safe room.
Walls. They’re designed to separate, to shield, to protect. Every human being has their own set of walls they build for themselves. Some are flimsy like cardboard, others are middle-of-the-road like adobe mud and clay, and others are fortresses of steel and stone. I think I extend beyond fortress. Have you ever heard of safe rooms? It’s a room that can be built in a house that is invulnerable to attack or intrusion, and from which security operations can be directed. That more accurately describes what I have built for myself over the last 10 years. It wasn’t done by choice, but then again, I think most safe rooms are created out of necessity because of past, immediate or impending danger.

There was a time, where someone could knock and I would let them in. I had no fear that when they entered my life, they entered without any other motive than to know me, befriend me, and maybe love me, depending on who it was. I haven’t left my safe room in ten years. I have my reasons. I choose not to elaborate. But for the sake of this post, just believe it’s valid. If it’s severe enough to make a safe room, then it’s legit.

A major turning point in my life, about ten months ago, left the door swinging wide open. I had a choice. Close it again and remain trapped in this room alone, or step out. I stepped out. Letting go of things and people in my life that no longer served me, the things that kept me safe, kept me comfortable, kept me unwilling to make a move, made room for possibilities. Possibilities I hadn’t thought about in ages.

I was ready to feel something again.

Feel alive.

Feel my heart beat, my mind race, my hands shake – not out of fear but out of excitement.

I want to be alive.

Safety comes with its downfalls. One of them being what I call “the nothing”. When you’re trapped in the nothing, you don’t feel, or at least you don’t feel much. You just succumb to whatever it is you agreed to settle for in your current existence. There is no challenge, there is no pain, everything just is. You plateau. You don’t have to feel the lows but then you never get to reach the highs either. Everything has its consequences. We all have choices. I chose to stay safe.

This time, I chose to believe. I was ready to run from the nothing. I wanted to feel. So, I abandoned the safe room. It turned out to be everything I thought – fucking scary as hell. Right now, I teeter totter on the decision to make a wild break back to the safe room. This is sensory overload. It’s all in addition to the regular shit storm programming of my normal life channels – the baggage that stays with me within the safe room or out.

I haven’t felt some of these things in I don’t know how long. I’m scared shitless. Letting people into your life when you have no idea what they’re capable of doing to you is frightening. I’m not just talking about the bad. Even the amazing things horrify you. Because you want them to last. And you think, will they ever truly last? If I let go, will someone or something be there that I can hold on to? Or will I just keep falling.. falling back to the nothing, burning with the fire of a thousand suns along the way, regretting every second of the free fall?

You think this is the part where I tell you one of two things..

that something showed me why I should have left the safe room a long time ago


something showed me why I never should have left the safe room in the first place.

In part, they’re both right. But neither of them are the first thing that comes to my mind. The first thing that comes to mind is FUCK, I spent the last ten years of my life practically alone, letting no one in, trusting no one, and leaving myself to all my own thoughts and ideals. I abandoned all other perspectives. The shell I lived inside was created from all the shitty cards people dealt my way and I used it as my defense to justify all I see, all I believe, all I do, all I say, everything I react to.

Well shit, I was wrong.

I put up this facade that I’m not penetrable.

Oh, I am.

Boy, am I.

When I left my safe room, I abandoned all defenses.

I walked out with arms wide open to accept whatever came my way.

That’s usually how it goes with me.

I’m all in or all out.

But scared or not, I wanted it.

All of it.

I was ready to let people in.

I was going to be my true self – throw this true self out there on a line and see what bit.

I wanted life more than anything.

I still want life more than anything.

Because what I had before was not a life at all.

All I did was merely exist – terrorized by the fact that all I knew my entire life before were false promises, bold-faced lies, excuses, words that fell short of the actions that were supposed to accompany them, one-sided love, the abuse of kindness, secret motives, and the list goes on. This includes immediate family, close friends, and lovers.

What you need to know about me is that I feel things like a hurricane. There’s no other way to explain it. I am passionate. My love, when I have it, for animals, people, places, and things – it has no bounds. In my own Stephanie way, I will care for you as deep as the deepest ocean depths, as hot as the center of this Earth, and as endless as the universe and all the universes beyond that.

I bet some of you are like that too.

But once you open those floodgates, it’s hard to close them. And what I have learned, is that this passion mixed with my blunt force honesty, and my hesitation to trust once it seems like you’ve broken that bond, can come off as something totally different. Crude, insensitive, crazy.

Not everyone is going to see life like I do or feel like I do. Or maybe you do, but it’s given out in different doses. And maybe the people I let in have been hurt too. Maybe they have their own safe rooms they’ve been living in. And we’re all just trying to figure out ways in which to leave our safe rooms and trust again – or trust more fully.

The point of all of this, I guess, is that I have a lot to learn out here. I don’t want to go back. I’ve made the decision to leave my safe room and I’m sticking to it. I’ve left behind all that served as a comfort zone. And I don’t plan on looking back. I have so many things to learn now that I’m free. I wanted to believe all those things were to be learned about other people not from myself. I thought I had it all figured out about me. But I don’t. Being locked up meant stinting the growth within myself as well. That’s hard to admit. But here I am. I’m admitting it.

