Anxiety

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There is a scream inside my head

And it will not let me rest

Around me, the silence is maddening

Inside me, this scream is deafening

 

It envelopes every resting thought

It swallows my imagination

Around me, others walk contently

Inside me, my heart paces rapidly

 

This scream in my head is rather needy

Time of day or responsibilities are not priorities

It decides when to come and go

Not satiated with yes or no

 

It needs complex answers to impossible questions

To hear it’s echoes in places unmentioned

Legitimacy, it needs

For the anxiety and guilt, it feeds

 

So where’s my release?

You tell me

It’s certainly not in this 10 x 12 box

With chipped walls and ceiling rot

It’s not in this endless stream on my laptop

 

The stream of sound that lives in me

So loud I can’t remember to breath

It’s the cancer that rots my bones

The substance abuse that kills my soul

The scream that none but I know

That slowly etches its toll

 

These content beings in their silence, kill me

Just shut up and give me peace

If not peace, give me apathy

For once, let me feel nothing

 

Or find a way through the synapses of my brain

Down my left or right membranes

Through my fists or my mouth

Please, just get out

 

Quit tainting my every thought with dry rot

Quit drowning me in negativity

Distracting me from possibility

Let me be

 

When I try to muffle the cries

This screaming, I can’t subside

Like it lives deep within me

In parts I can’t reach

 

So I carry on in this 10×12 box

With chipped walls and ceiling rot

All the while, this scream in my head

Steals the night from me again

Ode to Social Media

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The digital web of egos shout, “I’m right”
While logic drowns in digital noise
Submerged in static, too blind to see
It’s not bombs, guns or military toys
That’s not what will destroy

This arrogance, This ignorance
Talking with our ears closed
Trust me my friends
Our weakness we’ve long since exposed

Poems of my past

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We’re tiny vessels in this big machine

Moving product and paper disguised as dreams

Fueled by fear and cheap champagne

Smuggling anesthetics to forget the pain

We walk these roads of self-deceit

A mix of rain and oil swirled beneath our feet

Glowing bright to distract our eyes

From our bodies crumbling into inevitable demise

Brick by Brick these walls grow higher

Wall after wall we simply grow tired

Of breaking down these barriers

It’s a disease and we’re all carriers

We’d rather slowly rot from inside

Escape behind our walls to hide

Than stare love in the face

And break down these divides with grace

We’d rather slowly rot from inside

Escape behind our walls to hide

Than admit that we care

And lay our chests bare

So I’ll keep you at an arm’s length

Manipulate the definition of strength

So that it fits my present tense

So that it fits this perpetual state of loneliness

And I know you will do the same

It’s all the same baggage with a different name

We’ll lie naked like lovers

But we could not be any more covered

Fall-ing

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As the leaves change

Strange as my moods

Green like insecurity

Yellow like promise

Red like passion

My branches can’t shake em

Can’t shake this itch; this feeling

Something big is approaching

My body would die for leaving

My body fights its stubborn roots

Something’s missing here

As the green falls around me

I know you feel it too my dear

I’m rooted here

In love and memories

Shade and comfort shedding

Bask in this with me

and say you’re staying

Cause this war is all but civil

I can’t be the only one who sees it

See this war is deep and it is buried

I won’t trust those who can’t feel it

But you’re beautiful like rain

Rare but familiar in a way

Like you’ll wash it away

Oh please don’t go away

Sink deep and move slow

But please don’t go

My dear technically I’m dying

But it’s merely just the season

There’s life left here

I can’t be the only one that sees it

I won’t trust those who can’t feel it

Re-defining the F-word

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Words are powerful tools; they paint pictures, articulate emotions, inspire movements. They can also carry baggage. The word feminism signifies different things to many. To the 90 year old white woman who grew up among the suffrage movement it may mean voting and property rights. To the 60 year old African American woman it may mean the fight for sexual and reproductive rights. To a large portion of the millennial generation feminism has become a curse word.


Lost in translation?

The word “feminism” has been defined in different ways over the course of history.

1880s – French origins, it comes from two words Femme, which means woman and “ism” which is a political identity

1890s – First used in English in association with the suffrage movement.

1960s–1980s – Second wave movement seeking to address the overall issue of gender roles

1979 –“Womanism” was coined by African American woman, Alice Walker, who felt black women couldn’t identify with traditional feminism because it only represented “upper class, white woman”.

