Monthly Archives: April 2014

“Without Thanks”

~Esther Mitchell, 2013~

 

 

I wish I could tell you how grateful I am,

But the words stick in my throat like day-old bread,

They coat my tongue like oily, fake cheese,

Slicking away a “Thank you” that reeks of last week’s coffee grounds,

In your unwashed mug.

 

So I can’t say thank you,

For all the times you taught me,

That loving myself was conditional.

That I wasn’t real because my memory was something you chose to erase,

Like chalk off a blackboard in some old school house,

Dusted out of existence in clouds of fine white powder.

 

I can’t say thank you,

For a day in that box full of sand and disease,

When I was still young enough to believe in you.

Now my body still tries to gnaw itself away from the inside out,

Trapped in burning Hell I can never escape,

And you tell me the pain doesn’t exist,

Because you’ve decided it never happened that way.

The steady beeping of machines, the stream of blood away from my body,

The pity written on white-coated faces,

These are all wrong,

Because death only counts when it actually sticks.

 

I can’t say “Thank you,”

For those moments drowning in Hell,

For the days when I begged you not to send me back there,

And the nights when I cried out to be saved,

From monsters not in the closet or under the bed,

But from the one awaiting me inside my nightmares,

His claws already dug into my soul,

But you just told me to be quiet,

To just go to sleep,

And I learned there was nothing left for me,

Nothing but silence.

 

I can’t tell you how grateful I am,

For teaching me to measure my own value,

With a number on a scale,

In the distorted waves of a mirror,

And in the words and opinions of others,

To allow their taunts and torments to drown out anything beautiful or real within my soul,

For teaching me I was never skinny enough,

Never pretty enough,

Never, ever enough as I was,

Even as I hung over the toilet like a macabre piece of art,

The bathroom door a constantly revolving testament of self-abuse,

My existence a distorted mirror that reflects only monsters back at me,

As I searched everywhere but inside for approval,

Certain I wasn’t good enough without their love,

Desperate for someone to love me,

Want me,

Need me,

See me,

Reflect back at me something other than the monsters I see,

But seeing only my destruction,

Imploded by their averted gazes,

Torn down by their mocking laughter,

Until I know the truth – I’m broken, battered, unworthy.

 

I can never be grateful enough to you,

For teaching me the difference between the truth and a lie,

Yours is always the truth,

Mine is always the lie,

Yours is always the truth,

No matter how it twists what you don’t know,

Like pretzels in the hands of a master baker,

Mangles silent fears and memories like steel wreckage,

A life derailed like a train off its tracks, left smoldering in ruins.

Yours is always the truth,

Mine is always the lie,

My Hell nothing more than a tale, a dream I had, another’s memories, not mine,

Trapped here behind eyes and lips for decades,

Tortured and tormented in my own mind, my own memories,

Mocking me with the understanding that my demons aren’t real to anyone but me,

Because you said so,

And yours is always the truth,

I see your callous words in every face,

Hear them fall from every tongue,

I can find no solace, no hope,

When my very first source of life rejects my pain as irrelevant,

How can I ever trust another to ever love or accept me?

 

Betrayed by the first god every child is taught to petition and adore,

Silenced by the very word every child learns to cry out when the monsters,

come knock, knock, knocking in the night,

Taught to despise my very soul and form by the same source that gave them life,

Banished from the heart Nature tells us should be open arms and unconditional love.

 

No, I can’t thank you,

Because everything I am,

Is something I created from my own ashes.

The ashes of the child you destroyed,

The heart you betrayed repeatedly,

All the while telling yourself you were loving me.

I created me,

By refusing to banish my past, my pain, my horror.

I embrace them as my own,

Because without them, the only one who wins is you.

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“Lessons In Hate”

~Esther Mitchell, 2014~

 

 

My first lesson was in hate.

Not the hate that bursts outward like fists or guns,

Not the hate that flails on skin and race and sons.

The hate I learned turned inward,

A poisoned serpent sent to strip me of my own flesh,

A hate that fed on all I was,

On bone, and blood, and soul.

 

When I was just a year old,

I was set before the altar of a God I never knew,

Fed pestilence and silence,

Before I ever learned a tongue,

My body purged with fire,

That burned me from within,

Until I was left without,

Broken, bleeding, scarred,

When I had barely learned to crawl.

 

From the time that I could speak,

I was taught to fear what I could see,

To hate myself for being different,

To hate myself because my world was painted in Technicolor,

While all they saw was black and white and gray.

I was taught to hate my eyes,

Because they saw what no one wanted me to see,

To hate my own ears, because they heard whispers in the dark,

Where everyone said there were none, but I knew monsters to be.

