Shauna Wangler

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Curiousity didn't kill the cat in this one, it brought her back to life

Some nights
I wake up to splattered paint
twirling its way around my pale wrists,
and outlining the fading blue
of my whispering veins. 

I’ve hit a point where I can no longer tell
whether the voices stem
from a place within myself
or from the creatures that hand-cuff me
in ropes strung together with my own blood.

Other nights,
I am pumped up with helium.
I clutch at my bed sheets
but they shrink from my trembling grasp,
shuddering in ripples of childish giggles.

I do not understand their jokes.
Actually, if I’m being honest,
I do not understand anything
anyone is saying to me,
at all.

To be honest,
I am terrified of being in my own skin.
For, I can no longer decide which me is real
and which is the shadow of the disease.
Perhaps it doesn't even matter.

When they first diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder
I saw doves carrying chainsaws,
crushing the locks of their wire cages.
I saw myself standing naked in an empty house,
plundered by an endless succession
of prisoners racing for the windows,
thanking me for setting them free.

You see,
I thought that naming my demons
would give me the power to wrap
years and years of shivering pain
into a pretty box with a pretty bow.

I thought it would give me the strength
to ship it off to some pretty island
in the middle of the green, pretty ocean,
among fields of pretty flowers,
surrounded by pretty silence. 

But, truth is, there is no escaping.
There is no escaping the past
when that past is everything you are.
You can’t run from everything
you have ever built for yourself.

You can’t hide from your personality,
your beliefs,
your passions,
your desires,
your stories.

I have to remind myself that
my past is my story to tell,
no matter how dark;
no matter how many lies
I used to litter it with. 

My past in not a pretty box
with a pretty bow
that you rush to open
as soon as it lands on your doorstep;
the taped corners shuddering in the breeze.

My past is like a lake of fucking gasoline.
It will set fire to everything you ever loved 
and scorch your throat
like century-old scotch
when you swallow the truth.

My past like is a pack of fireworks
that stays locked up in the shed
because you are too afraid
of the images that might be shown
if you were to release them.

My past is like a shallow river
with a quick tongue,
piercingly cold,
shielding a rumbling temper,
only heard of in fiction.

You do not want to hear of my past.
I would never place that on you.
But, there is no denying
that my past will always
be a huge part of who I am.

When I look back,
I don’t want to remember
the skin and bones 
that grinned back at me
in the fogged-up bathroom mirror.

I don’t want to remember
the perfect smoke rings 
that brought me up when I was down
or the empty bottles that littered my floor
when I woke from the mania.

I don’t want to remember
the chronic emptiness,
lost opportunities,
or cut after cut I made
into my pale skin.

I don't want to remember
the voices,
the shadows,
the lost weeks,
or the confusion.

I don’t want to remember the life I almost ended


No. I want to remember 
making the leap for help,
the hot tears I cried,
the poems I wrote,
and the friends I encouraged.

I want to remember 
all of the relationships I strengthened
with the shared pain and suffering.
I want to remember the rise
and not how bad it hurt to hit rock bottom.


I want to remember the good in my past.

The good is the curious little girl
under the truth I have frozen in ice.
She makes small talk uncomfortable, 
and I would probably be better off
without her. . .

But I would be so boring.

So, I will let her paint her damage
along the walls of the city streets
with brushes made of her own golden locks
because her darkness
is a different brand of beauty all on its own.

She will not become the ghost of herself.

That little girl is too damn interesting
and I hope she never hides
any part of her twisted story
in order to make a few boring people
just a little bit more comfortable.

She deserves so much more than that.
My only regret is not realizing it sooner.
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