Traces of You

You penetrate my mind
and take over my senses.
The sound of your voice,
Your laugh
Reverberates around me
And as your waves flow
Through me you’re in me
Where I crave you most.
When you read my soul
You share with me yours
And I am intoxicated by you.
Shot
After Shot
After shot
I consume you
Like you consume me
when you hold me
And our bodies merge
Leaving no indication
of which is yours
Or which is mine
So mine becomes yours
And I come to;
awakened as I breathe you in.
I am overcome by you
And the way you captivate my being,
My mind and my body.
Long after you’ve come
and you’ve gone
Traces of you
linger on me
And in me
And I am left wearing you
On the curves of my lips.

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We Are The Generation of Women

We are the generation of women
who watched their mothers
cry themselves to sleep at night
after arguments with baby daddys/boyfriends/husbands.
We listened as he yelled at you,
calling you bitch as though it were your name,
Claiming your worthlessness so you would need him,
wouldn’t leave him.
We watched as he disregarded you,
your feelings, your efforts.
We noticed the lack of appreciation
for the house you kept, the mouths you fed,
and hours of sleep you lost during holidays.
When the only time that love was shown
Was a petty display of his manhood,
expectations that you relieve his man wood.
We questioned why you’d wait around for him
when he didn’t show up for hours, for days.
We begged you to be stronger,
to stand up and embrace the queen that you are
but instead you told us to sit down,
to know our place in the lives of the men that we serve.
Because this was all that you knew,
taught to you by the generations of woman who came before you.
But when you made us sit down you gave us books,
Encouraged us to draw, to write, to learn.
You pushed us to do well in school
so we had more to offer than just a pretty face.
You gave us the opportunities you never had,
opportunities you denied you wanted
because oppression was all you knew.
We are a new generation of women
built on the tears and the hardships of our mothers.
Made to be smarter, stronger,
we were taught the world is ours for the taking
and so we will.
We are the generation of women
who will no longer,
who refuses to sit down
when we were given the tools to stand up.

