if you want to view paradise

i once read that there's childhood, and there's childhood aftermath.

for me, the aftermath is a puzzle of lingering, vivid memories,
     the emotions that come with them,
       and the sinking feeling that comes with realizing that some of them
         are probably fabrications,

the product of an overactive imagination,
     (i hope,)

a way to cope, a crutch, a guide.


the thing nobody tells you about emotional abuse is that it's quiet.
     you can hide it.

it comes in waves, surging when you least expect it, leaving you wondering how
     to repair the damage,  how to do better next time, how to make yourself
          small so you can avoid the torrent that's sure to come with one misstep,
               how you can mask your pain behind a smile and determination and
                  good grades.

through the bullies, at home and at school, i entertained myself with fantasy situations:
     adventures with my favorite characters, a duet with my favorite singers, candy for life.
       (maybe a letter from some magical adoption agency.)

as a kid, i took pencil to paper and i wrote letters to a god i no longer believe in, stories with
     myself as the shining heroine,

saving the day with a sideways smile and puckish justice, beloved,
     by an alternating cast of characters that i wished so badly to be real

i still do it sometimes, imagine some favored character of mine will appear.

i tell myself , "they'll be here by friday, and they'll love you the most, and
       they will say that you are the best. they will say that you are the very best
         and that you are enough."

pathetic, but it helps.

and just this year i realized that i am my least favorite person,
     so caught up in my own head that i'm drowning in insecurities
       justified and irrational,

crying tears i have no real explanation for, alienating my friends for
     fear of actually becoming the nuisance that i think i am. and i have
       decided that i cannot do this anymore. something has to give.

so i've been doing what i what have done as a kid. i imagine myself in a better
   place. i imagine that my dreams won't blow up in my face, that i will eventually
     reach the threshold of pain for one human being and achieve my dream of helping
         others (and their pets).

and it has helped, because my goal is right there--i can almost taste it,
     and my imagination has been the only thing keeping myself from doing
       something i might regret.

sometimes i think, "gosh, can't i just be a vet?" that's all i want. for years
     i told myself i could never do it, but i'm going to at least push myself and try.
       i've exceeded my ridiculous expectations of myself plenty of times.

i'm so close to making it out of this place. my imagination, as always,
     has helped me retain a brave face. without it, i would not be alive today.

i once read that there's childhood, and there's childhood aftermath.

for me, the aftermath is the first hurdle in a road that i imagine will lead me
     towards a life that i will live for myself.



This poem is about: 
My family
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


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