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liberation

I feel her in the tea that I know by herb and not by brand, 

she’s glistening in shadows that hug the city. The mountains forget what time it is. 

they lose themselves in the clouds like when my tummy hurt at the beach and all I could do is

lay

lay

lay

looking up trying to figure out who was looking down

what is a God if not the desire to be perceived with purpose rather than objective

I can taste the centrism perceived by the gringos that laugh at the words I can’t pronounce,

they think they’re so smart to battle the tongues of all the women who could not speak,

I was carried in wombs that weren’t allowed to see

the sun 

pray to the stars 

// without // screams

I crave the land like I crave my mother

looking at the mirror and glaring at the teenager that mothered spirits born and unborn

carried weights of absent men 

formed regrets of pubescent care

yet

I see her in the blossoms down the street from my window

I see her in the gardens that I’ll sow with my kindness

I see her in the mirror when I drop an insult to my knees and let it roll melted in neurons

I see her in my wish for love when all I’ve felt is deprived of such

my hands are dry but the rain is full

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arcoiris

I thought words only painted images or things we want to see but can’t,

i’ve found words also paint nondescriptive anthems.

splashes of paint consumed by deepest fears // depressive episodes glassed with bloody // cuts //

their

skin

fresh

in mind and soul,

wanting to absolve intrusions

numbing empty hope // running engines of easels,

they’re all mine.

mania ain’t so bad, when it paints like this.

The crash comes with what silence can’t retain.

Would you believe me if I showed you? Would I? DO I // have to? Did I, want to?

I lost more than trust in me, the way I lost myself in you.

spring forgives, but no matter the leaves sprouting in skeletons all over the city,

on the back stains pulled empty // bloody // stern

they emblematize the anthem I cling to past the 90s show that introduces romantically

people always do this, people always leave.

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medicated

late at night

chemicals in my brain react

to whispers of vanguard

dissolved by a little pill

served by my new corner pharmacy

rooted in mannerisms of expectation

seeking performance aside from revelation

feeding the emptiness of melancholia

weighing high functioning cycles

exhausting every tear possible

as raiding disruption

turns into abduction

clinging to images of bare comfort

membranes dissolving desire for the unconscious

claiming ability for

failing repeatedly

to hold conversion

as shifts of redemption

yet replace temptations

with shifts of perception

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The voices in my head

you know what bothers me the most? it’s never how much someone pulls away, or how they read your scars with self-diagnosis, how they judge your responses.

it’s the lies. the lie of their care. the lie of their fear. the lie of their contempt.

am I so gullible to think that still, through the lies, I can love you? I must be so crazy to see your pity as high regard. I had forgotten that silence perceived feels anxious but understood can be weaponized.

I must be a fool to answer the questions I know I can’t even answer to myself. you make me brave the same way you make me weak, with a curiosity to feel the ether of my beginnings yet inspect the scars near the ends.

It must be some gift to make the storyline so real, so raw, to watch the different paths dissipate with a tap.

Distance has never seen me grow, it has always seen me drown.

I’d forgotten that the only ear that hears me scream at night is mine, the one that wakes up in tears, remorse, fear.

yet here I am, wondering who will get to hold your hand at night when you can’t sleep, dry your tears when you can’t beat em, and dream to live with you.

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Estrellas

sera ya?

sera ya que se me agotaron las estrellas?

que el cielo llego a mirar mi destino y dijo,

cuantas ganas que le faltan a estas pilas de recargarse

cuanta pena que las ganas que no tiene se fugaron a otra galaxia.

Aveces me siento como la arena fuera del mar,

permeable y absorbente, pero no luminante

con granos que forman escondites para los que ni al espejo le creen la farsa

formando huellas tan profundas sintiendo de cada carga inesperada y aguda

paseando solo cuando fluye el viento migrante que no lleva trazos ni de origen ni destino.

