Courage on Repeat

It’s in the tremble of the bottom lip, the throat gutted dry, tears flood out no matter how hard you press your tongue to the roof of your mouth..That is how you always know you hit the wall of that familiar place where no u-turns are allowed, no redemption lies in wait, and shaky legs give in to the quicksand of the unforgiving.You have been eaten alive before by the mouth of the world, love. Did you think it couldn’t happen more than once? You tell yourself to hold on tight for one more round, brace for impact and hope you only get chewed up and spit out again, and not swallowed whole. I don’t have it in me anymore to wholeheartedly agree, but I have a tiny bit of hope left over, and it may be just enough to tell myself to breathe, focus, and hold on for dear life as this life takes me for another ride. I am on my knees, holding wishes like salvation, whispering secrets to the stars, hoping they hear me one last time. My life depends on it now and I say, “I know the sky is not empty, because I have felt it fall and it’s so goddamn heavy.. please show me what weighs it down before it falls again.” I don’t know if I can do this again, but I have one last shot and I swear to make it matter like me.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


Which Way?

I have been running for my life, whether towards it or away from it, I have not stopped. I chase it or it chases me.  There’s an echo sometimes, maybe from my chest where my heart tries to make a run for it, or perhaps it’s from the way my feet hit the pavement loud, running from myself, away from myself… I search the signs, look for one that shows me the way to self discovery.  Maybe I’m lost most of the time, but at least I am not standing still. That means something right?  I don’t always know the route carved with my name, but I swear I’m leaving footprints everywhere to say…  I was there, I am here, I never gave up. I swallowed the compass, read the way by the beats of my heart.. I listen closely, and it’s okay if it takes me the long way around.  Sometimes the long way has the best lessons to learn. 

 -Stephanie Bennett-Henry 


A Fool Who Judges

If you remember anything at all, remember that you do not know the story of someone else unless they have confided in you about it, and even then, it is not yours to judge.  You will never know the struggle of another. You simply cannot. It is impossible to grasp the pain of someone else or the journey they have traveled to be where they are today. You have never held it, you have never felt it, so why would you think to judge it? Feelings can only be judged by a heart that is not full and pain is only measured by fools who never felt. There’s a lesson in this. I hope if you learn anything from this life, it is this: 

Someone else’s struggle is not yours, their pain is not for you to judge or mock or make light or dark of.  The only pain you can truly hold and understand is your own. Don’t judge someone’s climb only to hope they fall. Because even if they do fall, they will never crash as hard as the fool who judged them when they tried to fly.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry 


Feathers Plucked

I hope one day you find sunsets that hold honesty, the moon holding a glow of kindness as a reminder that you have always held those traits inside, but perhaps hid pieces away and forgot the meaning in moments you wished never happened. You should know wishes don’t come true and time cannot be wished away in the hush of waters grown rough, love, nothing stays calm forever. I once thought you were the best listener in the world, until the world spun into a flight that crashed into deaf ears. But you hear me now. You hear me in a different way, like a stranger annoyed, inconvenienced with the pain I spill because perhaps you felt some of that pain too. We poured it out in different ways publicly, but one on one we bled the same. The only difference in the blood was that mine spilled out to you, leaving no questions behind, while the truth of yours leaked slowly through words I had to read instead of hear. You squalled words in anger, not from anything I did or said, but from perceptions rooted from guilt. While I was trying to understand your silence, you answered with written words so loud and clear, I caught a fresh break to the heart. You only chalked it up to drama when it interfered with a new bloom on your horizon. You only thought my feelings to be a plead, begging and screaming like I was showcasing drama of pain self inflicted. You know that’s not true, or if you somehow can pretend not to know… I guess that’s your way of moving on. You mocked my pain, put it on display during my healing, until I took your blade and turned it on myself. Not everyone switches feelings off so easily and walks away from what we had, but you did. Turned your heart to stone, gave a dozen reasons why, until the truth poured through the cracks, and I was the last to know. I won’t be coming this way again, because your blades aimed at me keep knocking me down every time I stand. That’s self induced drama. You’ve made it more than clear that you never cared at all, so why are you still trying to rationalize our story? My pain, self pity, self induced wounds and “drama” as you call it shouldn’t affect you at all. If you’re so strong to not even flinch, then you are fooling me, because your words keep flinching beneath your own skin. You just refuse to look at them in fear you may feel. So, go… move on.. what’s stopping you? I know where my pain comes from, but I’m not sure you know yours. My tongue has never lashed out at you. I loved you with all of my heart and you felt the same. But when the audience wanted to see a show with a little blood, you caved and gave it. That’s when I knew you stopped believing in me, if you ever did anyway. That’s when I knew I was worthless to you. Yeah.. it’s not always easy to keep standing to look for my light when the one person I believed in more than anything put every single person before me, and could not even call me friend anymore. You believed a lie from someone else’s mouth and never bothered asking me about it. That was part of the show offering bloodshed I guess. Well, the show is over, bloodshed done, congratulations. Close the curtain. I’m not starring in the fictionalized storylines that pat you on the back for having to deal with such a squalling, self-induced, chaotic mess. I was never part of that play, but I’m honored that you can take my pain, and write it as though I am nothing more than a crying nutcase. Well played. If you’re finished, you can move on now and fly with someone who knows wings are used for more than plucking their own feathers. Maybe in the end, they won’t just be a chicken, walking around with their head cut off, dodging the point of your blade that bleeds with so much honesty. I’m sure it will be a beautiful soul, I know you love beautiful souls, until one day, you just don’t anymore when their feathers ruffle from your departure, and they stand there with the audacity to squall out feelings like emotional instability, plucking out perfectly good feathers. How dare someone love you and then hurt when they lose you. I know now.. it’s not allowed. It does make for magnificent storylines though, painted like a sky that never fell.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

