A Cautionary Medallion

Els Van Laethem
If these walls could talk, they would cry instead. Big, sloppy tears of fierce surrender because I just can’t anymore. The paradigm which propels me forward mostly yanks me back, carving into me incontrovertible truisms like the steady slice of a scalpel. Cut me up, brand me wrong, boast me a harbinger of the macabre. Wear me like a cautionary medallion, then flee, as the ruby thrum is plucked from me, like a daisy sacrificed to the storm. 

“You Inspire Me” 3 Words to Banish From Your Vocabulary

Erin Parochka

“You inspire me.” Next time these words are poised to roll off your tongue, I urge you to bite it. I’ve bloomed from child to teen and teen to adult on the receiving end of such commentary, and let me tell you, it doesn’t feel as uplifting as one might think. Much to the contrary, being held as a totem of inspiration sings a demoralizing tune which makes me feel spat upon.

Here’s why: reducing me to an amalgamation of undesirable circumstances that you’d rather not experience yourself, does not brand me a hero. Surviving catastrophe after calamity has not gifted me enlightenment, so please don’t expect me to spew pearls of insight. No matter how well-intentioned, these three words echo only the sentiment that you are glad not to be me. Though I can’t fault you for finding appreciation to belong to your body instead of mine, how might you think admitting to such might make me feel? Additionally, my life is not about inspiring others. A desire to live a robust, healthy life does not warrant adoration. Serving as a target of said adoration does nothing to staunch or justify the inhumane task of being chronically debilitated, nor should it. 

Feeling inadequately equipped to process profound pain is understandable. Converting my torment into your gain, however, is not. A bandaid for the ego does nothing to soothe my boiling insides, it only reinforces your privilege while disregarding my identity as anything but that poor sick girl.  

By Your Side

Gerben Bijzitter

Here is what I know for sure: if ever someone you love is cast to the fringes of existence by forces beyond her influence, do not stand idle. Do not stipulate or tally the cost to your person. Do not follow. Go by her side, into the abyss. Tangle yourself in the thicket; whether you know how to extricate yourself is not the matter. As long as she is ensnared, you have no other place to be.

Tumble in not with expectation of accolades, thinking yourself worthy of a badge of courage. To stay by her side is not a duty, labor or burden to endure; to hold her without touching, to wade into the fragility of her, to be there as she screams–that is your privilege. This is what I know for sure.