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Ignite Mar 2019
There was no silver spoon
Just a shovel
The same one my grandmother
and great-grandmother had held
The same one my mother handed me when she told me to dig her a grave
Because she was too tired to finish it herself
Already got half way through excavating but the pain was too excruciating

The women in my family have spent their entire lives being dug out
Their chest are hollow caverns from the careless tourists who have hollowed them
Shovelful by shovelful
Bucketful by bucketful

My mother did not raise me
Just a skeleton that wore her skin
Empty within
The caves of her eyes cast shadows on her cheeks
The crevice of her lips a ravine that ran straight to hell
A ravine that had swallowed fools whole
Silver-lined tongue and coal-pocked jaw

I have I inherited her suspicion
Her hollow-coldness
Her mystery
Her safe and sound
In the dark
Where no one can hear the flutter-thump of the bats caught in your stomach

I have inherited her wisdom
Her wit and passion
Her fortitude and ingenuity
Hidden in the dim halls of my veins like jewels in darkness

I was told to protect these little gems of myself
These pieces that I could never get back
Told that once someone found them, they would keep taking and taking until I was truly empty
I was told to never give away all my secrets
Because then I’d become another part of their histories and not their ongoing mysteries
Another tourist attraction, walked through again and again until their feet wore a path so deep in my skin I’d never be able to right myself

I didn’t listen
I let her in
Let her cave-paint me with stories lost to time
Let her explore where no one had gone before
Miner’s daughter, lovely clementine did not leave much else behind
But she did not take more than I had wanted to give her
Did not leave me empty and cold, robbed of riches once untold

So when the next one came
I welcomed her with open arms
Cradled her against waterfall-crashing heartbeat
Made her a place of her own
Gave all I could give without ever feeling that I was selling pieces of who I was
I put down the shovel
And let myself be loved
Ignite Mar 2019
Some of my friends and family do not understand anxiety
“It can’t be that bad”
“You don’t have anything to be afraid of”
“Just calm down”

“It can be that bad” I tell them
Anxiety strings barbed wire across doorways and coats people in broken glass
You can’t go anywhere
Anxiety is like a room in an adventure movie where water is steadily pumping onto the floor until it’s up to your chest
Except there’s no magic lever or button for anxiety
It just keeps going until you’ve drowned
Anxiety is a boulder strapped to your back
It keeps pressing and pressing
Even when you’re tired and you just want to sleep, it keeps pressing
Even when you fall, it keeps pressing
Even when you stop struggling to move, to survive, it keeps pressing

“There’s plenty to be afraid of” I say
Anxiety is a monster with giant bulging eyes and thousands of teeth and claws
And the worst part is that no one else can see it following you down the hallways at school
Stalking you in the bathrooms at concerts
Hiding under your own bed
Anxiety is like an uninvited party guest
You never know when Anxiety is going to join the party
It just shows up
And you never have enough snacks or blankets for Anxiety
It always wants more
And it doesn’t leave until 4am when you’re shaking from exhaustion
Anxiety doesn’t even say Thank you
For taking up everything you had in you
It just leaves
And you know Anxiety will be back
What’s scary about Anxiety is that it keeps you from doing something you really wanna do
Like spending the night at your friends
You really wanna go but you just don’t
Because you don’t want to have to explain why your body has begun to unravel itself, time traveling back to when anxiety kept humans alive and why apparently your body thinks your friend’s sweet little French bulldog is the equivalent of a modern day saber tooth tiger  
Another scary thing about anxiety is the fact it’s something your brain makes up and your body BELIEVES it of all things
“I’m dying” your brain says
And so your body believes it
Because why would a piece of your body lie to itself?
Why would you lie to yourself?

“I can’t just calm down” I say to them
The whole thing with Anxiety is not just the fact that the guy next to you could be a suicide bomber or that the girl across the isle could have a knife in her pocket or  the fact you’ve got a test to pass or that your shoelaces aren’t symmetrical
It’s that anxiety gives you anxiety
What a beautiful self-destructive cycle
And if I could calm down don’t you think I would?
Do you think I would scratch myself raw trying to force the anxiety out of my skin?
Do you think I would spend my friend’s birthday party having a panic attack in the bathroom?
God why is it always bathrooms?
Do you think I would spend my every waking hour anxiously figuring out how I can avoid all the things that give me anxiety?
The thing about anxiety is that nothing can “get rid of it”
There is no cure
A million billion poems and hugs and dark closets and angry songs and therapists could not get rid of anxiety
Anxiety has embedded itself into me and I don’t have enough strength to dig the scalpel into my own skin and carve it out
I don’t think anyone has that kind of strength

“Anxiety is a part of me” I tell them
And the thing I ask now even gives me anxiety
Isn’t that ironic?
But I still ask it
I always ask it
“Will you still accept me?
Hi guys! I have no clue what I’m doing here, but hi!

— The End —