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Oh, I remember this feeling.

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That fraudulent feeling,
That impostor syndrome,
That “look at you, all narcissistic with your fancy words” feeling.


This is why we stop writing,
Or at least why I did
Even after struggling to begin.



If you’re struggling with this,
Please, remember that you don’t have to quit



You’ve come so far already. And I am so proud of you.



It’s all part of the process.



So, how do we get through it?


We let it be.


We stop attacking ourselves.
We explore the feeling,

Tip-toe through the moss
Brush aside the cobwebs

Of the long-abandoned mansions
In our heads-

Without breaking beneath the weight
Of our own inner critic.

By realizing that avoiding the process
Of being shattered
Does not spare us pain after all.

Acknowledging that we will always break
But we will always be back for more

But this time I’ve got you,
And you have me.
To open these forsaken doors
And we’ll eat that key, eventually.


We will not be abandoned
If we do not abandon ourselves.


This time we can heal on our own
But with each other, if we choose

This is a safe place to experience those feelings
As artists and as humans

To just be together
Sitting with our insecurities,
Sitting with our monsters

And not judging or criticizing each other
By how deep the creatures roam
Or by how prevalent they are

Our afflictions need not be a competition.

Our perceived atrocities 
Do not have the mouths to ask us
“Please, look at me.”
And we call it ‘anxiety’.

And the more we run,
The scarier they become.


Only to find that what we saw as protruding fangs
Is actually the arm
Of our shadow companion
Extending to us
The other half of a jagged wishbone.

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Welcome Home! Meet Our Babies.

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Brobee popped out of his house to say hi 😀
Banjo just chillin’.
Annie… waiting to be fanned with leaves and fed grapes.

What I want more than anything

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For people to love my wife, and accept her the way I do. For her to love herself the way I do.

For fucks sake, someone please get me a type writer. PLEASE. I dont care what kind as long as it makes the clicking noise and prints the words as it types.

I want to help people. I want to help the weak, weary, and the strong who’ve forgotten their strength. I want to help veterans, moms, families, people of color, disabled people. I want to be a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, or a therapist in general, who treats people that have been traumatized.

I want to play Stardew Valley with someone.

I want a good friend to call and talk to. A friend who wants nothing but my company.

TO PUBLISH MY FUCKING POETRY BOOK ALREADY.

FOR EVERYBODY TO FEEL SAFE IN THEIR HOMES, IN THEIR BODIES, MINDS, AND SOULS.

YOU. YOU READING THIS. YOURE FUCKING PRICELESS. AND I LOVE YOU MORE THAN YOULL EVER KNOW.

An LGBTQIA+ Story

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Hi there. My name is Carla.
(pseudonym: Esmeralda Marie)

My wife’s not much of a talker.

Yet, the past few years had been engulfed in more silence than usual. She had shut down, even to me. She sat in front of a computer screen, her face turned to stone; her body always felt like it was holding on for dear life.
Her eyes darted to and fro, and I realized she was frightened. Of what, I could not tell.

I began to assume that perhaps it was me that frightened her. Maybe she realized that taking care of me was too much for her. (I have Cerebral Palsy, so I use a wheelchair to get around).

I had put on weight since my miscarriage and was no longer social as I usually was. We were buried beneath life. Only, we could not put our finger on where the pressure had come from.

Eventually, she started to tell me things.

She told me she felt ugly. She felt like she was disfigured. She was uncomfortable.

She would often tell me how badly she wanted to be the spouse I deserved: a spouse that was capable of giving and receiving intimacy, that wanted to be my friend, a spouse whose flesh did not turn to ash when I touched her.

I awoke on December fifth, 2018, with hope, which was unusual, to be honest.

Actually, it was the day my wife came out to me and told me that she was a transgender woman. This would explain why the ‘man’ I loved all this time was uneasy, unsettled, and absent.

This would explain a lot.

I am not unfamiliar with the LGBTQIA+ community. I have always been an active ally, and I understood the fear that was associated with coming out. I am supportive of her transition.

Admittedly, though it did take a while for my perception of her to adjust, after realizing she’s still the same person, the fear of losing our marriage de-escalated.

Since coming out to her family, she was told that she would not be able to visit ‘if she had titties’. She was told that she could ‘dress up’ in her room, but that she would never be accepted as a woman. It has not been safe for her to see her siblings.

She has since had to take on three jobs so that we could make ends meet, and family that we both cherish no longer has a relationship with us, because we’ve been “ghosted”.

As her wife, it has also been painful to hear the assumptions about us. It has been assumed that she has had an affair, that she has betrayed me, that she has used me. Of course, this does little to make a tough situation easier to navigate.

I would like to make it transparent that I am not angry at anyone. It is not my objective to point fingers at or to shame anyone. There is enough of that to go around and I don’t intend to spread any more negative feelings surrounding something that has brought so much light back into my wife’s eyes.

