Grace Alford Oct 12

Today is the day
National mental health day
One of the many days I regret

I should speak out
I want to
But my mental illness has me chained
So instead I pull
Pull my way closer
But the chains keep me back

Closer to the truth
Closer to the hesitation

For me, pulling is my release
I read online that the rough ones-
With black bulbs were bad ones
The “wicked witch” ones
So I started

Pulling out my fears,
From my head- one by one

Until I laid there helpless
In a cloud of my mistakes
Somehow seeing all my worries in front of me didn’t make them go away

Instead, I became more aware
More aware of my failures
For the unknown future that lies in store
One by one

October 23, 2016
I kept the receipts
A friend- not a close one, more of those friends of friends
She chose me to tell her story to
She was raped
By a guy we all knew and trusted
A “good guy”
I lent her an ear, or rather a willing text
I thanked her for her bravery
For allowing me to be a small fraction of her story of overcoming
I might be one of twenty she told, or maybe just two

I don’t know. I may never know.
But what she may not know is that night
She became my one
Someone I knew almost nothing about
I told her my story and asked how she told her first

I hoped of getting some of her strength through some sort of Twitter DM telepathy
Alas you can’t gift strength like that
Oh God, I wish you could
I go back and read those messages all the time trying

I read my TimeHop every day
Sometimes for the memories
But more often than not they bring back the nightmares
I do it for the relief
The streak number tick ticking higher
Counting the days that have gone by
Or the hairs I’ve pulled

Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day
Is there a day like this for those who came out to their loved ones about their mental illness?
I will also not be participating.
My mental illness is keeping me from doing so
I am buried deep in my closet, hiding under clothes and forgotten tags
My fingers raking through the carpet
Finding that momentary release
The glorious relief lasting a moment
I run my fingers through the rough fibers searching for more

My family doesn’t know
Or if they do, they don’t want to break our perfect mold
I pull discretely
Around my head, just a receding hairline, no bald patches

I never get my haircut
At least, by a professional
The last time I went, my stylist said it was new growth
Not my past coming to haunt me.
She pulls at them showing me, calling them baby hairs
How do I tell her that each one represents shame, frustration, guilt
Each one represents one party, one good time with friends I’ve missed
Hiding behind those fears, covered in guilt
Back in my closeted mind

Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if I cut myself open
Would blood run out or the words I meant to say?
When it’s a bad day, I pull at large sections of my hair
Wondering what it would be like to rip it all out in two sections
It makes me cry in pain, but the voices tell me about the sweet relief it may bring
I almost give in

What hurts me the most is noticing the people around me who have it
Does the girl sitting in front of me know
One day she may have to get surgery
To remove the hairball in her stomach from eating at her hair?
I see her run it through her lips, feeling the same texture.

Does the boy, scratching away at his knuckles
Understand what’s underneath his skin?
I wonder what his blood would say
Would it tell my story?
Would it tell ours?

*trigger warning*
Grace Alford May 2014

You tell me about the bruise you got today
How even though you carefully avoided him
His pleading words started nipping at your toes
Like a new puppy
At first it sounds like a good idea but once you take that little bundle of joy  home it will turn into the Tasmanian devil and destroys everything in its path
But you wouldn't know
On the outside you love dogs
But deep down inside you're afraid
You've told me
The tears swimming in your eyes
Threatening at any second to defy you

You are not perfect
We are all made of deformities
Of awkward angles
Puzzle pieces
So that one day we can find our match

Love is a battlefield
Full of scars and bruises
The blue turning into a deep purple before it can get better
It's so hard to not step on the land mines of emotion
The booby traps of hatred
But you have a shield
A bullet proof vest that will block you from those fears
But it can only withstand so much

Grace Alford Apr 2014

When you tried to give me a compliment I always turn the cheek
Batting it away like it doesn't belong to me

That my hair is too frizzy for you to like it
My eyes too blue for your brown

My legs are elegant but they are marked with my disappointment
The purple and the blue will never go away
Yes, the bruises will slowly heal but by the time one problem is resolved another sapling and will slowly take root and show it's colors

You say my heart is made to heal
But I can't find it
It's buried so deep I can't hear it keeping time to my life song
It's crushed under all my self downs and worries
In that hollow it grows
Like a new bud
And one day it will turn into a flower

My response to your comment is lost on my tongue
It is somewhere tucked inside my conscience
Playing hide and seek with the directions on how to talk to boys and how to give an oral report without turning red
And I'm the seeker

You tell me I'm beautiful
But I can't hear you
The voices taunting me inside my head are too loud for your soft voice
Arguing about which way right
When I find my answer it seems as if the time has already left

You are already heading off in the other direction
Leaving me stumbling over my daydreams and expectations
Trying to get a grasp on what's ethical

I always forget to say thank you
It's sort of a bad habit
I'm always too worried about what will happen if I say something wrong
If I'll turn you away

I want you to know that I want you to stay
Stay close and hug me when I need it
So I can help you through your hardships
And carry each other's hopes and dreams upon our shoulders

You will be the soldier of my heart
Guarding the gates for all of the knights in shining armor that aren't noble enough to be my Prince Charming

Sorry I know it's not complete. It's a work in progress and I would like some feedback. Thanks!
Grace Alford Apr 2014

You my friend love to run more than anyone I know
You run so fast your body has to catch up and when it can't it slows you down pulling a hamstring
Then the other
And then your left one again

You had bruises for months trailing up and down your legs-your battle wounds

Weeks upon weeks of stretching
Icing massaging caring bracing eating
Trying so hard to sooth the pain
So bad it hurt to sit
Slowly but surely your legs came back
A tedious process of long nights and good mornings

