“Don’t walk home alone at night.”

was the first lesson I learned as a child.

“Don’t play with matches” was the second.


That night, I didn’t walk home alone.

We both agreed his couch was safe.

I know what to do after I catch on fire.

Stop. Drop & Roll.

The morning after this one, I realized

My mother never taught me what to do after,

and this wasn’t a fire drill.


My life is split in two.

The Before, and The After.


The Before:

I think I was different. Better.

But the Before me is standing on the other side of the fire.

Thick smoke, hazy, swirling around.

I know she exists.

I can’t see her through the smoke.


The After:

The waves of After crash on my skin,

and I’m not sure if my skin is thick enough.

The waves ebb sometimes, but I know they’ll be back.

My mother said to “Swim with the current.”

But I can’t figure out which way the waves are hitting me.


It’s been three years,

but I’m still just as confused as I was back then,

just as scared as I was then by the waves of feelings and thoughts.

All I know is that I think the waves are supposed to be here.


How do I stop these waves of After?

Or how do I let these waves wash me clean?


These are lessons I was never taught.



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