The Question Mark

I feel like I should share a little background information to this poem. I wrote this poem in November 2012, during my first stay at Pine Rest. I had admitted myself into this psychiatric hospital voluntarily after an attempted suicide. I was struggling with putting the past behind me, as my physically, emotionally, mentally, and sexually abusive ex-boyfriend still haunted my every thought. I didn’t want to talk about what had happened; I simply wanted to forget. I knew that wasn’t the way to move on, and I was willing to admit that I needed help. So there I was, twenty-one years old, a complete mess, with a very uncertain future.

We were having an activity group, and it was one of the first groups I decided to attend. The instructions were to pick out a picture from a magazine and then write about what the picture meant to us or how it made us feel. I carefully selected my picture, and I wrote a sincere poem from the heart. Little did I know that the group leader was going to have us share what we wrote.

We went around the table as each person stood up while revealing their picture and read what they had written. Every single person who went before me had chosen a picture of the beautiful outdoors, a peaceful scenery photo, or pictures of smiling people. Each person read about a good memory their picture represented to them or a positive feeling their picture gave them or even coping strategies their picture hinted at that they planned to use to help them. My anxiety increased as each person read their optimistic writings.

Then it was my turn. I was the last person to go, and I begged the instructor to let me skip the sharing portion. She could not force me to share anything, but after some persistent convincing from the other patients, I gave in. I showed them my picture and read the poem I had written, all while keeping my eyes on my paper and avoiding any possible eye contact. I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest and burst onto the table in front of me. I had never shared something so personal, especially with strangers.

As soon as I was finished reading, I sat down and quickly wiped away the tears that were running down my face. No one said a word, so I forced myself to look up. Two ladies were crying, while the other patients looked at me with looks of complete shock and pity. The instructor looked me directly in the eyes and simply said with true sincerity, “thank you for sharing.”

So what was the big deal? Besides the fact that this was the first time I really spoke at the hospital, I had  taken the activity in a much more serious direction than everyone else. This was not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, looking back, I believe this moment was my breakthrough moment during that hospital stay.

The picture I had chosen displayed several engagement rings arranged in the shape of a question mark. And this is the poem I had written:

These rings make a shape,
A familiar thing I know.
A question mark it is.
Down the aisle will I ever go?

The past has been brutal,
On my body, mind, and heart.
I sit here and ask myself,
Is it even worth having a fresh start?

I bruises now have faded,
The words have left their sting.
I can't help but wonder,
Will I ever have my happy ending?

I wish I could forget,
I wish I could move on,
But the only thing I've ever known
Is this twisted love song.

I’m trying to get back
All the things he took from me.
Because maybe if I could forgive myself,
I would finally be set free.

Slowly then I could regain
My self-confidence and life.
Then I would no longer have to walk around
With my heart stabbed with a knife.

Trying to stay positive,
Trying to keep my head up high.
Moving on with my life is what I want,
To let it all out with a sigh.

I know deep down I can do this,
With my friends and family by my side.
Eventually, even from myself,
I will no longer have to hide.
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Author: Lizzie

I am the one you never really knew.

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