My Best Me, an intro

My inner child has lived within me going back as far as I can remember. I felt her in my insecurities, and saw her in my glossy eyes through the mirror as I experienced life. She was my weakness, my strength, my protector. She buried all my favorite memories deep into the farthest corner of my mind so I could adapt, and ultimately survive. But the absence of my once incredibly loving but now drug addicted parents left voids in me. I’d begun to feel worthless, unlovable. Some days we would have such good moments as a family and then the next they were gone. Or then there were the days when they were going through withdrawals and would make my brother or I shake the numbness from their arms. We pushed ourselves when our 5 and 7 year old bodies became tired, but then we would switch out. We were like a tag team and soon it became a game. But there was never a thought of not doing it because that would anger them, and we didn’t need anymore reasons for them to not love us. This would set the stage for me to become a people please, even when it meant denying who I was. My circumstances quickly taught me love came with conditions.
As a hormonal pre-teen I lived in a foster home with several foster brothers and a foster sister 5 years my senior. I had a big felt tiger picture I had colored hanging on the slanted attic style walls. Accompanying that was a magazine fold out of an orange Mitsubishi Spyder Eclipse, my favorite color at the time. Orange had been my mom’s favorite color and gave me something we still shared. Every so often I would switch out old posters for new ones, it was how I expressed myself.
The addition of hormones during puberty proved too much for me. I was so angry it felt as though I was bursting at the seams but I couldn’t let it out. I didn’t know that it was okay to be angry with and love my mother at the same time. My mother was gone, my brother and I had drifted since moving into the home and I was the most awkward looking middle school girl there was. My legs were long so pants were always too short. My shirts were either too big or too small, and never cute or girly. My hair was always in a frizzy ponytail because it was “unruly”, my baby bangs danced across my acne ridden forehead. My taste in music mirrored my heavy heart and soon I began cutting to relieve the pain.
I can still vividly remember the first time I did it. I had thought about it for months leading up to the day. I locked myself in the bathroom and broke a razor apart. An act I had practiced multiple times prior to ensure it worked. I ran my fingers across the blade and felt a surge of energy rush through my body; the only feeling I was able to experience. The first cut was light and quick, just to see what it felt like. The second was deeper and longer because it felt good.
I changed when I became friends with my soul sister. Somehow there was someone else in the world who understood my crazy life and didn’t judge me for it. I could be happy or sad or mad and it was okay; her feelings towards me didn’t change. We were inseparable. Spent summers at six flags, hours on the phone, her mom even drove me to school. In high school people thought we looked alike and then all of a sudden we were twins, something that would carry into our future. She was my sanity, I felt alive when I was with her. She soon became my safe haven, my escape from life. At the beginning of sophomore year she introduced me to my first love and just as with her, love began to multiply.
My foster parents didn’t like the idea of me having a boyfriend until I was 16 so they forbid it, only forcing me to be creative in the ways that I saw him. Eventually skipping school, until I completely stopped going. By 17 his parents were divorcing and he would move with his mom, an hour away. The pain from the news of his moving was equivalent to losing my mother so I went with him. Surprisingly my foster parents took the news well (I was going to be 18 and an adult in a few months anyway). He and I would bounce around for awhile before settling down back in our home town at his fathers house.
Somewhere between us both working full time, at times crazy hours and miscommunication leading to deeper insecurities, I trusted a new stranger who I would later regret. A basketball tryout for him would lead us both to applying to a small liberal arts college in New England that became our escape and worst enemy.
Poor life choices and a life changing diagnosis would reunite me with the misplaced anger from my teenage years. At the onset I became so ill that I ended up losing weight I already couldn’t afford to lose, causing me to look skeletal. I began to see myself differently, I even couldn’t look in the mirror. But he, my first love, would stick by me through it all. Naturally, I did what I knew best, self sabotage and broke up with him shortly after. This would lead me into the darkest period of my life when I realized my strength was superficial and I’d succumb to the symptoms of PTSD. This was me at my worst.
Though we had broken up, we still did what we could to support each other. We graduated two years later and moved home where he would eventually fade from my life. A couple of failed relationships, graduate school, two terminated pregnancies, and buying a home with a man I thought I saw a future with would lead me to who I am now. Somehow I turned out to be an educated, strong, passionate, happy woman. Though I had to fight and push and make an insane amount of bad decisions, my inner child is finally at peace and I am able to be my best self.

The Solemate

When I walk, my foot doesn’t strike in the same place twice. Upon impact my right step may feel the most pressure under my metatarsal pads. While my left may strike hardest in the heel. As someone who worked as a “sneaker specialist” for several years, I’m surprised it took me so long to consider running shoes to a critical part of my run.

To be a certified sneaker specialist our whole team had to learn, study and pass a test where you not only had to know the anatomy of the foot but you had to be able to break down a sneaker from the toe box to the sole. You had to know that when you run you put about five and a half times as much pressure on your knees. (Imagine a small saturated woman such as myself, I’m 5’2″, with about 600 lbs of weight concentrated on my knees while running). I have high arches, so I have a tendency to supinate. Which is really just a fancy word for when your foot rolls outward (as opposed to pronate when your foot rolls inward). Typically I buy replacement insoles to give me better arch support.

Even though I wasn’t a runner then, selling running shoes was probably my strength. I often worked 50+ hour weeks so I was always on my feet. I even walked to the bus stop to get to work so comfortable shoes were a must. Luckily sneaker companies often sent free sneakers with new launches. It helped sell a sneaker if you actually wore it.

Now that the weather has been nicer, I’ve been running more. As I run I try to make it a point to be present in the moment with myself. I check in, how am I feeling? What are things I notice? What is my intended purpose for this run? Last week I realized that my feet ached before I was even a quarter of the way done with my run. I knew it was time I invested in better running sneakers so I channeled my inner sneaker specialist.

