The Light Stays On

If you ask me how if feels to go completely mad, I will tell you it’s a midnight sky at noon begging for stars to show it some light. It’s the sun showing its face at midnight, trying to take secrets from the moon. The madness is being able to run, but losing the desire to even stand, and running when anything or anyone comes close to knowing you. It’s being stuck inside a wall that only holds the colorless things, hung perfectly with rust covered nails refusing to shine. It’s swimming in the ocean, not caring if the waves take you as their own, daring it to drown you and hoping you lose that dare.

Sitting in the company of your own thoughts like each one is a person you answer to.

The madness swirls inside like a dance you have perfected the steps to, while the wrong song plays in the background. But you dance anyway because you don’t hear the music anymore, only the voices that talk all at once until it becomes a scream only you can hear.

The madness is a million hands coming out of nowhere to pull you down until you fall and pushing you when you stand again.

Closing your eyes at night brings out the monsters who hold your eyes wide open to say, No… not tonight.

Waking up to start all over again, be alone again, a new day to lose it all again, keep being the strong one again. Pretend to have your shit together again, act as though it’s all fine again, perfect the fake smile again.

I guess it’s the madness that makes the slow death of your life seem perfectly normal. So, I am fine. Perfectly well in the emptiness of being my own best friend, holding that with the highest regard. Like conversations with friends that don’t exist, but we all laugh together and I can tell them anything.

I’m having the time of my life. Never been better. It’s a beautiful day. Surrounded by the ones who never left my side when I checked out. That’s what I tell myself in this empty room. That’s what I tell myself to keep the lights on. I’m only trying to keep the lights on a little longer. Conversations with myself makes it hurt less, but not really. I am keeping the lights on though and it feels a little like being held by someone who cares. So, I keep my eyes locked with that light and tell myself it will never leave. Until it burns out and leaves… like everything leaves without a goodbye or reason. And I say, goodbye and apologize for not being good enough. Then the room goes dark and I’m my own again, the friend who never left.

I should treat her better than I do. When the dark is all we have and the music has stopped, she sings songs to me, reminds me of a time when I didn’t rely on the lights to feed my soul that once was. She stays the same, doesn’t change or pretend she never knew me. She sings until I fall asleep and she knows my favorite songs. I will always love her for that.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

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The View is Distorted

It’s when the walls close in a little, when the room is full but you are the only one there in the center but on the side. The spotlights come on as eyes pointed at you like fingers not able to ignore, as though each one traces your silhouette, head to toe, and the light, the light never lies. But my hands tell the truth in the tremble of the lie detector built in my chest and the way honesty makes it pound with the warming. I am flushed over, catching my breath tells me so, and I become trapped in that moment, where my heart is telling me to run, but my mind says there is no exit. My mind is right. There never is an exit, but it tells me to create one. Whatever it takes, no matter what, get out… just go. Because the lights are only there to watch like the eyes are only seeing you and I don’t think there’s a way to run from that. But I have to before I rip myself open to get out of this skin. I have to before my heart busts out to run away without me. And it’s one look, wrong or right or neutral, it cuts into me, as if the eyes are telling me secret thoughts of a stranger, and it’s too loud not to hear, too strong not to see. Looking but rating, seeing but judging and it’s too much. It’s just too much. My feet stop working you know? I have to steady my breathing but it never hushes the screaming from within. My mind isn’t right but I’m not sure that’s wrong. I only know for sure the spotlights burn my eyes even when they’re closed. #stephaniebennetthenry