Una arena que se molda y endurece, que se ajusta y asimila

se sostiene de pie con formaciones de manos

con visiones de proposito y delirio

Aun asi,

esas manos aprenden a usar los rastros de tal arena para borrar las visiones que hormigueaban en sus manos

le conversan al viento que el mar borra en cuenta regresiva y que a cero llegara la arena a puñetes o a oleadas

Sera que cuando se agotan las estrellas el cielo las repone?

o sera que el cielo se mira en el mar y en cuenta regresiva descarga los rastros del propósito visionario de mis estrellas?

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Cual es la verdad?

I miss you,

so much that it scares me to see you.

Would you be mad if I told you?

my love for you sings in silence.

I heard your voice in the cabin of my car

driving to see you while getting high,

shaping my symptoms from falling behind

telling you I lied, I wanted to cry.

These times I wanted to hide,

that these days of being alone have

given me the strength to pass life by.

I thought of an intro much livelier than that,

an extrovert who dreams of your silence rather than your sigh.

Sometimes I think about what I’ve left behind,

consuming energies darker than mine

all for performing a damn fucking lie,

regretting the lone nights I didn’t have

What is an extrovert in bed called?

a loud scream for peace absent of goodbye.

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S1lence

Silence.

Mostly identified as unspoken, silence, in my opinion, is the most emphatic of languages.

Silence has been my coping mechanism for a lot of 2018 as the most challenging times arose and then simmered as time passed.

Silence is like binary code, it’s an action-led motion, emotion, and emphatic feeling. It’s tap into the psyche and an escape out of the noise. Silence digests and feeds, it troubleshoots and rewires.

As I began this year, I began hopefull and filled with life. I came back to Miami with nothing but good intentions and lessons learned to reinforce and fortify with habits. I was so ready to take on the world, as I saw it, feeling invincible after surviving the reinsertion of my childhood trauma and failing to speak to my father, in simple terms, for closure sake.

However, I made the mistake of latching onto too much too fast and too strong. I fell in love deeply for the first time. I fell for someone who began to love the idea of burying their misery beneath my admiration but when confronted with my affection ran away faster than I could open and close my eyes one last time.

See, the thing about growing up in an abusive household under both physical and emotional abuse is that the thing you grow up fearing the most in life is abandonment; even when it comes from your abuser. And that exact feeling, under centuries of dependent and exhaustive relationships, triggers deep depressive states filled with loneliness and unquenchable sadness. And thankfully, gladfully, and obviously, this exact feeling overcame me this year, especially in the Spring while I attempted to fight my demons to not lose everything I had worked so hard to achieve for the past 5 years; graduation.

I was confronted with learning how to put myself aside to make room for someone else’s love, affection, but also all of their bad habits and manipulative tendencies. I did this gladly and patiently but I also began fighting for them (us) too. Just like I learned to do when I was little; like I learned to scream to be heard over men and boys of my family and friends, like I learned to defend my mom from the wretched attacks that my father aimed at her spirit. I began to use one of my coping mechanisms to project love for others the way that I was taught to love and what love was; what it meant.

I have lived in silence from a lot of things this year because honestly, it all took me by surprise. I had no reaction and I’ve had nothing to say about my life and what I’ve suffered because I’ve had no energy to fight back for myself – I drained it all fighting for the wrong people at the wrong time and under the wrong circumstances.

This year I had to fight myself for change, for growth, for shutting doors that were mistakenly wide open. So that’s what I’ve been doing, fighting internally to live and wanting to keep living because sadly, the first alternatives that roll into my mind when attempting to fight against low defenses are to turn to very depressive and suicidal thoughts for reassurance and familiarity. Yet, as my beautiful soul sister and friend put it briefly and gracefully today; Khalas.

Khalas for now, to the redirecting and distracting away from distress.

It’s all come down like a hurricane this year, leading me to regretfully be unable to write one word down onto this canvas for months, and almost all of this year.

Writing about abuse is at the root of my understanding of my mental health issues and coping mechanisms. Yet, at the very core, digesting trauma almost always turns abrasive and relinquishing as I use my memory as my blindfold. Most things I can no longer remember until I write, see, dream, hear, paint, speak, and cry.