📷 Amy Judd

Storms Don’t Apologize

Sometimes we forget the storm that made someone else drown, because we were breathing just fine as we walked away with memory selective and shoulder blades as cold as a knife. Keep walking. Stop looking back after the storm settled to see if maybe you can conjure up some more thunder in my sky, love. You are a stranger because you want to be. My roots… are where they have always been. I dug every one up, studied it like the back of my hand, replanted it solid and it’s growing as beautiful as it always did, only stronger. I have no blades in my garden. I took them all out of my back, let the blood spill out like calling the name of loyalty, and your voice didn’t echo back anywhere. I own every seed of pain rooted in my bones since birth. Put down the shovel that keeps digging my wounds to search for your reason. You owe me nothing. I got the answers I needed from a public display of third party fiction written with swords thrown at me. I caught each one straight in the mouth, swallowed them all whole to make sure they sliced my heart again and again, cut my wrist just to seal the words in my veins, stitched it up like drama trying to be pain recovered. Find the truth in your own light and don’t ever think my dark has anything to do with you. The same dark you knew by heart and loved anyway… until it became inconvenient; so be it. You showed me how dark can be pitch black and completely alone, but I’m not afraid; I know this by heart. Thank you for showing me how to to keep myself warm in the shade and the continuous reminders of my roots, ripping up like cold steel bars that cage me. For the life of me, I was almost free. But almost is like a promise planted, left to die with everything else, even the flowers I was worth a time or two, or a friendship that withers because it wasn’t worth it to you. No apology is needed from you. I owe myself and trust me, love, I pay every single day.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


The Music Changed Me

You found me wounded,

but stitched up, whole,

baggage like everyone,

shoved down deep

where it never touched me with you.

You left me with wounds ripped open,

brought back to life, made new like the

first time each wound ever bled.

I was never more raw.

I was never more unguarded before,

fully comfortable in my own skin,

believing that I could take on the world

with wide eyes and a heart that never

knew how not to trust.

I was stupid.

Or maybe we can call it naive.

Silly me.

I never loved like that before you,

never had someone love me so deeply

until you did…

and honestly, I am changed forever.

I cannot ever go back.

Do you understand?

I cannot ever be the same.

The way your shoulder made such a

sharp turn, froze over so cold,

it cut me… still cuts me…

it will always cut me deep

like falling from edges

where music separates

from lyrics

and every song I thought I knew

is unrecognizable,

but familiar with the way my heart

refuses to let me forget.

I have to cover my ears

to save my life…

because my heart breaks itself

in pieces with each word

cutting in

like a knife that wanted to be

a dance.

Even so, I continue to play it,

wrap myself in a blanket,

keep my heart warm

despite your cold,

because I never loved like that

and I never will again;

I keep the chords

like a lifeline…..

if I let go, my heart stops

and I want to live,

so I keep the radio on.