The Power Stays Out

It was all beautiful until the reality of my heart split open and spilled out the ugly. The dirty kind of ugly that cannot be washed off. Left me coated in a filth that follows me everywhere I go, like tasting truth for the first time and choking to death slowly but surely and repeat it daily. Wake up for the dosage of yourself from someone else’s view, smother it thick with second guessing, add a side of uncertainty to my order, please, just to make sure it’s a painful way to go. I roll over in the torture of all that may or may not be said or unsaid behind someone’s eyes. It’s the loudest sound I have heard. Or maybe that’s the noise my own mind makes in the darkness of the doubting or in the silence of never being perfectly sure anyway. My heart is quiet, but loud with being certain of all it ever beats for. Reminds me with every beat, how it’s out of sync with my mind and sometimes my thoughts spill everywhere. I can’t focus when I’m falling, the thoughts trip me up, make me lose my balance enough, even my heart loses its way. I am lost as usual and that’s how the scenario plays out. Lost my compass of life when the lights went out one time for the final time like an encore playing music that summed up the end. The songs of my life- they’re not on the radio.. the station, it won’t come in clearly. The static takes over, no antenna to save the way the words linger under the noise before it all goes silent. But it’s never really silent, even with the radio off- those lyrics snuck in- they’re in my head now, looking for a room. There’s no room in here. It’s full. They don’t believe me. Stay like there’s music playing an invitation for a vacancy that isn’t there. All the words, they cram together so crowded, I feel a bit claustrophobic. Paranoid as if this mess is speaking aloud, if anyone else can hear the party turned massacre inside. I’m almost sure things are getting broken, can you hear it? I can’t stop hearing it. Makes my hands tremble without notice, no warning for the way this rips my spine clean, wraps it around the dirty until it drowns in all I made up in my head. But no… I can’t stop breathing life back into it. Keeping the monsters alive so my demons won’t be lonely, like me. Fall asleep to stop it, to wake up and repeat again tomorrow. My mind is an endless echo keeping itself company when the power goes out. Sometimes the power stays out if all the lines fall in the storm. They join with the static and stay for the music.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

Love is a Grenade

Who needs love anyway? Not me. I think about love the same as a grenade and I never look forward to having my heart blown to pieces by someone who should have never been holding it in the first place. I don’t need to hear I love you, like it’s some kind of life support that promises to make me matter, as you pull the plug on the promise you never planned on keeping anyway. No thank you. I’d rather you pull the plug first, so I can die without hearing the infamous I love you bullshit. It’s impossible to love me. If you try, be ready for war because my perfected ability to not let anyone get too close is like a shot gun blast you’ll never hear and I refuse to give you the power to make me turn off my safety. I’ve been ripped to shreds enough to know, love is a fight I’ll always run away from. Do I believe in love? Yes, I believe it’s a battle I’m never walking into again because the only reward in the end is a broken heart. It’s not that I don’t believe in love, but love has never proven itself to me the same way heartbreak has. Love is a promise, wrapped in a bomb and we all know how that ending plays out in a million pieces. Love is a fight club, where one person is always fighting harder while the other person just stands there and takes the beating. Like pulling your spine out in the name of love and giving it as a gift you will never get back. Love is uncertainty tying your hands, disappointment blindfolding you, trust kicking your ass while they all laugh out disregard until you projectile vomit the words I love you too. Love taught me about compromise and how the joke is always on me, it taught me that for better or worse needs to have a few footnotes. It taught me that losing yourself is the easiest thing to do and finding yourself again is nearly impossible, because you are hidden away in someone else’s shadow. Love showed me how to close down, hide my heart, not be my own person. It showed me how to be stuck, how to feel caged, how to want to run away. Love taught me how to say fuck this. It’s just not worth it to me. So don’t get too comfortable sitting next to me, I want you gone by morning.

Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

The Ocean Stopped Singing

This is different though. More than the times before, something changed… I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. I can only say I feel like everything just broke and bent away from me one day. I try to pull it back in, straighten it out as crooked as it was, but it’s not the same. All of it stays bent. Not in the same way as before when the fog moves in and takes a few days to lift, like the fog has been replaced by a darkness, a sky that fell while screaming no. The stars were holding me once, every now and then when I had my head in the clouds, but they don’t anymore. They dropped me when they felt the filth. They didn’t want to get dirty like that, wanted to keep their hands clean. I was dulling their shine, pouring poison into the wishes they held, ruining everything. It was the night when my mind bent itself backwards, a blackout that stays, lost its lights and named the shine as an enemy. A flat out refusal to ever come back again, whether the lights are on or not. I saw an image of myself in the twilight once and the universe shattered into pieces with my name. A reflection that burned into my mind, sealed it with a signature from hell, as if to say, please don’t ever show your face here again. So the flames pulled me apart, told me to stay in the charred remains of myself. Told me like a warning, sounding like a threat that meant it. Cursed me like a promise always does when you believe it just before it breaks. Breaks into itself, I broke into the twisting of my own promises, watched them shred into the ruin born in my eyes. I never saw them again. All the mirrors busted so I’m not able to look into myself again. Not allowed to analyze what looks back or all that never did. I am double vision of a blurry line that gave up on being crooked, decided to just bend and make a run for the tragedy of my own devastation because it was safer there. But it left me here. Took everyone else to prove I deserve to be alone and maybe it’s true. All the waves straightened out that day, became a flatline of nothing only for me. I am an audience of one with a front row seat to an ocean view for an ocean that fell silent and still. My favorite sound always was the song in the waves, the way they dance and crash. How they never leave no matter what. They don’t give up on staying or being. But on that day, it was last call and I missed it. Now it plays dead, falls flat when I look, doesn’t make a sound. Lies completely still even if I beg it to dance once more, it refuses. I still sit here and watch for any life at all that didn’t give up on me. I look through the blur in my eyes, the crooked line my mind bent into. I watch the flatline to spot any rhythm at all, but I never see it. You know when the sky falls and the ocean stops, there’s nothing left after that. That line that broke before, you can’t fix it this time. It snapped to get away. It’s not coming back. When all the hinges holding the universe together break and it’s pointing at you… that’s the end.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

More Than A Name

Poison in my throat from all the words said without warning labels, for all the advice given like a beating I never asked for, and this is why I choke myself on my own silence. This is why the quiet covers me like an empty room even when there’s a crowd. The reason my sentences stopped holding hands with the words that made them whole and broke apart like a crash leaving its own scene, before anyone could be a witness. Some things are too ugly to see, look away like hide and seek is only about the hiding and everyone is blind. Why does this heart keep waking me with the noise of its beating? It only reminds me. It never stops reminding me how much I want to rest. Leave the scene of myself that never makes sense anyway, throw these words like a sword that becomes a boomerang of everything feeding my self loathing. I am full. Tired of being hungry for all that was never meant to feed my soul. Fatten me with meaning or anything that’s worth a shit. I am empty enough without being filled by empty promises from mouths that never learned how to take a bite from this life, from hearts that missed the lesson on how to leave a mark that matters. And I make my way out of this place where I left handprints like claw marks, every time someone tried to pull me away from the light in my own eyes so they wouldn’t go blind from staring into how bright madness shines sometimes. I never was afraid of the dark or the light that calls in any form, never compared the bright in my own light with the dim of another. But I stand alone when the fog moves in. I stand alone when it doesn’t. And all these people know my name without knowing how I got here, but I fucking got here, and it was never easy. This climb of me… it always did look like falling, but it was nothing less than a journey of holding on for dear life and I’m telling you, as much as I bled on the way up, man… I never let go. I never let go. Even in the moments memorized like a name in concrete, when someone else let go, dropped me like I was ruined, threw me as though I would crack. I stayed. I fucking stayed. Held on like my life depended on it because my life depended on it. It depended on me… never giving up on me, like everyone else always did. Looking at me like.. what’s wrong? You have everything. You don’t know shit about what I have and what I don’t. You don’t have a clue about what I’ve lost and what I’ve gained, what I had to fight for… you know my name.. that is all. My mind is a broken levee, where everything became nothing, while the rescue crews knew nothing, but my name so I was lost in the undertaking of eyes flooding over me as they watched me drown in the filth of chaos. I had to swim through to get this far… and they watched as I rose to the top of the surface, coming up for air like a tsunami you can’t look away from. Even if you do…it has nothing to prove.. same as I have nothing to prove anymore and ever again. Call my name now like you have looked into my eyes long enough to read more than the title. More than a name. More than the surface you’re afraid to dive into because you have only been in the shallow of pretty things with a name you never learned to pronounce. Be more. I never learned to understand people who look at the sky, but never reach for it, the ones who look at the ocean, but never hear it. It has a story just between the waves, only for those who choose to listen. So listen. Don’t create waves only to run from them because they look scary. Fucking swim into the heart of it all even if it means you may drown.. we’re all drowning anyway. Don’t be the one who drowns alone in the shallow because you were afraid of the deep end… anything worth having is in the deep. Don’t call it a chance taken or a risk worth making if you barely get your feet wet. Don’t be that person who turns their heart into a fucking window shopper.. label maker, selfish mother fucker, dream chaser who never catches anything. Don’t be the one who calls someone’s name just because you know it. Or just when you need something. Everyone has a name and behind every name is a story. Take the time to learn it. Or don’t bother. You don’t know anyone just by looking. Remember that.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