I was taught to hate my own words,

Because every word that fell from my innocent young lips,

Must surely be a lie,

A story meant to send me,

Straight to a damnation in which I could not quite believe.

 

When I was barely six years old,

I came face-to-face with Hell,

I learned that monsters don’t breathe fire,

Or hide beneath the bed, or in the closet.

No, when I was six, I learned what were the real Bogeymen.

In a Temple to a god of chemicals and tile,

In a white-washed sanctuary to the cult of learning to stay afloat,

I learned how it felt to drown.

Pressed down by hands sent to protect me,

My screams pressed back by a hand,

Then smothered with a towel drenched in chlorine and sweat,

I stared at brightly colored clowns,

As in their ghostly lit prison,

They swam ’round, and ’round, and ’round,

And like me, not a single one of them,

Could ever make a sound.

And while I lay there,

Rough cloth to my skin,

While a boy at least ten years older,

Proved he was a man,

I cried against that towel,

Begged a God in which I did not believe,

That someone would come and rescue me.

But that day, no one saved me,

And as his filthy poison spilled into my ear,

I learned what makes a monster,

And what turns a child into a ghost.

For that day, in that wretched Hell on Earth,

I laid there on that sofa,

Watching hope and innocence trickle away,

And the girl became a specter,

To the monster given birth.

 

You see, I was taught that children,

Should be seen and never heard,

That little girls who show interest in things girls shouldn’t,

Are something evil, to be treated as such.

That day, that day I learned,

The hate never goes away.

I was taught to hate myself,

And that day taught me those voices were right,

In every mirror I saw a monster,

In every voice “your fault,”

A mere child, with shaking hands,

I took a kitchen knife to my skin,

I carved a word into my flesh,

Knowing it would sink in.

Five letters a child would not know how to spell,

Five letters, I learned that day so well,

As he rasped them against my ear,

Until I believed him when he said it was my fault.

I was a little whore,

A blood-stained, quaking Jezebel.

Oh, I learned so much that day,

About the real meaning of what is Hell.

I still bear the stain upon my brain and soul,

Though time has cleared away all but a shadow on my skin,

And I find nothing but worthlessness,

I hate my inability to ever again be whole.

 

I hate myself for my fear,

For the mindless masquerade,

The nights I wake in terror,

From a terror I never really can escape,

And the nights I don’t sleep at all,

From the images and words and thoughts,

Painted clowns swimming ’round, and ’round, and ’round.

I hate myself because I never see “good enough” in me,

And I never believe others can see what I don’t see.

And if I’m merely “good enough,”

What exactly would that even mean?

 

I was already a dead thing,

By the time my peers got me.

But as all children are sharks,

They smell the blood already floating,

My body face-down in the salty wash of self-loathing,

Hate, on hate, on hate.

I don’t fault them for doing,

Exactly what sharks so often do,

Ripping into my insecurities,

Until they flayed me to the bone.

I learned that hatred comes in many disguises,

Meant to separate the homogenized from the tainted,

The “real” kid from the damaged goods.

And words turn back on a monster,

Already riddled with self-hate,

Like razor blades across the soul, the wrist, the throat,

When pills become a refuge, and maybe a permanent escape,

Where silence is the acceptable solution,

And your world should be set completely straight,

Because you were not taught to say the word “rape.”

Don’t you dare lecture me on pain,

Or what I am or am not entitled to recall,

Because you have no idea what true fear does,

Until your back’s been against that wall.

 

Self-hatred circled my life around the drain,

I’d been wanting to check out,

Since I’d barely even checked in.

There was nothing about me untainted, holy, or clean,

And there was nothing loving in my world,

No more heroes, they’d already turned to rust, from gold.

Hate crammed things down my throat,

Meant to make me hate myself more,

And no amount of purging,

Could purge the self-hatred from my soul.

 

When I was ten, I watched fire rain down from the sky,

And the only thought in my brain,

As I watched bodies carted from the field,

Was how much I wished it was them, not I, who had survived.

When I was eleven, I tried again to make that reality come true,

And learned to hate myself again,

because I couldn’t even get dying right,

When I was twelve, I learned how easy it is to love another,

And still sneer at your own reflection.

I could see everything that was light and beautiful in him,

But I couldn’t believe him when he told me I was beautiful,

He was the sky, filled with light and possibility,

While I was mired in quicksand,

Sinking within the grasp of my own fear and pain.

And still, he loved me.

Me, battered, bruised, and bearing those five letters still carved within my skin.

He held me with the most tender touch,

And promised me over and over and over again,

That I was none of those things I had been taught.

I was safe, I was life, I was loved.

 

When I was fifteen, fire rained down from the sky,

And I could only stare in crumbling horror,

As déjà vu danced around in a head,

That could no longer make sense of a world gone dark.