I search for stars I can wish on

and sunsets I can believe in

again and one day…

maybe the music will not hurt.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


The Light is Yours

There are not enough words to describe how much I loved you, believed in you with all of my heart and stored up more just in case. And it’s silly, the way I would have given everything up for you, how I still question every single thing to make sense of the exact moment it all turned so wrong. Maybe I will always beat myself up over you, us, the win, the loss, the beginning, the end. It feels like living sometimes only long enough to see myself die. And I don’t know how I became this person, who feels so deeply, I break myself in pieces of someone I don’t even recognize. And I don’t know who this person is, who always falls to my knees, offering an explanation for why I feel, or apologize for the too much of myself. That’s who I am. And I shouldn’t be sorry. I am not sorry. I will never be sorry for who I am again or give anyone the power to take me to my knees to bleed out reasons why I am good enough, or scream like a plead to keep someone who runs the other way. That’s not who I am or who I have ever been, but love does crazy things sometimes and I don’t ever want to be in such an ugly light. Because it hurts a lot. When a connection is severed, everything stops, and all the things someone loved about you suddenly become all they despise. They move on without looking back, convince themselves or someone else that they never cared at all, make light of the feelings that once were. And from beginning to end, it’s all gone. The beautiful parts collide with the ugly and nothing is left. Just you… standing there, trying to keep it together, trying to stay strong, trying not to be the one who creates drama. But understand, it doesn’t matter what you do, you have to be the villain of the story. That’s how some people move on. By letting go hard, like they never touched you, saw you, knew you at all. Let them go and please, never look back. If someone has to let go like that, in a way that rips your heartbreak open to break it again, they never had both feet in. No matter what you tell yourself, no matter how much they loved you and you loved them, you don’t do that to someone you loved. You just don’t. You don’t tell someone you loved to stop feeling when they are hurting, you don’t turn feelings into drama, but tell everyone else they will find their light again. You don’t listen to other people throwing matches into a fire just to see a show. YOU don’t. But some do. Please don’t ever lose yourself like that. Don’t ever think you have to harden yourself with such hatred in order to move forward to love again. And don’t change the way you love based on the ways someone tried to tone you down. That’s not about you, love. That’s about them. So, be the crazy one, the one who feels, the one who means it, the promise that doesn’t break, the one with both feet in, and do not ever apologize for being you. Don’t let someone turn your light down or mock your dark. You control the way you shine. Only you. No one has the power to stand next to you in the same light and say yours looks like shit. No one has the power to stand next to you in the same dark and pretend yours is an act the curtain never closes for. You shine how you shine. When the tables turn and you find yourself sitting alone in a dark place, you light your heart up and remember how you shine all by yourself. Your heart never needs validation or permission for feeling, shining, or turning pitch black. Don’t ever let someone scorn you for feeling, especially when they once felt the exact same as you. Light or dark, happy or sad, on top of the world or rock bottom, you hold on to you. Anyone who judges it can let go and leave without lingering around trying to make you feel guilty for being human. That only means… they cannot let go yet. But you can, darling.. you can. So, go… show me how you shine alone.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


Hands Clean

Daily Random Rambling

Assumptions are a tricky thing, especially on social media. I always try to remind myself that I don’t know anything about someone else’s struggle, whether I’m friends with them in real life or social media. Daily conversations with someone are nothing more than sharing parts of yourself guarded. Talk about the weather, exchanging memes, hey.. what’s up.. doesn’t tell you anything about a person. You think you know about someone else’s life or what they’ve struggled with for the last few months because you can see their social media feed? You don’t know shit. Why would you pretend to know anything at all? But you do. You think you have another persons dark memorized because you spent a little time with them. As if they lost their light for a while when they held your hand and you keep pointing to the future as though you hold the only compass that directs them back to their own light. Like they fell when they jumped and stayed down because of you. You’re giving yourself too much credit. How would you know if the person whose hand you let go of is still lying down in rock bottom or if they’ve been standing for months, with or without you. You don’t know. The truth is hard to look at sometimes, fogged over through assumptions, lines blur across the world of social media. I’ve been kicking my ass for six months, trying to rise again, finding my own light again, standing again. I stood in the dead silence without your help. Then you make a comeback, find the words that rise again, rip them from your throat for an audience.. and I fall… I fall.. you know I fall. It’s kicking someone when they are down and every time they stand, kicking harder, kicking harder. All you could have said, you could have said to me. That’s communication. That’s knowing someone. Knowing why they fell and what they have done to rise. Not pretending to know. Not believing it’s all about you. Don’t tell someone to step out of their dark when you don’t know a thing about their dark or their light. Worry about your own light. If you never ask someone how they are, don’t pretend like you know. You don’t predict another persons struggle or how they feel or don’t feel. So, take the rope holding the shade across your own face and look your own light in the eyes before you dip into my dark like a story you wrote. You never even held the pen to my story, love. You held a pencil for a short time and then erased every word. Held my light like backpedaling through mind games of your own dark, pointing in the direction you thought I should go. You don’t have that power. You fed me light, then shoved dark down my throat so I could taste the flavor of choking on my own demise, and I took the bait.. choked on it hard. But I came up for air and I am breathing now without you… I have been for some time. You can sling words like stones forever, make me taste my own shortcomings like weapons you cannot stop throwing, I will not even flinch.

