How Powerful

How powerful
it would be
to name the truth:

That as a little girl
I was full of goodness
and beauty

And the people around me—
bullies on playgrounds,
abusers in dark bedrooms,
and addicts—
consumed me.

I didn’t get
the chance
to choose
who saw me
when I was little.

When you are consumed,
you don’t get
to choose
who takes a bite
how big that bite is.

Now that I’m older,
I am learning
I get to choose.

I choose to name
that I am full of goodness
I am beautiful.
They are mine.

No more bites
or nibbles,
no crumbs
or leftovers.

I choose
who gets
parts or all
of me.

I choose who
my beauty.

I choose who
my goodness.

And when I watch little me
in her lavender bedroom,
light streaming through
those corner windows,
I ache
I weep
I mourn
I grieve
for her who is me
and the journey I know she must make.

How can someone so small
journey to where I stand,
and do it all alone,
and arrive in one piece,
and somehow be
even more beautiful and
full of goodness
than before?

Perhaps in journeying through
that valley
of deep darkness,
she had an inner knowing
she was never doing it
all alone.

Someone had walked
this way before
and cleared a path for her.

Set up places to rest
and wait
and sleep
and recover.

My soul led
to still waters.
My spirit held company
with friends I found along
the way,
making a journey
similar to my own.

I knew it was not just me
I was journeying for
but the ones who came before
the ones who are coming after

And those truths
sparked hope,
and that spark
ignited a flame,
which lit my way through
that valley of deep

Up ahead was the mountain
I knew I had to climb.
Feet slipping,
rocks falling,
my small hand tightly grasping
my torch.
My guide.
My beacon of hope.

And once I made it,
I’d wait.

Others who journeyed before said
it is not in
the storm,
the fire,
or wind,
but when you are still enough
to feel that soft breeze,
you will hear
that voice—

The voice the mountains and earth
you stand on
heard ages ago.

The mountains and earth
you stand on
were seen and named as good.

That same voice
says the same
of you,
but even better,
you are not just good
very good.

And in that soft breeze,
another promise echoes:

I am with you

I know the voice
that speaks
those words
over me.

It is the voice of
a companion I made
along my journey
who said he too had taken
this road before.

A companion I made
along my journey
who never strayed far from
my side.

A companion I made
along my journey
whose scars told a story
of doing this all alone
so I didn’t have to.

And as I stand on that mountain
and am told
over and over again
that I am beautiful and full of

I choose…

I choose to believe and
see it.

And as I take that first step
off the mountaintop,
a spirit fills me,
taking my breath away.

Be not afraid,
it whispers.
I am full of
I am

How powerful
it is
to name
the truth.

How much more
it might be
to believe it.

Caroline Schiess grew up in North Carolina and graduated from ECU with her Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently resides in Charlotte and has a full-time job as a project coordinator for a construction company. Writing has always been an extension of who she is, providing a way to explore the space between things and to tell her story and the stories within it.