And that is what this season has been, a systematic binary driven silence. And that is how I am. That is how I’m doing. I’m suffering in silence like my daddy taught me because I’m still working on quitting my attachment to dependency on abuse to cope too. As I often use menace and anger to fight myself rather than talk to myself as the noise gets louder.

And I’m learning. In the distance, while I survive this season in silence.

As this year ends, I hope to gift myself the closure that those who have hurt me refuse to grant and I close my eyes every night wishing that these cycles of pain reverse into cycles of (pretty much anything) but these feelings that isolate my creativity and put a hold on my life.

I miss my friends, I miss my family, I miss Ecuador, I miss traveling, but most of all I miss myself – the girl who left Ecuador sure of herself and her plans for the world. I can’t seem to find her at sunrise or in the waves that carry the sunset. Tell her I love her. She deserves to know.

Embrace

in my dreams I hold onto you like the line of the train is falling as it moves through the tracks invigorated to see us getting along

in shock, I get scared that it’s too good to believe and that’s when the nightmare begins

usually in a train station if not already on the way to somewhere, a house, the same house that haunts my past.

we arrive by foot, by car, by bike, and it’s always received with a clenching electric door, will it stay open to me? us? I think it whispered in my sleep so loud that my jaw was clenching it shut

we barely make it inside the house, and i’m already in terror sweats, both in the dream and in real life. I’m dreading this encounter with the space that cheated on me repeatedly through lies of care and custom. my father’s prints everywhere marking the scene of revenge that those following us crave.

the raptors shoot at us. at the cage that covers our faces from the truth. yet we hide, knowing we’re about to die we hide.

i’ve never seen it like this before. remembering parts of this place more than I do consciously when navigating through to this time in my childhood.

every single time I wake up in tears right as they grab me, throw me, shoot me, hold me. Thinking I can escape their grip like everyone else I scream for help. why? i know nobody is listening, i know the bird has forgotten how to sing a song of hope rather than surrow. but I sing. and here’s where it gets cold.

my therapist says, “rewrite the story, write it once to remember what it was, to pin down the details haunting you, then rewrite it to be different, untangle it” but what I forgot to say is no, just like the dream. I let it seep in knowing it can be different and knowing it can change, but when the chase starts I feel as if I don’t know how to be anything but the mouse.

whoever is with me is better than this. better than the cycle of dreams that keeps haunting for more blood out of us for the mere assumption that there won’t be a peaceful return.

but there will be, and i’m embracing it now more than ever. I always thought that it would mean physically redefining what it would be like to move back home permanently and tend to the land like I foresee tending to myself but the truth is, the real work lies in my shadow, the one rewiting this moment from weakness to power.

22

I feel like every year I always say the same thing. It’s been hard, it’s been painful, it’s been chaotic. But this year has a different tone. It’s been life-changing in all the ways that transformative years have.

I never thought I’d come this close to death again, at least not outside my head. This year I gave in. I found myself filling up the glass so high that at one point I just did not remember any reasons to keep going. That’s so painful to write and read. I didn’t believe in myself and honestly, I didn’t believe anyone around me. I found myself disproving all the love I was given to hold and in the process, self-sabotaging it. 

Mental struggles have always been something I was pushed to be ashamed of. Never believed or held, just pushed to ignore and “move on”. Nobody has ever taken the time to sit and listen and really think about what I was feeling and why. Until someone that did came along. And they cared, so much. That, in its totality, was terrifying. I’ve gotten so good at lying that I forgot to be honest with myself about the stake of putting someone I care about in the midst of fire between me, my head, and my demons. I have been mourning the loss of someone I love for more than a pandemic. 

I’ve been mourning loss since I was conceived. 

And honestly, that being the truth I don’t really know what else to say to make it real. To make people listen and believe me. But all I can do now is focus on the ones that do and are here present with me on this journey. 

It’s weird looking at age as a construct and also as timestamps for accomplishments and milestones that are hard to stomach. I did not choose this life to be so hurtful but once again I have to deal with the consequences of sincerity and breaking point. Yet, there’s so many more highlights I want to champion. 

