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i never thought i could love or be loved, never thought i could allow anyone to see anything beyond what i specifically offered them. it has forced such direct openness and a selflessness i once was so deeply uncomfortable with. i’m becoming less afraid of someone seeing me so incredibly fragile and weak, unsure about so much, broken down by little things i've been too embarrassed to talk about, thinking they were too small and inconvenient for others to hear. i thought about running, like i usually do, hiding and pretending i didn’t feel anything, that i wasn’t hurting from past mistakes and heartbreaks, like i wasn’t in need of someone to look at me like he does. it’s always been easier. i’d let myself spiral alone, shut people out, pretend as if none of this sadness was destroying me. i didn’t go inwards. i’m feeding into a different vision, i try to believe it every day. i was so sure the future would be me and me alone. i’m trying to believe i won’t be abandoned as brutally as i’ve been before. finally, someone has said to me, without hesitation that they will hear me, and will hold my hand and will keep holding no matter how hard i bite down on it from fright. numbness made me so cruel, i’m learning to lessen the aggression i’ve lived with for so long.

i was so distressed by the idea of being seen as human, of being seen as someone that can be had, be held and be touched. it still scares me, but i’m learning to not be so scared. i don’t feel so agonisingly alone anymore. it’s terrifying, feeling so much comfort, i haven’t felt it in so long, maybe never before. his smile, his laugh, his voice, his hair, his eyes, his body. they’re comfort. it’s hard, there’s anxieties that come with it, anxieties i never thought i’d feel for another living person. i think about how he feels everyday, what he’s doing, whether i’ve hurt him, whether he’s happy, whether he still wants me, every single second of every day there’s an alarm going off in my mind about him, making sure to check in with myself about whether i’m doing right by him, whether i’m doing good enough, whether i’m trying hard enough. ultimately, it’s like a hand, touching a heart that didn’t know it could still feel anything real. it thinks it’s going to die, pressure from thoughts so crippling and thoughts so warm, it doesn’t know how to respond. for the first time, even with all the fear and worry, i can’t really begin to explain how beautiful it all is. i’m becoming more accepting of the complete destruction that would come out of losing him.
Isabel Aghahowa Jul 2020
i’m not the evil front you’ve come to know
there’s aches in my centre i can’t show
this heart beats, so silently
and it cries, it never sees the light

if i could
i would set the underworld on fire
set the powers aside, drag the cold
from my mouth
let the souls rest
let my good bless the foul
let my hands feel warm

i don’t want to be left shaking
when i let my fresh skin hit the soil
should i stand from this dark, desert throne
from where i watch world wilt
wither and fall
down to me
Isabel Aghahowa May 2020
i woke up to you having shaved your head
blood running from the top of your scalp
bubbling scabs of trauma fully on show

you don’t need to have your guard up all the time
unlike your home, its likeness to army, a battlefield
there’s no bloodshed needed here
not spurted from innocence at least

i need putrid, burning affection
adoration for the calmness of now
of us and of fire not from
a barrel
but from violent acceptance of attraction
of something more than smoked and smothered ground

the bathroom ground, covered in curled up dead hair
smothered by blood

i wish your father hadn’t called
glad to be writing again, honestly it's a relief, in times like this i feel the sensation to write came naturally, so here we are, with a poem about trauma
Isabel Aghahowa Oct 2019
the rag from the third leg is out and the table is wonky
i forgot you took it out to wipe my blood off the marble
the white in-between the tiles is still very faintly brown
and you no longer walk on it without socks  
i’m sorry i tried to leave without warning

sprouting sensations depleting, i’m in the numbness
all-natural defeat in my glassy eyes
through the fog you might see a green of grey
my mutated self is in abstraction and in the form of
splotches of sliced
and scratchy skin stuck to the folds and furrows of our shredded bed
shredded from cries and shivers that soak it, my restless fingers tear it
remains torn like the tendons in what resembles a beating heart  
leaving you with no good sleep

bodies hurt and scar when they touch me
yours is now strangely having to be reacquainted

my breaths, laid out and cut on the chopping board
into slices they unravel and tangle
as they fall into the floorboards
slowly becoming lost and forgotten
i’m caving in
i’ve left you with creases
and without a shelter free from the smell of monstrous
misery that we choke on every morning

where is joy
it seems it’s taken my strength
my joints are weak and shaky
i can’t even stand, its very unnerving
how am i meant to carry all the noises
that weight twice as much
in moments like this
of irregular gravity
i’m sorry i tried to leave without warning
Isabel Aghahowa Oct 2019
i need some water
to quench my thirsty pain
it has refused to stop swelling
within the gaps around my ribs
forming hard bubbles
as it swallows me in
cocoons me safely into
stiff crooked mazes
dark heartless halls
all of which my mind makes for fun
barriers extended, walls constructed
to let out
only segments  
of hell

this weak and cracked silver dryland
can’t begin no shiny harvest
the crops will die
the hope will follow
the soil is weak the words are hollow
my sweet, my love, how are you doing?
i’m fine, i’m fine, i’m doing fine
i sew my tongue into the roof of my mouth
and bend my lips into the back of my tight throat
beat stubborn tears into watery eyes
and blame the wind the fan spits out

mother, father - we are in a shattered season
of separate flatlands and heavy skies
will we ever be unobscured by forced laughs and family gatherings?
by hills or mountains or sunday church?

may this air force bold breath out of me and you?  
no ordinary small talk will prevent my rage any longer not my small quiet voice from getting larger
we need to speak of the sickness in our heads
or we surely will die
on separate flatlands
on words unsaid
Isabel Aghahowa Aug 2019
I'm sorry I ran upstairs and left you behind, I was feeling rather overwhelmed and attacked for in my head is a war you are unaware is being waged and barely won. I needed to scream alone and in complete isolation. Scream internally, for screaming out loud is far too piercing, too uncomfortable, intolerable. I am sorry you took offence, maybe it is so I didn't want your company, I am sorry it is this way for us. It’s sad you decide to ultimately dislike, distrust and put no time into understanding the western attitude, an attitude I have come to grow and slowly devour and make my own performance. Take in their love of the bleak, the absurd and the incontrollable. Their wish to understand the mental health of the masses, no they aren't made up and in fact threaten your spawn with vivid flashes at night and in the middle of the day with all the force it has, most obvious in crowds.

How does one go about explaining the looming darkness that hovers above, the dark alleys of depression and anxiety, adhd or aspd, to someone who puts all of their unwavering and immovable faith in God and looks to nothing else to help quench their existential crises or their paranoia surrounding the future. To someone who knows nobody that has gone through the battle, the ongoing battle we fear to speak of too loudly. Someone who has never been educated or confronted by the discussion because the country in which they were born and raised in is stricken with poverty and corruption, leaving no room for emotional or real spiritual journeys. It is exhausting being around such isolated people that stay within their rigid and unhelpful forms, that refuse to change or transform. It is sad to see.

It’s strange, it is rather comforting and pleasant to know that I got out, that I was set free from what could have been a horrible, stifled life. However, it still is my reality that I now flow in-between two opposing worlds with different smells, different voices and widely different places of comfort, as every time I step foot in the country I must still call home, I see a glimpse of who I could have become. It frightens me, makes me feel deeply unsettled. It’s beautiful and tragic. Freedom is in reach, it is there and I can feel it in my toes, holding on in itself is a practice in self growth. Not yielding to the heavy mischief of dry, summer air is in itself already something I hold fondly.
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