i was in therapy for years
CBT worksheets plotted purposefully amongst childhood paraphernalia
from corners, soft lamplight was thrown like a duvet
trying to drape coziness
over the confining clinical unease.
and they were all the same
like a drugstore halloween costume labeled “safe space”
it was a factory-made attempt
to resemble the real thing
on grey walls hung posters advertising healing
as a landscape with peaks and valleys
true as it may be,
the message seemed a joke
from the merry-go-round’s plastic saddle.
one after the other
well-meaning professionals gobbled up
i can’t eat because it’ll make my thighs too big
was easier to offer up
i can’t eat because looking like a woman
is what drew him in
full from my empty bellied half-truths
they would rub their satisfied stomachs
nodding as they prescribed me
a 50mg prize
i became lost in a body
that no longer felt mine
Shame sinking me deeper by the day.
not long was I gone before
the missing signs went up around me
the photo used was of the girl before
my family and my friends searched,
but soon the search was abandoned
and from my warm corpse
i watched as my mother,
destroyed by guilt
believing she had failed me
mourned her child.
watched as my friends moved on,
unable to keep reaching outward
only to return with untouched palms.
i watched as my kind father,
eyes heavy and confused
opens his arms wide
like a shoreline of pure hope
and he calls me to make my way
back to him
desperate for an embrace
from his lost child
it would be five long years
until I would return
to the warm sands of touch
You gave me this Shame.
Shame that denied delicious food
lovingly made with intention and care
Shame that shut me out from the world
years passed by under the weight
of it’s control
but now I know
that this Shame you gave me
the burden, the disgust,
the things you placed in me
when you took away my childhood
and my voice
I can see now, they were never actually mine
this Shame is Yours.
after all this time
You take it back.
In loving memory of Before.
Lauren Frechette (she/her) is 22 years old and a first-year student in the Creative Writing program at OCAD University. With her work writing poetry, Lauren has learned to better navigate the murky waters of trauma, reclaim her voice, and most importantly, acknowledge the quiet beauty in everyday life. You can find her on Instagram at @laurenfrechette