No one told me parenthood would break me.
Beat me down with its impossibility.
No one told me I’d be flattened
and laid bare
by the unrelenting always never not of it.
Flayed open even as I carry a child’s full weight on my own heart.
No one told me I wouldn’t have even one moment to stop.
Impossible to get up again
and yet somehow to get up again anyway.
No one told me how to survive it.
How to pull myself back to myself.
No one told me my kid would be born
to fit into the tender wounds
I thought had scabbed over.
No one told me that a gaslight burns just as deeply as a belt.
No one told me how to protect her from the anger I inherited.
No one told me how to heal the child in my heart
even as I raise the child of my body.
No one told me I would resent my husband.
Not in the 80s sitcom “you did this to me” way,
but in the “you drown and he can’t save you” way.
Sure they told me to ask for help.
But no one told me how to form the words as I choked on panic.
How to form the words when I didn’t believe I deserved them.
How to form the words when I didn’t know the sound of my own voice.
They do talk about how easy love is,
how soul mates just happen,
how they’ll just know what you need without you saying a word.
But no one told me that Love Story is bullshit.
No one told me how to stay.
Leaving is glorified.
The spouse is always greener on the other side.
No one told me how you stay
when the only thing keeping you married
is the fact that you’re married.
No one told me about having a baby too young, too easily.
The terror of becoming a mother
before you decide that you want to be.
How it feels to be the only one you know drowning.
They didn’t tell me how lonely it is.
Wondering if you’re the only one.
No one told me the terror of not knowing what to do
and not knowing what to do
and not knowing what to do.
When every cry sounds like you’re a failure you’re a failure you’re a failure.
And they didn’t tell me how the years pass
and you bring yourself back together,
but the pieces are are bent and frayed at the end
and fit in different places.
One piece lost behind the bookcase.
One piece lost beneath the piano.
And you learn to say to your husband, “I need help,”
and you learn to receive
and you learn the sound of your own voice
and you get through.
And you watch videos of when they were small and regret
time passed you by through a fog of anxiety.
You weren’t all there.
And they didn’t tell me I’d learn to stay.
I’d learn to do it again,
just one more time
and one more time
and one more time.
This poem is included in my book 38