

2.) Falling in and out of love many times

Teaching myself that a lover doesn’t define you, but how fully you loved

How fully you loved someone who didn’t deserve you, someone who didn’t love you back

Giving too much of myself to the wrong ones

Giving away pieces of my love to people who needed it the most

Recognizing rock bottom in other people, giving them the shoulder when I knew I would have needed one

3.) Learning I was permitted to take up space

Knowing when people were trying to minimize my shine because they were uncomfortable with it

Using my stubborn voice to never back down

Just because I am a woman doesn’t mean I cannot posses the personality traits assigned masculine

Fiery, stubborn, loud mouth throwing sarcastic daggers that I have learned to embrace

4.) Realizing it’s alright to have emotions if they aren’t used to hurt someone else

Crying when I really need to, allowing myself to be angry when need be

I am not a robot and emotions are never as black and white as they seem

5.) Loving myself again, even if milestones are reached slower than someone else

My relationship with food is always tinged with the way my bones felt jutting out of my skin when I thought I didn’t need it

Days where I can look at food and not see the calories, fat content, sugar, etc. are days I count as good days

Days where I don’t calculate how much exercise I have to do with the extra food I take in are also good days

I have been allowed to accept the personality traits handed down to me, even if they are not seen in the brightest of light

Learning to accept myself at face value is a permission I am eagerly awaiting, but until then it is the baby steps that count the most

Mental Illness vs. Education

My high school was a cheesy 80s movie

My friends and I smoked cigarettes under the bleachers and in the dugout

Once even in a girls bathroom, nearly setting the school on fire

Three of us broke a window, forcing the school to bolt them shut the next year

I spent half of my high school career in detention, making it a miracle when I didn’t get any my senior year

Many of my high school teachers saw through it all and knew I actually had a brain smart enough to get into college

Many panic attacks in bathrooms, hospital visits, days spent in the guidance office, therapy sessions, psychiatrist appointments, and hallucinations in hallways later, I got to a university I never thought I had the chance of going to

College enjoys trying to break me down

The counseling center cannot take people like myself

Those who require “extended care” are referred to a center a town and a bus ride away, a place I cannot squeeze into my ever busy schedule

Friends have needed police aid to not end it due to inadequate care here for people like us

Getting out of bed is one thing but falling into the pit of despair is another

I cannot count how many times I thought of leaving this world since arrival, having to pull myself out of the darkness enough to know my problems will not be solved by ceasing to exist

I have not seen the world yet, no matter how many lovers leaving make me think that I have

No combination of booze and drugs can fix you but damn does it feel so when you are laying on your floor out of your mind

I thought it would all go away but some days it feels worse than years spent being a fly on the wall

I am lucky enough to still be in the world I built myself