Truth Becomes Her

At what age did I decide
the man in the moon was
Shadows and craters or
Dandelions only make allergies
And not wishes?
Or that I would make it
across the bridge
Past the cemetery
Regardless if my breath held or not?
What age defying lotion
Or retinol youth serum can I use
To remove the dark spots and
wrinkles of reality
So I can point up to the sky
And whisper in my daughters ear
About green cheese and
Moon rabbits and
Silver dollars and
Be able to swear it’s all true?
      • A.M. (2018)

buoy

i’ll never tell you, my darling
i don’t think i should —
is it fair of me to put the pressure on you?
i don’t think so.
i don’t think you’d be happy to know
simply by your being here
(with your sticky hands
and your gummy smile
and your unruly curls)
you have saved my life every day
this year.

the habit i’ve hidden for 23 years
i am finally able to stop
because how can i mar the skin
that now covers you?

still hearing voices but
i start ignoring them now
because how can i believe lies
when i owe you the truth?

still chanting mantras
but silently
because how can i speak cruelty
when i owe you mercy?

so much pressure
for such a little love
but you don’t need to do anything
and when you find this when you’re older
know it doesn’t change anything —
you simply are the buoy
i never knew existed.
of all purpose i could have
it’s an honor to be the dark ocean
that keeps you afloat.

Things I never thought I’d need to explain to my children

Don't put your feet in your diaper.

Don't eat electrical wires.

You can't push through solid wood; you aren't a x-man.

Paper napkins aren't for eating.

Gummy worms aren't really made from worms.

You can't say the word pussy, even if the President said it.

Nazis are bad.

They hate us because we are Jewish.

A kike is a bad word for Jews; I don't know why that man yelled it at me.

It's just not safe for me to wear my Star necklace around here anymore.

Punishment for Living, Pt 1

I.

Walking outside.
“Hey,
Fuck you fat bitch.”

II.

7th grade
Wearing my brand new
Minnie Mouse sweatshirt,
I desperately pretend
Not to hear them say things
And then
“just so you know
D—– just hawked a loogie
All over your back.”
How do you tell the secretary
You need to go home
Not because of illness
But
Because of humiliation?

III.

Waking up
To hands around my neck
“I just watched an episode
Of Bones
And it said I could kill you
But it would be impossible
To prove it was murder like this.”

IV.

Walking outside
With my daughter
“Hey,
Who was desperate enough
To fuck you?
Fuck you, fat bitch”

Body Control

Being pregnant and schizophrenic is one of the strangest things that I have ever experienced in my life. On the best of days, I have a horrific relationship with my body. I find flaws everywhere – I’m fat, my hair is frizzy, my face is oily, my nose is too big, I have a unibrow and hairy toes, my hands are too masculine, my feet are huge – the list goes on and on. For the most part, during untreated phases of my illness, my body has taken the brunt of punishment in trying to maintain my sanity. I’ve starved it, overfed it, burnt it, picked at it, cut it – anything that I could in order to shock me out of psychosis. It’s not a healthy coping mechanism, and I don’t recommend starting if you’ve never self-injured.

Since my last psychotic break, I’ve had to relearn how to love my body again – even in an imperfect state. I started taking better care of myself and lost over 150 pounds during that time. I met the man that would eventually become my husband, and still have a difficult time trusting that he thinks I’m beautiful. I think most women (and men) go through this self-doubt when it comes to believing their attractiveness, but not with a soundtrack of voices telling you that it’s all lies and your partner is just waiting until they can upgrade. Or maybe normal people do. I’m not sure.

The closest I ever got to accepting my body and self-worth is letting my husband see me change clothes. He still wasn’t allowed to touch me in certain areas, nor was I ever 100% confident that he wasn’t biding his time to leave me. I was maintaining my weight loss, which made me happy, but I still punished myself in lieu of not getting treatment.

The thing is, though – no matter how unpredictable things got with my body, there was always the fact that I controlled it. No one could take that from me. I controlled my weight, I controlled my hair, my shape – all of it. It was mine in a world of too many years of my body and self not being mine.

And then I got pregnant.

One thing that I have found that most pregnant women have in common is this emotional response to losing control of your body. I’ve found reading through countless forums and sites that most expectant mothers tend to share the same concerns – stretch marks, loss of physical attractiveness, bad hair, partners losing interest – and that’s been comforting to me. I’m sorry that I take comfort in your discomfort. But it’s helpful.

For me, this has been just the worst.

Don’t get it twisted: I’ve secretly always wanted to be a mother, and I know that body changes are part of it. However, I’ve spent so many years detached from my body and how it interacts with things that the idea of becoming so in tune and connected with myself has been inconceivable. The time I’ve spent this pregnancy losing control over my body – vomiting, changing my eating habits, even bathroom timetables – has been terrifying for me.

And now, my body isn’t my own. I’m subject to doctors’ appointments and strangers touching me and my stepkids touching me and my husband touching me whenever they want. Talk about immersion therapy. And yet, I find myself crying each day about my body and how I’m not perfect, and how it’s not my own. I cry because I won’t have those beautiful maternity photos that so many other mothers have – regardless of dress size – because I have voices telling me I’m too ugly and why would I subject my baby to that? I cry because I can’t see my feet – something that’s never happened to me before. I cry for the clothes that I can’t wear that used to be loose and flowy, and I cry because I’m an unrelenting snot machine that I can’t take any medicine to cure.

I have always suspected that I am not in the driver’s seat when it comes to my body, and now the pregnancy confirms that. The good thing is that I’m finally starting to be okay with that, because hearing a baby’s heartbeat on the ultrasound drowns out even the loudest voice.