I know who I am.

I know what I want.

And in knowing who I am, I know there are glitches in my programming.

Some can be fixed, others just need to be accepted.

I know there are many things to learn about others,

to still learn about me.

But I promise that I will be mindful – of you and of me.

I will take in just as much about myself as I do you.

I never want to stop growing and I want to love this life, my life, now more than ever.

I want someone to love the best version of me.

And to know, that this version comes with flaws..

some I cannot change.

And to know, that I know, that I am aware of these flaws.

And I know you have flaws too.

And I will love them just as much as I love you.

This – all of this – I can promise to all who encounter the hurricane of me.

What matters most, is making the most of what I have left in this life that could end at any moment. And I will try everyday to be a better, kinder, more compassionate me. To listen more than I speak, to quiet my rage, to trust enough to believe in the things that fuel my existence – what I believe to be the never ending pursuit of my happiness.

I have left the safe room.

My heart and my head have been tampered with.

And it’s okay.

Because my soul is finally free.

And I can tell you the freedom is worth the feelings..

all of them.

steel trap mouth.


creeping upward from the throat are words
settling slowly, apprehensive in your mouth
they cluster around in masses.. flock of birds
unlike geese, they refuse to fly south
a battle emerges, fight emotions to the death
a mix of love, fear, hope, pain, and pride
the words stalled out, they’re choking on regret
hope, it floats, like seaweed with the tide
these words hold such heavy weight against the cheek
the tongue, holds them hostage, keeps them hanging ’round
if only you opened your mouth, stopped gritting your teeth
words that seem so lost, could finally be found
oh steel trap mouth.. open, just open up
no words should be left for dead
oh steel trap mouth, stop, stop tripping up
too many things left unsaid

the dragon.

fantasy dragon
Image by Anne Stokes
fire – it fills her lungs
scorched from the dragon’s kiss
all the oxygen removed
breathless – never quite like this
claws – daggers that clasp her heart
tear the flesh, squeeze its beat
all the emotions choked out
valves – pump a carnivore’s treat
wings – smothered her in darkness
the beast used them to fade out of sight
she’s left there charred and lifeless
vultures – surround the bones of white
a story of a dragon and a girl
of fiery breath and a black heart
two wild things in the dark
they knew the end was at the start

the wolf.

paws in the dirt
blood in the snow
frigid, barren wasteland
ribs starting to show
she’s hunting you down
through the silence, the still
baring her teeth
the chase lost its thrill
a wolf in the winter
grows weary and cold
ever fighting the odds
against the bitter, the bold
fur black as the night
haunting guttural howls
eyes pierce the soul
on all fours she prowls

in the dark.

in the dark there is a longing..

some kind of rush,

some kind of need,

some kind of lust.

in the dark there are whispers..

some kind of past,

some kind of future,

some kind of trust.

in the dark there is hope..

some kind of promise,

some kind of start,

some kind of mend.

in the dark there is weakness..

some kind of crash,

some kind of mask,

some kind of play pretend.

in the dark there is fear..

some kind of passion,

some kind of torture,

some kind of grief.

in the dark there is madness..

some kind of monster,

some kind of angel,

some kind of thief.

– – – – –

but in the dark..

oh, in the dark..

you can find the light.

note to self: let down your hair.

Untitled by Светлана Беляева
Untitled by Светлана Беляева

Never get stuck.

Stuck in your mind.

Stuck behind closed doors that aren’t locked.

Stuck in suffocating webs woven of fear and doubt.

Stuck gripping tight to ropes holding you down rubbing your skin raw.

Stuck inside a fortress with your claw marks left on the stones.

We’re untouchable there.

But that might mean staying trapped for all eternity..

weaving a path straight to hell from the trace and retrace of our own footsteps.

It’s safe in the familiar, in the comfort, in the known.

We get lost in our rabbit holes.

To other people it’s a maze, to ourselves a simple and known path.

And sometimes to ourselves it’s madness, to others a common kind of sense.

Like “yeah, I’m right here with you buddy but on my own path,

but the same path,

the path of comfort and familiarity, the safe one.”

We don’t ever stray.

We let no one in.

We walk there and only there, endlessly.

We believe things are the way they are because they have been beat into our heads,

by our own selves and by others.

Don’t drink that koolaid.

Don’t go out like that.

We’re all meant for so much more.

Let down your hair Rapunzel.

So if you choose to escape,

and you begin your descent down the wall,

because let’s be honest,

no one is coming up to rescue you because you need to save yourself,

then don’t ease from the tower walls slowly and surely,

hack that thick tail of a braid mane off with a machete and let yourself go.

Go on, cut that shit and drop.

That’s right.

Fucking drop I said.

Who cares if you jack yourself up on the way down?

A tree branch slap to the face here, a gash to the arm there,

a hard landing on the ground below with a thump and a roll…

and okay, maybe, a concussion.

That’s not the point.

The point is you let go.

You took a chance, weighed the risk, and didn’t care if it was heavy.

You found yourself wanting.

You found it to be worth the letting go, worth the fall.

