A Word For Emotional Abuse

Content Warning: Emotional Abuse

 Photo by  Katya Austin  on  Unsplash    [Image Description: glowing orange veins of lava glow red as a branch catches fire amidst the dark]

Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash

[Image Description: glowing orange veins of lava glow red as a branch catches fire amidst the dark]

One word

for emotional abuse

is couples.

 

The first time I learned

about emotional abuse

was in articles

about abusive partners.

 

As if

emotional abuse

only existed as

a wilted rose of romance.

 

Another word

for emotional abuse

is mother. 

 

Mothers

typically worshipped.

Perfect goddesses,

but mine

a dormant volcano.

 

On good days,

she was warm.

 

On bad days,

she burned.

 

Drawing power

from a quick temper,

she hurled fireballs

insults

gradually

eroding my self esteem.

 

Spewing ash clouds

she'd scream,

 "Stupid,

you can't

do anything right!"

Then came

the poisonous gas.

 

 "You're so lazy,

you probably mess up

on purpose

so you don't have to

do anything!"

 

 "Don't say I 

didn't teach you anything,

you're gonna be

in big trouble 

when I'm not around!"

 

I tried

to defend myself,

my tears evaporating

in the blazing anger

of my mother's voice.

 

I tried

to find support,

told

to grow a thicker skin

in dry and cracked soil.

 

My insides

were humid,

livid with

frustration

and unspoken words.

 

Sometimes, 

magma 

gushed out 

as resentment

became active.

 

When magma cools,

a heart 

hardens,

resentment

becomes dormant.

 

I numbed myself,

bottling

and freezing 

unspoken words

hibernating

body and soul.

 

I numbed myself

because I learned

a cold word

for emotional abuse

is absence.

 

Icicles

of tough love,

a winter season

that was normal.

 

All abuse

must be acknowledged

without excuse

or the cycle

will never

be broken.

 

My worst fear 

is that

I become

an inferno

or an iceberg.

 

I hope

I can emerge anew,

a pleasant sun

in spring.


Latonya Pennington is a non-binary queer freelance writer and poet. Their poetry has been published at Linden Avenue literary magazine, Superselected magazine, and the anthology Scribes of Nyota. You can find them on Twitter @TonyaWithaPen.