In the span of a few months I have excelled at something I never thought I’d be doing, I’ve started believing in myself and my creative practice more than I ever have before, I have met some incredible people that have held me accountable and present in ways I didn’t know were possible, and I continue to rebuild my relationship with my mother and brother as the centers of my family union. 

This all started with moving to DC and coming upon independence once again. I left Miami escaping cynicism and superficiality, and then I came North to fall in love with it all over again. Coming here was the most impulsive decision I have ever made, and trust me, I have made some pretty impulsive decisions between trotting countries. Everyone was surprised, nobody asked if I was happy but rather they asked why? How? Are you coming back?

Coming back home became a coddled experience  for less ambiguity than the one I shared about my decision-making process. But it was good, it is good. I started a wave of depression that I could not beat alone, but this time I wasn’t alone. I was just heartbroken. It took every inch of me one day to not lose sight of my purpose in this life which is none other than to be the person I am around the people that I love. Centering my life around people is not only the understanding that I have of community, but it also allows me to stay humble and remember that I can’t and shouldn’t be selfish because the same way I have suffered from someone’s decision, there will be loved ones that will suffer due to mine. 

That sums up my first session with my psychiatrist too. He said firmly that mama and abu coni would be so disappointed and hurt if I left this world and most of all, that they already felt my sadness with me through their love. I never want to disappoint them, and I’m glad I beat those feelings day by day, hour by hour. 


Going to the hospital for suicidal ideation was not something I expected to do, nor did I want to do, but that I’m very glad I did. Being on suicide watch for the entire night at the ER brought back some medical trauma in ways where I already thought I had entered death as I knew it then, but in a much different context now. Being in that room smelled like my blood and soared through my IV scars. I physically felt sick to my stomach, and I was, too, literally bleeding already. I had tried to kill myself as I got my period that month. How poetic. 

When they asked questions like what was my plan, how I would do it, when I’d do it, I answered like a bot with a script. Knowing I couldn’t hold in the answers to those questions to myself anymore. I repeated, my name is Barbara Valencia, my DOB is … and I want to kill myself. I will cut my wrists, I will do it alone in my apartment, and I will not tell anyone. My preferred method of pain is cutting, I do it when I want to leave my pain in permanence, and I used to cope through this with permanent ink on my skin to deflect the fears that empty patches are canvas waiting to be reminded of this external pain. 

I don’t want to scare you, nor did I want to remember these painful details of what happened so soon and so raw. However, I had to tell someone that when I was alone sitting in that ER waiting room full of people and desperation, of COVID-19 patients, drug addicts, and dying folks, I was fucking terrified of how far my mind had come for me to end up there. 

I want to take a pause to break the stigma around mental illness and getting the help one needs to live in safety. I don’t describe this experience as a horror movie-like plot to scare or deteriorate the image of the life-saving resource that getting help really is for these cases. I am just a person who was taught to take my trust with me in and swallow it with my pride because nobody would care enough about another woman not feeling like herself in this world, over and over and over again. So this is where my hesitation comes from, and it was implanted by addicts that I know too well. Sadly, in a lot of ways, I too partake in this vicious cycle of belief at times and it’s the most destructive behavior I am challenging myself to break.  

ANYWHO, being alone physically has been hard. Yet, so intra-necessary. I have once again leaned on my friends for support when I needed the most and they showed up in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I am so happy to be part of their lives and feel very thankful for them being a part of mine. I don’t know what else to say other than I’m trying, trying really hard to be there for myself and my writing right now. And for once in a while, I am hopeful.

Answer of the day

At this point, there’s enough questions surfing through TikTok that anyone who struggles to succumb to the truth will lose faith in answers.

Yet when the rhythm of “Good Days” unravels a masked sadness, I know why the answers aren’t spelled out into words. They belong to the silence that unraveled with you.

There’s enough ambiguity between who we are and how we are that it has become so unappealing for either of us to look and not run.

