Not long ago, Periodically Demented (my friend PD) posted a link to a very emotional poem: My Yesterday written by Souldier Girl. That poem inspired PD to write a series of short stories about abuse, emotional damage, and healing. The stories are not edited but are well written and very powerful nonetheless. That’s because PD has a special talent: he can get under the skin of any character, down to their most undiluted selves, feel their raw emotions, and write them out on paper in the form of short stories. You can read that series here, starting with Unlocked.
For myself, I felt inspired to write a poem. I wanted it to be really good so I played around with it in my mind for a while. Whenever I sat down to write it though, I felt … blocked. See, I can’t think my poems. It doesn’t work that way for me. I had bits of verses that I wrote down over the course of a few days but, in the end, I wrote the whole thing yesterday, in about thirty minutes.
My usual poems are simple and short. This is simple and long. It’s not because I think that abuse is a simple topic. Quite the opposite. It’s just because I find it easier to write in plain terms rather than in metaphors.
Broken … Unbroken
By Ada Ireland
You broke me …
You did it with your fists,
Your angry screaming,
And your ugly words.
I was a lonely soul about to shatter into a million pieces,
Yet to an outsider nothing looked wrong.
I tried my best to make you happy,
By doing things I thought you’d like.
That worked sometimes,
And many times it didn’t.
I never knew what to expect.
So many times I thought of running,
Of leaving you alone so you’d be free of me and me of you.
But in the end I was too scared of going …
What if I was too broken to make it on my own?
I saw myself as a cursed statue,
Whose ugly secret was only known to me:
Though perfectly carved and polished on the outside,
Inside I was completely hollow
And marred by a chaotic web of fissures
Patched together with invisible glue.
I was afraid that if I took a single step
The glue would loosen up
And I would come undone.
And so I stayed.
You hit me yet again,
Another crack line on the inside,
And still … I stayed.
You screamed and called me names,
And still … I stayed.
… I was afraid.
… I didn’t want to come undone.
I stayed with you until one day I finally understood two things.
First, the glue that patched me on the inside was hope.
It came from me and I still had enough of it
To keep the pieces all together.
It was still strong enough to carry me
Away from you, away from your abuse.
And second, I saw that you were more broken than I was.
You couldn’t keep your damage on the inside.
You let it spill into the world
And started breaking other people too.
That was my wake-up call:
I saw you’d lost your hope and I did not want to become like you.
And so, I finally left;
A broken girl out in the broken world,
With hope that one day I’d be healed
Instead of hurting those around me too.
I’m older now and free of you entirely,
Because I learned that hope is good for patching,
But love’s like magic: it completely heals.
It actually undoes the damage.
It takes it all away. It’s gone.
That healing love isn’t the one that comes from others,
Though helpful, that kind of love is still only a crutch.
The healing love comes from the inside,
It is the love that comes from me to me
And says, “You’re worthy.
You’re a beautiful soul.
You’re allowed to laugh,
Be joyful and be free.”
It was a simple process that was never easy,
It took a lot of time and many doubts to overcome,
Yet here I am today,
No cursed statue,
But a real person.
I’m healed …
… I am loved.
P.S. I won’t tell you about my experience with abuse. Not only is that detail irrelevant, but it can lead to all kinds of arguments. Things like “Oh, you poor thing, you’ve had it that bad?” vs. “But, you don’t understand, that’s not even close to how badly I was treated.” To me, that’s a meaningless comparison. I’ll explain why very soon.
The thing is, abused or not, each one of us gets hurt sometimes. Each of us has some kind of experience with healing. One of the most powerful, life-changing lessons I’ve learned was that I can’t hold anyone responsible for my healing. It comes from the inside. That’s what I wanted to show through this poem.
P.P.S. I’m not sure why I feel compelled to write poems instead of short essays or short stories. I think I like the cadence, the soothing rhythm. Maybe. Who knows? Anyway, a poem I wrote and this time I actually read it out loud in a YouTube video. I have to work a little on that strong, unwavering voice of mine. For now, that’s all I got.