The first poem I’ve ever written [untitled]


That was what you called it.

When we would have conversations about how my anxiety takes up too much space

And how we never talk about you

So that I would feel shame and guilt

For feeling at all.

Or when you would get drunk

And say things that hurt me

But claim it was only the alcohol that made you mean.

Or when, as I crouched over on the bed crying, barely able to speak

Because of the staggering pain in my stomach

You insisted that I was fine


Preventing you from getting sleep.

Or when I would take out my colored pencils

And carefully fill in a garden of flowers and ferns

Desperately focusing on something, anything, to soothe my anxiety

And you became annoyed

Because I wasn’t paying attention to what was on the TV

Because you never really wanted me to get better.

Or the sex, which was infrequent, that you would hold over my head

As proof that I was a failure as a partner

Because I didn’t want it enough

Because my panic attacks “got in the way.”

When I tried to leave you

But you wouldn’t relinquish your grip

Telling me I was wrong, I was wrong, I was wrong

Until I believed it.

You kept me caged like a bird with clipped wings

Isolating me from my friends (if they were not yours, too)

Slowly wearing me down

Chipping away at my self-worth

Until being small felt normal.

Because you always knew

That I was stronger, smarter, and kinder

But also vulnerable.

I don’t call that love.

I call it trapped, I call it control, I call it gas lighting.

I call it crying myself to sleep

I call it anxiety that makes me sick to my stomach

I call it humiliation













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