Giving Up

Don’t tell me you know

about giving up

until getting out of bed

feels like a battle

you didn’t get to suit up for.

Don’t say you know

about giving up

until you stop giving a shit

whether you wash your hair or not

and it doesn’t bother you to say that.

Don’t pretend you have a clue

until you know right from wrong

and choose wrong just for

the fuck of it, just because

that moment is all that matters

and you’re stuck in it

like consequences didn’t exist.

When you stop talking

to everyone who ever mattered

because you just don’t have

anything worth saying anymore.

When you remember yourself

before you stopped living

and you roll your eyes

like even then you didn’t matter.

When your whole world fell

a long time ago,

nothing phases you now.

You sit there dazed over

at the disasters that don’t stop

and you don’t even care anymore

because you did once

a long time ago

and it didn’t change the weight

that fell on your shoulders, no.

It didn’t change how heavy

the world feels

and now you don’t even look

into that mirror

or god forbid anyone’s eyes.

It feels too ugly.

It hurts too much.

It’s like the truth

muffled into a silent scream

but the echo stopped

when you did.

It all stopped when you did.

No one ever said

keep going…

and when you said it,

You didn’t believe yourself,

because when’s the last time

you came through for yourself?

So you sit there

all by yourself

and you think you belong there.

You think you earned it.

It’s lonely.

But you deserve it, right?

The world keeps spinning

whether you believe in yourself or not.

It’s not going to stop for you.

You won’t even stop for you.

Why should anyone else?

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

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This Mountain

This road…

it’s not a road at all.

Look again

See it through my eyes.

I’ve never seen a mountain

bigger than the world

like this one in front of me.

Listen.

Can you hear that?

There’s a echo

carried by the wind.

It’s my heart.

Beating out of my chest.

I am scared to death.

I have lived my whole life

in a comfort zone,

here on the ground.

No mountains to climb

No rivers to cross

I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.

I don’t.

There has always been someone

throwing me a life raft,

even when I wasn’t close

to drowning.

I’ve always known safe.

I drew a line a long time ago

and never thought of crossing it

because the other side

was unknown.

I’ve never been one to break

that pattern.

Familiarity is how I stay warm.

I guess I’m a habit

I can’t break.

These ways…

as much as I want to stomp them

and spit change onto them

until the colors start to run,

I am cold steel bars sometimes,

chains I put around myself

and the key has been lost for so long.

I created this place as a child.

A self made prison of

god please keep me safe,

anyone… anywhere.. please.

I found myself there

in the silence

of closed doors

where screams are never heard.

I locked the door.

The solitude was safe.

But years went by

and this room became me.

My voice hammered into the walls

like a nail that won’t come out.

And I don’t know how to get out.

These walls know me

better than I know myself.

I boarded myself up in here

without thinking about

ever wanting to peek out.

There’s no windows here.

But my heart knows the way

and the view

is the only beautiful thing

I’ve seen in my life.

So, I’m planning to make a run for it.

The journey is long and the road

is endless mountains

and rocky terrain.

I will fall a hundred times

before I get to you,

but when I get to you,

the only place I’m falling

is into your arms and

I will never lock the door again.

I’m about to climb

the first mountain of my life

with the biggest fight I have

and when I’m done,

I will slip in like the night

that never left your side;

Open the windows, love,

I am coming home.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

Tick Tock

All I ever heard was the clock in your office. Tick-Tock. I asked you about it, you made eye contact with me for the first time but only for a second. Long enough for me to be okay with you never doing it again.

The stroke of your pen on the prescription pad was loud but subtle compared to the ending I wrote for myself that ripped it to pieces. Sounds like music now- but sometimes nails on a chalkboard, or maybe that clock won’t shut up.

I remember looking at the couch in your office, I never sat there, but wondered if people actually did. I don’t know why I’m here. But I know it’s only fifteen minutes tops… and you can bet your ass that clock will join us for every fucking minute.

