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Forgotten Girl by Laura Defenbaugh

Clogged up. Bogged down.
Which to choose. Why to choose. How to choose.
Tied in knots. Chained to one spot.
Stuck. Helpless.

Maybe they don't know
this is all an act and
I'm not really this happy,
this together,
or this comfortable

Maybe they don't know
sometimes it feels like
I'm drowning in a sea
of expectations,
theirs and mines

Maybe they don't know
how mad I get sometimes
and how I want to throw
things at their heads
when they turn to walk away

Maybe they don't know
They shouldn't turn away so much

Maybe they don't know
I cry sometimes because
I'm afraid if I'm not perfect
I'll lose them all

Maybe they are pushing
me because it looks like
I have room to go forward

Maybe they don't know
they're pushing me
over the edge
and I'm about to fall

I am a promising, attractive, talented young woman. I have lived and learned and thought and prayed to be able to call myself these things without hiding my face. To accept complements without having to rebut them. I became this woman living in a college dorm, surrounded by people who thought the same things about me. I was this woman for what seemed like a long time, and I never let myself think of what I had been before. But when I moved home for the summer I tripped over the forgotten girl and was chilled when I looked into her eyes.

The moment I returned home from college to my childhood bedroom for summer vacation I had to move the furniture. At the time I didn't know why it was necessary, only that it was. I changed everything, moved everything, hung new things on the walls. I was fighting a battle with an unknown contender, a battle I somehow knew I wouldn't win. Even after I had changed everything, she was still chasing me, making me feel uncomfortable in my own skin. When she finally caught me, she tackled me with a force that knocked all the breath from my lungs.

I was caught when I ran across my old journals, she had completely trapped me when I opened the first cover. They were where I'd left them. All together, all untouched. I looked at the bound pages and saw what she had written, inspected the lines which she'd drawn. Alone in my room, I was forced to meet again a girl I had promised I would never forget. A girl who wrote tortured poetry and drew angry pictures in notebooks she hid under her bed.

Feeling trapped and pushed at the same time, she had drawn pictures of brightly colored flames licking at shackles and chains. She had written sticky poetry clotted with indecision. And words expressing the feeling that she was forced to wear a mask in a world that was moving too fast, and without her consent.

As I read the words I remembered what I had promised her, myself. That I would never forget these feelings she was having. I told her on those long lonely nights that when I grew and had my own children they would not have to feel these feelings because I would remember them and keep them from my children's door. I thought somehow if I held tight to the pain of adolescence I could keep it from others.

As I read the words I remembered her, but to my surprise I did not become her again. There were no tears this time. The words which had made me weep countless times, written on paper wrinkled from those tears, no longer struck a chord in my soul. The wounds were healed, only small scars remain.

Today when I feel trapped and frustrated I have people to talk to. I no longer feel the need to hide behind a mask, and can own my emotions. I have also learned that I don't have to feel the pain to remember it. Despite the fact that I am not the girl I was, I have my journals to keep me from forgetting that part of my life. The girl I was may be gone, but the woman I am will never forget her.

Laura Defenbaugh is currently a sophomore at Missouri Western State College in Saint Joseph, Missouri. She is seeking a degree in Secondary Education of English. She is very active in the theater department and is engaged to a Theater Education major. They plan to marry in August of 2001.

E-mail Laura at:

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