Monday, March 26, 2012

Empowerment Project--This Smile's a Mask

The following poem is by Arielle.  I think this is one that everyone can relate to on some level. So beautifully stated.


This Smile's a Mask

This smile’s a mask
To cover the
Splinters of my heart

Shards of fear and pain
Define me now
Run so deep
My bones are filled with it

Distorted reflections of myself
Are reality now
Never ending judgement
Turns me against myself

I fake so much
Pretend the ugliness
Doesn't exist
Doesn't burrow deeper everyday

A parasite lives in me
Everyone would turn away if they could see
So I built walls
Closed off my heart

Masks I wear
A safety net
Against the cruel world
Against the tsunami inside me

So alone, adrift in silence
Words bursting to rush out
Stifled, locked away
I want to scream them all

Suddenly, a hand slides into mine
Breaks through all my barriers
Guides me to warmth
Sees all the darkest parts of me
Shows me the light
Bright and strong

It hurts
It heals

A flood of tears
Pieces of me slowly
Finding their way
Back together

This parasite so strong
Was weak after all
Truth destroying distorted perceptions
Of reality, of myself

My reflection’s clear
Bright and hopeful
For the first time
My smile’s not a mask

I feel a lump in my throat again, re-reading that. In our exchanges about the poem, Arielle said the following and I asked to share it with you:

"This poem kind of spilled out of me a couple days ago while I was laying in bed (I always get inspired right before I want to go to sleep, of course) and I had to type it out on my iPod. I usually write darker stuff but this time I wanted to show the light at the end of tunnel, that healing can happen, that healing hurts sometimes but it's worth it. After awhile it's like the mask takes over who you are, and you forget that there's something wonderful underneath, just waiting to shine again. It's hard to describe everything I wanted to express through my poem but I guess it's really kind of the journey I went through, and that I'm still going through"

We're all at various stages of that journey, aren't we? And the writers (and other creative types) here can all relate to the random grip of inspiration when your drifting off to sleep, I'm sure. 

Arielle also let me know that she's been inspired to try to put together "a book for survivors by survivors", similar to the Empowerment Project, as a way to help others.  I'd love to see that happen! For now she is focusing on school and just mulling it over, which makes me very proud. :)

Thank you so much for sharing your evocative and wonderful poem with me and with the world, Arielle!


  1. This is a brave and heartfelt poem...yay Arielle for sharing it. And yay Alina for giving a place to share. What a great inspiring post to find on a drab Monday morning.

  2. wow. That really is a great poem. I loved the turn at the end, and I especially liked reading her thoughts about writing it! My favorite line was this:
    Never ending judgement
    Turns me against myself

    Nicely stated. And yes, I keep a notepad on my bedside table now... Best to Arielle, and a book sounds like a great idea. <3

    1. I loved the turn as well. So uplifting. Thanks, Leigh!


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