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World Poetry Day – a survivor’s story

Finding my identity

By Dawn Helmrich


Every day for months I could not look

I would walk by the mirror and stare at the ground

Nothing felt right about who I was


Dripped across the floor

Shapes of me that weren’t really me

Who was this stranger
This unidentifiable being that sifted slowly through life

Once a smiling, laughing, loving youthful soul

Now someone that I could not identify

Someone with a heavy load upon her back

How would I ever reclaim who I was before

I could not, there was no before

There was only now and I was in it

But not really in it

The hours and days continued and I was still present

Physically present, emotionally dead

How would I ever get to know this new person that lived inside my body

This person that carried a burden so thick with hurt and pain

When would I have a chance to be me again?

It did not happen in one day

It did not happen in one year

It is still happening

I slowly started to get familiar with the shadows that lay across the floor

Seeing them everyday, watching them drift and sway as I walked

Instead of dreading them I began to embrace them

I could not hide from them

I could not get away from them

They were different than the shadows I once knew

They were wiser, stronger, harder than the youthful laughing soul I once knew

They were still loving, but in a different way, cautious, deliberate

They still harbored pain and hurt

But they started to become my identity

The guilt of who I was began to fade into the blackness where it came from

The eyes that looked at the ground began to rise

There it was

There I was

In that mirror

A different person than before

A thoughtful, meaningful, loving, caring person

A beautiful person

A survivor…


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