I Am

I live inside of a void
And I stand directly in the middle
Countless faces take shape in the darkness
And circle me, ever-changing
Every time I lock eyes with a phantom face
The features rearrange
And I see another stranger

I am not alone
In the eye of a hurricane
Of unfamiliar faces
I have never been alone here
My mother stands with me
She does not hold my hand
Or look at me
Or offer any form of consolation
But she is there
And I suppose that is enough

From time to time
My mother and I
Are briefly accompanied by different men
Men with shaggy hair
And hunched shoulders
And yellow teeth
With the butt of a cigarette
Clenched between them
And a bottle of bourbon hidden behind their backs
They always end up stepping back into the storm
Whether it be after a few months
Or a few years
But never before they leave my mother with more grey hair
Less money
And covered in bruises

We are the point of focus
We were alone for the first eight years
Out of the chaos
Out of the storm
Out of the swirling grays of darkness
Steps a child
A child with glassy eyes
And beating fists
My mother takes him readily into her arms
And turns her back to me
I try to walk around her, to face her
And again she turns away
I never see her face again
All I ever hear are the demanding wails of the child
And all I see are the faces

I step outside of them
For the first time
And I am faced
With blackness
All-consuming blackness
Hungry, relentless blackness
The void curls its fingers delicately
And makes a fist
And shoves it deep into my gut
And when my breath leaves my lips
The blackness takes it
And dines on the gateway to my soul
Until I am empty

Until I am surrounded by doctors--
Physicians, psychiatrists, therapists--
Surrounded by men and women
Hiding behind their own PhDs
Hiding behind their glasses and certificates
Cowering at the edges of the void that surround only me now
Flinging pills and diagnosis at me
Medical terms and evaluations,
First it was ADHD
then OCD
more pills, more forms
Next it was severe anxiety
And then it was depression
More pills, more forms, and now

Then, all together,
They brewed a dark cloud with their fingertips
And they hurled it at me
It hit me in the gut
And evaporated with the hissing declaration of
Borderline personality disorder
More pills, more forms,
And books
And pity
And "I'm sorry"s

I do not want to turn around and run back to the storm
The storm that took eight years for me to escape
I do not want to enslave myself to that confusion and emptiness
Cast myself back into the ring of unfamiliarity
So I run
Turn away from the certain uncertainty
And run
I run to pills
Pills that activate my mind
Instead of shutting it down
Pills that elevate my heart rate
And make me dizzy
I run to bottles
Full of liquid
That burns found down
And burns even more coming back up
I run to cigarettes
Full of grass
To help me forget my past

I run to writing
I run to books full of blank
And pens full of ink--
Ink full of everything--
And in that ink
I found myself
I found that I was not made of
Conflicting personalities
Bottles of booze
Beating fists
Bleeding wrists
Chemical imbalances
And that instead I am made of words
Soft, gentle words
Soothing, singing words
And that those words can say something
Other than "help"


This poem is about: 
My family


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