I am not suggesting that everyone should be ashamed of themselves for not knowing the proper terminology or etiquette, for not being as loud as me in my support.

What I am saying is that we need to start treating each other as people. All of us. Stop making assumptions; stop living in fear as soon as you can, and be brave enough (and courteous enough) to ask appropriate questions.

As someone in a wheelchair, I am often faced with similar discrimination, including gatekeeping. Therefore,

It is not only about what we identify as. It is not about fighting fire with fire. It is not about the obstacles or about the questions we face, but in the questions we choose to answer and in how we choose to answer them.

God loves all of us. God loves questions because questions lead us closer to him.

Most of us, including myself, feel that there is something wrong with misunderstanding. There is nothing wrong with not knowing; none of us have all the answers.

However, choosing not to do better is our own responsibility. Choosing to remain ignorant even after a human has said,

“Please, try to understand me. Please, call me by my name. Please, love me, because I love you, please acknowledge me as a living, thinking, feeling, human being, because I accept you”,

is a choice we must live with. It is a choice. We all have the right to make them. No one can take your choices away from you, nor should they try to.

By asking you to acknowledge the existence and the validity of transgender human beings, I assure you with all sincerity that I am not trying to change your mind, or your beliefs, or your faith for that matter.

I am asking you to love them.

Love requires acknowledgment and acceptance of the entire person.

Loving the sinner, but hating the sin is an excuse. It is a poor excuse for a person to say, “I love you, but I don’t love all of you“,

or “I’m afraid of what my love for you will do to my image, but I don’t want to be seen as unloving,” so I will say this to avoid fear.

It is simply convenient.

Human existence is not convenient. Stores are.

I am asking you to step out of your comfort zone and into the love zone. I am asking you to lose your life to find it.

Again, I’m not here to change your mind. I realize that no amount of reasoning can change a set mind.

I’m here to lift your mind. If I cannot change it, I can lift it.

My wife has spent every day since 2012, bathing me, clothing me, and loving me despite her own fears, despite her internal struggles. My wife has shown me more love than I have ever been shown in my entire life.

My wife is a transgender woman who has shown me more of what Christ resembles more than anyone I have ever been around in my entire life. She did this by loving me.

She did by this clothing me when I had a bad day and took it out on her. She did this by bathing me when I was too sick to do it myself. She still does today. We have lost everything, but in losing everything we have found joy in recognizing who we really are and what we’re supposed to do with our lives.

So, when someone tells you, or someone you know that they love someone, but their opinions prevent them from doing so wholeheartedly, please tell them of my wife.

Tell them that her existence, and yours, is not and will never be an opinion.

An Ode To My Grandmother

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My grandma remains etched into my heart for these reasons: she is compassionate, her prayers never cease, and she always sees the best in others.

Her hair looks as though it has always been grey; she has eyes that resemble the juxtapose of life, bittersweet.

Happy, inviting, but also somber.

Greener than rural pastures in the Springtime, the safest place for the livestock to return home for a meal.

She smells of a woman who has only known home – Worcestershire sauce, dish soap, damp wrung out dishtowels, and the faint scent of flowers to balance things out. If warmth had a smell, she has it.

 

A voice that is soft yet convincing, the kind of voice where any question she asked no matter what it was, always resounded an “Are you okay?”.

 

We played games like Go Fish and Stealing The Pile (though maybe this was a name easiest for a child to comprehend, as I have never heard it anywhere else).

 

She let me win quite a bit.

When it was time to for her pray, she sat me down with a notebook and scissors and I’d cut paper into shapes I had made up, or draw a house with the triangle roof where smoke was billowing from the rectangle chimney;

She taught me to draw when I was three.
I’d wait for roast and do things toddlers did.

 

Safety was not scarce back then.
Rosary in hand and roast in the pot, she paced as she prayed at three each afternoon.

The pads of her fingers were tinged bright pink atop her light skin, like Saint Nick’s cheeks in Winter.

They donned tiny craters from being pressed firmly against the rosary’s beads.

Meticulously they crept from one bead to the next, not quite pouncing, and not gliding.

 

 

Repetition never looked this much like art, not even the Louvre could captivate me as much as my grandmother praying did.

 

 

Novenas and pleading whispers of love and well-wishes, devout fails to encompass her in her entirety.
In the NICU, she sat by my incubator day and night doing the very same pleading she does today.
The doctors told my family I would be deaf, dumb, blind, – invalid.

On to her knees, she dropped and refused to accept that. She tells me of the day when she bargained with Christ, The Virgin Mary, and His Disciples on my behalf often.

As fate would have it, in the NICU, there was a nurse who dropped an item made of glass within earshot and lo and beholds; it scared me!

This was her sign from above, that yes, I could indeed hear.