My sunlight was gone,

All that tethered me to this world,

Torn from the heavens by a roaring like thunder,

And I crumpled there on that tarmac that day,

I didn’t hear a single word anyone said.

Deaf to the world that only taught me to hate,

I hated myself more that day than any before,

For I knew my mourning would become another monster,

Tucked deep within the closet of my mind,

And love deserved more than that, don’t you think?

 

 

In silence I’ve lived,

These decades past,

Never to mourn the girl sacrificed to power and perversion,

The woman she never became,

Or the man who could have resurrected them both.

And that, to this day,

Is why I hate myself most.

“The Willow”

~Esther Mitchell, 2012~

 

I never learned to lean,

That’s what comes from being strong,

From always being the one,

Others turned to when their world went wrong.

 

I learned to balance sideways,

To dip and sway with the wind,

But never to touch the trees around me,

With any but a gentle hand.

 

No, I never learned to lean,

Though I might bend to and fro,

Tossed about in confusion,

When the hurricane begins to blow.

“Request”

I’ve spent my life in solitude,

Trapped within my head,

I’ve known so little kindness,

That doesn’t end in dread.

I’ve gone unheard, unseen,

Invisible, indistinguishable from paint,

Ask what someone knows of me,

And the memory is less than faint.

I get asked for advice,

That’s almost never taken,

While others bar me out,

Leaving me a life forsaken.

You might not like my demons,

I know I loathe them with all I’ve got,

But the very least anyone could do,

Is love me for what I am,

Rather than punish me for what I’m not.

 

“Dead Inside”

~Esther Mitchell, 2014~

  

You never saw the moment you killed me,

When I became dead inside.

 

The ripping, tearing, bleeding apart,

The moment when it all crashed in on me,

When you left me a shell,

An empty, hollow husk in place of my heart.

 

You look with your blame-filled eyes,

And see only how I failed you,

Your tongue knows nothing but hate,

As the words trip over themselves,

Rushing to embed in my fragile being.

 

How dare I say a word,

Or have a single thought,

That doesn’t make you into a God.

 

You never saw the moment you killed me,

Or when I became dead inside.

 

The writhing pain sucking the breath from my soul,

Left me empty inside,

Bottled up, battered, and bruised,

Raped in ways even my most deviant of tormentors never imagined,

Forever stripped of the dignity to which I clung,

Even in the face of death.

 

You took away more than this shell,

Drove out my last and only hope,

Leaving only demons in your wake.

Pulled apart all that was whole,

As if the rabid dog in you,

Saw only fresh meat in me.

 

You never saw the moment you killed me,

The moment I became dead inside.

 

You stole everything precious to me,

And left me holding the knife,

Asking myself:

Would I?

Could I?

Should I?…

And why not?

What’s left to save in this bombed out husk of my soul?

It’s not murder, it’s not suicide,

It’s mercy, to end the torment of living,

When I’m already dead inside.

“I Do”

~ Esther Mitchell, 2013~

 

Do you know what it’s like to live every day,

Broken down, beaten down, and demeaned?

I do.

You put me there in every raised tone,

Every belittling word,

Sharper than any knife,

More damaging than any fist.

 

Do you have any idea what it’s like,

To bite down on your tongue until it bleeds,

For fear speaking your mind will tear away

What little peace and tranquility you manage to cling to?

I do.

My tongue is battered and bruised,

Holding back my thoughts, my feelings,

Because I know I’ll only earn your disdain,

And the screaming… the screaming!

 

Do you know what it’s like,

To be made into the monster for daring to have an opinion?

To be told I’m wrong at every turn,

Because you “disagree” with everything I have to say,

And you’re “entitled to” your opinion, which always makes mine wrong?

I do.

You twist that vicious knife,

After goading me into revealing my feelings,

And then have the nerve to whine,

How I never talk to you.

 

You have no idea what it’s like,

To live trapped inside your mind,

To live with your heart bleeding from the inside,

And know there’s no escape.

You’ve never taken responsibility for any part of your life,

Instead blaming everyone and everything else,

And excusing away your appalling actions.

I’ve shouldered all the cost,

Heart, and soul, and more,

While you’ve lied and cheated your way through life,

To me, to others, to yourself.

Now I’m left with nothing,

But a pile of debts,

A bleeding, mangled heart,

And nowhere left to turn.

 

I hope you’re happy with what you’ve done,

You’ve made it abundantly clear to me you don’t care,

Your words, your deeds, your closed mind, heart, and ears,

Speak volumes you try to shout down with “I don’t mean to” and “I’m trying.”

 

When you love someone, you don’t have to try,

When you care, you think before you act or speak,

So what does it say about us,

When I hear “I didn’t mean to” more than I’ve ever seen “I love you” in action?