It’s not meant to be easy.

It’s not meant to be pretty.

It might bring a world of hurt down upon you.

Or what if…

what if your prison was surrounded by a moat of marshmallows

and you land in the fluffy goodness of what was waiting for you all along?

Or it could be the year 2085..

where lots of awesome people are floating around on hovercrafts,

and they don’t let you fall.

Instead, they let you in and ride right beside you,

until you’re close enough to the ground to land on your feet.

Or, you land on your feet anyways because you are a cat.

And cats always land on their feet.

My darlings, the moral of this story is:

Life is about the pursuit of happiness and love.

The kind of happy that radiates from your being like a sunbeam, bursting.

The kind of love that settles in your bones and courses through your veins, transfusing.

How in the mother fuck are you supposed to experience that if you don’t let go???

Live like you mean it.

Love something fierce and wild.

Get a little reckless, take some chances, make some bets, go all in.

You never know when the last grains of sand in your hour glass will drop.

There is no rewind or pause buttons to your life video.
But there is a refresh,
and fuck yeah, you can always restart that shit.

exposing the negative.


It’s a super bitch – exposing the negative.

Expose the negative, destroy the image.

The human negatives are parts of yourself you wish weren’t there, the parts you’re afraid for people to see, the parts you don’t want to come into the light. It’s also the people, the situations, and the habits you keep that are no longer serving you. 

Whether you choose to ignore them or face them, they will surface. That, I can assure you. They show in spite of your ignorance, they show because you deny them, they show because you can’t control them. Not always.

You avoid looking at yourself in the mirror.

You avoid asking questions because you don’t want the answers.

It’s frightening to be alone with yourself. Alone in your thoughts. Alone in your feelings. Alone in your mind. You delay your awakening when you fill your life with distractions. You distract yourself with relationships, with friendships, with work, with extracurriculars, with drinking, with parties, with anything that keeps you away from the places where you’re left all alone. It doesn’t mean you’re lonely, it just means you are alone. Once the distractions disappear, shit gets real. No more avoidance. It’s time. You begin to expose the negative.

Don’t get me wrong, for the most part we are all beautiful unicorns riding across colorful rainbows – shitting glitter into a universe filled with pink and purple stardust where mystical electronic dance music plays and magical happiness flows through rivers of chocolate and candy and love is a fine mist sprinkling all of the land.

But let’s get real here.

Negatives exist. Negative thought, negative emotion, negative action, negative inaction, negative personality traits, negative habits.. and the list goes on. Sometimes we can control it, sometimes we can’t, depending on its root. We all need to realize that and work on what we can.

So, every once in a while, stop filling your time with distractions. Stop trying to fill the void and just let yourself fall into it. It’s okay to feel everything all at once with no chaser. It’s necessary in order to change, to grow, to learn, to love: not only others, but yourself. I read a quote a few weeks back: “A comfort zone is a beautiful place to be but nothing ever grows there.” You have to feel uncomfortable in order to grow. Get scared. Get tortured. Get ugly.

No one can save you from yourself.

Don’t find salvation in others.

Find it within you.

I’ve had a long stretch of comfort zone that has ended slowly and abruptly all at the same time. It has thrown me into a shit storm of what the fuck and holy hell and all things in between. Familiar people and familiar situations are now gone. The former has fallen away. I have the ability to start fresh yet here I am, dragging along the dead weight of my past tense self.

It wasn’t just about what I didn’t deserve. It wasn’t just about how I shouldn’t be treated. It’s all a two-way street with no one in particular at the start of it. Everything is relative. It’s about how I need to be the kind of person who gives to others what they deserve too, realizing what is working and what isn’t, taking ownership of what is mine,  and doing that by learning to love myself, negatives and all. I shall change all I can and understand all I can’t. It’s about mindfulness, it’s about an awareness of self. The whole thing is a development process. It’s exposing the negatives to see the real picture.

I believe in fate. I believe people and situations are brought forth for a reason. They teach us things. We choose to take opportunities and sometimes we choose to miss them. Sometimes, we choose to hold on when we should let go and we choose to let go when we should hold on. But it ends there. Fate only decides what comes in to your life. We decide who stays and who goes and when. It’s up to us to figure it all out.

It begins with the love for ourselves.

It begins with the recognition of what was, what is, and what could be.

By the holding on and the letting go.

If you get a chance to let go of some of the negative, loosen your grip.

Destiny has a way of finding you.

When you fight to cling to negatives: the people, thoughts, and situations that are no longer meant to be in your life,

you cannot develop what’s meant to be.

You delay your destiny.

Don’t do that.

Fate is trying to tell you something.

Listen. Take notes. Stop falling asleep in class.

A way to do that is through exposure. Expose your negatives, your rawness, your true self. All pictures begin with a negative. They are part of what creates the beautiful image. See them in your reflection. Rip them wide open. Everything about you. Change the things you can, embrace the things you can’t. If you are honest with yourself and honest with others, it opens a world where you are capable of following your fate, deciding your destiny. It allows you to love and be loved in return, not because of your negatives, but in spite of them.

You will never be perfect. Never.

You just have to be real.