You had a white coat that hung on the door and degrees covering the walls. I remember thinking you didn’t deserve those. You never really mastered the most important skill for your field- but the thousands of dollars in those frames said otherwise. I said, “you are paid to care, but whether you do or not doesn’t effect your life in any way.” And why do you even have a clock in your office that ticks so loud, my mind thinks it’s playing war games. How do you not hear it?

You typed too much. Your office was dark and the computer screen lit up your face. It bothered me. All of it. Got under my skin like filth I’ll never be clean from.

and I wonder – if anyone ever flipped out in your office, made you work a little harder. Made you say a little more than “how are things this week?” Wonder if you ever got challenged enough to use the skills from those hard earned degrees – I just want you to send me away. But clearly the clock is dictating this whole session. Time.

isn’t it funny the way it’s always up, but never stops? It’s not gonna stop for anyone’s breaking. Everyone’s safe! Everyone’s fucked.

I wandered into this fog one day, seems like yesterday, but I closed my eyes, the clock kept ticking and that was a few years ago. I didn’t come here voluntarily. There’s a thick in the night that grabbed me like eyes and I’ve been here ever since.

I told you I quit my job. Your head moved like whiplash and your lips were moving with some dumb question that didn’t matter anyway- but I couldn’t hear you. The ticking. I hated it. It’s all I could hear- like it was mocking me and all the time I’ve wasted sitting here- trying to be okay- or trying to be anything. So that didn’t happen. What’s next, Nurse? Is there another miracle on that prescription pad promising to turn me normal. Figured as much. I left your office and never returned – It was the fog. I didn’t make it out- and honestly, I waited my whole life for this? I didn’t even talk about anything other than my $60,000 spending spree and how it made me happy- but only for a few minutes, and that’s why I kept doing it. And you asked if I was eating. You said it loud as I was coming in from the waiting room- I’m sure everyone heard. I took that question as a compliment, because I had gotten quite skinny and I was trained to believe that was beautiful. So yes… the anorexia was beautiful. And one day, it wasn’t anymore.

We never got to the deep stuff. The stuff you were supposed to work to pull out of me. I feel cheated. I figured with your hourly rate, you would be talking to me and all of my skeletons. But they never attended. That means you suck at your job. Which is why you have that stupid clock. And it’s not even hanging on the wall- it’s sitting on the top shelf. Who’s the crazy one?

I get it now. The clock was trying to tell me I was wasting my time. Lesson learned the hard way… over and out.

No one ever says good morning anymore,

because… well,

when’s the last time it was?

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

Blood like Water

Time doesn’t heal anything

and the one thing I know for sure

is that I will never forgive you.

Cold as it sounds,

my dying breath or yours,

whichever comes first,

I will leave this world

the way you left me.

And I won’t feel a thing.

And I won’t be sorry.

I want you to know

how that feels.

Being dead inside

but forcing a smile.

Being dead inside

but choosing to keep

my shit together

just to beat you at your own game.

You think you’re at the top?

No… it’s in the blood.

You were at the top

until I knocked you down

and as much as I hope

you keep falling forever..

We both know who took the plunge.

But at least I took it for a reason.

At least I was willing to burn

for something that meant

everything to me.

Maybe I have nothing,

but you know what?

I have integrity

rooted in my spine

and to me,

that is everything.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

The Blooming

Call it whatever makes you feel good

for turning away from the mess

that I finally grew into. I own it.

Took me this long to finally fit into

the misunderstanding of my own eyes

and the way my heart beats much

deeper than the surface of a view that

can change colors when no one’s looking.

I have never stopped looking. But I’m not

looking back to twenty years ago.

I am the twenty years ago.

And you don’t see it.

Nobody sees it.

Have you ever lived a life where time stops

and never starts again?

The clock is broken.

Calendars blacked out.

It hurts to stand still

but the running… the running takes me

in a circle to the place when the clock

is still ticking and it’s loud.

I hear it. It rips through my heart

like my eardrums are busting open

and the blood in my throat is the wake up

call that strangles me with the hands

of time… the hands of you.. the hands of

my losses I can’t stop counting.

How could I not keep count of the blows?

I didn’t have solid footing and I can’t stop

searching for the roots I was ripped out of.

I didn’t grow with my feet in the flowers

and no one looks before they trample

a field that looks like nothing but weeds.

So I was weeded out

to make room for pretty things to grow

but all this time was the dirt that buried me

and I never died completely.

I have always been breathing in pieces

of a future that never waited for me to

catch up. Not everyone blooms the same.

~Stephanie Bennett-Henry © 2016

Time with You

Midnight whispers my name

like a secret straight from your lips

and I know nothing now other than

your voice took the chill from the

loneliness that seeps into my bones;

here I am now so far from being alone.

1:00am is deep conversations that

I swear no one else has ever had.

Songs in my throat swirl around

like the butterflies I got when I was

looking into your eyes, and yes…

I keep pinching myself to make sure

this is real.. my cheeks hurt from this

smile that will not stop kissing my face

and it’s all your fault, love, for being

the one person who took the time

to look at me, learn me, see me.

2:00 is my heart tangled around yours,

listening to your voice ruin me with the

passion it brands into my spine and god,

I would gladly choke on your heart and

say I had the most perfect ending. But

2:00am is never where it ends for us.

3:00am is I want to be where you are.

Your voice is a serenade of brilliance

wrapped up tight with an intimacy that

we created ourselves, and your hands

feel like a lifeline sometimes, holding

me back from myself, into you like the

one place I was always supposed to be.

I feel you here even when you’re there;

mountains between us collapse and

we crash into each other so perfectly.

4:00 is a promise to meet in our dreams

when we close our eyes, and we go there

together hand in hand, finding the proof

of us there, before morning wakes us,

and you spend your day with me again,

until midnight rolls around to kiss me.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

That Woman

Some think I’m reserved,

quiet and soft spoken in my ways.

More conservative in my thoughts,

perhaps some find me stand-offish,

snobby, stuck up in my silence.

Maybe some judge me as harsh,

cold, caustic if you will, with the

entitlement I wear every day like

an outfit I chose to slip into.

But, look again. Look again.

You cannot look at someone’s life

as a passerby, a stranger who has

never looked into my eyes, and

claim to know who I am or where

I came from. You don’t know me.

I am not like them.

I am not that woman

who can go live on a moments notice

and shine no matter what.

I am not that woman

whose confidence spills over

from my eyes to my smile

to my voice that shines

with everything that’s right

even when it’s wrong.

But I want to be.

I never learned that

I don’t know how to be that.

So, I watch the ones who are that

and I want to be them.

For one hour,

I wish I had the courage

to do something like that.

And some days,

I wish just making a phone call

didn’t feel like suiting up for war.

I wish walking outside

didn’t feel like being lost.

I wish I didn’t let fear define me,

but these butterflies

always tell me it’s too much.

These butterflies tell me

go back inside,

maybe try again tomorrow.

So, I just watch her and think

one day I’m going to be brave

like she always is.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

If I Should Go

In case history does repeat itself, and I leave you before I can say goodbye, let this be the letter you hold like the hand of the one who would never leave your side. Let these words be the solace you seek when the world shows its ugly face.

Dear You,

If you’re reading this, you cannot see me anymore, but I am right here next to you holding your hand. I know how you feel right now, like nothing is fair, and you curse the sky as if it never was anything but empty. I can’t tell you what happens next or if time heals anything, but I can tell you that the world is still yours and you are in control of the path you choose. I hope you always take the one that moves forward, and forget about the one behind you, because it’s a trap. Remember you can’t change what has already happened, so don’t ever look back. That rear view mirror has a blind spot and sometimes it looks like memory lane, but there’s a dead end like quicksand waiting to pull you under. Look the other way. Hold your head up high, eyes focused on your dreams colored with those pieces of your heart you’ve yet to let anyone see. They’ll see soon enough. But when they do, hold on tight because I’m telling you now, it’s beautiful enough to crack away part of the sky, just to let the ocean have a taste. Remember what I always told you about other people and how it doesn’t matter what they think. It’s true. This isn’t their stage, so don’t ever give it to them. Look up at the sky tonight. See those stars? Did I ever tell you why they shine like they do? They are shining for you. Ever since you were born, everything turned brighter, like a million neon spotlights aimed right at you. The moon took one look at your heart and decided nothing could ever shine with a brilliance quite like that; I can still see the beauty in that light. This place is your stage. Don’t forget that. Remember that fear is only an illusion we make up ourselves, and we can destroy it just as easily as we invented it. Look at it straight in the eyes and just laugh. Tell it to go to hell. Whatever you have to do, but don’t let it make a home out of you. It may try to touch you at times, but fear only survives in the dark so if it touches you, it will burn up quickly because of that fire in your belly. You are the only one who can put out your own flames. If someone or something tries to tame the way you burn, just remember there’s no surrender in your spine, no white noise in the spaces between where you are and where you are going. There is no giving in rooted in your throat between the voice you have and the one still growing beneath your tongue. You have the blood of a warrior swimming through your veins, bones built from Vikings lying in wait, and a heart that can swallow the universe whole while offering it a home. It’s true what they say about falling down and standing up. Don’t ever stay down. Because every time you get back up after being knocked down, it makes stronger. It also makes you wiser. There’s so many lessons. Take your time to learn each one. Always remember who you are and where you came from, but let that only be a tiny step in comparison with where you go. I hope you see the world. I hope you breathe it in so deep, your heart makes a room for it all. I hope you smile every day and surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Live each day like it’s your last. Be brave, but don’t be afraid to show vulnerability because that’s beautiful. When you love, love hard. Don’t ever make anyone feel small. Find your place in the world. I can’t tell you how to get there, but I can tell you it is magnificent and the world needs you. Be kind, but don’t let anyone walk all over you. Know that if all of this was in my hands, I would be there with you holding yours. I can hear you if you talk to me. Don’t ever forget that you are the best thing that ever happened to me and I am here on one of these clouds watching you and your beautiful journey.

I am so proud of you.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry

Coldness of Home

The blood is thick here

circling around cold hearts

constantly trying to take my hand,

but never to hold it.

All eyes on me, looking like home,

I stare into them, memorize them,

until I recognize the color

of a lie folded over, disguised

like a mask that looks familiar;

I have been here before.

I don’t want to be anymore.

I see my spine in your eyes

turned weak, I see my heart

in your mouth as you chew it up;

well spit it out… I want it back.

I’m not taking your hand

so you can pull me to the place

you think I should go.

I know where my dreams are,

I remember the way.

I have emptied your eyes,

taken back what’s mine.

Don’t follow me.

I will follow my heart

for the first time in so long.

You can taste your own words,

feel the sharp edges

of all you made me swallow,

and finally understand

the complicated sadness of me

came from your hands, dripping

with jokes I never laughed at

and hearts I stopped trying

to warm into a home.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

Look Away

When someone says my words are too sad, I say, “look away, my words are not about you.” I tell them this is my life, my heart, my story. I refuse to edit it for anyone else to make it easier to swallow, or pretend it was happier. I’m not going to turn my heart into a piece of fiction to make sure you stay on your fluffy cloud of make believe. I am writing my heart. This is my journey and I am riding it out to the end. I am writing out the pain until I don’t need to anymore. This is me doing me. This is me writing my heart out, hoping maybe some of my words break into your heart just enough to make you stop and think. Or maybe just enough to let one person know they are not alone. Because I know what it’s like to walk a journey alone and feel as though no one in the world gets it. I know that walk. I am too familiar with the way it guts my insides and leaves me spilling out an emptiness that will never fill me. So, I write these words and yes, sometimes they are sad, sometimes they strike a chord that only plays negative to some ears. That’s when I say, don’t listen. Turn on a different song. Cover your ears if you must. I have to write this out to get it out. I have to write this pain out to write my heart in. This journey isn’t about you, but if it resonates, then please, walk with me. A journey is easier when someone is willing to hold your hand and say, I get it… I have been there. I do get it and I have been there… and I’m telling you now, I’d be happy to walk with you.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

#stephaniebennetthenry