Feminist at the age of three

I have been a feminist

since the age of three.

 

Before I could read the word

before, even, I had heard of it,

I knew that life was rigged –

that I was not in the position of privilege,

and my two siblings would walk a path

that was free from the hurdles on mine.

 

I learned at three.

 

It was fine that I had brothers,

and that the sister was me,

but I did not know that these were gendered terms.

Being me was fine,

for I did not know

I was not like them.

 

My sibling saw that I wasn’t like him.

At the age of shared baths,

he said, “is she broken?”

The answer we were told

I had not known,

and I wanted to disagree.

 

Mother taught us:

You are different

because he is going to be a daddy someday,

and someday, you

will be a mommy.

 

Stop!

I don’t want to be a mommy someday!

I want to be a daddy too!

I am going to be a daddy someday!

Why not me?

 

I was adamant.

Me at three.

I had opinions,

I didn’t like being told my inescapable future.

It seemed cruelly unfair.

 

Daddies had opinions,

and mommies didn’t,

and I wanted to keep mine!

So it was a daddies life for me,

but they told me no.

They told me I was going to be a mommy,

and that was that.

 

My poor mom,

maybe she thought I loved dad more.

That’s not why, though.

It’s what I had seen

about who makes the decisions,

about whose happiness comes first,

about who supper waits for.

 

I hadn’t gone to kindergarten,

much less learned about equitable work

and gender roles,

yet,

I wanted to be a daddy,

and it wasn’t because I liked his clothes.

 

I craved something that he had,

although I couldn’t name it at three,

and still struggle to pin it down now.

Did I see men as powerful?

Did I want to have authority?

What did you see, little feminist me?

 

I wanted to hold my own voice,

to be the only seal that stamped my words –

as genuine, as real, as truthful, as worthy.

I wanted to be human.

And human only.

 

 

Too scared to let go of a troubled past

Too scared to let go of a troubled past
(Alternate title: Mix tape)

 

How do I say goodbye

to my mother?

Where are the words

that this page will find

bearable?

 

Now is a time

when my thoughts are so sacred

that speaking them aloud

turns them to a poison

that causes my voice to break

and tears to spill

from my eyes.

 

Like soldiers before battle

I turn my mind to encouragements

and solemn songs

of brave endings.

 

Say something, I’m giving up on you.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you.

And I will swallow my pride

You’re the one that I love

And I’m saying goodbye.

 

I try to bolster my courage

with the energy that comes

from recollecting your behavior

You treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough

No you didn’t have to stoop so low

 

And I step into stories

that echo my feelings

with the meanings hidden

between the lines

 

Don’t nod don’t laugh all nicely

Don’t sigh, don’t sip your iced tea.

So cordial, so rotten…

Kiss, kiss, let’s meet for breakfast.

Don’t be so damn benign

Don’t waste my fucking time

Don’t ask me how I’ve been

 

Although my own words

are insufficient

I find meaning

in the words of others

 

I don’t want to drag it out

Don’t wanna bring you down

I never wanted it to end this way

Maybe I was holding on too tight

I guess that this is over now

I guess it’s called the falling out

Just turn your back away and leave

There’s nothing I can say to you to make you feel alive again.

 

Shall I march into the unknown?

I know not what to say.

Perhaps I can send her a mix-tape.

 

The ghosts of yesterday,

Refuse to fade away.

And they’ll haunt this place,

Till we accept our fate,

that it’s time to walk away.

Cause we’re holding on to what we had.

Too scared to let go of a troubled past.

Though the memories will always last,

It’s not enough to stay,

So I’ll walk away.

 

I’m saying Goodbye.

Don’t ask me how I’ve been.

This is over now.

There is nothing I can say to you.

Accept our fate.

It’s time.

 

This is goodbye

I’m saying it’s time.

Our fate is over now.

Don’t ask me.

There is nothing I can say.