I wonder what your coffee looks like these mornings. Is it sweeter? bitter? lonely?

Like in chess all the pieces at play are compromised, they switch word for word and trust for none. Checkmate is pain, it’s remiss recognition. What I wondered then and fear now is so different and cloudy. How could I take away the picture of us with a mistake that is worth fixing? how could YOU let it go so easy? was that all made up and disposed already? was I that easy to forget?

I didn’t want those words to come out. I never do. I want to keep pretending that things are fine and that they will miss us. that we will miss us. and that when we come back, if we come back, things will be easier, purposeful, and real.

No lies allowed. Only a pass for the bathroom, a pass to obscure, a pass to lie low when aiming high is too out of touch.

I don’t know what this is or what it was meant to be. I’m just angry.

Estranged

Alone. For so long I’ve been alone, not just lonely.

I remember being a kid who saw, spoke, felt, mourned, and had hope. But it was not based on the ideas that those before me and those after me would provide me with a net of safety. Now I have to rise up and be the net, and hold myself, and hold them back.

I got used to the silence in my bed. I got used to the sweats and the tears. I got used to the haunting of them all in my dreams and my nightmares. There’s always this mountain in between us, physically and emotionally.

I dream of union, and I resent it. I dreamt once of Venezuela and their mountains, like ours, luscious and green, full of life and water. But then I dreamt of serpents next to it, curves, the highway and the road that should never be driven. El actual culo del diablo.

Pero I wasn’t scared, I was tanning. I was sipping on a drink with my mom reimagining our lives and the ones who we wished were there with us. My brother came to mind when I sipped that drink.

“I wish the babies were here, I wish we could be in their lives more. I miss them”.

It’s been more than 500 days since I last saw them and I would, quite literally, give up anything to have them near me. To give them a hug and talk to them about their history, about our herstories.

“Donde estan?” say’s mama about G and A.

“Estan bañándose en el rio, disfrutando del agua.”

“aaaa ya, está bien, entonces vamos a cocinar si quieres”

“Pero se dañó el ventilador y tendríamos que sufrir de calor”

“no, tranqui ya voy a arreglarlo, como siempre, voy yo a arreglarlo”

Refunfuñando me fui. I then loop into a fight with my dad over how much we need to pay to fix the broken parts of the fan. He, like always is trying to cheat, and me, like always, trying to tell the truth. I can’t escape that fight.

For him, it must be his life’s worth that money is worth everything in life, yet, for me the fight is how it will never replace honesty and human decency. Respect. Honor.

Maybe I’m foolish to fight against exactly what I’m attracted to. I crave the lies and I bore with the honesty of souls that want to capsule mine but are not reactive with chaos for me to receive. I envy those who can make it work, who can ignore. Likewise, I wonder just for a day what it would’ve been like if it had never been a fight.

But my ex says, “my life would be more interesting if we fought like we used to.”

I guess that’s my selling point. I’ll fight for you, I’ll fight with you, I’ll fight alongside you, but still. That’s never enough.

Then there are the nightmares in my childhood bed, the one that has enough sabanas for all the people that slept in it like they slept through me. I always go back to running into that room and closing the door like gasping for air. Somehow even though I remember the lock didn’t work, in my dreams all my hopes lie in it. In its function and use, like a shield I know too well to disappoint me.

I run through the houses and spaces that scare me and I coddle myself into that room like it’s never seen me before. Or rather, like I never meant it to see me before.

A fight breaks out. I get burned outside my door, and all I can do is lay in a bed full of roaches and menace that keeps chasing me alive into a deeper hole than the one I’m crying to be left out of.

“Abre la puerta Bárbara, abre la puerta te digo. No me voy a repetir. Abre la puerta.”

All my life I’ve been told to open doors I cry to shut. I think this is why swinging them open to threats that make me just as scared to run as they do to fall makes me romantic.

It makes me want to be wanted. So much that many times I end up here, forgetting what I was chasing in the first place, because feeling this empty in theory feels the same as it did in the chase.

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