I have told myself
Time and time again
When I see another’s life
Full of beauty, vibrancy, and success,
That it isn’t for me.
That a rich and full healthy life
Is not for me.
I am other.
I am broken.
I am used up.
I am …
I say no to this voice.
This voice that is not my own.
This voice that was yelled to me
Through rage and fists
And soul shattering heartbreak.
This voice that kept me down.
This voice that held me
This voice that became my voice.

I see it now.
That this was a form of rape.
This control over my mind.
This manipulation that had me believing
I am weak.
This tragedy that held me down,
Broken, fractured, alone, and scared.

I did not believe for one second that I deserved better.
I did not believe for one second that I deserved kindness, a loving embrace, personhood.
I was not a person.

This voice.
Whose voice entrapped me
And supplanted my own?
Where was my voice?
Buried in fear, survival, and traumas years deep.
A childhood no child should ever have to learn to endure.
No treasure but traumas to keep.

And yes. I learned how to survive.
But now I see for most of my life that’s all I’ve ever done.
And I do not know that the warmth
Of the sun resting on my face is something I can enjoy.
I did not know that happiness could lead to joy and love could heal all that was unaligned.

I did not know that love was real.
And men took advantage.
Bullies made sure I obeyed.
And violence became a thing more real to me than love.
And this shattered broken thing
Took the place of my soul.
Because it had splintered long ago.
To survive I became undone.

And lately all the pieces of me
Have been returning home.
And other previously shattered sisters have held lamps to light the way.
And together our muted melodies
Have found a sort of song.
And with tears I weep
I’ve found my heart
And with it I finally know love.
All the parts coming home bring a piece to make me more whole.
And healing is beginning
Love forms me once again anew.

-Angel Marie Russell

Thank you sisters.
Thank you Sara Sophia Eisenman.