 

This is a burial

and I want the words to be noble

a worthy epitaph

for a bond that once was holy.

 

Where are the words for that?

Instead I see inadequate sentences

scrawled on this page

like a break-up

from preteens

in a text message.

 

 

letter to mother

 

I think I will miss you.

 

Yes. I think I will miss the idea of you.

Much the way

the person you love

is only an idea about me.

 

We are like children

holding balloons.

‘This is my Mother’ (but it’s only a balloon)

‘This is my Daughter’ (but it’s only a balloon)

both of us concerned

about losing the other.

The string that connects us

so fragile and thin

is somehow protecting

my fragile ego

from my new description;

“See that girl? She’s an orphan.”

I see that the whispers have also touched you;

“Her daughter ignores her. Was she a bad mother?”

 

Will people think that? and how will it impact you?

I

will

tip-toe

away from those people

away from those questions

farther from you now

to untie this string soon

and burst my own bubble.

I will pop this balloon idea of my mother.

 

The idea was a really lovely one.

It was about a mother’s love being pure.

I’ve been keeping that one

close to the heart

even though bad things have happened

I wouldn’t let it be marred.

 

All those ugly words,

the rejection

in the form of an unwanted ultimatum,

the misunderstandings,

your refusal to listen,

and that time you asked “Why?”,

then agreed, and then changed your mind…

I did not

hold you to account

for these things.

 

In the first,

I saw another person

who I deemed to be

more responsible.

And the rest

I thought

was not beyond

my ability to tolerate.

 

I walked this path

to hold on to you Mom.

 

I wanted to hold on

to us

but you said

that you had already given up.

 

You’re my mother!

You were my mother.

 

I feel lost

without a mother.

What strength can I draw from

to convince you

that I am worth fighting for?

 

I have found none,

it seems to have leaked out in the places

where you treated me like a stranger

and became a victim blamer.

 

Even if I find that strength again,

the energy to fight for us,

I am pierced by the knowledge

that the person responsible

is you.

There is no scapegoat

and no blame passing now.

I must sit in the room with honesty

as she explains that you did this

of your own accord.

 

I’m not angry enough to sit in judgement.

What I have to say is not your punishment.

 

Pure love does exist,

it is not

what you offered

to me.

 

Dear Woman,

I am no longer your daughter.

My mother is Love, my mother is Truth.

My mother is the woman who helped me give birth to myself.

Dear Woman,

I am no longer your daughter.

You are no longer my mother.

What more can I write you?

 

Dear Woman,

This is just to practice

our introductions

Sincerely,

A Stranger.

A rewritten poem (this time for my mother)

 

 

I miss this belief:

that a mother’s love is more powerful and more pure

than any offence of the child.

 

I had to change my belief to fit my reality.

 

You still think you are right;

that it is my responsibility to apologize.

You choose not to see

that you are emotionally irresponsible.

I won’t be burdened

by the unpleasantness or discomfort

of your feelings.

I will not

take that up

or enable dependence

because I had to fight through my feelings in seclusion, and you do too.

 

I waited,

and I tolerated

many things I wished to change.

If I looked closely

into my deepest fears

I could hear the whisper,

orphaned’.

 

There is immense joy in freedom

but it means being free from you.

You told me

that you couldn’t handle

my accusations.

Now it’s my turn

to tell you

I’m done enduring

your shallow cordiality.

 

To hold on

through every challenge

makes me persistent.

Long past the time

it would have been

reasonable

for me to say ‘no more’

I continued

to talk to you.

 

My emotions

and my boundaries

have not betrayed me,

but still,

it feels like a betrayal.

For to no longer think

that this is

someone else’s fault

has pierced me.

 

I weep for this.

Deep in this child’s heart

a pain so heavy

that no mothers hand can soothe.

I feel lost.

I know that no person

can replace

a mother.

I would wash away your wrongdoing

but it clings to you.

 

I have some patience

to spend in some places

but I can no longer

be patient for you.

You gave up.

You gave up on me.

I will not attempt

to convince you

that I am worth the fight.

Love doesn’t need convincing.

 

I am freeing myself

from my fear

of losing my mother.

If I face it now,

in every mirror

will be an orphan.

Your pride is a wall around you

that protects you

from my unwanted-truths.

 

 

The truth was not pleasant

But I have accepted it now

and the solutions are few.

I tried the other path

of ‘maybe that’s all you have to give’.

I got tired of that.

 

I am ready

to say goodbye.

Goodbye to my mother.

Goodbye Mom.

Goodbye to the one

who wasn’t a Mom

when I needed her.

I need to be free

more than

I need

my mother.

The Narcissists Daughter

 

You’re not an alcoholic

you’re a narcissist.

 

Selfish.

 

Self-centered,

self-hating man.

 

Am I calling you names?

Have these shots been fired?

 

I feel sad for you

when I see that you are self-hating.

Maybe it would have helped me

if I had seen that sooner,

because I hated you too.

 

You were controlling.

You were addicted to Power like it came in cans like Coca Cola.

Every day drinking,

all for you, none for us.

None for me.

 

Coca Cola gave you diabetes.

I guess you had too much.

 

Maybe with cans of Power it was the opposite.

You drank it,

but it was me who had too much.

 

I had too much.

It’s still too much.

 

Because you haven’t changed, much.

still trying to control me

any time I try

to come close.

 

When I stay away

there’s nothing to control

and you’re not in charge of my thoughts.

 

You used to occupy a place in my mind

I could hear your voice

when you weren’t there.

That was when

your judgment followed me

everywhere.

And I always knew

how you felt

about everything I was doing,

-even though you never cared how I felt about anything.

 

Well I told that voice to leave,

I told it where it should go,

and it went.

I got you out of my head, if it was you at all.

 

 

I’m not mad at you anymore,

because I’ve cleared my thoughts,

cleared my heart.

You verbally abused me,

but I no longer need your apology.

I’ve forgiven your unkindness,

and forgiven you for not being sorry.

 

It’s not about the past anymore,

dear narcissist dad…

I wish you’d stop fucking up the present –

not that I have expectations of you,

but it’s just bags of misery

every time I open the door

on our relationship.

 

I don’t feel obligated

to open the door at all,

(and a healthy person

could discern that it is a privilege

that I still do).

 

 

Now I concentrate

on the impact you made

on me.

I’m not thinking about the narcissist anymore.

I’m thinking about the daughter of the narcissist.

 

Even though

I didn’t let you walk me down the aisle

and

I don’t define myself through our relationship,

I did spend a lot of time looking up at you

and even longer

tip-toeing around you,

in well-worn pathways.

 

I’m a daughter of a narcissist,

and even after all my freedom chasing,

it is still second nature

to tip-toe.

I still deal with stress

the way you taught me to;

I become a robot.

It’s very efficient,

but I’m not sure

it is what I would’ve chosen

had the path not been so well-worn.

 

And I’m uncertain

what I would have chosen

in terms of vocation

if I had not spent

my entire childhood

being invisible,

and then deciding,

that no child should feel this way,

ever.

 

Surrounded by these questions

I start to feel doubts

about who I am.

 

I know who I am.

I know I’m not you.

I know I am not an appendage of you.

I know I’m not defined by you.

I don’t have to prove myself.

I don’t have to fight for your validation.

 

But how much of me exists

as a coping mechanism to deal with you?

 

And do I thank you for being a part of what shaped me…?

-or yell at you for fucking me up?

 

This is

the most mature me

I have ever been

and I still don’t know

how to deal with daddy issues.

 

I don’t want to be the daughter of a narcissist.

 

 

I want to be done

with the part of my life

where I’m yelling at you

for all the ways that you have hurt me.

 

I want to live the part of my life

where it’s me

living my life.

 

And I want the security of knowing

it’s a life I chose freely.

