Baby Michelle was Melodramatic

Welcome to the new Tuesday installment! It’s Poetry Tuesday! We are going to go back through all my old notebooks and look at the god-awful poetry I wrote when I was an angsty teen and then you will get present day Michelle’s re-interpretation/headdesk horror-filled embarrassment. Let’s start off strong!


Put it up
Keep it up
It’s your shield
Your armor
It protects you from all
Without care
You look
There’s no one there
A cold stony façade
You act like nothing hurts
Everything hurts
Mask firmly in place
Pretending distaste
You sweep down the hall
None shall know your secret thoughts
All they see is your defense
You curl your lip
What they think doesn’t matter
You repeat that silently
You are strong
You can handle this
This pain
This anger
This sadness
You can conquer it easily
Like everything else you’ve faced
But this is different
You can’t see it
The battle is inside of you
Against what you can never comprehend


One of the reasons why this poem is really freaking funny is because, at whatever age I wrote it, I thought I had a good poker face. As pretty much everyone knows, I am an open book when it comes to what I am thinking and feeling. In all of The Historian’s wedding pictures my eyes are a sheen of tears, my lower lip wibbling, and my face screwed up just a little – and I thought I was doing a really good job of controlling my emotions THAT DAY TOO. Most days I can fool myself into believing that I am subtle and good at keeping everything stored away in neat little boxes, but then I tell someone and their eyebrows shoot up into their hairline and they crack up. Actually, now that I think about it, “open book” is a bit too kind. I am more like a movie with closed captions and actor/director commentary going on at the same time. You take one look at my face and you know EVERYTHING. And if you don’t? Well you are more oblivious than I am.

Time and distance have been great boons for me in regard to middle school and high school. I have vague recollections that it really sucked ass a lot and felt very alone, but the good outweighed the bad starting in seventh grade so I have mostly fond memories of high school (not middle school, fuck middle school so hard core). There was a lot of firm upper lips and sucking it up going on which might explain why I viewed myself as needing or having armor on all the time. I grew up in a small town so you pretty much knew everyone in the school and they knew you, if not by name then as “the girl who drinks pickle juice” or something equally horrifying. When there is no escaping someone who may have deliberately or inadvertently hurt you earlier in the day, you do have to learn how to protect and shield yourself.

What I think is key to this poem though is the end where I talk about the battle inside. Even at a young age I had some idea that there could be scarier things inside me than outside. Puberty gutted my self-esteem and self-image. One of my favorite songs in high school was P!nk’s “Don’t Let Me Get Me.” I called in to the local radio station to request it and told them that I wanted it played because it resonated with me and a lot of girls my age because of these lyrics:

Everyday I fight a war
Against the mirror
Can’t take the person
Starin’ back at me
I’m a hazard to myself

Looking in a mirror and not seeing a person you can relate to or love is hard and very easy to understand. I am a little impressed that I had a tentative grasp on the very complicated and scary reality of mental illness, and other terrors that can live in your head.

Wow, this was supposed to be lighthearted and fun! More of an “oh my god baby Michelle whatever made you think you could write poetry PLEASE STOP IT HURTS.” But I guess while she was a little dramatic, MS/HS Michelle had a better understanding of the world than I thought she did.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Peppy says:

    Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really, I am so sorry for my teenage years. So. So. Sorry.


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