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



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


I Lie

I never meant to make you sad. It was never my intention to spread my pain thick into your blood stream until it came up hard enough to choke you. I didn’t want to twist your words into a puzzle that rendered you speechless, but I did. I did that. And I’m so sorry. I only wanted you to understand. I only needed you to walk in my shoes long enough to know that this pain is as real as yours is not. This pain.. I know it’s mine, I know. But understand, it’s as real as your happiness. I’m not exaggerating. I am not trying to be dramatic. I’m not testing the waters of crazy to see if I can make the biggest waves. I am not competing here. And yes… sometimes my heart, it splits open, it spills over, it falls out. I cannot contain all of what I hold. My mind, love.. listen to me.. This mind… these thoughts, sometimes they eat me alive, if I’m being honest and the truth of this war inside, god.. it hurts so much. And if I don’t have you to understand it or to see it.. I have nothing. If I don’t talk to you about it, I only have myself and I am so tired. This battle beats me down. Lashes me until I am bent ugly and broken bloody as these fists clenched tight around my own throat. The words.. they’re not always free flowing. They are not always healing me the way I say they sometimes do. Sometimes my vocal chords get twisted, fire and smoke trapped inside the tangling and I have nothing other than the silence to depend on. My eyes close, but only halfway. I have to be on guard, a watchdog for these nightmares that won’t let me sleep. I wake up empty and sometimes I’m not sure if I want to wake at all. My feet hit the floor. I reach straight for the combat boots laced up ready in my heart because every day is another war that doesn’t let me throw up a peace sign. And every night I’m torn from having to explain this fight like it’s something I volunteered for. I wish it was. I wish it was. Because then I could just quit. I could walk away. I could be like you. I could be like everyone. I could smile and mean it. But I smile anyway… so that no one feels uncomfortable. I lie so you can be happy. And inside… I gut my own smile for the massacre it makes of my heart. As long as you are smiling, I am fine. I just wanted you to know.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

Flower on the Wall 

Maybe this will turn out to be nothing more than my usual rambling of random things that only make sense in the end to me, but I’m at peace with that part of myself. The flower on the wall that goes unnoticed until words pour from my throat like an awkward mess that cannot be cleaned up. So they stay there in a pile, stepped over like a crack in the concrete you avoid at all costs because you don’t want to break something already so fragile. But delicate things aren’t always a breaking waiting to happen. Sometimes the strongest souls are the ones with quiet hearts, tender feet, tiny petals blown away with one whisper from the wind. But those souls… they are the beautiful ones. The strange, low key souls looking like a tiny candle burning until someone tries to blow it out. You can’t blow out a fire like that. Because the wind comes along to collect the rubble from the pile once built from words, and the beauty from those words is scattered across the world. It spreads like wildfire, those fragile things, and that’s why we have the stars to make wishes on; it all started from an awkward flower on the wall and words that don’t always make sense, until you pick them up and understand the beauty that once looked like nothing but a random crack wishing to be a tiny candle burning. -Stephanie Bennett-Henry 


Rhythm of You 

You can forget us, but my body remembers 

the song you left just beneath my skin, 

the rhythm of us still shakes me. 

You are the music I will forever dance to. 

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry
Rhythm of You


You are an advocate for a cause, not for each person who deals with the cause you’re fighting for. You can speak for the cause from your own perspective, you can be a voice for your own experience, but don’t confuse it with right and wrong. Because when you take your own pain and wring it out hard enough to make sure everyone else can taste it, you are no longer advocating. You are no longer spreading awareness, love. You are still juggling your own pain, unsteady ground, your feet aren’t planted in the shoes of a survivor, but rather someone barely surviving. Take a rest. You can be a hero later. You can save everyone later. Right now, stop and take a breath; save yourself first. People can understand the pain on your path without having it smeared across their face to taste it; swallow it down. Let it be the lesson that makes you stronger so that one day you can indeed look back and say you survived all of this. You can look back and know you’re not what broke you, and just because you broke,doesn’t mean everyone else has to get cut with those edges; soften yourself. Sometimes we all have to let our own walls collapse and let others come in… I’ve been out here knocking for so long. It’s not wrong or right, it just is. Put down the armor, drop the sword. You don’t have to fight alone. You don’t have to fight for everyone else. Take a rest, quiet your heart… for once, let someone fight for you. Everyone isn’t who hurt you. Everyone isn’t who hurt you. Say it… Everyone is not who hurt me. 

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

Ugly Truth 

My feelings escape me at times 

through the parts of me 

I never had a chance to seal. 

I try to contain them. 

I try to explain them away 

but still they creep me out. 

They peek out from behind my shadow 

that I keep in front of me as a guard. 

And I am ruined 

because the truth feels so ugly. 
-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

Ugly Truth

The Corner 

I hope you feel powerful now 

for taking a low blow to my heart.

I hope you feel bigger than the smallness 

you were always running from 

when no one was around to save you

except for me. 

But that’s all forgotten now. 

I never existed. 

I was lost somewhere between the truth 

and the day you forgot how to tell it. 

I was put in the corner 

of where your dirty lies 

collected the dust 

from that smile everyone believes in. 

I know the feeling 

because I once believed it too. 

Until you covered me 

in the lies I can’t scrub away, 

and it feels disgusting 

to be this dirty. 

But I won’t let it bury me

in the ugliness that mirrors your heart. 

That’s never who I’ll be. 

I hope you never feel the cold 

of losing everything 

while everyone smiles 

and continues living 

like nothing ever happened. 
-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

My Father’s Eyes 

I have my Father’s eyes, the exact color and shape, but I also have his perception that tangled around the blue heart center of his view. I have my Father’s mouth, plump lips that came with the nervous habit of biting them until they bleed, and the split personality of his tongue that could make you feel like everything or nothing. I have a fraction of his temper that was a surprise hidden his throat, but the kind of surprise you ever forget. I have my Father’s heart, I wear it the way he did, on my sleeve, in my eyes, almost always in someone else’s hands. I have my Father’s sense of humor with the ability to turn pain into laughter to cover my wounds. I have my Father forever, for in the mirror, I am his spitting image, and these traits I have carried for two years longer than him. 

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry 

My Father’s Eyes