Nemesis (Not Me)

Nemesis (Not Me) by Valerie Parente

I’m finally happy
and my OCD still found me.
I see you in my dreams
with a tangible body
but when I go to defeat you
you’re the nemesis that continues
like a chain that keeps repeating
in a relationship so uneven.
I see you in so many forms
using my sweet slumber to return
and I punch, I kick, I scream
I wrestle to separate from the enemy
and I get oh so frantic
to justify my antics
begging the peers before my eyes
to understand that I’m the good guy
that I am separate from this disease
but then I wake up and it’s not a dream.
I still have this sickness on my skin
when I’m awake I’m still hallucinating
and it’s hard to believe I used to be afraid
convinced I’d be so lost without this charade
but now that I’m full grown I finally see
that this disease is nothing without me.
You’re just a sickness that attaches
used my puberty to take advantage
and I was far too young to understand
that your golden offer was a cruel scam.
How dare you stick yourself to me
even when my brain is asleep?
How dare you attack those I love
as if my entire psyche wasn’t enough?
And even though I’m so damn exhausted
by the nemesis in my subconscious
I’ve finally found my grace and solace
knowing I can manipulate you as an artist.

– Valerie Parente (6-13-2021)

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)

Being Abnormal

Being Abnormal by Valerie Parente

It’s just lonely…
when you’re not allowed to express pain
because you’re the mentally ill girl who can’t be taken seriously,
when you’re not allowed to drive the freeway
because no one has faith in the skills you’ve achieved,
when you’re not allowed to paint your face
because you never give in to a normal level of intimacy,
when you’re not allowed to respond to hate
because defending your mental state is a luxury,
when you’re not allowed to remember heartbreak
because normal people don’t take this long to grieve,
when you’re not allowed to cut to the chase
because only crazy people act with so much honesty.

It just gets kind of lonely inside my brain
when even your loved ones can’t understand how you operate,
because I know that my honest-to-God pain only frustrates,
adding a whole new layer to what should be normal heartbreak.
I guess what I’m trying to say
is that ordinary things like a broken heart or a common sickness
are a lot harder to cope with when you have a mental illness
because people always have a million rational reasons for why you’re incorrect
but your hyper-sensitive mind has never been dictated by such logic.

– Valerie Parente (10-9-2020)

Paradox Lock

Paradox Lock by Valerie Parente

I am tense where I am supposed to be open
So I pretend that this is a voluntary means of coping
Just a treasure I’ve been withholding.
But the truth is I have no control
of the impossible pain that takes its toll.

I am a lock who is supposed to love a key.
The very thing meant to set me free
is the same cause for my strong agony.
What they call the highest of highs
comes through me as the loneliest night.

I am exhausted when I am supposed to be energized.
They say this problem has psychological ties
manifesting as fear deep inside.
But if this is true then why can’t I recall
the very trauma that started this all?

For so long I was stuck with this mystery.
Where could I find this abnormality?
After they pointed out reality
I read into how this condition thrives
but I am still left wondering why.

Lock

– Valerie Parente (11-22-2017)

Order In Disorder

Order In Disorder by Valerie Parente

There is an order in this disorder.
A recyclable cycle that can best be described as a pattern of the mind.
A pattern of thinking perfectly warped thoughts and a pattern of reacting to those thoughts by invoking protection against the twisted perfection.
The disillusions playing in rotations are the thoughts with the connotations systematically assigned to strike different panic chimes.

In this sick masterpiece, these thoughts became obsessions egregious as transgressions only to be diffused by a reactive set of rules. These reactions became compulsions strategically malfunctioned.
And yes, these rituals provide relief, but it is that very sense of success which legitimizes illegitimate stress.

mental with material brings emotional

– Valerie Parente (8-26-16)

Novelty

quantum queen

Novelty by Valerie Parente

I always felt like an ongoing stream of my former self, like a passing current from the past through the current.
But lately I feel disconnected from the old moments and more connected with the sole moment.

I always felt like a blurry memory, like an irrelevant event trying to relive my intent.
But lately my memories are fleeting like separate entities separated from my identity.

I always felt like I had the right words racing in my mind, like I had to be the first person to write words in the first person.
But lately I cannot remember the word I was looking for, and I am quite content with the quiet content.

And though these new feelings leave me unsure of myself, I somehow feel more like me.
Because I might not know what I am all about, but I finally stand a fair chance at finding that out.

