I’ve been victimizing myself since I was a kid,

when at 7, the fist attached to my mother’s wrist

that uncoiled toward me in the afternoon light

of the laundry pile with a snap that said

you put me in her hand because of your choices,

bit into my face and injected a shadow of losing myself

that would tighten around me for decades so tightly

my self-esteem would slowly shed itself.

This new me I asked to follow me through fields

of my wanting to please my babysitters,

and hold my father until he came back to life,

each time he looked down at the ground

after coming back to the same sick woman, himself,

only to end up consoling his anima with his own fragile ego

when he should have been picking his self confidence

up by the ball sack and swallowing it pain bubble first,

a hyperreactive and weak propensity for self-harm

and the prisoner-mind honed to survival, every kid

and later adult who thinks they have it tougher than

anybody else, and they might, must learn to grow out of,

if they are to stop remaining a victim of their own cold-

blooded hand and put down the concrete slab of self-

imprisonment for good.

And I’d be willing to believe that reasonableness about

myself and how I self-destructively failed to constructively

navigate repeated variations of child and adult abuse,

only to spend most of my life neglecting to learn how to

tell the difference between being and remaining a

victim while continuing to blame certain

aspects of American culture for my tragic chronicle,

if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve hoisted myself out

of my own asthmatic throat too many times to count,

only to realize it’s how I stop myself from remaining

a self-fulfilling prophecy that sometimes victimizes others

who’ll be sure to remind you of this when it’s convenient.

In fact, just the other day the victim archetype squeezed

its tiny, turtle-looking head out from between a friend’s

set of teeth when she said to me try having children and a

husband, after I told her this childless bachelor

was too tired to stand,

an event that retreated back into the awkward silence it

came from just as soon as I realized I wanted to nail

her denial shut by telling her try having nobody to be

pissed at but yourself for decades.

That aggressively styled truth would have really been

my undoing had I snapped it back onto her, because,

though it may have been partly true, it would have suggested

she didn’t know how to be accountable for herself with

compassion and validation, never mind anybody’s family,

and that in her pursuit of not being a loser victim and

denying the outer villain component of victim psychology,

she’d actually closed herself off from ever having a shot

at a point of fact supportive relationship with any

kind of healing change encircling it, when in fact she didn’t

get that way by not caring about someone.  

It’s why irreconcilable survivor moments like these

I tell to my stuffed bear who I’ve named Barry, just before

I call it a night and pull him tight to my hairy chest to feel

what it might feel like to touch someone who can’t speak

to me about anything, being emotionally absent, while

looking like they are trying to be “close to my own heart,”

but while ultimately knowing that, being both a victim

and a victimizer, it’s really the medicine of harmonizing

these forces that naturally oppose one another to a fine point

within the idea that there is actually a self to discover,

that I want to be both contained by and remain close to,

even if that sometimes means I have to be broken and

unfixable and open enough to be victimized again in order

to remember that. If you want to know what I think, it’s

not self-victimization to merely survive, when the choice

to not be a victim anymore has proven, proven itself to be

less survivable, and not everybody knows how to stop

denying themselves just yet.