Stepping Stones, part 1

i am fourteen years old. the year is two thousand and four. my mom is away visiting my grandpa. he has cancer. he will not live much longer. i am feeling so alone. i miss my mom. i have already decided not to return to public school this year. it is August. i am sitting alone on the porch. there are no walls; it has not become my bedroom yet. i see a small piece of broken plastic in the dirt. it is sharp. i am sharp; if anyone gets close to me my anger and sadness will cut them. i pick the plastic up. i press it into my flesh, near my knee. i drag it against my skin again and again. i am bleeding. i lie when asked what happened. scraped myself on something. it was an accident.


i am seventeen years old. the year is two thousand and seven. my parents drove me to Burbank. we carried my things up to my third floor dormitory. at some point my dad cries. he does not want me to leave home. he has held on too tightly and i’ve been afraid to leave because i don’t want to break his heart. but at the same time i am angry at him because i want to be allowed to spread my wings and fly. i want to stop being his emotional crutch.


i am eighteen years old. the year is two thousand and eight. i meet a boy. he is really sweet. i tell myself i do not want a boyfriend. i want to be just friends with this boy. in a week’s time he will be my boyfriend.

Letter (Everyday Inspiration, Day 8)

Dear Depression,

For a second I wanted to start this letter with “I effing hate you!” But that wouldn’t be the truth. The truth is that I would not be who I am today without you and I am very happy in my skin. Wishing you away would be like disowning myself. I think I’ve said that I wish I didn’t struggle with you, but my opinion on you today is this: you have shaped me into a beautiful, creative, strong, young mother. And for that I thank you. Getting to this point has been a mixture of agony and bliss, with everything in between too. I first met you when I was fourteen, that’s when I first admitted you had a name, we may have been acquainted before then, but I don’t remember. That jerk brother of yours, Anxiety, he started stalking me when I was only 7 years old, who does that? But anyways, this is about you, not him. Depression, I did some crazy things in your name. Shortly after we got on this first name basis, I carved a mark into the flesh of my right knee with a broken piece of plastic I found in the dirt while sitting on the edge of my back porch. I said it was your fault. All your fault. I spent nearly 10 whole years carving up my skin and pointing a finger at you, claiming innocence. It’s not my fault, that’s what I used to tell myself. And suddenly, I’m at a loss for words. I thought I had a million things to say to you, but none of them will materialize at the moment. I guess just like any first letter to someone when you want to put distance between you and them, it’s normal to stumble for words. In ways I still blame you, but I’m trying not to. If I blame you, then I have to blame whoever introduced us and that just goes on down back towards the beginning of time. If you’re to blame, then the list would only grow and I’m sure I could find a way to blame everyone. So the simplest answer is that no one is to blame. Blame should not exist, let’s do away with it. This isn’t goodbye, this is to be continued. I’ll write again.


inches by quarter inches

last night i found a row of scars
that i didn’t remember having.

last night it just struck me as strange,
tonight it screams beautiful
and points to something like grace.

because how could i forget even just one,
never mind a dozen thin little
lines that i once carved
into my fleshy paper white thighs?

when we allow our wounds to heal,
they do and that’s beautiful.

God showed me how to forget,
but he also taught me to remember.

and i remember the time i traced
every self-inflicted scar
with a red pen,
the expensive kind art-school kids use.

and R was glad to know where
every unbearable moment landed
on this body, the first naked girl
he’d ever seen in person,
but it broke his heart.

we love thru books and songs

I saw a copy
of Catch 22 in a thrift store.
I picked it up to see
if anyone wrote a story in it.
I thought about writing something
for you
and maybe you’d pick the book up
because you thought of me
and the night we first met.
Everything changed that night.

I heard the Last Night
in my headphones
and it hit me,
harder than ever.
You were my reason why.
A promise that I’d be better
You believed when I didn’t.
But that day
on a dirt road
when I told you
I’d always struggle,
your heart seemed to break, again.

I’m better than I was,
but I’ll never be all better.
At least not in this lifetime.
God’s working on me
and I’m working on me.
You kept me alive
long enough for me to learn to breathe.
That line feels familiar,
like deja vu.
I stayed for you.

A while back
you said J requested a song,
something Ocean.
I wondered if it was Ocean Wide,
I couldn’t tell you though
because I was worried
that it would hurt your heart
or worse,
you’d feel nothing at all.
“We’ll swim in the tears we’ve cried.”


i was lost there once
begging to not exist
stayed there for months
looking for an exit

honestly, it was more than once
that i lived there
more than months
more like ten years

i hate that my adolescence
was wasted wanting to die
back then i had no sense
that’s when i started to lie

now when the dark
tries to swallow me
i look at every mark
and my heart won’t allow me

*In response to Darkness.


better now than since the first day
when they counted ten toes, ten fingers
yup, she’s perfect in every way
they set me up to fail from the start
but it’s okay now that i know
how to live without dying inside

coffee with too much sugar
used books by the stack
bus rides and matinee movies
yeah, i still self medicate
but these leave no scars
and risk no loss of life

*In response to Healthy.


maybe its too personal today
but isnt everything i write

mothers day last year
j noticed it and asked
what happened mama
glancing over at his dad
i replied
mama got hurt a long time ago
oh im sorry j said
and he kissed it
to make it feel better

a few days ago he noticed again
mom youre swollen
no baby thats a scar
oh ok and he left to go play

someday ill have to tell him
something more
something real
about why mamas body is covered
in thin little lines

but how can i tell him
without breaking his heart
the same way
his fathers heart broke
with each little line
the same way
our Father wept
as every drop
blood and tears

*In response to Scars.


It’s 4 a.m. (Really it was 3:30 p.m.)
But don’t throw me the life buoy,
I’m not drowning yet.
This is perfectly safe,
I’ve done it a thousand times.
The mark will be small,
and don’t worry, I won’t go too deep.
Almost two years in recovery,
and I still think about it.
Still write about it.
Always recovering,
never recovered.
I’ll carry the scars and the thoughts,
my entire life.
Don’t be scared though,
I won’t leave you.
The reason you are here:
same reason I stayed.