Maybe This Is Why I’m No Longer So Soft

Jeremy Bishop

I often ask myself when did I get so hard

Rough around the edges

A boulder, unable to move

A stone lodged in my own throat

I used to be soft,

Soft hair, soft skin, soft body

But you see my body stopped being my own

It wasn’t mine for so long

I gave it one night, on a bathroom counter

I gave it, but did not realize it was not handed back

Did not realize that monsters do not just hide under beds

They lay under people too

Greedy things that will reach out their arms to grab you

Even when you say you’ve had enough

Even when you tell them no

And then your body won’t be yours again

It will just jump from monster to monster

Hopscotching across nightmares

Skipping stepping stones across your heartbeat

My heart stopped talking to my body

Couldn’t bear to know what it was doing to itself

The night it got into a monster’s car

Drank a cup it knew was poison

Danced on its own grave

Painted a clown smile and performed like it was told to do

“Move your legs higher” said the ringmaster

“Don’t make any noise”

You said we were going for ice cream

Do you know that I stopped eating ice cream for months after you?

When did I get so tough I ask myself

When my cousin tells me you forced yourself onto her

In the dark of a party you tricked her into the forest

With so called friends who pretended they were coming back

Who never came back

She tells me how you plastered yourself onto her

How she fought back and ran away

And I can’t even look into her eyes

Can’t explain to her how you asked me to go get ice cream

How I said yes

That I knew we weren’t on the right road

That I drank that alcohol anyway

Lay there on the roof of a half built house

Said nothing when you chiseled out pieces of me

Said nothing when you took me to your home

Said nothing as we sat in the car and you took me home

When did I get so rigid I ask myself

Only when I stopped drinking so much

Only when I became sober enough to realize they never asked me if I was sure, if I was ready, if I wanted it

When I realized it’s not supposed to hurt

You’re not supposed to feel so dirty after

Only when I stood under the shower for hours and tried to scrub you off,

but there’s not enough soap in the world that could remove the freshly packed dirt from under my fingernails

Or the tree trunk from under my cousin’s

And so instead I packed myself away and tried to grow into a rock

I promise I only look hard on the outside

On the inside it’s nothing but limestone

Layers of sediment settled inside of myself, fossils of harsh memories I refused to face for so many years

Don’t try to bend me I will easily break

I spend hours in the rain hoping if I stay long enough these outer layers will soften into something prettier

I know there has to be amber hidden inside there but no one has bothered to look

I didn’t bother to look

And now? Now I am looking, now I am standing in streams and rivers and lakes

Trying to find the right stepping stones back to home

From the crumbs my heart left behind as it was crushed beneath the weight of monstrous hands

And so I forgive myself for being a little rough, it’s nothing but battle scars of a journey, slowly healing along with me. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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