To My Many Selves

To my many selves,
I want to love you.
I want to heal all the tender
Hurting parts.

I want you to know how smart
And funny you are,
And how it’s immeasurably okay
That you take up space.

I want you to know
How cool I think it is that at eight
You could skateboard with
All the neighborhood boys
Even if they got you in trouble
For playing with fire,
(Something that kept happening
For your whole adult life)
You kept up,
Got scraped up,
And weren’t ever afraid
To be different.

I want to hold nine year old you
And tell you how it’s okay,
You stole the candy from your classmates,
On Valentine’s day,
Because the love your Mother gave
Was never quite enough
To make you feel loved.
So, you acted up desperate
Grasping for more,
However you could get it.
I see you. I know you.
I forgive you. I love you.

I want ten year old you to know
That I understand how small you felt;
How weak and invisible.
So, you sought out horses,
And grew strong,
brushing their manes,
Riding far, and fast,
and away.
Your jewelry boxes
Filled with horse hair,
And clippings from hooves,
That you held when afraid,
To be whisked on memory once again,
I want to ride with you,
Laughing and screaming all the way.

To eleven,
Alone, family
Scared. Under beds. Sleep walking.
I want to hold you, and keep you safe.
Their words and their shouting
Isn’t your fault. And I know how much
You just want them to love each other
And you.
And how this is when your Mother’s Pain, became a burden
you started learning
you were to carry.

This was the year your childhood ended.

I want you to know I understand
You’re with me now, on birthdays,
Holidays, and vacations.
How I see you coming through
when I cry at beauty;
See puppies, and kitties.
And I’m so glad I can give you these gifts.
Mom forgot how to eat and so
Then did you.
An emptiness grew that was in part of,
But caused by more,
Than just a lack of food.

And to every self after I know you too.
How you hide and pretend
You’re not here because to be
Might mean you’re also available
To be victim, to more darkness,
Pain, fear, and abuse,
And how each of you kept shrinking,
Each one of you desperately hurt,
Splintered, and buried.
I’m seeking you now.
I’m calling you home.
I’ve remembered my sovereignty.
I’m reclaiming OUR truth.
That each of you deserved more.
To each one of you,
I feel you,
I’m safe now,
I forgive you,
I love you,
I’ve lit all the lanterns,
Rekindled the fires,
I’ve prepared all the beds,
And replanted all the flowers.
I’m here now. I’m waiting for your return.
You’re welcome, when you’re ready
Come HOME.

-Angel Marie Russell


Mission To Rise

This life of mine
How it has made me shrink
From loose lips
That said too much
About how I was
Not enough

And I hung my head in shame
Thinking I was the one
That was always to blame
For wicked transgressions
For my looks too true
My rage boiling
Out through glances
And stares
My heart crying out to be loved
When those near were too impaired
By the same darkness
Bleeding out through deeds
Doling out their own misery
That sank into me
What could I have done
To allocate that expense?

And I’d cry out when I could
Desperate in pain
That maybe one more howl
Would take it away
That maybe one more rebel
Would make enough change
That I might be allowed
To exist

But my loose lips were
Set ablaze with rage
My truth rang too true
And I suffered for words
I couldn’t afford to let slip
She said I love you
But her fists said
The opposite was true.
And I’d rage and scream
I hate you!
I’d cry and rip my own hair
I’d limp wounded to school
To meet their stares
I’d limp through the halls
and meet more abuse

Because how could I live when I felt no use
How could I smile when I only knew tears
How could I love when I’d blacked out years
That I’m sure weren’t worth remembering.
And if I did
I’d break from the weight of the truth.

When kids get broke
By their own kinfolk
No one is there with a balm
A quick fix
Or care
No one comes when your bleeding
On bathroom floors
Or in shopping mall halls
When your Mom just had enough of the same kind of weight
And broke again under the pressure
Causing more hate

This life can seem like a crime
Just to be born
This love can seem like a lie
When there’s none to find
Every eye seemed blind
To how my heart cried out
When every eye shared a lie
That they truly knew about
And her
And no one acted to be sure
I’d be safe
Once home
Where the violence ran rampant
Where I wasn’t allowed to phone
Where if I did call for help
I’d pay
Where kisses were contracts
And stuffed toys
Were bribes
Where hugs came rough handed
And caresses were fisted
When loving looks were replaced
With hateful stares of demise
Where I lived everyday
Where I grew wise to despise

And despite all the pain
A part of me remained sane
A part of me broke down
A part of me ran to hide
A part of me
Held all the other parts

Something somewhere knew
That my life wasn’t right
Something somewhere in me knew
I had the right to life
And though everyday it seemed
I was here to break
Everyday I met that pain
With some sense of faith

And I kept going forward
I grew hard and quiet
I acted out in public because at home
I dare not try it
And if I cracked under pressure
I would pay
I knew my actions were threatened
By every stray hair
On my head that also
Received all the blame
No matter how hard I tried
It was always the same
My Mother gave away
every ounce of her pain
Not just on birthdays or weekends
not just holidays or vacations
Always the same sort of love

For when everything turned sour
It surly must be my fault
I somehow had the power
To be wrong every time
To cause every malfunction
To cause her to glower and snap
to punish
Pick me up by my hair
And make me pay for punches
Throw me in bathrooms
And held by my neck
Surly I’d learn
I was nothing
And I did

But I also learned another thing
That my strength was growing
Along with the pain
And yes my mind was shattered
My spirit exiled
My kingdom emptied, spoiled and rotted
A part of me knew, whispered, and pleaded
Keep going
Keep living
Keep moving
Keep believing

So I did
Everyday I did it again
And again
Until I learned
What love really is

And here I stand
More alive
Than dead
More loved
Than broken.

The Power of One

How much power does one person have? How can one person affect change in this world that is so vast and complex? I am going to ask us to go within, to ask ourselves, how much power do we have in our own minds? If we create our own reality, or at least our perception of reality, by what we think; what kind of power do we have over this perception? In this world of our own minds how much power do we have to affect great change?

When one suffers from mental illness it can be very difficult to believe in the power we have over our own minds, because so many times it can feel like we have no control at all. Anger consumes and rages like wildfire. Despair can send us into inaction where we retreat deep inside ourselves to nurse wounds that tear at our ravaged hearts. Even happiness can become manic and out of control. I understand what it is to be consumed by emotion, to be lost in panic, hyperventilating and out of control.

I also know what it is to assume I have no power because I had the ability to feel out of control. I had panic attacks, big ones. My panic attacks consumed me and made me pass out, throw up, break my hand, hurt people, hurt myself, scream, cry, cut all my hair off, go to the emergency room, be admitted to an inpatient facility. I mean . . . talk about being out of control. I knew that feeling well. I knew that feeling more intimately than I knew what it was to feel like I was in control or had power over my own life. My PTSD owned me, and I let it.

I didn’t challenge what I told myself. I didn’t say things to myself that were compassionate or kind. I didn’t allow myself to be afraid. I fought it. I fought it and repressed it and did everything I could to appear normal, but what I had gone through was not normal. The pain I had suffered after years of systematic physical and mental abuse were by no means normal, but how did I know that? It was all I knew. So, I owned this self concept that I was broken, unloved, and out of control.

This lasted throughout my 20’s. I suffered daily. I found myself in relationships that didn’t serve me and re-traumatized me. I found myself with people who abused me just as the people who hurt me as a kid. I lived what I believed about myself because I believed I was worth nothing, but what I failed to realize is that this was a lie.

I could see the worth of other human beings. I could see that a child deserved a meal if hungry, that people deserved love, compassion, and kindness. I knew how to give this to other people. 

The ah ha! moment for me was when I realized that I too was a person. I don’t know why it was so hard for me to see that. That I, as a person, had intrinsic worth. I was worth love and attention. I was not broken, but had been through a lot and deserved love. This was something that was foreign to me because as a child I was taught that I was worth nothing.

Once I recognized my own personhood I realized that I deserved love. I looked at the two previous relationships I had with men and I saw that they treated me horribly. They were both emotionally abusive, and one was physically so. I had to leave the last one and all of my belongings. I became homeless and couch surfed. I am still recovering. And during this most trying time of my life I am focusing on the power of one. What power do I as one tiny person on this Earth have? What power can I have when all my life I believed I had none? 

So, what is true? If I am a person of value, how do attract the kind of people into my life that love me the way I deserve. What is it about me that is keeping love out of my life? Why don’t I feel love for myself?

I realized my power lies within. My power of my perception of this world is my own self talk. My power over my own thoughts is what thoughts do I choose to focus on when I am not panicking or completely overcome. When I am calm, or in a state of rest, where do my thoughts lay? Where does my attention go to? For me, it was usually finding a way to punish myself for not performing properly in some way, or not doing the right thing, or saying something the wrong way, or for having a panic attack. It was very easy for me to talk negatively to myself.

If we know how to love another person though, we can learn to love ourselves in a way that is non-judgmental and supportive rather than negative and criticizing. This is done by persistently challenging every thought we have about ourselves and balancing it with a positive thought. That way we are recognizing both sides of the coin so to speak. 

Doing this means that we are not ignoring one side or the other. We are not repressing, but recognizing there is more than one way to perceive something. We have the power in our own minds as to how to look at something, PTSD or not.

We can challenge self talk that looks like, “I did horribly on my test today, so that must mean I’m stupid.” with, “What would I say to my best friend that just failed a test? Maybe they had a stressful day and couldn’t focus and they will do better next time, or maybe they tried the best the could, but home life has been difficult so it has been hard to focus on studying.” We can be kind to ourselves if we choose to be. Empathy can be a choice, but the power of one comes in when we realize we have the power in our own heads to be either our worst enemy, or our most steadfast ally. We can challenge our negative self concept with love. We can see the power of one can transform a whole entire world and that world is inside of us.

I know there is a typo but it is still a valid sheet. 😉