[i am the work, in progress]

by: Jenuine Poetess

I wasn’t going to write this blog, post this blog, admit this truth. Not now. Maybe not ever. And if I did, I imagined writing about this in ten years. When I could look back on this moment with all of the wisdom and togetherness of the future me I imagine. When I could say, “I have struggled with this.” Instead of, “I am struggling in this.”

I tell myself there is less shame in being on the other side of something, than being in the midst of it. Because on the other side I will have survived it. Will have overcome it. Will have gotten my shit together to pull myself up and out of this pit.

I’d never tell a client, a friend, a kindred that. Because I don’t believe that. Not for anyone. I save my harshest notions for myself. It is a peculiar gift.

This morning I have cried myself into vomiting. I have done some laundry. Washed some dishes. And made sixteen compelling arguments to myself for why I should never write or say to another living soul, not even my therapist, any of the things I am about to write.

I thought I could get away with never talking about this and certainly not writing about it right now. But last week there was a gas leak found in the 100 year old house in which my apartment exists. This initiated a chain reaction of needing to let repair people into my home space, which triggered an anxiety about that very thing, because of all of the shame I have been holding about the physical state of my home, which resulted in vomiting and crying and a small asthma attack, which turned into a temporarily emotionally paralyzing dread/despondence. Now there are repair people replacing all the gas pipes in the whole house which means I need to let them into my space. I don’t care that much about the judgments or opinions of repair people I likely will never see again. But eventually, when I have to go to work and they need to get into my apartment, my landlord will see my ugly truth. My landlord is a friend, whom I respect and admire. I’m horrified to have to let anyone I know into my mess. My literal, shameful, ugly, mess.

I’m not being modest. I’m not talking about a basically ordered home with one stray sock on the floor and two books out of place. I’m not talking about haven’t dusted in a month. I’m not talking about an unmade bed.

I just renewed a 12 month lease and I have a whole room of boxes I never unpacked. I have piles of the clothes I wash but can’t find the motivation to put away. I have dishes that have piled, used and unwashed, for probably months.

I look at my surroundings. I look at myself in the mirror. I wonder, “how did I let it get this bad?”

I don’t exactly know.

I just know that somewhere along the way of excruciating loss; of grieving; of a profound plunge into unspeakable darkness; of deciding to continue breathing again and again every day I wake up; of not wanting to continue breathing every day I wake up; of the grueling work of therapy and healing; of showing up in community; of fighting for every pulse, every act of resilience, every choice to hope instead of despair; somewhere, in all of that, keeping house got lost in the midst of surviving.

I’m having trouble being kind with myself.

Chores. Dishes. Cleaning my space. It is so basic. I learned it from the beginning. I was raised to keep an immaculate space. I always loved making a peaceful, orderly, inviting home where I could welcome friends and neighbors to eat, to rest, to gather. I used to be a professional organizer. I got paid to create and maintain order. I helped others through their messes into a place of self-love and organization.

I’m struggling to offer myself the same compassion.

I’m a grown woman, around the corner from 40. I hold a master’s degree. I’m a therapist. I should have all of the tools and knowledge and experience to deal with this. I should be able to implement positive coping skills. I should know how to handle this grief healthily.

I should…

I forget: my education and clinical practice were never an inoculation against struggle; they are not some impermeable armor that protect me from ever having to practice the thrashing bones of this kind of knowing.

In the last year and a half, while accumulating chaos in my home I have also maintained regular sessions with my therapist; I have continued to direct and grow community arts programming I developed three and a half years ago; I have shown up for friends in laughter and in sorrow; I have studied for and passed two intense professional licensing exams; I have began working in private practice with a kindred friend and colleague whom I cherish, respect, and admire immensely; I traveled internationally by myself to a global conference of artists and poets; I have published my first collection of poems; I have laughed with joy; I have found myself dancing; I am learning how to trust again; I am creating art; I am being alive.

This is not a list to brag. I document these things to remind myself I am not a failure. To remind myself that even in the midst of debilitating grief, I am yet thriving.

I am trying to talk myself into compassion and out of shame.

The mess in my home can be amended. There are clean dishes drying in the rack. There is laundry that can be washed and hung up. There is trash that can be taken out.

I’m trying to talk myself back into loving kindness.

I neglected the parts of my life and my environment that would suffer the least in order to show up for the things too valuable to lose. I just realized that. And I’m deciding that that is OK.

I don’t want to stay here. In the chaos and the dis-order. It is not me. Not authentic me. I miss the parts of myself I have not been able to be for all this time. I miss dancing. I miss cooking for friends and breaking bread together. I miss cultivating a peaceful, healing, space for myself.

I feel so very far from ever being whole again. But today I washed dishes. And that feels like resilience.

Rainbow Bloodstains

by: Q. 

I never knew
That the way I felt
Had a name

I just knew that
I had loved
Hers
&
Hims
And even a few
Theys

I just knew that
If the one I
Loved
Didn’t look like
A
Him
Then it needed to be
Quiet
Love

Lingering
Subtle
Touch
Love

Best friend
Sleepovers
Braid each other’s hair
And kiss napes of necks
Quickly
Love

The
Fear
Has always been
Palpable
For me

Coming out is
Terrifying
Even when you can
Love
“Normally”

“You’re just confused”

And I thought I might
Just
Stay
Quiet

But then after a day of
“Ally” activities of
Pride

I hear about
49
Heartbeats
Gone

49 lives
Taken

During
Their
Quiet
Pride

And I am wrecked.
And in such grief

I am outed.

