You have my word.

Words have power: that must count for something.

An audience for a shooting

The applause of a machine gun

fills the hall of my heart –

hollow and silent –

expecting a spectacle

of patriotism and loyalty.

I have no gun,

but I own enough bullets

to forge an armoury.

My lack of performance causes a stir

and they suffer in my lifeless silence.

Depression is not a spiral, it’s a pit

There is something mysterious about selecting shells from the sea side – something treacherous about picking up fragments and trying to reassemble something of the ocean in your palm. No one was made to hold that much power – even rock pools lose their water at low tide.

But there exists another kind of power. It forces deception and silence, so I lie with my mouth and tell the truth on my arms. It’s the only way I can get the words out in this desperate hush, in this mind-numbing dull lull from days into haze… But it does not always come quietly. Sometimes it is birthed painfully, screaming and bleeding on the kitchen floor – scissors still in hand that severed the vein you mistook for an umbilical cord…

Dear Depression, you are a beast without a face. You have clawed for my attention and it seems you’ve got your way, but I’ve been told that just because I’ve named the monster doesn’t mean it can be tamed. You stole my name the day you were born. The only thing I ever knew for sure, now you’re the question mark that curves my throat and for once… I want to hang my head without your noose. My name is gone and I wonder if I am too. I have become you. So I tattoo “hope” on my skin because if seeing is believing then it’ll be a little easier to look at myself without wanting to be sick – without wanting to drain the vision from my eyes like liquid.

You are the object blocking the sun, so I find sanity in my shadow. You are dark. You are the black of coal before the fire starts. You are the spark of a lighter to the pitch I kiss – smoking chains of tar, trying to find my way, tying my paved throat to the bar on the ceiling, praying that heaven feels the tugging when I squirm. How much do I have to burn before my smoke signals reach the sky? Fact is, the hotter a fire rages the higher the smoke will rise. I’m going up in flames still very much alive. You are dark. But sometimes you are light – burning and blinding.

You have cut me down to size so I have learned to pray on my knees, asking God why you won’t let me sleep. I know you better than my secrets know my 3am sheets. You have made me more interested in the anatomy of distance than I have ever been. I measure everything. The distance from my bed to the floor. The distance from my floor to the medication. The distance from my medication to the shower because I need to clean again-again as if scrubbing my skin will purge this disease. The distance from myself… to the last time I knew myself, is immeasurable.

On the day the pills begin to work – when they finally grip fiercely at my insides like a mechanic with a ratchet on a rampage out to fix and tighten and hit and fasten till his muscles give way to metal… on the day they take hold, I feel myself seep back into my skin like a forever dripping tap that’s finally stopped trickling its soul down the drain. I learn to punch my own fists into my own mouth to force the wind and words out. I stretch out my arms toward my own heart and ask: “My darling, are you OK?”

And for the first time I feel fine to say: “No, I’m not, and I haven’t been for a while. But tomorrow will be better.”

Red

I am draped in blood moon this night.

Our bodies eclipse

the mock of eyes that do not love

as deep as the end of time.

Dancing sun hidden

in the back corner, kissing

the shadows of your spine,

painting promises on your skin.

And my black sky smile -

as wide as the night is long,

as sure as the stain of dreams

between our fingers

trying to frame this moment

we can’t yet put words to -

the hollow we cannot yet fill.

Losing everything in the test of trauma

I never thought I would be able to laugh again. Trauma will do that to you, you know? It has a way of only allowing you to inhale, and still never feel like you have enough air. It will literally take your breath away. Without breath you cannot talk, you cannot scream, you cannot cry, you cannot laugh. Without breath we are without life.

If you have lost the ability to laugh, you have lost everything. I lost everything between then and now, but you’ll soon realise that timelines aren’t important if you can’t see an end. So it doesn’t matter what happens when or where and who was there to witness it, the fact remains that it happened and it changed you.

Trauma, noun: an emotional shock that may have long-lasting effect.

Trauma is different to battle wounds. Battle wounds tell of struggle and triumph; trauma tells of a soul that has been forced to fall on its own sword. It is futile to compare the scars from either war, just as it is futile to compare traumas – each has its own body count. Each has its own gathering of mourners.

And I have a heart full of dust where somethings have become skeletons. Trauma turns us into tombs within ourselves. Trauma takes… and takes, and takes. It is insatiably voracious and unwaveringly vicious. It will grind you into the ground just as it buried the bones in your chest. It will make sure you never rest again.

Some facts: You owe trauma nothing. Trauma does not deserve anything from you. Trauma does not have license for an extended stay if you want it to leave. Trauma needs to be separated from your grief. Trauma is what happened; Truth is what can still happen – what you can make happen. Trauma does not need an excuse. Trauma does not own you, nor do you own it. You are not your trauma, nor are you a product of your trauma.

I am proof. I am living proof – inside and outside, no decay wasting within the restrictions of my ribs. After what felt like decades of heaving through layers of earth, I have breath. I am finally able to say what I have been wanting to say about death and life and how sometimes the two can become quite blurred (contrary to logical opinion).

But possibly, the most raw, most sacred result of this undoing is the strange taste of laughter in my once curdled-lips-for-a-smile mouth. I can laugh, and that in itself is a marvel not of my making, for human hands cannot craft such a miracle.

——————————

I do not use the word “trauma” lightly in this piece. I understand fully that there may be varying degrees of trauma, but even that is relative to each individual’s reality. I have written this from the basis of my own coming-to-terms-with life, and it is in no way intended to offend. I trust you hear my hope in the words.

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