Scaffolding — NaPoWriMo Day #24 — a poem about tearing down the fences our families built
I lived in denial like it was my palace.
I never touched the world outside those rooms.
Though my castle was appropriated by a captor
who oddly didn't want me there at all,
I stayed within the dark, within the gloom.
She told me I was worthless unless I looked perfect,
that I'd never find love unless I shed the weight,
that I'd never please my family unless I achieved fame.
She whispered in crowds and yelled when alone
that nothing was ever perfect
so nothing should even be done.
These are not reimaginings of thoughts within my head.
These are the actual words that my mother said.
Mental health is a blessing and a virtue.
I've fought so hard to keep mine.
The pages you're holding are the clinical notes—
the documentation of the battle for sanity,
of the longing for normalcy,
of the attainment of stability.
Art is the poor man's therapy
and sometimes a surrogate parent.
I could have had professional help—I didn't.
I could have escaped and winged it—still didn't.
All I knew was my pain and my pen,
and the catharsis that came
when the ink hit the page.
Far from unusual, I've heard this tale a time or ten.
So many black sheep, so many misfits,
all of us loving and creative and good.
All of us working to hack the programming
that made us doubt our inherent worth.
They didn't mean to clip our growth
and we don't mean to step on their toes,
but like it or not, it's time to go.
An understated reminder—we are adults now.
We can lovingly tear down the fences our families built
and repurpose the wood into a shelter, a home.
Healthy boundaries, new happy memories.
We don't have to hold on to our anger
to keep a tight grip on the lesson, the gift.
When the piece is done, you can pass it on.
We aren't here to hoard the hurt
but to tell the stories and do the work—
to delicately fashion the scaffolding
that holds up the high points of our arc.
Photo by: Jason Wong