TORTURE: Giving Voice to Pain

Today, we continue our journey into the poems I wrote in my teenage years. These poems hold a lot of significance to me.  I used them as a way to explain the world around me and to better understand myself. The first two poems I posted (you can find them here and here) were found folded up in the front of my book of poems. Today, we finally open up this notebook and dive into my memories. A lot of these poems already have titles and dates, making it easier to explain where I was in my life when I wrote the poem.

Have you ever opened something, knowing full well what was inside, and still felt a sense of surprise once you finally came face to face with the inner contents? That how I felt a moment ago when I looked at the first poem written here. You guys already know my childhood was hard. I was treated poorly by my peers and had little regard for myself. While I know there are more hopeful poems written in here, this first one speaks to the emotional pain felt on a daily basis.

(Written March 29, 2004. I was 13 and in 8th grade)

Torture

Life seems like torture

I am a toy for others to use,

my life means nothing,

do they think I’ve no feeling?

I must hold on,

to my dreams,

destiny,

what does the future hold?

If it hold anything,

let it not hold the torture,

that I feel today

Quiet a simple poem, isn’t it? Typing it here fills me was reminiscent anxiety. I feel like stealing myself away again, in the fear no one can understand. As I type, I struggle to find words. Perhaps that is because this poem says it all for me. This is who I was at 13. My middle school years were the worst in my life. Any day I attended school was a miserable day spent largely in fear of my peers.  Since this was written toward the end of middle school, I wonder if these words were born out of the pent-up pain I had been dealing with.

I feel the broken pieces of my childhood slipping through my fingers as I read this poem. What I wouldn’t give to comfort the girl who wrote this. I find myself desperately searching for a solution. What was so wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just be happy? There will never be answers to those questions. I existed as I was: a child who didn’t understand the emotions coursing through her.

I read some of the poems that come after this one and can assure you things get better. Perhaps this poem was no more than an initial step towards understanding. Here, I defined my pain and gave it voice. I brought it into the world as a tangible thing. On paper, I could touch it, read it and see it. With it in front of me, I could finally find a way to deal with my emotions and save myself.

How do you deal with intense emotions? In the absence of a support group to lean on, what would you do with yourself if you felt crippling sadness? How do you feel when you read this poem? 

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41 thoughts on “TORTURE: Giving Voice to Pain”

  1. I had such a different experience from your life at 13. Fear and pain weren’t part of it.

    I sympathize with what you describe. I taught school a long time and saw how mean kids can be to each other. No doubts in my mind how you could have been feeling. That’s too bad.

    Thanks for being so honest and open.

    1. Thanks for reading. I share a lot of strong opinions on this blog, but posting these poems is by far the most frightening thing I have ever done. Each poem still feels like a tangible emotion to me. I could almost revert back to that time in my life by reading them. There’s a lot of hope in them, though, so I think I will keep on sharing.

      I knew plenty of kind peers who chose not to bully me. It really only takes a handful to make life hell for a kid. I think you have to really stand out in a way that is viewed negatively in order to face what I did. Bullying has been getting a lot of attention lately, but I don’t know that it’s on the rise. I think we’ve simply reached a point where teachers and parents are trying to pay attention. ‘Kids will be kids’ is no longer an excuse to let bullying slide by.

      Like I said, it gets better. I have a handful of poems I am excited to share. There ones I used to perform a poetry reading with in extracurricular speech. They got me to the state level!

      1. Your poems are what you felt at a particular time. Its great that you share or release whats inside because it will only fester if you hold it in. Keep expressing in words because it helps others to overcome their dilemmas! Its good to get to know who you are through this blog. #BInspired2inspire

        1. Thank you. Unfortunately, I let those feelings fester for too long inside of me. I used to describe it like an emotional wall. I didn’t let anything anyone said to me enter, but there was no filter. While no bad got in, no good did either. When I became angry or frustrated, I couldn’t get past that wall and those feelings would bounce right back to me. Eventually, I started to work on taking down that wall, using writing a poetry as a way to make it easier to handle everyone churning inside of me.

          Since it’s Wednesday, I’ll have a new poem up soon. It’s not really the greatest in terms of writing, but it lead me to an important revelation. Check it out if you have the time (it should be up within the hour).

          1. I will definitely. But although through the short time that you have existed. You have allowed nothing out and nothing in. Now is the time to turn those thoughts into positive ones. We must not be concerned of yesterday and undisturbed about tomorrow but still and rested in right now. When you are feeling at a point of despair or maybe things are just not going your way. Stop! and begin to just be thankful and appreciative for the what we think are the little things. Turn that pain into gratitude and you will see your life begin to bloom… #BInspired2inspire

  2. I understand your experience. My teen years were not the greatest time for me and grade school had been worse for me. I was the small chubby girl that got my shins kicked as I went to get my jacket. I was introduced to poetry in the 5th grade and it has proven to be the greatest therapist in my life.

    1. It’s astounding what poetry can do. At the time, I was also writing stories, but those were a completely different thing. Poetry has a way of pulling emotion out of you. It helped me understand parts of myself other people probably spent years trying to figure out.

      I’m sorry you had a rough experience as well. I don’t know what it is about children. It seems they feel a need to pick on anyone who stands out too much.

  3. I also had a tumultuous adolescence. I hated school. I was not popular. Extremely insecure. The 20s were a whirlwind of learning how to deal with emotions and separate emotions from reality; from what is true. Sure glad I got past those years. I guess our experiences and choices shape us into who we are and who we will become. I like to think that I’ve reached a place of stability now. Hopefully. I am a very strong feeler, but I’ve learned that feelings can blind. Sometimes it’s stinking hard to get out a whirlwind of feeling and emotions and start thinking straight, but sooner or later it happens. I pray and struggle and cry, and sometimes rectify… and then comes the peace.
    =)

    1. “I am a very strong feeler”

      I think this may be true for me as well. One of the worst things ever said to me was some form of “don’t take it so personally.” To this day, I worry when I get down or angry if I am just taking this too personally. It’s something to reflect on. When it comes to the events of my childhood, though, how could I not take comments at my voice/hair/clothes/smell/skin/etc. personally? They weren’t saying “I see you have this problem, let me help you fix it.” They were telling me I was the scum of the earth.

      I’m sure they’ve all forgotten their actions. I have happily risen above their torment. Now, these are just memories I can share. They shed light on why I view the world the way I do and how I got to be who I am today.

      1. Have you seen “You’ve Got Mail”, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan? Tom Hanks always says, “It wasn’t personal. It’s business”. Meg Ryan then finally says to him, “How can it not be personal? Everything is.” Something like that. But it’s so true. If you are talking about me or critiquing me, then of course it’s personal.
        =)

        1. There’s good and bad ways to approach things. To give a minor example, telling someone their hair is ugly servers no other purpose than to hurt. Telling someone they look like they could use some hair tips and offering advice is better.

          Not everything works like that, though. Bullying someone for their gender, ethnicity or religion is pure bullying. There’s no way to change those comments to make them positive or helpful.

  4. Right there with you. I was bullied terribly in middle school and high school. I’m glad you found poetry to help cope. I found track, and that was great for me.

    1. I’m glad you found track. Both poetry and track are pretty healthy ways of dealing with stress and abundances of emotion. I had a number of friends and peers who turned to more destructive methods of stress control. I really think they should teach children stress management and provide them with different options. It would sort of be like gym class, which exposes children to various physical activities they can take part in.

  5. You held up a lot of hope.that tomorrow will be better. keep smiling.

    How did it make me feel. choked .. Feeling it as my own. though I was older at the time
    I wrote “slice of life” about a very down time.
    And when you do not have someone to go to, well I cope.
    I stopped regretting things done and look forward best i know how. I cannot change history.

    1. Thanks. It was really hard some days to keep hope. By this point in my life, I had overcome the darkest of my days (although it didn’t feel like it at the time). All my hopes were in college. At college, I could leave my small town, bullies and insecurities behind. I threw my entire being into my studies so that I would have my pick of colleges. So long as that escape was in my future, I was content to cope with the present.

      Now, I look back and hope that these poems may help someone, even if all they do is prove that other victims of bullying and low self-esteem are not alone.

  6. they often use tools not quickly felt
    those wounds to bone instead of welts
    and time is said to be a heal
    but at this moment’s not how I feel
    TK… KEEP up the reveal.
    “D”

    1. Thank you for those beautiful words. It makes me think of a theory of mine when it comes to this time in my past. I think children in middle school lack an understanding of the long term damage they may be causing. They don’t know how long their words will stick and they don’t see their victims cry themselves to sleep each night. All they do is say their piece and walk away. By high school, there is a little more understanding, so things are too bad. Once we are adults, most people are mature enough to avoid such hurtful comments, even towards those who are different from them.

