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is Sep 2023
In a bedroom in small-town Pennsylvania,
you’ll find an unmade bed,
a pile of clothes on the floor—
clean but not folded,
open drawers and dusty shelves,
a desk in the corner of the room
with pictures laid across it.

When I caught my first fish at six.
I held it at arm’s length by the fishing line
to avoid the slimy scales,
a frown on my face from being forced
to sit silently in the cold.

When my family went to Marco Island,
my sister and I, sifting sand for the best seashells
in our matching swimsuits and hats.
Mom and dad’s fights forgotten in our fun.

High school graduation
posing with my best friend since first grade,
diplomas in one hand and an extra cap held between us
because not everyone survived all four years.

Move-in day at college,
sitting on my raised bed with a grey comforter
and two decorative pillows the color of cotton candy.
Sweat on my brow from southern humidity
and moving furniture without the help of a father.

The pictures are merely snapshots
that lack the full story.

How I learned what it meant for love to fall apart
when I was eight years old.
My sister warned me before it happened,
told me what a divorce was.
I mistook her for joking until they called us upstairs.
Dad cried when they told us, but mom held her tears
until the day he left. The sounds of her cries
escaping from behind a closed door.
“This doesn’t mean we don’t love each other.”
But that’s exactly what it meant.

How I was taught by my father that love is conditional,
and I repeatedly needed to prove myself
through good grades and unquestioning obedience.
Forced to stay home to spend time with the family,
sitting wordlessly on the couch while he watched TV.
Made guilty for wanting to spend time with friends
because that somehow meant that I was a bad daughter.
It’s funny—I never asked myself if he was a good father.

If you look harder at the bedroom,
you’ll find journals filled with bitter words,
screws from disassembled pencil sharpeners, loose razors, and Aquaphor,
food wrappers stuffed in hidden places,
a closet brimming with junk and pairs of shoes,
evidence of a story untold. Until you.
When he comes home, I go into panic mode,
The walls in my brain closing in,
The bile in my throat rising,
My teeth sweating in anticipation of what is to come

When he comes home,
I hope to god that I pass beneath the radar,
Nothing more than a sigh on the breeze,
Nothing more than a ripple in a pond
Nothing for him to notice

When he comes home, I make myself as small as I can,
Hoping that he’ll ignore me like he has all these years,
But knowing that it’s a futile attempt,
Like trying to avoid the burning sun

When he comes home,
The nausea roils in my gut,
Reminding me that I am nothing,
That I will never be anything more than what he paints me to be

When he comes home,
I am reduced to “yes sir” and “no sir,”
To eyes that are glued to the ceiling or floors,
To fidgeting hands and twisting fingers
To nothing more than a decoration to stand in the corner

When he comes home,
I try to retreat to my room,
I try to give him the space that he seems to need,
I try to leave him be and let him sleep,
But nothing seems to work, and he yells all the same

When he comes home,
My home becomes nothing more than a battlefield,
One that I cannot escape,
One that there is no running from,
One from which the injuries are only seen in the trauma that is left behind

When he comes home,
My life becomes nothing more than a play,
A tragedy in which no one survives,
A performance that I am supposed to know,
But stage fright has taken over and the lines mean nothing to me now
And I am frozen, hoping for the curtains to fall to cover my fear

When he comes home,
I quietly
Stage left.
Trauma responses ****
In all of my twenty years of life,
I have been many things.

A daughter
A sister
A friend
A lover

But now, I am no longer my father’s little girl.

My father doesn’t talk to me anymore;
He says that I don’t look him in the eyes,
And he is right, but not for the reason he believes

I am afraid to look him in the eyes
Because I don’t want to see myself reflected in them,
Proof of my failure to separate myself from him,
Proof that I am him and always will be him

I do not want to become my father,
Stuck in a marriage with no love left
Or love that is there
Only because it is supposed to be

I do not want to become my father,
Constantly on the verge of tiredness,
And whether that tiredness is directed at
His family or his life, I shall never know

Because I do not want to become my father
All sharp words and angry edges,
Keeping everyone around him on their toes,
Keeping my head on a swivel to not upset him

I do not want to be my father.
I do not want to make my children feel
as though they will never measure up to
Impossible standards, set way too high

I do not want to be my father,
Telling my daughter that she’s eating too much
And not looking at me enough,
Guilt-tripping her into half-hearted apologies,
Said with tears trembling in her eyes

I do not want to be my father.
I do not want my children to be frightened of me,
Dreading the thought of my arrival home
Waiting in fear of my reaction to something they’ve done

I do not want to be my father.
My home will be a gentle home,
Peaceful and quiet,
With no rage-filled shouting matches

I do not want to be my father,
Wondering where he went wrong with his daughter,
That she would stand in front of him, angry tears on her cheeks,
Screaming at him that she wishes that she were dead

I do not want to be my father.
Struggling to catch up with the times,
Grudgingly supportive of the daughter that is different,
The daughter that loves men and women,
But only because he has to be

I do not want to be my father
But I wish that sometimes,
I could be his little girl again,
Back when everything was ok
And it still felt like he loved me

I do not want to be my father,
But sometimes,
It feels as though
I will never be anything more
We love daddy issues
Lux Nov 2022
You blame her for my struggles,
yet you were the one who made me suffer.
Always busy earning money,
never doing anything funny.

