Vigil

Vigil

This should feel like bliss,

like it does for him

except you’ve gone from tired to high alert

in the time it takes to drive

the five minutes back to his place.

His sweet embrace does nothing

to change your unconscious response

to different bedsheets

as insomnia replaces your ability to sleep.

Counting sheep hasn’t worked in years;

they’re just prey, after all,

to your predatory fears come out to play

and your mind is a coward,

feeding you to the ghosts

for your usual dose of triggers, growing like weeds

somewhere you’re trying to plant only seeds of peace,

but for the former to die and the latter to grow

they both need exposure to air.

So as he holds you close, remind yourself

that underneath this choking layer of soil,

somewhere lies a radical act of self care

and you’re prepared to take the hit,

maybe eventually your body will switch off

and dissolve these flashbacks bit by bit,

maybe one of these days you’ll sink into the pillow

next to him, reaping what you sow,

his gentle breath on your neck,

in a bed that feels like home.

The Body Keeps The Score

The Body Keeps The Score

At its best,

post traumatic stress

is that feeling of being constantly on edge,

like when your feet hang out the covers

and touch the monster under the bed,

except the monster’s still inside your body

and poised ready for attack,

you better not ever close your eyes,

you better not ever turn your back.

He’s hacked your nervous system

with a pistol to your head

which you’re convinced is loaded

so your muscles remain frozen

and you’ll spend years beating yourself up

for not trying to escape instead

and hating your body for how it can’t change

it’s natural, evolutionary response

to threat of death.

You can’t even simply control your breath

as the tightness in your chest

becomes a self-asphyxiation,

lungs compressed in hyperventilation

as something reminds you of your degradation,

as an act of supposed love and fun

becomes none of the above,

and this concept of ‘recovery’

battles with your constantly intrusive memories

like his hand on the back of your neck.

Then how he gathered up your hair

as you’re dripping in his sweat,

body weight forcing open your legs

stained with bite marks

that took over a week to fade.

Now you try and tell me

that there’s nothing to be afraid of,

that leaving my house is safe,

that I could spend a night at someone else’s place

without being kept wide awake

and sitting up with the light on,

heart racing, skin caked in fear

that something bad could happen here.

It might have been almost three years

but the monster is always near the surface,

rising when you least expect it.

There’s a red car there that looks like his,

there’s at least ten men his height

with his haircut in front of you at a gig.

You fantasise about killing him.

Triggers still make you physically sick

as your mind tricks your body into thinking

that night is still happening

and he won’t let you leave till the morning.

It took too long to stop self blaming

and exchange shame for its real name

of false imprisonment

but sometimes that reality is still too draining.

Sometimes when touched by a lover

you’ll react like you’re still being hunted

and you’ve got to stay in front.

It doesn’t bear to think of what would happen

if his hands caught up

and you know he knows where you live.

Your skin replaces sensations of pleasure with numbness,

it took over six months for you to come

with someone else’s hands over your pants

and over a year with penetration.

You’re an expert at dissociation

and though it’s defined as lack of concentration

you’re not sure you agree.

At first it took a lot of focus and attention

to leave your body

but now spacing out is easy,

so much so that you’ve forgotten what you did on Friday

or how you got that razor blade cut to your thigh,

it looks like it was painful

but you don’t remember letting out the slightest cry.

You can’t stand in the shower,

how can you wash and towel dry

a corpse

and you hate going out in summer,

that warm weather with skin uncovered

could only spell out danger

and you won’t eat on dates.

You’ve got no appetite, no sense of taste

and you’ve got to control your food intake

in case this gets to third or fourth base

and your anxiety belly gets in the way

and you lose your ability to say

that you’re not comfortable.

Because your mouth is bound

with imaginary sticky tape

and the last thing you want

is for him to know that you’ve been raped

so just fake how great it was,

rather than explain that these shaking limbs

are a stress response

to panic defenders wearing thin

and say you’d love to stay over

but you’ve got to get off home.

Make up some excuse

about forgetting your phone charger

or having other plans,

but really you just need to be alone.

Crawl into the hottest bath

and plaster over the cracks

where your past got passed the sensors

because you started to relax

in the arms of another man

and almost forgot that such comfort is banned

because last time you trusted someone

look what fucking happened

and do you want that to happen again?

Wouldn’t you rather spend your life

in a state of red alert?

You know what? No I wouldn’t.

Vulnerability is a strength

and this is going to fucking hurt

but I deserve better

than co-existing with this monster

and he’ll be gone but not forgotten

the more I write him into words

and now everyone in this room has heard

what you are.

I’m bathing in the medicine of self care

and whilst all you’ll do is shrink

I’ve got plans to still go bigger.

See my name in the paper,

my face on your TV picture,

on the BBC Breakfast news sofa

talking about violence against women,

about self love and recovery from trauma

and you can’t run from the truth anymore

as yours will eat away at you

and I’ll ruin your life the way that with mine you tried to.

I’ve chosen the method for your

slow and lasting torture

and each step I walk forwards

draws my pen closer to your slaughter.

Colourblind

Colourblind

The world is grey

and I am numb

if not numb

I am drowning

if not drowning

I am suffocating

if not suffocating

I am lost

if not lost

I am found

with a razor in my hand

and an urge to press it down

to reclaim this body found

but if I am not bleeding red

the world is grey

and I am numb.

Feeding the Ghosts

Feeding the Ghosts

Dear my demons,

it’s me again

just a quick note

as since we last spoke

I’ve done some more thinking

and I’ve come to see

that the one blocking

the door to your exit

is me.

See, I’ve left it wide open

but inside my head

is a maze

that I built

in the hope

to avoid your gazes

but instead

of keeping me safe

we’re both lost in here too,

stubbornly refusing to move.

And I’ve learnt

that you won’t go

if you’re asked,

I’ve tried being polite,

I’ve tried casting spells

or blasting you with a couple of good days

till I’m screaming at you to fuck off

and it’s me that’s got the headache.

Because I’m screaming at me,

your presence is me,

you come from me,

you’re the parts of me

I’ve decided are too painful

to be part of me

because I don’t want you

in here [mind] feeding this [heart].

But whilst you’re still my enemy

we’re all starving of something

so maybe it’s time I listened

to what you’ve got to say

and do something less predictable

and ask you to stay.

I’m not saying we’ll be friends here

this just isn’t worth the fight

and I might as well

get to know you

if you’re planning on popping in

through every hard time in my life.

And you’re pretty fucking persistent at that,

and maybe that’s something important,

like how I don’t give you enough credit

for still dropping by

and coming to see me

when no matter how hard you try

to pass a message onto me

all I do is my best

to ignore you,

I mean,

that’s a pretty shit job.

Look, I don’t think

I’ll get this right first time,

I’m still trying to come to terms

with the fact that you’re mine

and it’s pretty hard to face you

when all I’ve done is wanted you gone,

but in the spirit

of trying to love

every part of myself,

whilst I grab us a slice of cake

do you mind putting the kettle on?

To the Boy who Lives

To the Boy who Lives

To the boy

who fell asleep

on my bedroom floor

in too much pain

to lie next

to the one you adore.

To the blood

that you shed

for a sense of relief,

how your skin

bears the scars

of your numbness beneath.

To the tears

that we’ve shared

when you’ve scraped through the fight

-ing your thoughts

that say peace

is the end of your life.

To the courage

with which you face

the depths of your mind;

victory is in the living,

and my love,

you’re alive.