1990s to presentThird wave feminism seeking to address flaws in previous movements and non-inclusion of women from different cultures and sexual identities

2004 – Rush Limbaugh coins the term femi-nazi


In fact, a survey done by HuffPost/Yougov found that only 20% of Americans identify themselves as feminists. The same poll found that 87% of respondents believe that “men and women should be social, political, and economic equals” which tends to be the agreed upon definition of feminism. So how did this word, once synonymous with equality, transition to one with which people can’t identify? Dr. Feitz, a professor for gender and women studies at the University of Denver (DU), feels this may be because millennials don’t fully understand the work that went into past feminist movements.

“There’s some taken advantage of privileges,” she says. “There’s some real misunderstandings about what women have done before you [millennials] in order to pave the way for you to be here, for me to be here, and so that to me is an important social movement that we don’t study and teach in schools the same way we do in other movements.”

Sable Shultz, a master’s candidate and co-chair for the annual DU women’s conference, also thinks knowing the movement’s history plays a big role in the understanding of feminism. “There was an active attempt that started up through the 80s to disparage feminism and feminists…It was mocked in media. The idea that feminists are men-hating women comes from the late 70s and early 80s,” she says. “I can’t blame millennials for taking this certain attitude because there was a concerted effort to make feminism go away or make it seem irrelevant….And guess what? It was successful.”1

Thomas Walker, Director of Educational Programs and LQBTQI services, expands on this historical context. “…because early reaction to male domination had to be so disruptive. Had to be so loud and in your face to be heard…there’s some of that baggage in just the term itself in our usage. People from whatever identity are a little afraid to take on that political label….’can’t we all just get a long’ is a draw and feminism is seen as kind of rocking the boat even if they would agree with the idea”

You can see these sentiments echoed more and more on social media. Many question what feminists actually have to fight for currently and that the movement is no longer relevant because women have reached equal standards. There are others who believe the movement doesn’t represent their ideals as well. This backlash has gained popularity from men in the form of what’s called the meninist movement, ironically a term originally coined to describe male feminists. Anti-feminist opinions have also gained popularity amongst women on websites such as Tumblr and Facebook. Anti-feminist messaging is seen frequently in mainstream news outlets.

Shultz believes this messaging has been around for a while and tends to take the front stage. “…the messaging that dominates the conversation that either comes from or is echoed from that portion who wants to discount or dismiss feminism. The loudest voices are the voices that say, ‘you already get to vote right? Oh if you just worked harder. If you just leaned in, if you just networked more.’…the dialogue that has dominated media and hardball_robertson_110707 007culture for so long says we are done with feminism and moved on. When in fact we haven’t.”

Walker echoes Shultz’s point by pointing out sexism, like many other “isms”, has gone from blatant acts to insidious and sometimes mindlessly placed norms within our systems. He reflects candidly on what he would consider his male privilege. “I always give people the example I will work late and not give a second thought to walking across campus to my car. Cause I as a man am taught to have very little reason to fear for my physical sexual safety”.

“I think there is a difficulty with accepting the system,” Walker says. “[Men say] ‘Well I don’t beat women up’…So it’s like saying “I’m not racist because I don’t join the KKK and burn crosses’…whether that be sexual assault or wage inequality or the more unconscious bias, you don’t have to be an explicit “ist”, to fall prey to that mindset. Immense amounts of research has found that because we are raised in the system, whether we agree with it or realize it, we are still active in that”.

He goes on to describe the how we see this insidious bias play out in microcosms such as University campuses. “…social work and education are predominately women because that’s what people still think women should be doing. And the guys in those programs get negative messages. I had a College of ED student who wants to work with preschoolers and someone told him that ‘was kind of creepy that a man would want to work with kids’. On the flip side in S.T.E.M (Science, technology, engineering, manufacturing) very few women comparatively, so those messages are obviously still out there.”

Beyond all this, the sentiment that feminism is a women’s issue that only impacts women tends to be a contested view among feminists and non-feminists alike. This would have some like Feitz concerned by the movements overall need for men or “male feminists”.


Male Feminists

As DU student, Adrian Cabral, would say “…being a male feminist means I stand in solidarity with feminists in that I make sure that my male privilege is not taking precedence over whatever movement or action they are taking. I take a backseat in making sure I’m there in solidarity but not taking over the conversation.”