 

Though I have no memory of this, perhaps this is why her praying looked holy to me, for it was probably my first image of her.

As I grew older and lost my mother, I lost myself and so I lost others. Where others were quick to suggest foster homes, even as she aged she would say, “No, I can take care of Carla.”
She loved me through every cuss word I hurled in frustration.

She remained calm when I bared defensive fangs and rabid snarls.

She accepted my apologies quickly and then forgot that she had any reason to forgive me in the first place. I was undeserving, yet she never condemned me; She loved me, anyway.

She prayed and she was warm, and slow to blame if she ever did.

To me, she is love. It is with the same compassion that my grandmother extended to me that I shared her with you.

My grandmother is still living, steady as a slow gong, but she is somewhere else inside of herself due to dementia.

If she does not already have a first-class ticket to Heaven, it will look like less of a place to be.

Categories: love poems

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The Downside To The Upside (And It’s Cause & Effect on Mental Health)

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Why We Need To Talk.
(Yes, About Our Feelings)

Constant positivity leaves no room for the full spectrum of the human experience.

 

The concept has the potential for debilitating an individual and society. Take the idea of The American Dream as an example. Though well-intentioned, true happiness is often lost in the act of striving to attain the dream. People love their families. Therefore, they attempt to work, sweat, and hustle in the search for a better life.

A human needs a purpose,

 

I do not discredit that. I am also not suggesting settling in poverty, nor am I implying that wanting more out of life is some kind of pseudo-sin.

 

A human is taught by society that if he is not happy, he is flawed.

 

 

Think, for instance, if there was ever a time that you told someone you were unhappy. How did they respond?

 

Did they ask you to be grateful for what you had?
Did they tell you others had it worse?

If you were told these things or something along those lines, how did you feel?

Did you feel selfish? 

Did you feel bad for feeling bad? 

 

The good news is that with understanding and acceptance of all emotions, mental health issues in society are likely to decline if we teach each other that our value will not change if we are mad, sad, in despair or indifferent. There are three key points worth mentioning: acceptance, dialogue, and surrender (not necessarily in that order).

The first adverse effect that can occur from repressing negative feelings may not seem like a negative consequence at first, but it can be, especially as the person enters into adolescence and adulthood. When a person feels as though they have no one they can share their emotions with, they become self-reliant to a greater extreme. How can this be a bad thing?
While it may not be a considered a hindrance in the person’s developmental stages, as this is the age they are required to learn how to perform tasks independent of their caregiver, such as tying their own shoelaces or counting to one-hundred,

 

this need for autonomy is not meant to remain static.

 

 

For example, this very same child may be well-behaved and self-sufficient but may struggle with emotional regulation as they grow older.

 

As they enter primary school, children may be faced with more emotional issues than what they can handle on their own, and may not even possess the language or emotional intelligence to let their caregivers know that they are being teased or if there’s a particular child he cannot resolve an issue with.

 

Therefore, the child becomes withdrawn and aloof.

Since no proper dialogue has been opened about the child’s concerns, the cycle becomes reinforced, and self-esteem is lowered.
Secondly, this is why,

 

dialogue surrounding feelings and emotions no matter how intense they may be, absolutely need a space to exist in each person’s life experience.

 

The effects of not communicating are much more detrimental to individuals and their families compared to feeling temporary discomfort that will open doors to solutions while simultaneously giving everyone involved the opportunity to be on the same page with one another.

 

Dysfunction only begets dysfunction unless we are willing to roar even when we are in pain. We must remember that we are not our suffering. Suffering is a part of human life; it is natural.

In contrast, repression asks us to go against our very core selves. This is more unnatural, in my opinion than becoming overwhelmed by our emotions.

 

Feelings such as doubt, anxiety, fear, and all of the emotions we see as negative are often the catalyst for creating a new, enhanced version of the self.

 

After working through the initial discomfort, we are then free to explore our needs that have been unmet and create our own opportunities to meet them. If staying oppressed becomes more comfortable than the gift of freedom (that only we can give ourselves) we essentially accept defeat until we are empowered to make different choices.

This is why I encourage anyone, as soon as they can, to advocate for themselves.

 

This can come in the form of seeking therapy.

We are not a victim to our circumstances for longer than we need to be. There are, of course, obstacles to be overcome.

Things rarely get solved overnight. What we do have, is the ability to decide. Often when we suffer from mental illness, it is hard to think clearly: we can still choose.

We are always free to choose. Even if we ask for help, we are still responsible for our own liberation through our own personal hells.

Yes, it is easier said than done but not impossible.
When our minds work against us, our compass is our soul.

Though many have argued that mind and soul are the same entity, (or that they are not, or that the soul does not exist) we have the power to switch the seat of the soul.

We do have the ability to put ourselves in the driver’s seat and go from unproductive rumination and transition ourselves into the higher position of the soul, thereby moving from victimhood to empowerment.

This is soul work!

We do need help during transitions, lest we move forward in an incomplete state. We will think we have moved on from the trials in our past, that is until we discover that we have not. The phrase ‘rearing it’s ugly head’ seems to encompass this phenomenon. Notice the terminology here: ‘ugly head’ could mean the dilemma came to pass through an unhealed, neglected part of the mind. We can prevent these effects by nurturing the unhealed parts of ourselves, by befriending that which hurts us.

Resistance requires energy. Often when we get caught in cycles of shame, depression, addiction, or any other loop, we are resisting that which needs to be nourished, watered and examined before we can break any cycle.

Surrender breaks all chains, all circles, all hurdles.

 

Rather than fighting off shame, sadness, and pressuring ourselves to feel happier or cheer up, would it not be a better idea to become good friends with negativity?

 

After all, we would not know one without the presence of the other.

Adversity Is A Gift

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In the words of Viktor Frankl, “What is to give light must endure burning.”

Over the years, I have come to learn that the adversity I have experienced is a gift to me. Without it, I would be able to help no one. Without it, I would not know what it means to be thirsty due to adversity. I would not know my own strength. To pass through life without an opponent is the real tragedy.

On February 2, 1993, my teenage mother was being notified that I had had three strokes and would be deaf dumb, and blind. I spent three months in the NICU before she could even take me home. I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy shortly after I was born. Yet, even as an infant, I was blessed with a fighting spirit. Today, I can hear, speak and see. Although I cannot walk, a wheelchair is not enough to defeat me. It is easier to bring giants to their knees when you are sitting down. I consider my beginning quite fitting for the life that I would eventually lead. In a sense, I was born with boxing gloves.

My mother was a beautiful woman who taught me altruism, compassion, and is the reason I have never met a stranger. She passed away when I was 10 years old. I still remember the day my relatives sat me down to tell me the news. My grandmother put my hair up in a ponytail, while my dad seemed to be searching for a way to say the unthinkable. I remember looking at the lamp that was near me as my dad said, “Your mom went to sleep on her birthday, and she never woke up.” I said, “You’re kidding, right?” My grandmother told me that they would never joke about something like that. The last thing I remember was hearing myself wail for about two seconds before I wiped my tears and watched cartoons.

I was given a day to decide if I wanted to go to her funeral, as I was still very young and my family was unsure if I could handle it. At the tender age of 10, I remember thinking that I would instead remember my mother the way she was; I knew she was not the body in that casket. Fearing that I would regret it later in life if I did not go, I went. The funeral is a blur; I remember not wanting to sit near the casket. I remember being afraid to say goodbye. I remember being afraid of her lifeless body. It was odd to feel afraid of your mother.

People have always said that when someone dies, it looks as if they are sleeping. It did not look as if she was sleeping. She looked more like a painting that evoked a surge of emotion, too much emotion. Still, I could not look away. Oddly enough, I think the thing that bothered me the most was that I could not see her feet. The top of the casket was open while the bottom was closed. So, I just kept asking, “Where are her feet?” I suppose, in order to make sense of the reality, I had to correct the picture. I did not cry that day. I have spent many years questioning whether or not I was a good person because I did not shed a tear in my mother’s funeral. Some have thought ill of me for it, while others have said, “You did not cry because she didn’t want you to cry.”
It rained that night. My family told me of how in some traditions, that when it rains at a funeral. The person is there with you. Today, I am still comforted by the sound of rain.
After my mom’s death, I spent a lot of time in foster homes. I also spent a lot of time thinking I deserved to be there. I realize that I can go into more detail. I could tell you all the horrible stories of what happens to children in foster care, but I do not wish to allow anyone or anything to steal any more of my life from me. They no longer have the power to do that.
The bright side of being in foster care was that it taught me to see people as human, always. One girl had cut up and down her arms but helped me to get dressed in the morning for school. She was an artist. I met a little boy who had fetal alcohol syndrome. He had been left on the steps of the building after his adoptive parents found out they were pregnant. He would often ask me, “Carla, do you love me so much?”
I met another little boy who was mute and had not spoken a word in the three years he’d been alive. I would often ride in the backseat of the car with him. To this day, I still remember him blowing me a kiss. This was the first time he’d ever done that.

When I recall these people and these memories, I often wonder where they are today. They are part of the reason I would like to be a therapist that specializes in trauma. With the right tools, I plan to do that. I know that those children are thirsty for love in the same way that I was once. I wish to be water for them, though I would never fully extinguish their fire. I know that it would also help them give light to others.
As of right now, I work as a volunteer Crisis Counselor. It is because of the past pain that I was able to calmly talk with multiple people who are on the brink of ending their life. A few have even thanked me for helping them live through the night. I wish to use my education to give back. With the help of others, we can all live to see another day.

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