– Valerie Parente (8-11-16)

Shy of Me

Shy of Me by Valerie Parente

shy

“I’m shy” is not the statement it seems to be.
When I shy away from showing my personality
I masquerade myself purposely out of anxiety
so that I won’t feel disappointed by my inadequacies.
Feigning to be responsible without feeling responsibility.
It’s not about you seeing me for me and not liking what you see,
it’s about me being me before I’m sure what I mean.
Oh the horror of representing myself insufficiently!
Falling short of the ineffable me I dream.
Me being me without calculated routine
or me being me without addressing my needs.
It’s not about you judging me unfairly,
it’s about me feeling like I am incomplete.
Oh the horror of trying my best having yet to succeed
in being the most perfectly perfect version of me.
So I’ll state “I’m shy” and succumb to anxiety.
Too afraid to be imperfect, I fall shy of me.

– Valerie Parente (7-15-16)

Conscience of Nonsense

Conscience of Nonsense by Valerie Parente

I have a conscience full of nonsense
and sensory receptors that can’t censor the pressure.
It’s this feeling on my hands that I can’t understand
like an invisible film leaving marks on my skin.
Carefully constructed obstructions created to function
against the notion of change that threatens my name.
I cannot resist all these consistencies
that are based on a promise of personal solace.
Yes I know my views are deeply skewed
but I refuse to be blind to the insights that are mine.
Still I question the spawn of my obsessions
Nature versus nurture? Is it inborn or is it learned?
Even if I knew the cause it couldn’t erase the scars.
So I turn a biochemical disposition into my ambition
and manipulate the disease that manipulates me
through a phraseology that captures all of me
branding my self before everyone else
by arranging language to my advantage
and defining my mind with words so sublime.
The infusion of nonsense with a written form of conscience.
While my heart aches from the pain I embrace
nonetheless, I am blessed to find beauty in darkness.

Beauty In Pain

– Valerie Parente (6-14-16)

The Writer

purple meadow

The Writer by Valerie Parente

“Hi Val, come in,” the therapist greets
Enter with my lovely OCD
Sink in the contaminated chair
And try to explain my warped despair.

The woman just glances at me with judgement
Then she stops and asks a question
Not the obligatory cliché
Some recycled “How are you today?”

She prods to crack my skeletal shell
“Surely you see this means you’re unwell.”
I politely smile and breathe in
“No, it just means that I am different.”

Then I hand her my special page
As she reads her eyes drastically change
So now the lady with the degree
Is dumbfounded by what I conceived.

She looks up at me with new insight
Pupils touched by dark reflect my light
“How can someone so delusional,
Write something so profound, yet simple?”

I just shrug and wonder what to say
Do I indulge or act modestly?
The answer that always hums along
Is “say the truth, you cannot be wrong.”

My tightened lips part and I respond
“Yes it’s easy, the words just flow on
From a place that I cannot describe
My own twisted form of paradise.

Nobody can see this place but me
A heaven locked away in daydreams
I can feel it when I am alone
So I write about it when at home.

All I do is reach inside my mind
To channel with that endless supply
Of the right thoughts which describe my pain
Diction that captures what I can’t say.

You are just witnessing a small piece
Of the landscape my mind embodies
The only way I can get you here
Is through ink made from a very true tear.”

My mouth shuts and the room is quiet
A mental expert can’t define it
I see she is disturbed but in awe
With my mouth I continue to draw.

“I’ve been like this as long as I know
Able to put on paper and show
All the crazy and wild distortions
That come with a storm of emotions.

Too complex for me to vocalize
But written, perfectly summarize
An imaginary world of mine
Of darkness mixed with thoughts I can’t cry.

It’s funny because as I look back
At the moments where normal kids laughed
My ideas that peers could not connect
Even my teacher called incorrect.

My strange mind’s light was perceived as dumb
So I tried to dim the ideas from
A world I thought was smarter than me
But the truth was it was not ready.”

“Do you think you are brilliant?” she asks
“Like a savant?” I begin to laugh
“I know when I say yes I’ll be
Deemed mental with grandiosity.”

The only response is her sly grin
Presented for my interpreting
I do not know what to say from there
So I resort to silence and stare.

I’m aware my honest blackened eyes
Painted with gloom now epitomize
The special gift I have always been
Perfecting in my isolation.

A talent and a mental disease
Together create such irony
Because the darkness that I write about
Always makes my inner light come out.

– Valerie Parente (6-5-16)