It felt strange to be in a sneaker store trying on running sneakers, for actual running. The sales associate reminded me a lot of myself when I worked in retail. He was approachable, friendly and very knowledgable. He made suggestions based off of what I told him I was looking for but wasn’t trying to sway me towards anything particular. After trying on a few pairs and jumping around, this one particular shoe stood out the most to me. My achy metatarsal pads rejoiced in this shoe. At that moment I finally understood my old customers who when looking for a good shoe didn’t care about what they looked like. Though the fit was impeccable, they were probably the ugliest shoe I have ever seen.

As I put them on to break them in I immediately questioned if I made the right choice of going with no laces. The sneakers have what they refer to as “quick lace,” a drawstring that you pull to tighten and a convenient pocket on the tongue to store the extra lace. In the store this seemed appealing because I hate stopping to tie my shoes, which I tend to need to do often. However I immediately questioned if I would like it after tightening my drawstring. The sneaker felt snug, and secure but it was something I wasn’t used to. But the more I ran the more it felt like the sneaker was molded to fit my foot.

I noticed how super light weight they were. I forgot they were even on my feet. But when I hit the cement I felt major stability, and noticed how the sneakers gripped to the different surfaces, providing me with security in my step. My heel felt hugged and secure, no slippage and the toe box felt like there’s enough room to breathe but also enough room to grow. Perfect for the way the toes spread with each step. I’m not familiar with the sole of these sneakers but I imagine there to be some kind of cushioning technology. Because with each step it felt as though cushions caressed every curve of my foot. Wearing these sneakers I imagine is what it’s like to walk on clouds (as cliche as it sounds).

At first I hated the color. They were so ugly. But the different colors and patterns gave me something to focus on when I needed it. Instead of focusing on how tired I was, I was questioning why someone chose to add yellow polka dots to this area, or purple to that area. Zoning in on the sneakers made me faster. All I could see was a small radius in front of me, the contrast of the brightly colored sneakers against the maroon track as I picked up my pace making it a point to stay in between the white lines. This was a challenge for me since I can’t make moves without knowing what is ahead. I plan, than over plan for every possible scenario. But on this track I knew I was alone, and I knew that if I stayed in between my lines I wouldn’t run into anything. I had no choice but to trust myself, which I often struggle with.

I ran my fastest mile the first day I wore these sneakers. On our second run I finally hit my 3 mile mark. I was breaking my own personal records each run, becoming better than the person I was the day before. Though I knew it was my effort that made those things possible, as crazy as it sounds, my sneakers helped push me that little bit extra and I quickly became attached to them as if I were running with a best friend; a sole mate. Ha! Get it! 🙂 IMG_4963-2.JPG

