Stories of Being Supported in 2016: Lydia

We continue to wrap up 2016 with stories from our readers of being supported in life! Thank you for your story, Lydia! #soblessed

             It took me years to tell anybody about being sexually abused as a teenager, let alone write about it. I was torn between getting help and eventually letting myself write something about it, and possibly perform it at a slam or open mic as a means of healing, and never saying a word about it. I carried so much shame for so long, while also believing that it wasn’t important or serious.

            Two and a half years after the abuse ended, I finally did tell someone, and started talking about it in therapy. After about six months of treatment and learning coping skills, I wrote a poem about what exactly had happened to me when I was thirteen. Then I wrote another. And another. Eventually, I decided to perform one of them at an open mic.

   I remember that I was already shaking by the time I got on stage, and was choking up by the time I was about three quarters through the poem. When I finished and went back to my seat, it felt as though someone had just lifted 50 pounds off my chest. Talking about survival outside of a therapist’s office, and feeling better after, was one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced.

            About ten minutes later, the host called another poet to the stage. As he made his way towards the stage from the back, he stopped at my table and asked if he could hug me. I said yes, and we hugged before he got to the stage. During intermission, I found him again in the crowd and told him how much that had meant to me. He replied, it’s so rare to see bravery like that, and bravery like that is necessary. I know I don’t know you, but I’m so proud of you. Keep writing.

            Nearly a year after that open mic, he and I are very good friends, and I think of his words every time I perform a poem about the abuse I endured. After believing for years that nobody would listen to me, being listened to, and being believed, is something I will never take for granted. My healing process would not have been possible without poetry, and without people in my community giving me the space to heal.

H. O. Tanager
H. O. Tanager is the author of Autograph Penis: An Adventure Through Competitive Performance Art and Haiku Princess: Poems in Ascending Order of Profanity. You can also find beautiful Haiku Princess prints and more at RedBubble.
By H. O. Tanager

H. O. Tanager is the author of Autograph Penis: An Adventure Through Competitive Performance Art and Haiku Princess: Poems in Ascending Order of Profanity. You can also find beautiful Haiku Princess prints and more at RedBubble.