Shadow Sign

Shadow Sign by Valerie Parente

Shadow Sign
you weren’t the light of my life
you were just the shape in which I had been traumatized
I thought you were what I wanted
after all these years of being haunted
because the truth of the matter is
I was never really his
and that unofficial kind of bliss
had me tracing my steps with darkness.

Because Shadow Sign
you were never mine
and with your outline I realize
you weren’t the problem, you were its signal
not something that I was ever meant to rekindle
a simplification of the self
implied light from somewhere else
and that’s the truth to mental health
I looked for love when what I needed was help.

– Valerie Parente (7-21-2021)

Cherry Blossom Scent

Cherry Blossom Scent by Valerie Parente

I always liked the cherry blossom scent
and how it made me feel in my adolescence
just a school girl with a crush
before I was too scared to touch
with potential towering so high
before I channeled it into a demise.

I died once before, so sickly thin and jaded
it changed my brain chemistry and how it operated.
Took over a decade to undo those patterns
never gone, never lost, but now I know how to battle.
I’m stronger now, from the inside out
it happened for a reason, I trust that now.

Everyone has a challenge, and this was mine
multiple mental illnesses, merging and intertwined.
It’s that smell of cherry blossom hand sanitizer
my mind goes back, but this time I’m wiser.
So it is, my perception, ripened from the strife
I’m here now, I’m breathing, and I wouldn’t change this life.

– Valerie Parente (5-28-2021)

With The Tide

With The Tide by Valerie Parente

I decided a long time ago,
that I was going to be alright,
when that first disappointment hit,
I looked my reflection in the eyes,
said, “I will never get over this,
but I will certainly survive.”
Sunny days always came,
the sadness ebbs with the tide.
I remember my teenage self,
and I refuse to waste her time.
I’m a product of those days,
as they were a product of my mind.

You don’t need to forget
for your pain to subside,
you just need to accept
that this is your timeline.

– Valerie Parente (5-10-2021)

The Girl In The Mirror

The Girl In The Mirror by Valerie Parente

I killed the girl in the mirror
when I was a 14 years old student
and every day I resent myself
even though I didn’t know what I was doing.

That girl in the mirror had it bad
and that wasn’t so peculiar.
Nobody that age knew how to act
but I still held it against her.

I make decisions now
with the mirror girl on my mind.
I’m trying to make her proud
because I owe her my adult life.

– Valerie Parente (1-4-2021)

The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away by Valerie Parente

My deep-seated
obsessive need
to resolve every one
of my teenage dreams
comes from
my inability
to forgive myself
for developing a deadly disease.

I gave up a decade of my life
I gave up adolescence as a whole
I didn’t have a social life
I didn’t have a chance to grow
I lost important relationships
I missed out on milestones
I let good things get away
in the name of starving my throat.
Anorexia took half my life
in ways I will never know.

So when I suddenly reappear
and it seems out of the blue
when I recall my childhood
like it was yesterday’s news
that’s because the last thing I saw
before sickness came through,
the very last thing I saw
was a different version of you.

I’m 26 years old
and suddenly I remember it all
I’m 26 years old
and it’s nobody else’s fault.

Do not blame yourself
you did nothing wrong

that’s what I tell myself
when the regret comes along.

I don’t know if it’s because
the world is in a dire state
or maybe it’s because
I’ve hit a certain age
but this year I’m realizing
all of my critical mistakes
and my biggest struggle now
is not in what I delayed.
It’s not about getting back
what the eating disorder took away.
It’s not about finding romance.
It’s not about a psychological escape.
It’s not about fixing relationships
or finding new ones to create.
It’s about forgiving myself
for losing a decade.

So when you hear me say
I miss what was nearly mine
the one that got away
the one still on my mind
I’m not talking about someone
in front of my eyes
because the one that got away
was me all this time.

– Valerie Parente (12-4-2020)

Not Too Little, But Definitely Too Late

Not Too Little, But Definitely Too Late by Valerie Parente

Like a memory bank
I always had you in the back of my mind
convinced that one day
I’d find the courage to finalize
what always made an imprint on my brain
in ways I didn’t fully realize
until it was way too late
and I no longer had the right
to say what I always wanted to say
once my hunch was clarified.
I made a critical mistake
strictly following my own timeline
I carved out a space
in the shape I had been traumatized
and I forgot in my craze
that I could pause my own life
but that does not initiate
the freezing of someone else’s time.

Like a broken gift
I always knew there was something wrong with me
so hyper-focused
on my emotional needs
memorizing feelings like scripts
ripped out of a teenage diary
daydreaming on autopilot
as I wrote detailed stories
to compensate for what I missed
heart-flutters in my memory
and I always kind of wished
that I could satisfy an old belief
my daydreaming brain’s secret
that once again we could meet
but I’m not supposed to talk about this
even though I remember you so clearly;
I guess that’s why from age 13 to 26
they called me a psychotic freak.

– Valerie Parente (11-14-2020)