You made me question my own worth,
shortening my time on this earth.
I was 15 when I first took the blade,
creating something that will never fade.

It’s sad how blind you were,
thinking you were a good father to me.
Couldn’t see the tears and the pains,
being treated by losing blood from my veins.

Needing pills to stay alive,
couldn’t even know how much longer I can survive.
Yet you still think you aren’t the one to blame,
thanks to you my life will never be the same.

I will never forget what you have said,
nor the memories which I can’t get out of my head.
I never wanna see you again,
and you should respect that if you are a man.
riri Jan 2022
eating ramen while sitting across each other
spending quality time together, for the first time in years
just you and i, how it always used to be when i was young
and for the first time in years, i enjoyed our time together

oh dad how i miss you
when you were my best friend
i miss when we'd laugh at nothing
and all the inside jokes we had

i don't want to hold on to this hatred against you anymore
i can't hate the man that used to be my other half
no matter what you do to me, as much as i hate to admit it
you'll always mean so much to me
i wish there were more days like this
kenz Oct 2021
Fast asleep on my porch
in the middle of the day, dreaming my worries away.
Like how my doll broke and I’m still mourning the loss.
In my sandbox that doesn't have sand,
replaced with my most beloved stuffed animals,
I lay there not knowing what’s happening outside my world.
My mom shakes me awake with worry covering her face.
She screams at my father, how could he forget me here?
More fights.
Dad’s never home.
Never has time for me.
Doesn't talk to mom much.
Red flags, brighter than a firetruck, I didn't see at this young age.
Dad’s moved out.
I have a new sister.
But at least I get a new puppy,
and whatever food and toys I want.
Plus more presents.
Another sister.
This one has a different mom.
The fake mom is mean.
She thinks she's my mom but she's not.
I scream and cry until my dad comes back from the store,
wondering what happened while he was away.
He takes my side of course.
I’ve always been daddy's girl and always will be.
Things are changing a lot.
I don’t like it.
Dad got a house with her,
2 new dogs with her.
Of course my puppy gets neglected.
Favorites are picked and now I'm last.
This fake mom’s gone at work all day
while I look after my real sister and my fake one.
I grab my phone that I use only for emergencies,
and call my mom, my real mom.
“Dad’s sleeping…Fake mom’s at work…My sister’s are crying.”
I stubble over my words, not able to get them out due to panic.
“I'm coming. I promise.”
The fake mom hears it and grabs my phone.
“You can't call your mom while she’s at work. And where did you get this?”
‘Hurry mom.’ ‘My real mom.’
I run away, grab my bag,
make sure my real sister is good, and grab her hand.
It's only real if she has the same mom I thought.
My mom gets here thank god.
Fights with fake mom,
fights with mom,
fights with me.
I hate dad's house.
I was first, now I’m last.
I feel out of place.
July 6th, 2019.
Less than a month after my birthday,
he left.
Left to live with this woman states away.
A woman that probably doesn't care about him.  
I don't talk to my dad,
I guess it works out that way.  
I wanna help, really I do.
P!lls, dr!nk!ng, p@rty!ng.
No job, no phone, no contact.
I just sit and listen to my mom trash talk him.
I know he’s awful, but he’s still my dad.
I try to tune her out, keywords hit my eardrums.  
“Lazy.” “Selfish.” Worthless.”
‘But he's still my dad.’
I wonder what happened to daddy's little girl.
The one that would make him dress up,
or color while sitting on the balcony.
I wonder how it would have been if he stayed.
I have lots of questions to ask but I can’t.
Fear covers my body every time I  try to text or call.
No happy birthday this year because I was too scared to answer.
Christmas coming up and scared to ask for a simple thing:
To be daddy's little girl again.
hehe yea
riri Aug 2021
laying in his arms, huddled up right beside his chest
next thing you know we're kissing, while he's touching my breast
grabbing onto my waist, his hand running down my back
he's playing with my hair, while whispering down my neck

sirens going off in my brain, telling me to run
"run as fast as you can, you are not the only one"
his touch was an indicator for me to leave, but i didn't know how
temporary affection is what held me back, so i thought "it's only for now"

his hand was like a vacuum, every touch ****** bits of my soul away
i knew deep down his desire for my body was the reason he wanted to stay
the more he said he "fell" for me, the more i became sweaty
sweaty with genuine anxiety, for the fact that all i felt was empty

i gave every reason i could to leave but he twisted each excuse in his own way
"it's just a phase of emptiness & numbness you're going through, please stay"
every opportunity i grasped onto to escape
just led to me having my mouth covered with tape

not even self sabotage could free me from his control
so i decided to permanently walk away, but in my heart remained a hole
i constantly asked myself why i stayed when i couldn't feel a connection
but i realized he gave me what daddy didn't: just some affection
******* dad
alexis Jul 2021
I picture your arms around me
Caressing my hair behind my ear
Oh what I would for you to really be here

I’d cross the seven seas just to see you smile
Just to feel your warm embrace I’d walk a hundred miles
Just to see you for a while those are the things I’d do
Because nothing, truly nothing, compares to seeing you
alexis Jul 2021
I truly over-romanticize
I think about them day and night
And it isn’t wise

Because I know I’m not crossing their mind
So why can’t they leave mine?

The idea of them dances around in my head
From the moment I wake up
To the moment I go to bed

Oh to have my dreams come true
I don’t know what I’d do
If I were to finally be with you
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