I compartmentalized my traumas in hopes to bury them in the mess. In hopes they’d get lost in a stack of loose leaf memories or between the lines. I labeled them “Madison Heights” and thought those 7 sq miles would keep the secrets I wasn’t ready to tell New York, a self storage for the shame I’m still not ready to feel my way through to get to the other side. The shame I don’t even speak to the therapist I pay to listen. Because acknowledgement is confirmation and what difference does the distance and determination make if I’m confirmed the daughter of a drunk who’s beat every woman he’s ever loved whether it be with words or his actual fists. A daughter with the same quick tongue and self defeating sympathy. What’s years of kindness when cruelty comes in zero to sixty, insecurities coming to light through what I’d label self preservation. Groupthink at it’s best boasting “you do what you have to do” because they can’t understand choosing to do what you want to do, that struggle isn’t always strength and that cycles aren’t broken by following what came before. But maybe they’re right, what’s a masters degree when you come from master manipulators who enjoy being a victim more than they enjoy a victory and despite your triumphs you fight every day not to tear yourself down in the same ways. But crabs in a bucket, back to the bottom we go. Why spend 30 years creating the space that is inevitably stripped because you’re destined and designed and unexplainably drawn to the despair. To a world where you struggle to see the light because it only ever signified the end of another dark period, the start of another attempt at climbing out of a hole I don’t want to recognize I was born into.