      1. TK, the ONLY thing about people that act in these manners is that they merely get more subtle with their inflictions. Look at the way C.E.O.s responded at G.M., JPMorganChase, THE CITY OF DETROIT…

    1. Thank you. I’d love to share a poem on your blog. Just let me know what your looking for. You can contact me through my about page or any of my various social media links. I’ve followed you via Tumblr as well. Thanks for reading.

  7. One of my closest friends was bullied during middle school as well; he and I went to different schools. And the experience was a living hell for him. Its been more than thirty years later and he still will occasionally talk about how awful it was for him 😦

    1. I feel for him. My bullying got bad enough that my parents talked about taking me out of the Catholic school I attended and sending me to public school. By the time they asked if I would want that, I was generally afraid of people especially people near my own age. I didn’t see how any peer group would be different. The way I thought at the time, this transfer would have only succeeded in removing me from the presence of 20 peers and into the presence of 140 peers. I figured public school would just give more kids the opportunity to harass me. That is one decision I wish I could change. The damage had already been done. Maybe the public school would have provided some relief just because so few kids there knew of me. I guess I’ll never no.

      For a long time, I assumed what happened to me was normal. It wasn’t until I sought a therapist in college (a free service offered by my school) in an attempt to get to the root of my insomnia that I started to think differently. You had to fill out this questionnaire before they would see you. One of the questions asked about aggressive bullying. I said I had been aggressively bullied and it was one of the first things the therapist mentioned. I was immediately embarrassed because I was probably just complaining about nothing. I explained certain events of my childhood anyway and he told me my stories were pretty sever in his opinion. For the first time, I started to come to terms with the events of my youth.

      Like your friend, I think I will carry my experiences with me for the rest of my life. They have great influence over how I treat others today. In a way, the hell I lived through made me a better person. Still, I wouldn’t say it was worth it. It’s certainly not worth the children who take their own lives. They leave from this world with almost no concept of the good that exist in the world.

  8. It was rather difficult reading this, although my experiences were different, the resulting feelings seem to be similar, I too took to writing poetry, often very dark. It was reading those words back to myself afterwards that took away the anger that had no meaning and focused more on what was truly the issue, so hard to do when that age. In university while using various forms of mind numbing substances I had a choice of whether this was my future or not, it wasn’t so I moved on. Which sounds easy but wasn’t at all.

    Having read a lot of your posts you remind me so much of myself 20 years ago and I have enjoyed it, the passion, the conviction, now I miss it. For me a very life altering diagnosis has me out searching for me again, at 41 sheesh, you would think I have it figured out….

    Enjoying your honesty and openness, in my experience, (as the ancient going through teenage angst so really not worth much), keep it up, question always, be open when you feel safe and the world will give back. So sorry you had to go through bullying, I also believe that it is a badge of honour you hold going forward that shows strength.

    1. While studying abroad in college, a friend told me she was ‘searching’ and was perfectly comfortable to always be searching. That was a discussion about religion, but I think it applies to every aspect of life. Things are always changing. I’m convinced that they second we feel completely comfortable, life will throw us a curve ball that throws us off balance again. Discovering who I am isn’t a destination, it’s a journey that will just keep on moving. It’s not about finding the answer, its about always searching. I don’t expect I will every hit an age where I will have ‘figured it all out.’

      Thanks for reading. You seem like quite the adventurer from your blog’s about page. You’ll have to let me know how your life list pans out. I have a goal of stepping foot on every continent in my life time. 2 down, 5 to go!

  9. Hey thank you for passing by our blog.
    Reading through your blog, I felt some of the dispare that you endured during your formative years. I sympathize with you deeply. Bullying and torture is rapid in schools today still. But what I teach my children is that no one can determine anything for you but God! Its important that we encourage our selves consistently daily to stay motivated. For the most part people will give you the opposite of what you desire. So we have to be confident in what we believe in no matter what it looks like or how it sounds and most of all, how it feels. And it is ok to fantasize and dream because we create with our mind. So everything that you desire is within, #itsup2u to project it out to the Universe for a manifestation. #AllIsWell.
    Continue to visit our blog and most of all share with your community.

    1. Thank you for reading. I think a lot of people think of bullying as something that happens to other people. I wanted to write something that would put those people within the mind of a bullied child. It’s not something that should be taken lightly.

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