I loved you once, always will. I’m not afraid of the different versions told to an audience who was never there, but still applauded the story they wanted to hear. I know our story. I will never turn it into a weapon that plays dirty. I have thumbed through our chapters, my hands are clean. The audience doesn’t dictate how our story played out and I never showed the script to anyone. But there’s people with blood on their hands like prints giving life to their own breath, and I can’t believe you let anyone touch our story. I keep it in my heart, before it turned filthy. I keep it safe like clean, white bedsheets that once held bloodshed, beautiful and pure.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


Take My Light

Everything bent away one day, turned dark when I blinked, took the universe on a spin, taught it how to crash and burn beyond recognition of any kind of come back. Sometimes I wave at the memory, but usually I ignore it ever existed at all. Sit here like a clean slate that never had a choice to be anything other than a daze wiped blank by my mind’s eye when I looked away. The dark grows on me like skin I was always meant to slip into and get stuck there. I stopped searching for light, put a halt on the idea that a glow exists in anyone’s eyes like a compass that may show me which way to go. I’ve taken that road and it ended with a road block that said nothing more than go fuck yourself. I stepped over the stones, just along the cracks of the corner, kicked in the eyes of anything that resembled the idea of a catalyst claiming to know my name. Buried my name, along with my story in my own throat and swallowed it, secrets and all, to make sure no one could ever see it, touch it, taste it, fuck it. I am clenched in the hands of myself, owning every filthy piece I rooted myself in and taking back the sharp edges mishandled by hands dirtier than where I was hushed into a burial I never prepared for. I clawed my way out, took the stitches off my lips that told me to hush, ripped the scream hiding belly deep, and let that mother fucker roar like an engine made new. Head to toe covered in a show of bullshit, spotlights on to reveal the mess of me and look at the goddamn audience now. Yeah.. you don’t want to miss this. Sorrow always makes the best story lines, draws a crowd of wait and see… watch the way she drops to her knees and exit before the end. Save yourself from the bloodshed of her eyes blinded over, walk away from the disaster when it looks too familiar. Don’t pity me. Pity the eyes that drip with vanity, the mouth choking on ego, the fiction saving face like kissing ass and caving in. Pity the heart that spit on your soul, bit into your spirit, and walked away shiny and clean. I always fall for shiny things that whisper promises like stars that come true, just before they shoot like bullets instead of wishes and hit me in the heart. Split me open like a letter that says, I’m sorry we ever happened at all, but you’re brilliant. Now go find the light again and shine like you always did. And they swallow your light, leave you in the dark of your sorrow, because it’s too messy to watch. Your heart is not convenient when it’s broken like that, when you feel like that, when you can’t move on quicker than that.. get your shit together in the silence of it all. Your feelings, they are too loud, too true, too painful… I feel sorry for you.. I’ve moved on… you’re making it really hard for me to act like we never happened. I am sorry, but… please, go shine again somewhere. Your dark is fucking up my light. Well, I’m so sorry. You keep my light, I’m not shining again. But I promise to keep my dark out of your way. I won’t let anyone touch it. The story ends with me finding solace in my own dark, by myself, for myself, in spite of you holding the torch fired up with my light. Flame thrower, I look better in the dark anyway, unseen, out of sight, out of mind, heartless like silence, but still fierce like my soul that cannot ever be hushed into an ugly corner.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry


Ocean Refusing the Salt

I barefoot climbed the ladder of you like heart wide open, no fear of falling, knowing you would catch me as I dropped onto you. Soul meets soul, you caught each moan, your mouth like arms wide open, skin clinging as though acceptance was found in sweat between our soul’s shells. I held it close, listened to the sounds we created as though the ocean never could fit like that, believed the waves could never settle into a calm turned to full stop. Until the calm came in doses of I don’t know and I don’t care… and it sounded a lot like the ocean rejecting the salt, freezing the waves to become nothing more than a shore that never was ready to see the worth in the way we turned the tide. The ocean refuses to sing like that again.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry