Unspeakable Things

this is a story (it may get off track)

it’s about moving forward, it’s about looking back

it’s about all the ways that you broke the contract

and permitted unspeakable things

I tried to write something. I wan’t sure if it was a poem or just a reflection, and it was a devil of a struggle. I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that life is incredibly common and strangely isolating. It’s like humans all over the globe (all 7 billion+ of us) are living out the same 20 – 30 stories, over and over. And some of the most poignant parts of the story to the person living it are the least sensational when you say them out loud.  Maybe the paradigm shifting moment to you sounds so…trite when you try to tell someone else about it. Maybe it even sounds silly or overly dramatic. I wonder if there is a part of everyone’s soul that refuses to speak. Call it a corner of Unmentionable Things.

There are probably good and bad things in that corner, but this piece I was trying to write was wrestling with the painful. I wondered: if we could look straight at that corner, right at the thing that hurt us (and who, if you’ve ever been hurt to your soul, can look squarely at the thing that hurt you), we would see that every deep hurt is somehow also humiliating. And nobody wants to admit to that feeling. If you’ve ever been truly shamed, you just want to avoid feeling it again. It’s probably what keeps people from being optimistic. It’s better to be the snide and nasty critic on the side than to be the fool who fell for it again and believed, isn’t it? It has to be… When I talk to people, a lot of hurt like that is tied in some way to an important relationship – maybe a parent, or close friend or family member, or a first love (or a deep love). To have trusted someone, or to have believed something about your relationship, and then to have been horribly wrong – it’s not just hurtful. It humiliates you to your bones, and introduces a kind of self – doubt that plagues you for a long time after, even if that doubt only happens in the Corner…which you don’t visit…because it’s unspeakable, and has nothing to do with the version of you that is determinedly growing and moving forward with life.

Does it sound like I’m wallowing? Probably. I’m not.  I think…I think it is my attempt to confront my own unspeakable things – to recognize they’re there, and what they have done to me, even if I can’t really name them. To recognize that not all growth moments have superhero soundtracks – some probably sound angsty and lame, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful or important, even if only to me. I might even be kind of grouping together the people I would address (if I could talk about these things). And maybe it’s also a reminder to self that other people have their own Unmentionable Corners, and an attempt to generalize what those things might be that commonly disturb us in ways that we can’t really talk about. To all such people, I hope you know it’s ok – you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to. Try to get around some courageous people: we have our own Corners, and we understand.

These internal post – it notes always seem to come out as poems.

For Lauren Grace, who has been so brave and so strong for so long that everyone has forgotten to ask her about her day, and who has found it’s only safe to cry when the tragedy occurs in fiction

“In my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be; on the wings of my fancy I can fly anywhere and the world will open its arms to me” – from Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Unspeakable Things

Heinous: “hateful; odious; abominable; totally reprehensible: i.e. a heinous offense; synonyms – flagitious, atrocious, nefarious” – dictionary.com

“whether a [thing] is heinous or not is often subjective.” – reference.com 

this is a poem, and it may get off track

it’s about moving forward, it’s about looking back

it’s about all the ways that you broke the contract

and permitted unspeakable things


most of these breaches were insignificant, small

they burned through my chest at a torturous crawl

and now stick in my gut, insurmountable wall

of repeated unspeakable things


“well, list them” you’ll say “come now, we’ll discuss

this breakdown in bond that has happened to us

we’ll go through and heal all the hurt and distrust

of these so-called unspeakable things”


If only…


I call them unspeakable, my wording is true

for how could you possibly ever construe

the unutterable impact, the “what did you do??”

of years of unmentionable things


Did you mean to

teach me, by your carelessness, that you could not be bothered

to see how often I was made into the invisible, “good” daughter?

to intimate, through lack of observation to my pain,

that this God you serve and sup with was in every way the same?

to push me to keep trying and when trying didn’t work

to suggest I was the problem, perhaps I was the jerk?

to in a thousand ways that all must sound so trite to you

to humiliate me to my bones, and then betray me, too?


This must sound like such drama, just like an angsty youth

And yet some distant part of you must recognize the truth

Must hear this isn’t petulance or hatred; no, this grew

out of a wretchedness born of unspeakable things


I don’t expect an answer – you do not owe me one

And notions that you owe me? Believe me, I have none

But about these ashen remnants, something must be done

or is reconciliation merely the stuff of dreams?



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