Famous male feminists include actors Joseph Gordon Levitt and Ryan Gosling who have taken a very public stance on the issue of feminism. Included in that list is popular comedian, Louis CK, who playfully jokes about serious topics regarding women’s experience:

“How do women still go out with guys, when you consider that there is no greater threat to women than men? We’re the number one threat to women! Globally and historically, we’re the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women. You know what our [men] number one threat is? Heart disease.”


“There’s a perception of women feeling superior to men or wanting to get rid of men women seeing men as irrelevant. All of these are absolutely wrong, it has nothing to do in many ways with being dominant over men…Men are really key to educating and calling out their peers either for sexist comments or normalizing the objectification of women. I have great faith in men.”

Feitz noted the importance of studying masculinity at the same time as femininity and Shultz emphasized why.

“Much of feminism for a long time was dominated by telling women they need to act more like men…Hilary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, wonderful women and very powerful women. But if you look at how they present themselves…as like one of the guys in a lot of ways. We’ve never taken on the celebration of womanhood and upheld that as a value of feminism.”

She also touches on how patriarchal attitudes oppress men and contributes her thoughts to the increasing conversation of why men could in fact benefit from feminism as a whole.

“If you look at masculinity now…it’s toxic. If women are one thing then men have to be the opposite of that….masculinity and manhood is what women are not. So anything that gets assigned to the women bucket, gets taken out of the man bucket. Leaving fewer and fewer options for the man bucket. You can see this and how it impacts [male] career choice…That’s one reason why men need feminism, is so they can start pulling apart and dismantling these constructs which keep them defined to an incredibly narrowing role of possibilities and telling them they have to be certain ways in order to be viewed as men.”

Of course, these limitations on male identity and female identity are all socially constructed in the first place, perpetuated by the notion of “opposite genders”. Walker has some interesting thoughts on how this mindset inevitably propagates itself.

“Having privilege doesn’t mean you don’t have problems….they [anti-feminists] may not buy into the system. They may believe they have their own problems so they don’t have time to fight others. If we can get past all that there’s still this fundamental inclination for people to think, ‘for you to gain, I have to lose.’ If I acknowledge that there is inequity then the easiest way to equalize is to take away. ‘If you get more pie then I by definition get less pie’ instead of presume that there’s other things to eat…there are these paradoxes in the system that are intentionally fixed to protect itself. The idea of “for you to gain, I have to lose” keeps the system in place”.

Among all this re-branding of feminism has come the disagreement over what simply the term even means. This has people like Walker concerned about how much time we should spend on the word itself.

“Feminism is one approach or one label and if we get too caught up on that’s the box we have to check for everybody, well now we are arguing over labels rather than the struggle itself. The system didn’t get made over night it’s not designed to be simple or to undo with a flip of a switch. The trick is how much time do we want to spend on the categories or labels instead of challenging the system?…If you really believe in it then it doesn’t matter what you get called. In fact you will probably get called names”.

With the ever-changing face of what feminism can look like, the word’s definition has become harder to pin down. One thing is for certain, there are still stereotypes and gender issues prevalent in our society. Is arguing the mere definition of the preferred terminology taking away from the overall issue?

Shultz believes there can be multiple definitions for something we all have a stake in. “What being a women is to a white women is different than being a woman of color. Just because they are women doesn’t mean they know all women experiences…it’s about being an active participant in movements that may not be always about you”.

Feitz believes this is not only key to good thought but to good activism. “I like to think it’s important for people to realize that not all feminists and women have the same issues…I think people before they start talking about ‘all men’ or ‘all women’ need to step back and look at the bigger picture.

Walker also believes there needs to be a shift in mindset around the way we view conflict. “This focus on ‘can’t we all just get along’ is a really watered down reading of it. It masks the system and makes it hard to get to it, whatever it is, racism, sexism”.

It would seem that feminism is not about everyone “getting along”. It’s about recognizing everyone has something at stake here. As history has proven, there will continue to be a fight for equality among all identities. Unconsciously or consciously, however they identify or define the F word, it might be time for millennials to realize they are a part of that fight too.

