out of the ash box

i am more, so much more than just a plath wannabe in life
you are here, fighting for every second with my body and my being
i want them with you too but i don’t think you understand me or my strife
i came out of the ash box, i came out of somewhere that left me screaming

started something trivial, now i’d be crying if my body would allow
let me for months past over anything other than a stung eye like an onion
i remember years ago, sitting by the ash, i don’t really know how
but i remember the sketches and burning them in the fire that burned running

i remember the princess and how her love was tortured and then how i was scarred
i remember scoffing because what else can you do when your fairytale is the old kind
the kind that teaches you a lesson! the kind that disney had in their future but so far
i reject love because then you never hurt when you are hurt, when you are left behind

is it normal to tell your child you will leave them? is it normal to do it?
i don’t remember much but i remember enough to be sad
and i remember sketching torture like i’d seen, like you’d showed me, like i knew fit
my life in the ash box when i crawled back in with my skinny short limbs, bad

i am less, so much less than you taught me i am, which is nothing
i am free, never free, because i have complex damn ptsd…well who cares
another victim is just another victim even when their martyr complex is strong
and i am here, but i don’t know if i want to be, but i don’t dare

i remember burning up, watching the flames lick my fingertips as i numbed myself to heat
i remember throwing the evidence of my thoughts and anything i dared be away
i remember keeping the rest in notebooks too miniature to read
i don’t remember much but i sure remember hurt, even as the edges fray

oh! how dare you train me to be so afraid of being critical even to this day
even after my brain has finished developing and my body has hurt for many years
oh! how dare i be critical of you after all you have done for me, after all i have stayed
i suppose i’m awful and i should be punished for my ways and for my tears

am i a demon? no. yes. no. you used to love me, i think. i don’t remember very well.
how could someone do so much damage to family, i thought
and then, ten years ago to the month, i went into the psych ward and learned their spell
they pretend to listen but their words show they never learned anything they didn’t want

i’m okay but i am also never and i am also holding onto the knife’s edge with my fingertips
as they bleed i continue because how else could i behave in this almost 2019 moment
i’m dying and i am feverish and i tell lies because feelings are real monsters made out of shit
hallucinations that were never there become real distressing excuses for being spent

what do you do when your brain falls apart and they threaten to take everything you want away
when do you give in when you know that you need to be sliced open soon
for your own good of course, take the teeth out, remove the rot, let the others stay
a little bit rotten and drilled and filled and buffed and obviously not a boon

that is me, i am my own teeth, and every cell in my body! they fight, except when they don’t
i wonder often if that is your fault, it would help if i had my memories
so i cling to the ones i have: in the ash box again, burning paper just to stay warm, i can’t
holding fingers to moments to see if i turn to ash too, of this i will never be free

a poem i wrote in february 2016

hahaha! it’s so funny
how you’re rising in my now weary throat
how i no longer feel pain without convulsing
or how i eat sour candy lately to cope


“survivor” was not a title i wanted to claim
i only took it, i only made it my own
when the two syllable word “victim” made me choke
because it was all i could feel like i know


you texted me after to let me know you missed me,
but not before i decided against the rape kit
(what good would it do?)
not before i spent an hour-long therapy session entirely dissociated


it was weeks after before i remembered
i had to eat, even if i felt like i’d vomit
and i stopped sleeping 16 hours a day shortly after
but i still curl into myself without thinking whenever i sit


funny how i see myself as a bug now
i’m no longer a girl or a person or entirely alive
it’s so funny how i wish i really had my hard shell: cancer the crab
or the shiny beetle, but never protected like i desperately crave


it’s funny, so funny, bruises on my body, can’t trust anyone again funny
one of my ribs was cracked after – are you laughing yet?
stop looking at me like that, get that look off your face
this is like when i joked about my overdoses and people didn’t get it


i’ve saved the best part for last
trauma fosters trauma, and this wasn’t my first
i’ve already been abused, i’ve been raped, and oh boy! have i been hurt
so don’t think you took anything new, you weren’t even my worst

sexual abuse

“Have you ever been sexually abused?”

Silence. Absolute lack of conversation, or “I don’t know.” At this point, I am 16 years old, and usually pouty and angsty enough that nobody really feels sorry for the suicidal pink haired girl, maybe. I don’t know, I’m biased, I was the suicidal 16 year old. I was the one answering every single question from mental health professionals with “I don’t know,” only not to be difficult, just because I didn’t know.

