Maybe I’m not the person
Everyone always told me I was.
They were always kind to me;
Predicting wonderful, magical things
For my life. Telling me I would
‘Go down in the history books;’
That they’d be looking for me there.
Praising my intellect, my wit, my charm
My smile – splitting my unassuming face in two.
I was the teachers’ favourite.
I was the youngest and the lone daughter
Of parents overflowing with love.
I was told I was beautiful – so beautiful!
My superbly-intelligent brother told me
I must absolutely have a higher IQ than him.
They said things like: you have the potential
To be an opera singer – gosh!
You have a lot of potential as a figure skater –
We’re bumping you into a higher class.
You could win an Oscar someday! A Nobel
Prize! You will be a doctor, a lawyer.
Why aren’t you taking physics? You’re
My best student! Why didn’t you accept
That journalism scholarship? You’re not
Pursuing English? You’re not pursuing
Chemistry? You’re not pursuing My
Subject? But you’re a star, you could shine!
You will excel! You will be unbeatable!
You are so special, we will miss you,
I will remember you for the rest of my life.
Keep in touch, you mean so much to me.
You’re so unique, you’re so interesting,
You’re so important, you’ll do so much.
Guys – I’m so fucked up.
I’m a victim who’s become so comfortable
In being a victim, that I perpetuate the title.
I’m uncomfortable when I’m not being pitied;
When I’m not being seen as so broken that
I can’t gain balance on my own two (very
Stable!) legs. I’m so hard on myself
That I force myself into terrible situations
Terrible health; terrible fear. I’m the
Absolute monarch on punishing myself.
This is nothing new – it’s a habit I started
When I was being hurt at so young an age
And wasn’t sure how to call attention
To my pain. Somehow I’d convinced myself
That if I could only make my life worse
And worse and worse, that maybe
Something will break. And when I’m
So fully broken, so completely shattered;
Everything will reform into the brilliant
Shape of a brilliant life. What a lie!
There is no Saviour waiting to make
Beauty out of your shards. Your pieces
Are your own to re-forge; and if you’ve
Sacrificed your very arms to the image
Of brokenness, what hands will pick
You up and reshape you?
Maybe my potential was there. Maybe
Their words were true; or maybe they
Were simply projecting their own
Wishes and desires from their own
Wasted lives on what was assuredly a
Blank canvas. I think in those days
I was so dedicated to sweeping myself
Under a rug, that perhaps I was
Anyone and everyone. An unformed
Character in search of an author. And
They were lining up to compose who I
I did not know who I would be, and
I do not know who I will be. I do not know
How to be. How to be me, how to be
Whole, how to form myself. I do not know
How to access my potential – of which
I have so much? I do not know how to
Breathe. I do not know how to even
Climb out from under my duvet.
This is my sad little cave; a makeshift
Sanctuary that is meant to keep me safe
But only exposes me to horrors, and threats,
And a crumbling life that I will never get back.
I know this. However you may judge me on my
(In)actions, I am not a fool. I am too self-
Aware. Too much so. I know every wrong
I am doing to myself. I know my every flaw,
My every trauma. I know the source of
My every tic. I know why, at 2pm, my
Pyjama-clad legs are huddled under the
Oppressive warmth of my too-long-
Unwashed bedcovers. I know why I
Could neither bring myself to attend
The match I was assigned to today,
Nor notify my team captain I would not
Be coming. I know why my heart jumps
Into my throat every time I hear my
Flatmate stir. I know why I’m more
Afraid to contact a friend of mine than
To crumple in devastating loneliness.
I know how and why I am so wasted.
I know exactly how (and how simply!)
To crawl out of the abyss. But—