When I was eight years old, I asked myself what was wrong with me

And I repeated that question so often that I carried it to sixteen

I carried it when I was fourteen

And cried myself to sleep for a week

Because I knew that I had to wake up

And work in the morning

That work did not stop

I carried that when I was twelve

When I heard the word “relax” so often I started to wonder if it was my name

And why no one said my name that softly

When I was fifteen, I sat in my room for hours

And watched the hours crawl by on an alarm clock

I remember wondering if I would have to do anything if I stepped out of that room

So I didn’t get out of my chair

And my hands carry the scars to prove it

When I was fourteen, I fell so hard in love that I can’t remember what I did

I don’t remember my workloads or my stress

If I want to know what final I had for freshman year, I’d need to look back at my homework folders

Because at fourteen I fell into an emotionally abusive relationship

So hard

That bruises still linger on my knees

And my palms

Are scraped

Blood oozes

Tears mix

I thank my gods every day that this happened during a global pandemic

Because if it didn’t, I would’ve had to stop working

While everyone else went on

And I can’t handle that

When I was twelve, we took a trip to Great Wolf Lodge

And I remember standing on that balcony

Trembling with anxiety

Wondering if this was my last year of childhood

When I should’ve known that I lost that at ten

When I asked kids to follow the rules our apartment complex association set for us

Do not run, do not scream, do not get too near the apartments

If you must be a child, do so out of sight

And certainly away from potential renters

I don’t remember having much of a childhood

I remember being scared

And sad

And lonely

And anxious

So anxious that it carried over into seventeen

I feel like I’m twelve

And ten

And thirteen

And fourteen

And eight

And these numbers swim in my head until I can’t figure out where I am

When I am

Who I am

And what I need to work on next


This was a hard poem to write. In part because it made me examine memories that I kept quashed for awhile, and in part because it solidified a part of my mind that I didn’t want truly confirmed. Either way, it’s one of the better poems of this season, I believe.

By griffalice

A poet, an artist, and an explorer.

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