Words Escaping

It hurts sometimes,

the way my tongue presses hard

against the roof of my mouth

attempting to hold back the tears

when someone is watching.

I have emptied my heart

by way of my throat,

silencing the howl lying in wait

to rip up through my eyes

and tell a story not ready to be told.

I close my eyes tight,

hoping it closes the book

where that story waits,

but it only opens the wound wider,

only burns my eyes

with this river waiting to pour.

Biting my lips doesn’t silence

the words that beg to come out

and I tell them,

“You are not ready yet.

Get back in there, dry yourself off,

you smell like pain, you look like a

broken fucking mess. No one wants

to hear the way you are drenched in

my sobs. Get your shit together

or I will never speak of you.”

Those words… they never listen.

They want to be seen as they are.

They want to be filthy and true.

They are always trying to find ways

to escape this hell of me,

trying to find ways to douse the flames

burning my insides…

trying to make me cry like they do.

I take a deep breath, close my eyes,

hoping those words burn

before they gather hands

and tell a story that may be

the death of me.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

Shielded

I made a mess too deep. The madness swirling inside refuses to clean it up. Stays to mess it up more with the rapid cycling coming through like a bulldozer, ripping up my spine, trying to strangle my heart like it always does. I have perfected the mess but never the clean up. Always someone walking behind me, picking up the pieces I drop. Covering my back and sometimes my eyes so I am spared the sight of the way my own heart breaks. It makes me cry. No one likes to see the tears. They are thick with guilt from eyes of others. Hard to look at, because looking means Acknowledging which translates to accepting blame for taking me into this spin that never stopped, or maybe the apology I never got. That’s hard to do for some. So they shield me as if that saves me, without making eye contact. Say I love you without touching. Paying the bills sometimes equals love. Sitting in this mess of me is free. So who am I to complain about this madness or anything for that matter? Keep it to myself. Stay out of the way. Don’t rub the fingers of my burden against anyone else.

Cooperate. Stop making everything hard. You have it all… Easy street comes to you. Why are you always crying? Suck it up. Dry it up. I love you. Baby steps.. You are trying to do everything at once, just focus on one thing at a time. Stay positive. I don’t know how to help you because you won’t talk to me. I don’t have time for this shit right now. Nothing makes you happy. I have to go. I’ll be home at normal time. Maybe I’ll pick up dinner. Will you eat if I do? Love you.