 

Can someone please let me out of this maze?

Each time I think I’m truly free

I open a new door to find

I’m still

the daughter of a narcissist.

 

 

 

Paper Doll

 

I am less than a stranger

to my parents.

 

We lived together

for 19 years

in the same way

that deep sea creatures

might co-exist with other creatures

that they never see.

 

In the darkness of the ocean

invisibility is not a superpower

it’s part of the culture.

We were not defined

by perpetual darkness (as the fish were),

but had the power of sight

to perceive others

as paper dolls

or mirrors.

 

I am less

than a stranger

to my parents.

 

The familiar paper doll

(the friend from the deep sea)

betrayed them.

Shattered their mirrors

(and those clone-like reflections)

in an act

of rage.

Doll no more,

she questioned the culture

she insulted tradition

and asked,

“isn’t it strange that I don’t know you?”

 

I am less

than

a stranger

to

my parents.

 

“We don’t want to be known!”

they cried,

terrified of revealing themselves,

even to each other.

They polished the mirrors.

They hummed mantras to themselves

in the darkness.

(This. is. all. there. is.)

(Don’t. question. what. is.)

 

The doll that was me

left the deep

for the surface.

I found something

beyond co-existence

and I drank fully

of the light.

 

I wanted to bring the light

down into the depths

so I brought a different me.

I brought me,

and no paper doll

to hide behind,

and they said

“NO”.

 

 

 

I

am

less

 

than a

stranger

 

to my

parents.

 

 

 

19 years

were quickly erased

when

I left the culture

of invisibility.

I became visible,

but unrecognizable

to

my parents.

 

Now I am me

and I’m trying to see

that every

paper doll

is someone real.

Not a doll,

not a clone,

not a reflection in a mirror.

 

My parents are too.

They are real people

who can see

what has been

made visible.

My parents can see

a stranger

who ruined

their paper doll

reflection

when they look at me.

 

They’ve asked me to stop –

my answer:

“certainly not”,

and now

they are angry at

this stranger.

 

So I am less than a stranger.

I am a stranger

who asked questions

that paper dolls

aren’t allowed to ask.

I am less than.

I am distrusted.

No longer allowed

to even co-exist

in the same space.

 

I am less

than a stranger

to my parents.

 

A Poem for December

A Poem for December

 

I miss the idea

of how things could have been.

I wish I could have stayed longer.

 

I had to protect myself.

You do not understand

because

you will not see

that the danger is you.

I need to feel safe.

Anything less

requires an immediate change.

I will not settle

for maybe

or almost

because love needs to be free.

 

I waited

a long time

for the scene to change;

for you to prove

that my deepest fears

were as you said-

-unfounded.

 

There is irony here

but it gives me no relief.

You told me

that I was

ridiculous.

Now our actions

have been laid

on the table.

To defy logic

and reason

is ridiculous.

Long past the time

it would have been

reasonable

for me to have hope

I continued

to wait.

 

My doubts,

my intuition,

have not betrayed me,

but still,

it feels like a betrayal.

For to no longer believe

that you love me

is like choosing to

wound myself.

 

I grieve this.

Deeply in my soul

in every toe and finger

I feel loss.

I ache for what is not.

Tears come

but they do not wash away

the hurt.

 

I have some control

to make choices

but I can no longer

choose you.

You are gone.

Your love is gone.

I will not attempt

to control you.

I am setting you free

because love is free.

 

I am freeing myself

from my fear

of your rejection.

I face it now, daily,

and it does not

empty me of myself.

Your rejection is building up around me

protection from your

double messages and your half-truths.

 

The truth is not pleasant

but it is something solid to stand on

and that is a comfort.

I am not worried about doubts

knocking my feet out from under me.

I got tired of that.

 

I am ready

to say goodbye.

Goodbye over and over

and over again,

until this fear steps back.

Your rejection;

no longer a monster

that I avoid,

but an accepted chapter

in my story.