My Thinking Spot

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Here I sit

Where imagination meets reality

They crash together a million pieces

And I don’t know which is which

Here I sit

In the place I call home

But it doesn’t feel like home

Its absence of love confirms I’m alone

Here

I sit

Where the flickering jungle meets the absent sky

Where cars fly by and I don’t know who’s inside

But I wonder if they’ve felt this pain in me

And where they sit to let it bleed

I wonder if they know they aren’t alone

That they have left their mark some place

They may not even know

Because no one ever lets you know

Here I sit

Where expectations meet reality

And the difference nearly shatters me

They don’t know

I’ve stared at this paper too blurry to see

I’ve let this cynical world tear at every ideal in me

This relentless hope is quite possibly killing me

My imagination sees what it wants to see

And so desperately wants to be reality

So I sit

I come to grips

Let the ice cold certainty wash over me

You had your way with every part of me

I imagine setting fire to the bridge in front of me

But that’s not reality

You’ve left your hand in the way

And I don’t think you’ll ever know

A pain shoots in my chest when I wonder

If you have too felt this blow

But no I won’t let you know

And that is my truth

So here I sit

Where my present meets my past

And I try to find light in the shadow its cast

Tiny Beautiful Things

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Today I spent a good portion of my afternoon flipping through the pages of a book called Tiny Beautiful things by Cheryl Strayed. This book is a compilation of short letters to and from an advice column Cheryl managed called Dear Sugar. I stopped at a few that caught my attention especially one about advice you would give your twenty-something self. There were many things that resonated and that is why I am sharing it with you all; the majority of you being fellow twenty-somethings yourself.

 

Dear Sugar,

I read your column religiously. I’m 22. From what I can tell by your writing, you’re in your early 40s. My question is short and sweet: what would you tell your 20-something self if you could talk to her now?

Love,
Seeking Wisdom

—–

Dear Seeking Wisdom,

Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea.

In the middle of the night in the middle of your twenties when your best woman friend crawls naked into your bed, straddles you, and says, You should run away from me before I devour you, believe her.

You are not a terrible person for wanting to break up with someone you love. You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.

When that really sweet but fucked up gay couple invites you over to their cool apartment to do ecstasy with them, say no.

There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.

One evening you will be rolling around on the wooden floor of your apartment with a man who will tell you he doesn’t have a condom. You will smile in this spunky way that you think is hot and tell him to fuck you anyway. This will be a mistake for which you alone will pay.

Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.

You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

One hot afternoon during the era in which you’ve gotten yourself ridiculously tangled up with heroin you will be riding the bus and thinking what a worthless piece of crap you are when a little girl will get on the bus holding the strings of two purple balloons. She’ll offer you one of the balloons, but you won’t take it because you believe you no longer have a right to such tiny beautiful things. You’re wrong. You do.

Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you.

When you meet a man in the doorway of a Mexican restaurant who later kisses you while explaining that this kiss doesn’t “mean anything” because, much as he likes you, he is not interested in having a relationship with you or anyone right now, just laugh and kiss him back. Your daughter will have his sense of humor. Your son will have his eyes.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.

Say thank you.

Yours,

Sugar

 

 

Coming home

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I love Florida. Those who have known me for awhile may be surprised to see me write those words. I use to vilify this state any chance I could get. It wasn’t that hard. There are a lot of unattractive qualities about Florida. It will go from 100 degrees to torrential downpour most days. Maintaining a hairstyle is rather difficult when you live in a sauna. Beyond the sunshine state I learned that are we often referred to as “the kill-zone” adding new meaning to our “where America goes to die” motto. Simmer down Casey and George, you’re embarrassing me in front of my new friends. There are however a lot of redeeming qualities about Florida and I had to get away for a while to see that. As I write I am on a vacation from Denver visiting my ass backwards state for a few weeks. As cheesy as this is about to sound, this place feels like a hug; a humid sweaty hug but a hug none the less. It’s filled with love, warmth and familiarity. Two years ago it felt more like being smothered. So two years ago I left, thinking that I could leave all my problems and bad habits behind too.

I had the very youthful notion when I left Orlando for Denver that simply moving geographical locations was what would make me happy. That Florida was the reason why I was unhappy. When I arrived to Denver and made fast friends, I thought I was right. I was swept up in the shine of a new city, new experiences and new types of people. I was blissfully happy if only for a short period of time and I look back fondly on that period. Especially since the next year and half would be defined by a series of amazing and foolish choices. Choices that revealed hard truths I could no longer ignore about myself. The last year and half has been a necessary but rather painful period of growth. A sweet period of mourning for the old me followed by a clumsy welcome to the person I’m meant to become.

1454774_10201298316595464_751009696_nI remember when things with my best friend in Denver started to go south. It was about 6 months after I had arrived and it wasn’t a specific event but more a creeping uneasy feeling. She was really the only person I was close to in Denver and the thought of being alone in a new city scared the shit out of me. This fear has ultimately overtaken many periods throughout my life. I am well-versed in the ways of keeping people in my life who don’t belong there. See: my wrist tattoo. I truly loved her though and we were pretty much inseparable. I’ve had some of the crazier and more fun experiences in my life by her side. As seasons change so do personalities though. I grew and learned a lot from my job and I found myself seeking out different kinds of people in my life. I started to feel like I didn’t know how to be the friend she wanted me to be anymore either. It put a strain on our friendship but dammit if we weren’t going to try to make each other fit. Until it got ugly. That crazy ex-girlfriend type of ugly. Shit talking isn’t really the point of this post so I’ll leave out the unnecessary details.

So in October of 2013 I found myself without the best friend I had for nearly 5 years. Despite how bitter the friendship had become this was an awful feeling. I needed to be alone and sort through my personal life in a way that made sense for me. Pick myself up and learn how to start bringing the right people in my life. I had a clean slate and a new city to do just that. So of course my next step was to do what felt natural to me. Jump head first into a romantic relationship to distract myself from the loss of my best friend.

For the not so first time I found myself in a whirlwind of unbridled emotions with a guy who was glaringly wrong for me. I don’t normally fall in love easily but timing proved her usual bitchiness. He was exactly what I didn’t need at a time where vulnerability had weakened my knees just enough to cave. He was so in love with me. Sacrificing realistic expectations he put me on a pedestal early on. God it was fucking perfect. How seamlessly my lost eyes aligned with the stars in his. I loved how he looked at me and everything he saw in me. I loved his friends and how easily they accepted me. I loved him. I started building a future on our commonalities and idealistic goals. We were going to volunteer overseas together. We were going to move into a house together. He told me multiple times he was going to marry me. I had every intention of meeting those goals and took logical steps to make them happen because that’s who I am. He made promises he didn’t fully understand and lived up to his talk rarely because that’s who he was then. We worked from two entirely different value systems and approached conflict in different ways. This obvious truth lead to our inevitably demise but we had to drag all of it out for eight months first. Again, well-versed in the art of trying to make broken things work. I would blame everything from various girls in his life to not spending enough time together. I could blame externally all I wanted but really, I was just toxically unhappy. Whatever identity I had before getting into the relationship had now become fully submersed in his life. I barely recognized myself anymore. I had bent and twisted to fit his world and he was too lost in life to understand. I tried to live up to that pedestal he placed me on. Of course I am far from perfect and that bubble burst, loudly.

I made an unfortunate and idiotic decision that at the time I believed threatened many years of hard work. I wanted someone to lean on and I needed a friend. My best friend was gone and despite a few work friends, I spent most of my time with him. Naturally I leaned on him but he backed away from me. I started to feel that familiar nagging feeling that screamed you need to leave. However, I had found myself in a situation where I would rather be miserable than alone. Even worse, I was completely enamored in our potential to be great. So I leaned on him more and became frustrated when he wasn’t there for me like I thought he should be. I still convinced myself that if I worked hard enough at it, we would come back stronger from it all. That potential would never come to fruition. After eight short but intense months, he ended it.

In a Facebook message.

Outwardly I kept my cool. I was at a Sunday brunch and the black twisted madness I felt after looking down to see that message didn’t really go with my pink dress. Facebook? That’s what I get? You took up almost a year of my life. I worked my ass off to try and make us work. I planned life events and decisions around you. A few cowardly keystrokes are all I fucking get? The rhetoric swirled through my head as I sat quietly downing my champagne with a splash of OJ. I mean, I wasn’t all that surprised it was ending. I just thought it would end a little more dignified. I messaged him for my apartment keys back but what I really wanted was my time back. The energy I expended into him that could have gone somewhere else. It didn’t take long to realize who had truly wasted all that time though.

Any breakup cliché you could think of I took part in. This includes eating enough ice cream to have made myself temporarily lactose intolerant. I tried sending my two cents to him to make myself feel better. It didn’t work. He sent me his own hate filled letter with my name artistically embossed with cursive font on the front. I still don’t get that. The contents were ugly and undermined any of who I was as a person. I fell into a spiraling pity party for all of an hour convinced that those words actually defined me. Then, I smacked myself. Literally. Right in the face. I may have lost parts of myself in our relationship but I knew I wasn’t this. That paper was lined with a 2D black and white picture of a 3 dimensional and colorful person. I read it one last time, laughed and watched the words burn. I began to feel lucky that it was only 9 months going up in smoke with it. He paid me a beautifully warped favor. I’m willing to accept that right now I’m painting a 2D picture of a complex and ultimately good person. It wasn’t all bad which is what made leaving so hard. I’m a firm believer in that some people bring out the worst in each other. With my identity so fractured at the beginning of our relationship I let myself become defined by the bad qualities he brought out in me. I decided to let that person go and start a clean slate again. The journey I should have embarked on when my best friend and I parted ways.

A month later he would message me apologizing for the way it all went down. I didn’t feel that I told you so feeling I thought I would though. I didn’t need him to validate my worth anymore. I felt hauntingly alone with no one to immediately call to my side to make me feel less than that. But I felt ok with it. Like all those affirmations I see about loving yourself before anyone else can love you made sense now. Beyond simply understanding what the words meant but really feeling it internally. That realization was perhaps the most empowering thing that had coursed through me in a long time. Some people hold you down with a weight like an anchor and surround you with negative perceptions of yourself. You will literally drown in those perceptions and fail to see you can swim above them. I am no longer defined by the titles of the not good enough best friend or scapegoat for another’s flaws. I’m up at the surface with a long way to swim but on my terms. It’s crazy to me that it took so long to see I like it better this way.

So, I sit here in Florida feeling ultra-reflective and so amazingly lucky. I have two places I can honestly call home for starkly different reasons. Florida: the comforting mom who teaches the art of compassion. Colorado: the tough father who teaches the art of struggle. Maybe those choices both amazing and foolish fell no sooner or later than they were meant to. I guess I’ll only continue to find out.

Punch-drunk fools

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By: Chelsea Montes de Oca

To be so consumed with hate

Must be a miserable fate

In a glass house armed with infinite stones

Constantly surrounded yet forever alone

Loneliness takes on an ugly form

Yours crept its way into my norm

Till I was more fear than fight

Till I was more dark than light

So rally rally round her side

Run dizzy circles round her pride

Loyally fight for her honor

Blindly stripped of your armor

Punch-drunk fools, you’re all goners

Always acting a saint in these vicious systems

So gifted in your art of playing victim

I lived in a state of apathetic captivity

Fueled by injections of toxic negativity

I watched you rot into infection

Disguise your disease as warped affection

Static eyes and a mind full of delusions

So skillful at blending reality with illusions

So rally rally round her side

Run dizzy circles round her pride

Loyally fight for her honor

Blindly stripped of your armor

Punch-drunk fools, you’re all goners

I often wonder what it says of me

To keep such unstable company

I’ve walked too far evading these cracks

Ignoring the heavy hatchet in my back

Ironically in a twisted act of pity

You pulled what I needed to bury

A deed who’s intentions may never be showed

Until you reach the end of this rock bottom road

I hope you aren’t too bloody and broken

To remember the words so kindly spoken

Not just by me but by all those who warned

Of this world of pain you’re walking towards

So rally rally round her side

Run dizzy circles round her pride

Loyally fight for her honor

Blindly stripped of your armor

Punch-drunk fools, she’s a goner

Perception is reality

Standard

By: Chelsea Montes de Oca

I remain always in my head

Growing up it’s where I fled

Reveling in the possibilities ahead

Breeding thoughts to drown realities dread

Close your eyes

And misplaced rage is erased

Close your eyes

Your world is a blank slate

When my home couldn’t be a safe place

My head provided that escape

Resulting in a mind so fast paced

But the captain of its own rat race

Close your eyes

With them you can’t win

Close your eyes

Fuel yourself from within

I often feel my heart might burst

If my head doesn’t first

You see my comforting mind is cursed

I’ve trained it to see beauty in the worst

When I find a reality to quench its thirst

I swear I’ll submerse myself head first

Without consideration or thought

Because it’s what never could be bought

That prevented internal rot

Imagined opportunities self-taught

Turned self-made realities for which I’ve fought

Tooth and nail, weary and sore

And I remain hungry for more

With passion fueling my core

And a myriad of doors left to explore

Close your eyes

But start making plans

Open your eyes

Your worlds in your hands

Maybe the hardest dreams

Are the ones life’s gifted to me.

Paths from which either way gleam

And where infinite possibilities team

So loudly I could burst at the seams

At least that’s how I see

And this perception is my reality