Those words always sting me. Feels like I am sitting alone looking out a window with a view that no one else sees but me. A front row seat to the inside of my mind and it never fucking stops. I don’t know what it looks like from the outside, when someone looks in. It must be ugly. It must be scary or maybe it looks crazy. I don’t need to see it, because I feel it and it feels like a window I never want to look in. A door I would never open if I had a choice. I guess I would look away too if I could. I would actually run away if I could. But forget how it looks from the outside, looking in with eyes that never had to feel this. If you felt it, you would understand why I do the things I do, why I shut down this way, why I can’t see the bright side all the time. You would know the reasons behind the quick temper, the mood that never stops swinging. You would get out of the way and stop being in the line of fire. Maybe you would leave me be. Maybe you would never call me weak again once you put on these shoes for a day or two. You may see that I can’t take baby steps or just tackle one thing at a time. I wish I could. But there’s a hundred things coming at me all at once and I need to cover all of them or none of them. And I didn’t need this other shit popping up now. It’s always the wrong time. Making me want to give up. I can’t help it when I cry. That’s why I don’t want to talk about it. But you ask and the tears roll out with no words. Maybe another day. I just can’t right now. Don’t touch me. You can’t fix everything. You should know that by now. I don’t know why you are still here or why you stayed so long. You haven’t known anyone but me, but there’s better people out there who have their shit together like I never will. Just go. This is never getting better. And every day, you’re still here. I don’t get it. I guess I never will.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

My Eyes Tell on Me

Nobody knows the reason for this sadness I wear like a new skin I like better than what I had before. I guess it’s all in my eyes, not easy to hide when they speak for me to tell the story I just can’t yet. Because I am not ready yet. I need more time for those chapters. I need more space to lay it all out, piece through the mess, until it stops hurting long enough to write it down. But if I write it, that means I will have to write an ending, and I will never acknowledge the ending of us. Same as you refuse to with words. I walk around in this skin like a wall that cannot be climbed, made of steel without windows, so no one can look in. I forgot to cover my eyes and they never did learn how to be quiet. The way they spill is brutal sometimes, the way they daze over, looking through everyone, not seeing a thing. Just the picture show my mind plays non-stop, shares it with my heart, bleeds out through my eyes… make it stop. Just make it stop. I don’t want to see it, but I cannot unsee it, same as I can never un-feel all of this. I think it’s cruel, how I break my heart, then run away from the mess left behind, avoiding it at all costs. Laying down eggshells in the path of every place I’ve ever been, or maybe those shells are yours and I keep walking on them instead of sweeping up the mess we made. Sometimes eggshells are easier than a conversation, so we lay them down, hoping there’s a message somewhere to avoid words. Roll around in the silence of casual strangers, because that sure is fucking easy. But it’s not for me. I’d rather be in a train crash than have to decipher silence like a code that only says fuck off. I read that coded communication, but we were more than turning a blind eye and running. We were head on like a crash that doesn’t leave the scene. I sit here with this wreckage I don’t know what to do with and you are as long gone as my spirit that died in the crash. I walk around the chaos or maybe the chaos walks around me. I don’t have a reason to give for the way my eyes keep telling on me. But that doesn’t stop everyone from asking why my heart is suddenly ripping through my eyes in the ugliest way. I keep the pain like a secret no one will ever know. No one will ever know, except you and me… and these eyes that never did learn how to keep secrets.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

Purpose Unfolded

This life…

I am almost sure it’s holding out on me, waiting to surprise me when I least expect it, with something that makes it all worth it. Where it shows up with my purpose unfolded in such a way, it opens my eyes, turns my vision of this path crystal clear. Giving me that moment I have waited for where I look back at the climb, the falls, the getting back up again, and it all fits together to make perfect sense. Shows me the hell I had to walk through was never in vain. Shows me every single time I asked why me and I will know the answer like the back of my hand. Finally I will understand the bad things I had to endure time and again to get to this path here and now. When that day comes, if it comes, I think the sky will part, grab part of my heart, and everything I’ve never been able to let go of will fall away leaving me as whole and hopeful as I have ever been. Like another chance, a new birth, a silence that brings peace to my heart, and hushes the pain I have cradled since I started here. This life…I am sure. I am waiting. I am ready.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry