I Am Still Here

I Am Still Here

I am still here.

I have been handed powerlessness as a consolation prize for surviving, and shamed for both speaking up and remaining silent. I’ve been condemned to years of unrelenting torment; searching for myself in a perpetual sea of unrelenting expectation. 

Power has been both gently and violently ripped from my hands, and I have fractured under the pressures to smile through the insufferable strain — even after it was over and the culprit long gone. I have been asked to hold secrets and make do with whatever scraps the scavengers have left of me, and made to feel like apologies were mine to give.

I have been sure I would choke to death on the lump in my throat. I’ve spent weeks afraid to leave my bed lest one more person or thing ravage my vulnerability.

I am still here.

I’ve invited the pain to fester — to fold itself between me and everything I love — to shield me from Happiness and Contentment so I would never have to lose them.

I am not worthy of the air I breathe and the spaces I ingest.These words tattooed on my heart before consent was not a dirty word. I have tried to rub them off, but they are persistent as the shame they are inscribed. I have become a slave to these words and defended my right to wear them as proof thatI am nothing. I have found comfort in their unwavering constancy while witnessing the frailty of trust and loyalty.

Breath has become a chore, sitting just outside Death’s door, waiting patiently for it to open and swallow me up.

Those words were carved without my permission. They were written before I could possibly comprehend their meaning or implication — before I realized how very powerful I am. Before I knew I could remove the “not”s that have kept me hidden from the light, comfortable in the dark, and holding my breath.

I am not worthy of the air I breathe and the spaces I ingest. 

And I am still here.  

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