‘Are you okay?’
‘You holding up?’
The answers always yes–
For five years I pushed through
The names
The exclusion
The alienation
Always easy going
Always trying to put a hand out
Little did I know
At 17 I would break
I had broken down before
Cried
Yelled into my pillow
Wrote
It was all cathartic to get the hurt out
But this was a new feeling
Afterwards wasn’t a recovery–
I wasn’t left trying to put
Shattered and
Chipped
Pieces back together
They were doing it themselves–
They were lifting and molding themselves
A beautiful storm
Of no longer caring
The Rumors
The Hate
The Names and the Stories
The weren’t me
I no longer stress over
The hushed words of the people in the halls
I focus on those who care
I show them love
I am now content with me and my past
And ready to move on

Tommy D., 17, Philadelphia, PA