Fast forward for now.

I have one memory.

It shuts off part way through, like a corrupted video file. It shuts off like most of my childhood memories are shut off from the start, from before that. They all were really, until this February, now just most of them are.

I was 23 years old this February.

Another day, another month maybe, another mental health professional. “Your symptoms seem consistent with physical or sexual abuse, have you ever been abused by anyone as a child?” They eye my mom as an afterthought, “we can have this conversation alone, if you’d like.”

“I don’t know.”

So next we fast forward, I’m 17, older but still a teenager, losing mental functioning already but still hopeful that this brutally suicidal depressive episode will end soon – it has to, right? When the memories start, at age 13, when I moved to the USA. Well, technically six months or so before. When my dad moved out. When we started planning the move to another continent, setting up our dual citizenship, myself, my brother and my mother. When my dad wasn’t really around. When things were quieter.

My memory starts and stops. It’s hard to stay on task. To be “together”.

But there’s that question, “have you ever been sexually abused?” and that year, late 2009, when I was 17 and being asked that question and being asked that question and being asked that question.

Let’s write it out three times, for the three psychiatric hospitalizations within days of each other that I had where they asked it upon admission each time, for accuracy. I had to write a list of coping techniques 100 items long to be allowed home after that third hospitalization.

“Have you ever been physically or sexually abused?”

I don’t know. I don’t know.

“I don’t know.”

“That’s not an answer. I need to put yes or no.”

“I don’t know. No.”

“Have you ever been sexually abused?”

“I don’t know. No. I don’t think so.”

“Okay…” then they move onto the next question on the computer. “have you had thoughts of harming others, or only yourself?”

“Have you ever been sexually abused?”

“I…. no.”

So now it’s almost November 2016, and my memory has slipped into a state of “it probably has to be there a little bit still for me to even be alive, right?” but not caring at all about any effects ECT could have on me if they ever get around to that treatment, because memory loss doesn’t scare someone with little to no short term memory already.

I have this one memory. Big windows. My childhood home. Curtains? Embroidered darker green curtains. It comes and goes. Something happened, maybe. I shouldn’t have seen that. Then it cuts off. Why are his pants off? Why can’t I remember his face? Why is he approaching me like that, when I remember being young, too young for a memory like that. Is it even real? It shuts off.

I told my mom about it on the phone while in an ER earlier this year, after February. Her first reaction was that the brain can fabricate and alter memories, which while true, is the most invalidating thing you can say to someone who just told you they might have been sexually abused.

I dissociate a lot. I am hypersexual at times. You can trace my cPTSD easily to other abuse, to being raped, more than once. Of course I am a mess. I am such a mess my symptoms and traumas are hard to untangle. I have self harmed by having sex with people I knew I would hate myself for doing it with. I have self harmed in other ways. I have a brain that I can barely keep afloat on a day to day basis, I have monsters to slay every second of the day, but it plagues me in a different way that I don’t know.

I don’t know. I don’t know. I remember too much, I know things I shouldn’t, but there are other explanations for that. I don’t know. He would leave the tv on late and fall asleep with porn on in the bedroom we shared, that doesn’t mean he did anything.

I also can’t say nobody didn’t.

I guess this is less valid than a solid, real trauma I could pinpoint and take all the way to the legal system, if I wanted to. I have traumas I can pinpoint but this is not one of them. However, this also isn’t “was I touched in ways I shouldn’t have been?”

Instead it’s, “How inappropriately young was I when I was first touched in this one way? What about in this other way, without consent, a way that nobody should ever touch someone? How old was I the first time that happened?”

My lack of memories that are of my abuse aren’t evidence that it didn’t happen, I remember other things very clearly that are mostly gone but that I know happened enough times, and probably many more.

Trauma being “blacked out” in memory is a common response.

Why does this one memory start out this way? Why does it shut off?

Why does it shut off? I don’t know. I don’t know. It makes me angry, hurts, I stop thinking about it.

Usually, and in about five minutes, at least.

“Have you ever been sexually abused?” Nobody is asking me any more, partly because I am avoiding care, due to a mistrust of the system built on its deep flaws and glaringly bad history of taking care of me within the past few years. Nobody is asking, but I am asking myself in this blog post. Because:

I don’t know.