The Ache

Sometimes
the pain is just too much
an anvil on my heart
something missing at my core.
Was it something I lost
or something I have yet to find?
The ache
to be filled
is unbearable.
I feel deficient,
despite knowing
I was born whole.

I take this life too seriously, I’m told.
Lighten up.
Be grateful.
You’re one of the lucky ones.
Don’t be selfish.
Don’t be greedy.
You have all you need.
Then why this ache?
If this pain, as some say,
is somehow molding me
polishing me
unleashing me
why is it
I don’t feel free?

I fill the void
with nothing
but sorrow
anger
shame.
Where has all the love gone?
Was there ever any to begin with?
Or were there only temporary bandaids
me seeking elsewhere
for what should have existed within
all along?
Fill me! Fill me, please!
Love me but
make me believe it too.

Rocks hurled at me every day –
responsibilities unmet
loved ones displeased
my child overloaded –
I try to keep it together
hold it all in
open the dam gates only
when no one’s in sight.
But sometimes
others’ barbs sear me
cut holes into my facade
allowing the ugliness to burst out.
I’m only human.
But
I’m also a mother
scarred by generations of other mothers
desperately trying not
to repeat the sins of the past.

I know You are here and now
but still I feel so alone.
What am I missing?
Is there something You haven’t told me?
Some message You’ve been sending
that I haven’t been receiving
or never learned how to?

Every love letter you sent
I smeared.
Every bouquet of roses
I razed.
Every box with a bow
I re-gifted.
Why?
Why would I do that?
I’m sorry but
love never felt safe.
Love and hurt
were one and the same.
I built walls
to leave love
out in the cold
and inside
act like I had
all the control.

The ache tore that farce to the ground though.
It may have taken years, decades, but
the ache slowly built up to a quake
that unearthed me.
In the wreckage I find
something is missing.
Something has always been missing.
Please show me where to find it.
Please help me to embrace it
without returning to sender
without ripping it to shreds.

You love me
and that is all that matters.
The rest is just fluff
obscuring my view
of all that is beautiful
and true.

I am Woman

In honor of International Women’s Day, I’m re-posting a prose poem I wrote a few years ago. As always, your thoughts and comments are welcomed below.

I am woman.
Hear me roar.
That’s how the saying goes, right?
And yet, you’ve never heard me roar,
never so much as a peep or complaint.
My mother taught me,
“Don’t expect too much from the world,
The world will only disappoint you.
Don’t expect too much from the world.
Then you’ll never be disappointed and no one can hurt you.”
Such wise words, I always thought.
Look at me now, I’m so happy.
No expectations, no disappointments.
Except,
hello,
I’m human.
The hurt would come and,
like a good little girl,
I would swallow it up.
Over time, it slowly built up,
like a heaving, suffocating burden,
so that now,
at 35,
I’m all filled up.
And the hurt the disappointments the heartaches,
they’re boiling over and pouring forth
like lava.
Still I tried not to show it.
I tried to push it, stuff it, lock it
all right back inside.
I hurt myself ‘cause I didn’t want to hurt you, world.
Didn’t want to hurt you, ‘cause I was scared you wouldn’t care.
And perhaps you don’t.
Or perhaps,
I’ve had it wrong all this time.
My mother was wrong,
as was her mother before her,
and her mother’s mother before her.
They taught us that,
as women,
as girls,
we have little worth in this world,
so better not to expect, to rock the boat, to stay in line.
Be a good girl,
be a good wife,
be a good mother.
Ain’t nothin’ better than a self-sacrificing mother who puts her needs at the very end of everyone else’s.
Needs?
What needs?
I’m a saint.
I’m an angel.
Except,
hello,
I’m human.
I hurt, I cry, I get angry,
when you don’t laud my achievements as much as my brother’s,
when you think my desires aren’t as important as my partner’s,
when friends and colleagues don’t show me the courtesy of calling back,
because their time is so much more valuable than mine,
when I am branded either a prude or a prostitute,
while, conveniently, “boys will be boys”,
when you don’t think to offer your help in the kitchen,
and instead, ask me,
“What can you offer?”
like I’m the waitress at your favorite diner.
What can I offer?
What can I offer?
Dude, what can you offer me?
When my profession asks me to work just as hard as anyone else,
take stress just as much as anyone else,
see my kids just as little as anyone else,
then pays me a salary lower than everyone else,
they’re telling me
I’m worth
less.
“You are not worth it.”
The world has said this to me in so many ways.
And I absorbed it, believed it,
inculcated it into my life,
wove it into my being,
and proudly spread the message to my sisters.
“You are not worth it.”
My worth lies in what I can offer,
in the pristine condition of my private parts,
in the voluptuousness of my body,
but only if it’s in all the right places, otherwise,
in the waif-like silhouette of my figure.
I am not worth it.
I don’t need some profit-hungry make-up company to tell me I am, just so I’ll buy their products.
I need my parents to say it,
my siblings,
my friends,
my teachers,
my children.
But most of all,
I need to say it.
Now I wonder, why in the world did I grow up idolizing Cinderella,
who let everyone walk all over her, as she whined in her sing-song voice to her mice,
when instead, I should have respected her Stepmother?
At least she was honest about what she wanted,
and went after it with a passion,
rather than running away at the first signs that someone might see who she truly was,
and losing her ‘glass slipper’ in the process.
(I wear Aerosoles, bitch.)
Because that only happens in dreams, right?
In fairytales,
with the help of fairy godmothers we didn’t know we had,
who randomly decide to bequeath us with magic?
You can’t give me magic.
You can’t wave a wand and expect its sparks to transform me into something more precious than I am now
because,
although I may not always know it,
although you may not always see it,
I am the magic.
I’m the magic that makes this world go round.
You don’t even know how lucky you are to have me, world.
If you call me a bitch now,
I will take it as a compliment.
If you call me “too ambitious” for single-mindedly going after what I want,
I’ll think I’m doing something right.
And if you say,
“What else did you expect?
She’s a woman after all,”
Then I’ll make sure,
in fact, I guarantee,
you will hear me fucking roar.