It is the leaves that make the tree.

It is the leaves that make the tree.

Look what I have done for you
My body is bare before you
My leaves fly into the air
My arms are knackered branches
Stranding exposed before you.
These are my leaves collecting around our feet;
I have unravelled in front of you,
Like you asked me to.
Can you see these tiny solar cells cascading,
Swirling before our eyes
Can you see them?
I have unpicked every one of them
(My secrets)
And you can see them
You can read them and feel them in your palms
Those stories that have kept me sheltered,
They held the parts of me I wanted to keep for myself
And
Who am I
now that you have seen every part of me?
Who can I be
Now that there is nothing left of me
That you have not touched?
You asked me to tell you who I am.
And now that I’ve told you the answer,
I cannot exist anymore.

-Emma Catherine

thelilaclysander.com

Alien

Alien

For me,

There is a surrealism to balance.

What is it like to breathe

And not gasp?

Or walk

And not sprint?

 

Aliens are in emotion.

How does one cry without crumbling?

Or stand their ground with defiance

Without bubbling over with a poison rage

Like acid from a cauldron?

A burning, corrosive witches brew.

To see someone cheerful,

Instead of ecstatic is confusing.

I can tell you I have seen UFOs.

They are

In the people I love,

In bus drivers and friends,

In shopkeepers

And therapists.

 

They are alien to me,

Because they are so human

Without complete excess.

I wish I could have just loved you

Instead of being alive

only because of you.

 

Aliens, teach me your ways.

Breakdown the surrealism.

 

Let me be a human.

 

~Emma Catherine

thelilaclysander.com

Hollow Wood

Hollow Wood

Hollow wood is a home
It is my body
The bark stands wide and tall and beautiful
Cylindrical and mighty to see
But inside?
There is an atmosphere
The body is an illusion of greatness and strength
But once beaten with rough winds
A frightful echo rings through me
A stick to a drum
A scream of that emptiness
The hollow wood
Is a fragility that only I can see
The hollow wood is perfect
For other peoples fires
No more than driftwood
Perfect for fuelling the warmth of others
Strengthless I am flint for a burning
Or fuel for a great bonfire
There isn’t much to ignite at all
But you will burn me up anyway.
Lighting me up is my greatest fear.
But also my burning desire.

By Emma Catherine

thelilaclysander.com

Toxicity- trauma, abuse, me

Toxicity- trauma, abuse, me

There’s this feeling I get a lot of the time. The feeling of enlightenment that not everyone’s life is riddled with turmoil. That some people feel safe in their own home, or even with just themselves. That people can trust themselves to keep out of harm’s way, and not throw them into dangerous, reckless, stupid situations because of impulse issues and self-destructive tendencies. And the one that hits me so deeply; that people feel safe with their family. I feel this countless times, especially when I’m at friends houses.

I see the way they sit around their parents, their dad, comfortable, entitled to the seat they lounge in, unafraid. I see the way they talk to their parents, eye contact is something they can bear to hold with each other, and they can speak without screaming or saying nothing at all. To see their mums talking (not slurring), and draws are used for pots and pans, and wardrobes for clothes, instead of wine bottles.

This is the kind of freedom I realise I do not have. To live in a home instead of a house is not something I have had the privilege of doing.

I realise how much of an empty space this has made in me. One that means my friends are more family than my own blood. Feeling no care from my parents sometimes had left wanting more from them, all the way up to my 18th birthday. This wanting ‘more’ has been utilised in soft toys, changing my hair colour, impulsive spending, binge drinking and alcohol abuse myself, dangerous sexual relations, self-harm, and starvation. And a whole lot of thick, grey, emptiness. An emptiness that has almost killed me, many times. People showing me care is like me, a small moth, to a huge chandelier of light. I love you instantly if you show kindness. I can barely hold myself back from hugging you because I’ve never learnt that such kindness should be normal between people.

But it has put me in much more sinister, harmful places. I have been taken advantage of numerous times because of that emptiness it’s brought me. I can become so defensive and aggressive when hurt, trying to protect myself from that familiar pain. I can be out of control with alcohol and in mania, that I drink until I am seriously vulnerable. And a combination of this brought me to the worst night of my life when I was sexually assaulted. Violently, and degradingly. All because I never learnt how to protect myself from the real dangers because of my emotions, and because I did not know how to trust people who showed me some kindness.

Abuse is the toxic film over the eyes. You can’t see or even feel other people properly while it’s there. And like genetics, abuse like mine in childhood moulds you, usually permanently (although you can heal don’t worry), into the adult version of myself. My deep-rooted personality. My person.

The thing is with abuse, it often starts with one toxic person taking things out on you horribly, but the more you endure it, the less you truly feel the reality of abuse. Then them hurting you, can turn into you also hurting you, just to cope. For me, it was as if hurting myself, in whatever form, became soothing. I was used to being hurt, so I made it okay when I was doing it myself. It is sad, but it is also okay. I have never experienced abuse as we show it in the media, the hitting, serious physical neglect of small children, isolation from school due to injuries. No. But I have experienced extreme emotional and psychological abuse, along with a parent with her own demons. Each ‘blow-up’ was a trauma, and this repetitious traumatising grates on the mind and I feel like it just kept breaking me down. As much as I felt myself crumbling, it was hidden. And that’s almost what makes it so bad. It’s invisible.