The Right Way to be a Wife

A few days ago I ran into my ex-fiance’s former best friend. We exchanged hello’s and a brief update on our lives before walking away. He was the same as I remembered him from our teenage years, full of anger and incredibly sarcastic seemingly displeased with his life. He reminded me of a time in my own life I had long since forgotten. Where the road I was taking was straight, narrow and predictable.
My ex-fiance and I met our sophomore year in high school when we were both still semi-innocent and sweet. We went from friends to in a relationship quickly and then on his 17th birthday I took his virginity. Eventually we stopped being separate people and our names became synonymous with the others. One day after work he asked me to meet him downstairs on the front porch and there he was on one knee holding a black velour box open. I don’t remember what he said but I do remember feeling reserved. Though I never dreamt of getting married or anything that follows, I imagined when your best friend proposed to you it was supposed to be magical. I felt nothing when I said yes and wondered if I only said yes because we lived together and I had no where to go.
Growing up I never had anyone to model a healthy marriage. My biological parents never married and though my foster parents were, he owned her. She often told stories of when they first met when it was a cute teenage relationship. But then they married, had kids and he turned into a raging alcoholic who beat her and the kids. By the time their 4th daughter was born he had found religion and stopped drinking. But at this point it was too late and he didn’t know how to be a husband, or a father. In his mind he financially supported his family, and that was his sole role as a father. He was controlling, mean and manipulative. He showed no affection to anyone let alone his wife. Very rarely you would overhear her talking about her unhappiness but she had no where to go. She hadn’t worked since before her first daughter was born, barely spoke English and had no money of her own, she knew leaving was never an option.
Everything I lacked in my childhood molded me into an anti. I was anti-kids, anti-marriage. I never thought about a wedding or finding the right dress and every part of me believed I could never be a good parent and so I buried those possibilities deep into my core until they disappeared. I would focus on my education and rising above the life I came from. After three years of an engagement and no wedding planning, we parted ways. Even as an engaged woman I never once thought about planning a wedding.
By my late 20’s, friends around me started buying houses, getting married and having children but at this point I was set against sharing my life at all. I struggled with feeling as though I brought shame to women around me. I couldn’t understand my friends happiness when they spoke of their proposals, or showers or wedding plans. I was happy for them, but couldn’t picture that happiness for myself. I was content in my single life, bringing men in and out as I pleased. I enjoyed living for myself. Every woman at least once in their life should be a selfish woman.
The more time I spent with myself, the more I learned to love myself and all my imagined inadequacies. I feel as though this time period marked the beginning of my life. I was hungry for knowledge, for experience. I enjoyed meeting new people who could enhance my life. I began to live. I stopped worrying about the way others would view me or my lifestyle and I let fear guide my adventures and thus far it has been beautiful and I am fulfilled for 30.
I don’t take change well, it terrifies me. But I am learning that there are phases within our lifespan. They come and go and add to who you are, preparing you for the next phase. I now view marriage and kids as one of these phases (although I guess normal people would call them a milestone).
Though late in life, it was my best friends who taught me what unconditional love feels like. As someone who never believed they were worthy of such a feeling, I never allowed myself to be receptive to it. But over the years I have met the most incredible people who know my soul and found ways to speak love into existence in my life without me knowing. This change I am most grateful for. Fear was quickly bypassed and instead of dwelling on hesitations by the time I realized I was surrounded by love it was like a drug that I couldn’t get enough of. I reflected back on all the pain I had been through. The darkest days where I wanted it all to end. The days I couldn’t get out of bed or cried myself to sleep and imagined I would feel that way forever. I would go through those days all over again if it meant that I would feel love, even if only for a few minutes because love is that beautiful, that powerful.
I imagine that you marry to feel this unconditional love everyday. At your worst, at your best. I imagine that marriage isn’t a milestone or an achievement but the ultimate surrender to love. When you realize the love you have for that person you could never have for another. I imagine you marry the person you want by your side during every phase of your life. Part sibling, someone you can be silly and argue with, but would spend your lifetime protecting. Part confidant, someone you can tell anything to, who knows you inside and out but never judges you. Part best friend, someone you want to share all aspects of life with. Part parent, someone who pushes you to be the best version of yourself, who grows with you, guides you and teaches you as they walk beside you. Part lover, someone who romances you to remind you of your worth. I imagine that marriage involves wearing many hats depending on the day or the situation. I also imagine that somedays this may be exhausting and hard. As cliche as it sounds I imagine that when you find the right one, marriage makes sense.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get married. I also don’t know if having dreamt of marriage in your childhood is a right of passage for women. I do know that according to the 1955 “Good House wife’s Guide,” I wouldn’t have cut it as a wife. But maybe much like being a woman, there is no right way to be a wife. It is simply who you are.

