Selbstkasteiung / Self-mortification: A Poem

You thought that you were so strong.

You were convinced. And you were in

Many ways, when you had to fight and

Endure, when you were torn down by

Insults, when they made you suffer, you

Were so strong, but it came at a cost, it

Had always been that way, the slowly

Breaking heart underneath the defensive

Exterior. The terror just kept finding you.


You were looking for something, for friendships

To mean something, go somewhere, for love

To reveal itself, to finally show up, to mean something,

Waiting for the sensation of feeling alive, for your

Path to declutter, eradicate pest weeds, deblocked and free.


You kept falling on your face, one step at a time,

A collapsing house of cards, the endless domino

Effect, thinking that you knew who you were,

You’ve lived through so many personalities in your

Twenties, I wonder how you could come up for air.


You’ve tried and tried. A face, a mask, a blur after another.

Failing to fit, failing to fit in, feeling inadequate, left out,

Then too integrated, bored, stagnant, looking for freedom,

Cutting cords, again and again, nothing sat right, nothing

Felt right, they didn’t, they would never feel right and you knew

It but you refused to listen to your better judgement, you let

Everything they did slide and slide, and you would always

Drown in your own agitation and anger.


I wish I could have been a better friend when everything was

Already in the past. People would ask me about you, and I

Felt so ashamed of you, I blamed you, I shamed you, I repeated

The cycle, I should have stood by you with introspection and

Compassion, protecting you, understanding you, that you did the

Best you could, that you felt what you felt, thought what you thought,

For a reason, in your own time, trying to find your way back to yourself,

And it has never been easy, you always fought your own battles and I

Wish I could have had your back instead of punishing you in retrospect

And feeling guilty about all our mistakes when we did the best we could

And simply didn’t know better.

woman in gray knit sweater
Photo by Konstantin Mishchenko on

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