When I was a kid
I was afraid of the dark.
I used to make myself walk down the hallways in the dead of night
With the lights off
Just to prove … I don’t remember what
Maybe it was pride.
Maybe I despised my own cowardice.
So I just looked at the light switch
Then stared down the demons in the dark.
I hadn’t gone to the dentist in eight years
A lost filling finally drove me to the waiting room
Where I sat, my stomach knotty with fear.
After that I kept up with my dentist visits
Through crowns and drills and fillings lost and gained
And stainless steel needles the size of Montana
Culminating in my most recent visit
A small filling restored with,
By my own request,
No numbing agent.
I found it was nothing I couldn’t handle.
Now when I go, I marvel
At my lack of fear.
I never allowed myself the luxury of feelings
Afraid that they would hurt others.
This has been the worst fear to overcome.
I have progressed from exploring my emotions,
To writing them out,
To showing them to the world
And hardest of all, my dad.
Because I loved him the most
I hid the most from him.
Protecting him from my unhappiness
Afraid he would blame himself
Or worry about me.
Today he called me
Asked if I was feeling okay
He’d read my bleak poem
I reassured him, the poem was old.
When I hung up the phone
At my stability in the face
Of what had just happened.
Dad had seen one of my darkest pieces.
And he had worried.
But things are different now.
I can be honest with him.
His humanity doesn’t break me.
My own humanity doesn’t break me.
The self-loathing spiral
Now I have to keep posting
As if I didn’t know he was keeping up on the blog.
Or rather, I know that he is,
But I am able to be honest now.
Sometimes I want to die
Sometimes I want to stab something
But mostly I love my life
And although I still cherish my family,
I no longer idolize them,
Or feel the need to protect them.
I have always considered myself uncommonly lucky
In family and friends.
Today I can feel lucky
And not feel guilty too.
I can feel grief and pain
Just as easily as I can feel love.
But most of all,
I can feel.
And I feel grateful.
And I feel free.