[Image Description: Photo of rock formations in Canyonlands National Park with a cloudy sky in the background and a car side mirror in the left foreground showing a reflection of a woman (me) sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle wearing a black tank top and sunglasses]

Freeing, after decades thinking this is who I am,
how I’m flawed, knowing now the ways trauma
deforms, diminishes, defines,
not the person, but responses.

Finally seeing internal debates
resolve from how-could-I questions
into compassion for the ways I learned
to be quiet, to go along, to play a part required by others
to keep myself safe from what I could not control.
Clarity cascading over what I now long to transform.

Freeing, yes,
but trauma and its implications
can’t be shed like a garment,
one swift motion over the head,
tossed in a rubbish bin and carted away
with other unwanted things.

It’s interwoven.
Entangled with
parts of myself I might want to keep
if only I could tell the difference.

That’s the tricky part, though,
left wondering, sorting,
trying to determine
which parts stemmed from trauma
and which parts are really

Casting about for answers,
wondering what will be left
or if I’ll unravel entirely,
until the effort, the noise of it,
finds me craving silence.

Not silence like a wall, a stone, a word unsaid.
Silence like a seed, a bloom, a leaf unfurling
to draw the sun’s rays.
Silence that shapes, expands, refines,
until I can name my true self for myself.
Out loud.

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