By Alejandra Pena
i am twenty-five years old which means my brain is fully developed which means i can do things like smoke a pack of cigarettes daily fully well understanding the repercussions of my actions. i can do things like get hot cheetos at 2 am to get away from a fight that i had with my girlfriend and skin my knee because i tripped on a rock in a Kroger parking lot.
i can do a lot of bad things—i can lie, i can say i love you, i can lie again. i can do a lot of good things—i can lie, i can say i love you, i can lie again.
i was once twenty-one and my morning affirmations were, “i am honest, i am good, i am kind.” well, i am none of these things, four years later, and what is guilt and shame besides a form of self-preservation? even the moon needs rest from guiding the sea & i am not even a moon, or a god, or fuck you.
i can do a lot of good things—i can steal, i can say fuck you, i can steal again. i can do a lot of bad things—i can steal, i can say fuck you, i can steal again.
i was once seventeen and paid big money to see a therapist that made me write my biggest trauma on a piece of paper because i could not say it out loud. she read it. she cried. every weekly session from then on was about toxic shame.
look, i know what it means and i know how it is and i know what it looks like. i know of the speech and of the boundaries and of the weekly meditations and i know of mindfulness.
but i was once small. i was once small.
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Alejandra Pena is a lesbian, Mexican-American poet. Her work has appeared in Words & Whispers magazine and Another Chicago Magazine. She loves her pug Kiwi & the moon.