One day you were new again
In the sweltering heat you taught  your legs what it felt like to run
And they loved it
The months flew by chasing you down
You were unstoppable getting first and second a states in the winter

Things were looking up and you started to get anxious about college who would choose you?
But in the end, you chose them
You are an official member of OSU
Proud to be a buckeye

Outdoor season started and you are oh so careful
Spending an hour every day before practice to warm up slowly to not repeat last year's trial
Hours spent after practice to ice and stretch hoping that this horrendous day would ever come again

Today I watched you
I was sprinting on the field while you were meticulously counting and calculating your speed and steps by doing drills
Our brothers strides by-racing each other in the 600
You strode along their side-beating them all when you started to limp

Your eyes turned glossy
Your face crumpled in despair
I to you asking if you were ok

You looked at me like a deer in headlights
To scared to tell me-hoping that the devil couldn't possibly come back to haunt you
Your eyes told me everything
Two pops and a pull

Very bad
But it's your right leg- your good leg

The emotions hit you like you were on a bumpy roller coaster
What did you do wrong?
What variables didn't add up?
Why you?

I wanted so badly to comfort you
To hug you
But it would put you in so much pain
Who knew that a hug could do so much harm?
I helped you to the trainer
Every step was another test and another reminder

Why can something you love so much it hurts you?
Why should someone so good feel the pain of a pulled muscle?

Grace Alford Apr 2014

I think my mother was more scared of giving me "the talk" than I was

I already knew everything from like third grade and yet in fifth grade she still took me up to my room and proceeded to try to tell me that sperm was like gold fish

No really she did. You can ask her. Actually don't because I'm pretty sure she would kill me

When I started to make friends who weren't from my elementary school she would ask: "Are you sure you want to associate with them? They live in apartments."  

When I embraced my curls I would meticulously pick out my styling products making sure that they were free of chemicals and hatred

I would pace down the African hair isle in the store while my mother was finding the best steal for the tomato paste next door
She would come up to me and whisper "you know you are buying products for Black people's hair, not yours"

My mother grew up in Worthington, Ohio where she learned that people with disabilities are called "retarded" as well as people who are not white, straight, Christians
Where people are fat instead of having fat

My mother doesn't know any better

When i made friends who weren't white, she would automatically assume that my Indian friends were smart, my Asian friends could not pronounce words, and my African friends obviously were stupid and didn't have a chance to get a sufficient education

When I visited the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints my mom made sure for my to promise not to listen to anything they say because why we're not "real Christians"

But Momma what if I want friends who live in appartments

What if I want African hair

What if I want friends with disabilities because they sure are a lot nicer than you

What if I want friends who are from different backgrounds

What I dont want a white husband

What if I want a black husband and adopt Asian children

What if I do want to become a Mormon

What if?

Grace Alford Apr 2014

If I didn't know any better I think you have fallen in love with me

You always seem to fall in the cracks and disappear in the shade
You are always following me around and tripping on my toes

You track my every movement and see my enemies and fears

You see all of my mistakes, adding them up and waiting until you can prance and take me with you to the firey pits of Hell or the golden white paradise of Heaven

I am never by myself-you're always around
Hiding in the most obvious places and watch every moment of my life pass by without a single comment

You're at home where most people are scared
You are always dark and dreary but in the night you turn light
At the candlelight you bring on a spooky vibe
Showing me your soft edges and your mysterious side

Some days when the sun is just right you get shy
Disappearing behind me
I look for you like a dog chasing his own tail
Always too far out of reach

My family doesn't true me
They always talk to you
The girl I always leave behind

To fill up the room
A soft blanket

Grace Alford Mar 2014

You were always soft spoken
Whenever we came over you would sit in your big white chair with a heating pad
Everyone fought for that seat when you weren't in it
It was worn with your worries and woes
The heat taking away all of your aches and pains-at least temporarily

When we went to the lake you would take us fishing
Telling us that it was Canada or Michigan across the glistening waves
Zebra mussels always slicing through our toes making us stronger
But we collected the sea glass because after time someone's trash turned into our green and blue treasures

That mustard brown couch
The smell of scrambled eggs in the mornings when we would leave
The fresh tomato juice staring us down-you could finish a glass in two gulps

I will never meet a man who likes to take baths in the ocean
Who can swim so far without a sip of air

Your hands are rough and callused telling your past
Every bruise and scrape tells of your days fixing odds and ends
Working on the railroad

Your son called you resourceful
But in my mind you are an inventor-an artist
You built your homes with your bare hands
the cracks running along the walls
make it look homemade. Authentic
It matches the cracks of skin along your knuckles that tell the stories of your past

You look at the world through a kaleidoscope
Always finding some sort of positive light in the darkest corners
Always finding something to fix so it's in tip top shape

When the days turned into weeks and years the seasons took the best in you
The twinkle in your eye slowly dulled
And someone took away the spirit of you- my grandfather

The day your heart had too much to bear was my birthday
I came home to a frantic mother
We had piano lessons and the car ride felt like forever

The picture of us sat by my bedside every night until mom took it for you to look at

Your rough hands became smooth
your hair became long
Your cheeks sunk in
You slowly became a different man
But in my heart you were still the same confident soul

That night when you let all of your fears out so you could fly I finally accepted it
I told myself and The Lord that I would be alright without you by my side
Instead you would look down upon me and guide me

It was raining on that December 21st
I woke up to my parents gone and the house quiet

I went on a run
Thankful for the rain because I could cry and comfort myself without people noticing
That was one of the best runs I've ever had
It wasn't just a run--it made me think about life

It's funny that after a death we think about out own lives differently

I had to get my priorities straightened out
What do I want to be remembered for?

A caring mother
A best friend

Just like you
A fantastic father

If I die with half of the accomplishments you made, I will die a happy woman

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