The Difference Now

Guest blog by  Cherie Burbach
Author of The Difference Now

The difference now
is when pushed
I push back.

The difference now
is when I'm hurt
I'll cry
Why should I hide it?
Or pretend that I don't care?
You know you hurt me.
My pretending only helped you,
not me.

The difference now
is that I'll fight for the life
I want to live
and not the one
you think I should live.

The difference now
is that I make the definitions
and throw yours away.

The difference now
is when I walk in a room
and you guiltily look at each other
and stop talking
I'll wonder who you'll blame
for the problems in your life
after I move on.

The difference now
is that when you're laughing
behind my back
I realize I must be ahead of you
and I'll keep going. 

Read the Label

Guest blog by  Cherie Burbach
Author of The Difference Now

You gave me a dress
but it was too small.
I looked at the label
and it said "unfeeling and ungrateful."

When I told you it didn't quite fit
you suggested I lose weight.
I ate what you prepared
and when the dress you bought me
still didn't fit,
I stopped eating.

Now the skirt slid over my hips
but I still felt uncomfortable.
I realized it was the wrong color and style. 
You said
since I was good
and lost weight
you'd buy me a new one.
But I couldn't go with you
or make the choice myself.
You'd pick out my new clothes
and if I didn't like them
I could go entirely without.

The new skirt's label
said "lazy and stupid."
I didn't want to try it on
but you made me.
And I didn't protest
I didn't want to argue
or give you the impression
that I wasn't a nice girl.

So I put on the new skirt.
It was short, and tight.
You said it looked good
that it fit me perfectly.
So I tried to be happy
and be what you wanted me to be.

You told me girls were quiet
they didn't talk back. 
So I held my tongue
even though I disagreed with you.
But then you told me I didn't talk enough
that I was stupid
and slow.

So I tried to show you I was smart.
I had a mind of my own.

But when I told you my dreams
you shoved me down.
You told me no one would ever want me
and I would always be alone.
And then you gave me a new skirt to wear.

This skirt's label read
"difficult and unlovable."
I put on my new skirt
but cried softly in my room.
I wore that skirt for a long time
even when I had outgrown it
I still told myself that it fit.

Every once in a while
someone would ask
why I wore that skirt.
They would tell me it didn't fit,
and I should get a new one.
But I didn't want to upset you
so I chased them away
from my life.

But one day
I walked past a store window
and saw a beautiful blue skirt
long and flowing.
I walked in the store
and tried it on.

"It looks good on you," 
the salesclerk said
as I spun around in front of the mirror.
I felt good, real, beautiful.
I read the label,
"passionate and honest."
"It really is you," the clerk said again.
And for the first time
I believed it.

"I'll take it," I said, 
and handed her the money.
"In fact," I said, "I'll wear it out of the store."

I handed the clerk my old skirt
and told her I didn't want it anymore.
As I walked out
I looked at the mirror one more time,
and smiled.

Like Old Men in Rocking Chairs

Guest blog by Cherie Burbach
of The Difference Now

Angry words
framed the doorway
of the house where I grew up.
And there was no way to enter
without those words, 
tainted and searing,
landing upon your soul.

They evaporated
into your skin
and you couldn't wash them away
or cover them
with the fragrance of kindness.

They embedded each cell
of your heart and mind
and shaped the person you saw
when you looked into the mirror.
And the tears
that tried to wash them away
only made them grow.

And when I thought
they had left me,
they were really sitting in the corner
like old men in rocking chairs
watching, waiting,
until happiness fades
and they can say
I told you so.

With Every Breath

With every breath
the example of his life
fills my eyes and ears

it is
behind every action
of every decision
it waits
around every corner
it lights
up the sky
in the morning
puts me to bed at night.

It fills my lungs
it guides my life
it weighs in on every decision.

I breathe in
the progress of today
the promise of tomorrow
my life transformed
my greatest lesson.

I breathe out
the self-doubt
the anger
the isolation
the pain.

With every breath,
I live.

I'm Not That Girl

Guest blog by  Cherie Burbach
Author of The Difference Now

I'm not that girl
the one you knew.

Who smiled when I hurt
and slapped away your kind hands.

I'm not that girl
who'd rather self-destruct
than ask for help.
I'm not her.
Not anymore.

I'm not that girl
who chased sorrow
and ran away from everything good.

I'm not that girl
you thought you knew.
But no one did.
Not even me.