The (un)realistic Guide to Being a Woman

I couldn’t have been more perfect as a child. I was quiet and kept to myself. I never spoke unless spoken to and certainly never to strangers unlike my brother who befriended every Tom, Dick and Harry he met. My favorite past time was sleeping.I was a model student, always on the honor roll, I was even student of the year in 5th grade! I went to church Monday, Wednesdays AND Fridays, taught Sunday School for a minute, sang in the church choir and wholeheartedly honored my father and mother. I rarely questioned or talked back to them but only because I was easily replaceable. I was the only girl they ever fostered and made very clear they never wanted after raising four of their own. After all, girls were the devil. Once they got their periods, started having sex and thinking for themselves they were loose canons. I was no different. I was destined for failure solely based on the gender I had no control over. I failed their family, I failed myself and ultimately would be a failure to women everywhere.

Religion was deeply routed into our home. In the earlier years I remember having daily Bible readings around the kitchen table. We weren’t allowed to watch or listen to secular entertainment. It was ingrained in our child mind’s that anything the Foster’s did not approve of, anything that could be considered even remotely bad was a gateway for the devil. Life was serious. We would often get in trouble just for laughing.  There was no being a child, you were a servant of God preparing for the day the rapture came. Boys did boy things, girls did girl things and there was absolutely no intermingling otherwise sexuality was questioned. No question there, homosexuality was automatic eternal damnation into hell. No passing go, no collecting $200, homosexuality was immoral, disgusting and against the word of God. Laughing and homosexuality aside the list grew daily. Tattoos, kissing, premarital sex, anything aside from the missionary position within a marriage, porn, Sci-Fi books, looking in the mirror too long, playing with baby toes?! It’s no surprise the day I got my first period in the Burger King bathroom I was terrified to say anything. My heart dropped to the floor and tears collected in my eyes the minute I saw blood; I was now impure.

I was no longer a little girl but also couldn’t qualify as a woman just yet so in the interim I would learn just that. Being a 12 year old and school would be put on the back burner as I learned how to keep house and my appearance (although I often rebelled by wearing pajamas and slippers in public). Learning to cook was a must since I would never keep a man with sex alone (although how could you not keep a man with missionary?!). I would also learn how to tend to a man. Set his plate and serve him food only when he was ready and seated at the table. Have any medication readily available next to his meal with his beverage of choice that should constantly be topped off. Bringing him his shoes or jacket or keys or anything else he needed. If I was raised correctly, I would do nothing short of wipe the man’s ass for him because that was my role as a woman. Somehow Eve being from Adam’s rib meant that woman for the entirety of history would have to be a slave to their husbands. That’s how God intended it.

When I turned 16 it was time for me to decide what I was going to do with the rest of my life. The Foster man decided if I chose to get a job supporting myself would be my responsibility. But if I decided to be barefoot and pregnant, praising the Lordt I would have their full support and blessing. One of the most memorable lines of this time in my life was “There really is no place for women in education, where is school really going to take you?”

School would take me to the mountains of Vermont where I would work as a stripper to pay for college or so the family rumor went. It took me around the country doing volunteer work, it introduced me to the most influential people in my life and gave me the opportunity to learn, grow and reprogram a lifetime of discriminating beliefs. It would take me to the state house to receive an award given by the Secretary of State. It would add my name to stories in the college newspaper, Dean’s and President’s lists, on plaques scattered around campus listing award recipients throughout the years. I owned being a student however as I would learn after receiving a Master’s, no amount of education would make up for me not being married, with children, tending to my husband. 

Thus begins my journey of being my own woman. 

One

I live for moments of serenity.

Where I am one with the universe;

one with myself.

When breath flows freely through me

Planting my feet firmly into the earth,

And I am awake, alive.

The thought of you fills my heart

Like the whirl of the wind.

A gentle summer breeze across my face,

Providing even the slightest bit of relief.

I wonder if you are here in this moment

As I look up at the moon,

and wonder

Are you looking too?

Do you hear the deafening silence of the winter,

As She screams loudly

the harsh bitter air filling my lungs,

Making me want to seek refuge.

Seek Warmth.

Never do you stay

for more than just these brief moments

yet always are you with me.

When nature binds us together

and we are one.

Time ceases, distance fades

and I am yours.

I am always yours.