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Breaking The Cycle by Kara Valore

I was never told the difference between control and love

and how the two can be split apart like conjoined twins

each surviving on their own

I just knew.

At 12, I knew who I wouldn’t marry

even though I was reminded

the trash in the barrel was worth more than me.

I was raised on a chessboard

never taught how to wear makeup

but always warned to shut my mouth.

It was here where I began grinding

my teeth at night while sleeping

until my jaw became unhinged.

I was never told how to downshift before hugging

a corner or how to survive off Ramen noodles

I just knew

like when I became a mother

and would sway back and forth

with my crying baby swaddled

in my arms.

Oftentimes, a feeling I can’t define, creeps in

like a familiar scent long forgotten

and infuses itself into papier-mâché,

playdoh and blanket forts under the kitchen table.

They say you carry trauma in your womb, and it passes onto your child.

As I watch my children play

this rubs me raw

where my skin burns to the touch

my feet too heavy to move

yet, somehow, I fall back into what has kept me alive

my instinct to protect

myself and now my children,

to trust what I have always known.


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