The
Fear
Has always been
Palpable
For me

This
Fear
Will always be
Palpable
For me

Where is the resolution?
Where is the revelation?
Where is the revolution?

Requiem for my dad

By: Anonymous

the man who is my father
is living and breathing
somewhere in Connecticut

the first time my dad died a little
he didn’t show up
to my first art exhibit
5th grade
i made a ceramic bear jar
a hat for a lid

stupid ugly bear

the next time my dad died
he couldn’t make it
to my concert
my first solo
out fixing cars
an on call mechanic

my voice isn’t that good anyway

my dad died when i told him
the dark things that happened
and he let me walk back
into the snake pit

i don’t matter enough to protect

he died another time
another concert
another solo
a whole song this time
another car
another rich lady with a broken Mercedes got hours of my dad
i cried hours on my bed

singing is for losers
i am a loser

he died every concert after
tickets too expensive
venue too far
the burden too heavy

if i make myself less, maybe i won’t be too much

when i was 14
he died when he told me
he didn’t have time for extra visits
he wanted a family of his own someday
he couldn’t be spending all those miles and monies
on me

who needs dads anyway
I’ll be fine on my own

he wrote me letters
quoting scripture:
Prodigal Daughter
return home.

a reprimand
not an invitation

i conceded obedient
and he died again
when i saw how he played with his
new daughter
doting
new son
shining
new wife
loving

my dad died when he
didn’t write back
he died when he didn’t call
he died when i reached and he wasn’t there
wasn’t there
wasn’t there

he beamed and lauded
when i left my life
to help my sister
What an example!
Such a loving sacrifice!
I made you who you are, what a dad I am!

my dad died when he told me
there’s nothing more
than DNA between us

he died when i rejected his abuse
he died when i gave back his shame
he died when i called his lies by name
he died when i stood up for myself
he died when i walked away

my dad died
when i set myself free

Unsilent Blog Monthly Spotlights

The Unsilent blog will consider non-fiction narratives (in the form of poetry, prose, personal essay, memoir, etc) on any subject at any time.

Sometimes people like to plan ahead or have a theme/goal to work toward.  Somtimes courage needs a little heads up.  To that end, please peruse the loose schedule of spotlighted topics for each month throughout the year (if we’re missing any important themes please be sure to let us know)!

At the start of each month, we’ll post a call for narratives and list the themes spotlighted for that month.  Again, we will consider and publish non-fiction narratives on any theme or topic at any time; you don’t have to wait for the month.

JANUARY
• Codependency
• Slavery & Human Trafficking
• Psychological / Emotional Abuse

FEBRUARY
• Black Lives Matter
• Teen Dating Violence
• Intimate Partner Violence
• Bloodstories

MARCH
• Womyn’s Herstories
• Deaf Culture & Experience
• Self-care & Radical acts of Self Love

APRIL
• Autism Acceptance
• Arab-American Experience & Identity
• Child Abuse
• Sexual Assault

MAY
• Mental Health
• Lupus/Invisible Illnesses
• Asian-Pacific Experience & Identity
• Spiritual Abuse

JUNE
• LGBTQ PRIDE
• Belief/Faith stories of inclusion/exclusion
• Eating/Feeding Disorders

JULY
• Abilities/Disabilities Acceptance
• Migration Experiences
• Body Image
• Illness and/or Injury

AUGUST
• Survivor Stories
• Parenting & Child-Free Identities
• Community Violence

SEPTEMBER
• Latinx/Hispanic Experience & Identity
• Suicide
• Self-Harm

OCTOBER
• Cancer
• Domestic Violence
• Infant Loss & Miscarriage
• Bullying

NOVEMBER
• Police Brutality
• Racism
• Indigenous/Aboriginal/First Nations Experience & Identity
• PTSD

DECEMBER
• Family
• Trans* Experience & Identity
• Peace & Global Violence
• Grief & Loss

To sum up: please for sure do send in your truths.  Any time.  Any topic. As often as you need to.

motherfucker grief

By: A. M.

this grief is so ugly
i don’t go out in public much
it is wailing
heaving sobs
that end in
violent vomiting
so many meals
i can’t keep down

how do i explain
i didn’t finish that project
couldn’t go to that meeting
bailed on hanging out
because on my way
grief interrupted
and i
was useless

this is the fiercest
agony-rage cocktail
i’ve ever known
i want to break shit
i want to set it on fire
i want to
tear
the sky in
two
with deafening screams
because my body
cannot contain the energy
the sheer force
of this grief

i don’t know where to put it
it’s too big for my heart
too heavy for my shoulders
too vast for this room
too loud for this page
too vivid for this city
too vulgar for this state
too deep for the ocean
too blue for the sky
too much
too much
too much
for me to bear

it hurts
like a motherfucker
i can’t stop it
it doesn’t diminish
it stole my joy
and all of my poems
i can’t breathe
under its weight
i can’t breathe
through these choking cries
i can’t breathe
in this darkness
i am exhausted
drowning
body trembling
with the tumult of this sorrow
every time i think
i am put back together
i unravel
completely

i want to lay down
and let it consume me
hungry waves
devouring
my body

spitting me out
on the shore