Emotional abuse is just as serious as the other kinds of abuse. It fucks you up just as much. It catches you off guard. And it feels like being burned alive. (And oh god that horrible feeling of knowing you just can’t escape it, and even if you can physically leave that house, parts of you are always left there). It makes us extremely emotional, but colourful. Deeply loving and loyal. Kind, compassionate and empathetic. A wonderful human. And when the abuse has passed, bury it. But the bits that you are left with, I want us to turn into the most beautiful rainbow in the sky. Run with the parts of yourself that are troubled, build them up into flowers and watch them bloom. Beautiful, and stronger than ever before.

by Emma Catherine

thelilaclysander.com

instagram- @rain.on.rosy.cheeks

 

the impossible ‘I love you’

the impossible ‘I love you’

When someone tells you they love you
It appears quite unremarkable
But imagine the impossible
When the ‘someone’ is one of your own
A woman
The I love you
Becomes a UFO or a dragon
In a world of man and wife
Or Mr and Mrs.
Suddenly the phrase that is thrown around
by boys over text
Like tatty footballs
Is the northern lights or a shooting star
because it comes from a girl
in a world where we are taught it is impossible
and a world where it sometimes is.
but I heard it
‘I love you’

~Emma Cunningham

thelilaclysander.wordpress.com

Instagram- @rain.on.rosy.cheeks

Because I don’t ‘look’ suicidal – (World Suicide Awareness Day 2018)

Because I don’t ‘look’ suicidal – (World Suicide Awareness Day 2018)

It’s world suicide prevention day as I’m writing this. My fingers have hesitantly hovered over the keys now for about 20 minutes. I am lost for words.

There is such a horrid stigma around people who are suicidal.
They are not always teenage girls, or young men.
They are not always sad or depressed.
They do not always self-harm.
And, most importantly, they don’t all ‘look’ suicidal.
I’ve had lovely weekends with relatives over the past year, and on this one occasion that stands out from last month. I was in a really rough patch. I was underweight and my physicals were poor. I was self-harming badly, hidden by sleeves. I was upset at home and often distressed as well.
Once this trip was over my Aunt asked about my plans for next year. I said I wasn’t doing great, and I’m deferring uni for year as I’m not safe to be alone. The instant reply was:
‘You looked fine at the weekend’.
Why is it the case for so many people that we are offered judgement before support?
I beg that people stop relying on how someone ‘looks’ to ask them if they are okay or if they need help. Don’t go by if someone is wearing make-up or not to judge if they are depressed. And don’t believe that depression is the only disease that kills through suicide. Bipolar mania kills. So do personality disorders. Likewise with eating disorders. Don’t trust laughter to tell whether someone’s suicidal or not. Look for the happiness in their eyes, not just in their voice.
No one is selfish by being suicidal. Or ungrateful of the life they have. No one should feel guilty for feeling hopelessly sad. Or hearing voices. Or having a brain that tells them not to eat. Suicide thrives on this pain caused by mental illness.
But pain hides.
It is invisible. It can’t be detected on a blood test. And it is overwhelming.
Sometimes it’s about looking beyond the exterior to see how someone is. Sometimes it’s hidden under sleeves. Behind bedroom doors. Or simply in the mind of someone.
Don’t assume someone’s okay because they haven’t told you otherwise. Ask them. Know that suicide has no ‘look’. It doesn’t have a demographic, or a gender, or a body type or even a hairstyle. Mental illness hides in plain sight.
My auntie judged me by my cover, without ever reading the first chapter. She has no idea about my hospital admissions for suicide attempts in the past. Or the self harm or the overdoses. But she also never stopped to ask.
Pain hides in the darkness we let it lie in. Be a beam of light for someone. Rip back those curtains and turn every lamp on.
Darkness blinds us from the things around us. This can either be our greatest treasure, we never have to see the dangers and pain lurking in front of us. Or it can be our greatest fear, knowing there are things within it that are killing us. Either way, the problem with living in darkness is that it also stops us from seeing all the love we have nearby as well. It only takes for someone or something to turn on the light, or draw the curtains, or stay with us until sunrise, for our lives to come properly into focus again.

Stay alive.

by Emma Cunningham

wordpress – thelilaclysander.wordpress.com

Instagram- @rain.on.rosy.cheeks

The Empty Spaces

The Empty Spaces

There are empty spaces inside of me
ones I’ve fruitlessly tried to fill for the past two years
these holes show themselves
in my wardrobe or my car boot
both of which have become hiding places
for empty bottles and receipts
a game of hide and seek for me
against the rest of the world.
I’ve tried to shrink these empty spaces
so many times
that I have created thousands more
drinking wine even though it repulses me
what else can I drink?
I’ve drunk the rest.
I have become accustomed to tastes and glasses
that grow in the corners of my room
where friends would once sit and laugh
beside me.
My only memory of parties
being videos of me
the life of the party, the hysteria, the spiralling.
They hear the joy in me exploding
like gasoline fires
I hear the alcohol thick like an accent
the drink that got my tongue and spoke for me.
Telling myself ‘it’s just my medicine when I get sad’
‘its okay if I’m still standing’
‘its normal to like a glass of wine in the evenings’
for once not something someone famous said
just the lies we tell ourselves
like prayers
to ease the appetite
and fill all those empty spaces
or kill everything rotten inside me.
when will I shut up that fantastic liar
realise that I can’t ignore this broken heart
the painful childhood
my voices
and everything else I drink to forget
and the messiest part of this whole poem,
as I’m writing this with rum on my tongue
and while I’m asking myself if this is a cry for help,
is that
I don’t know whether I’m writing about myself
or
my mother.

by Emma Catherine

wordpress- thelilaclysander.wordpress.com

Instagram- @rain.on.rosy.cheeks