There was a girl with jet black hair who introduced me to pain and called it ‘a good time’ Her smile looked like the light at the end of the tunnel, right before the train hits you. I found myself touching things she used to touch, looking for echoes in her fingertips. It only led me to shattered glass and abandoned halls. I’d shout her name watching her absence sink into the corners of the wall. Growing up the doors started slamming themselves to save my sister the trouble. I started sweeping my heartache under the living room rug because she complained about the mess. When I moved out, I should’ve let that pain in my closet on the second shelf. Instead I tucked it inside my chest, and tried to breathe around hurt. My innocence was lost and there was no map that told me where to get it back. I tried to elude anyone who could see past the painted on smile. I wore a mask for so long that it became another layer of skin. I disguised every tear as allergies and every cut a cat scratch. My sense was persuaded by whoever’s aroma smelled most like security. My discomfort was overlooked but still lingered in my subconscious. I keep tracing my shadow but by now my silhouette is a statue. And I wish I hadn’t flinched every time someone raised a hand, or wince every time I was touched. I wish the night terrors didn’t push me to sleeping in the closet. But it was all apart of the healing process. I have an empty space where my wishbone should be. There’s an emptiness in my chest but I learned to fill the spaces with more love and kindness. My story remains etched in my heart with a copyright mark because nobody can take it away from me. I’ve spent my whole life living in a cage, but now I’m finally free. My journey’s ongoing, and the deep undercurrents of pain and grief are pulling me through the in between. Now it’s been two years and the trauma I’ve held tight to has loosened like a tight balloon, it’s draped across my ribcage. I press on the emotional bruises and the pain is dull and withering. I came out kicking and screaming but I made it out alive. Try to think of the healing that comes out of pain.