Roses need sunlight, just like humans.
“Wounded and wilted roses need empowering hydration through sunlight, fresh air, and love. But, not just any love; roses like me need self love.
I was 12 years old when I let my own thorns pierce my stems for comfort. My anxiety and self hate made my petals fall and fade, as my skin grew raw and malnourished. I never thought it was beautiful, but it was all I knew how to cope. I had love and support, but I was blind to the demons who told me I was worthless. "There are other roses, like you, but they're prettier and take care of themselves," they muttered as they sucked me into the mud.
I was ugly from the inside out, rotting from my own mind that caused me pain from being touched and kicked, swallowing false happiness whole, and blaming myself for actions that were uncanny to me as child, but made me feel disgusted with myself. People would step on my broken stems and rip whatever petal they wanted from me as they waltzed away, like nothing ever happened. I felt nothing as I turned gray and water dripped off of what was left of my petals. My crippling sorrow brought anger and insecurity as I morphed into something that I promised I would never become: a constricting weed in the quick sand of a depleting garden.
I began as a simple piece of natural art, that became a destructive piece of annihilation to myself, by sucking my veins dry of purity and dopamine. People ripped me to shreds as I listened and believed in the lies and hurt they fed me. My poisoned body laid paralyzed as I sunk deeper into the ground from self hate and defeat. My endorphins morphed into a black sludge that dragged me 6 feet under to match my roots...and I became numb.
Until one day, my roots saw light. They saw a small speck of light emitted through the borrow of which my emaciated, abused carcass had laid to die. Yet, I was wakened by the welcoming warmth I felt ready to reach out to. It was a power I had not felt since I was a small child, coloring and painting to garden my family grew from scratch. I stood up and contemplated moving forward toward the beam that made my face feel fresh and the air that tasted sweet, like honeysuckle. I took a breath, and uncurled my crippled hand to reach out toward the most terrifying experience yet: starting over.
As I climbed and fell, I continued to dig my knees and latch my stems onto anything I could find to face my fate of living a new life. Reading and writing the notes in my head and I trudged through the black of what my loved ones had told me in support of holding my stem straight, so I could properly breathe on earth. They loved me even on my final thread, while other would steal them, so I'd become less than what I truly was. I spent my journey through the mud focusing one thing for the first time in my life, and that was getting the hell out of my head that had been captured by the demons who soiled my worth. My stems slightly tingled as they slowly crawled through the particles of dirt and insects who helped feed me and lift me through the ground as I clawed and pierced what once killed me. The sunlight grew stronger as it patiently waited for me to come home.
As I peaked my head above the solid earth, my petals began to regrow. One by one, they sprouted and tended to my wounds. Soft colors began to bleed through my face and my stems grew thicker and healthier, as I brushed the dirt off of my newly formed self, like a botanical phoenix. Everything was not perfect, but it was better.
Now, here I stand at age 21, successful with my craft of smiling and skin finally healing over. Clean of my impurities, I think before I react and properly tend to myself from the inside out as needed with 3 hearty meals, 2 warm hugs, and 1 bright sun a day at a time.
My scars continue to fade as my skin glows with gratitude for living another day and choosing to love myself, stand out in the sun, and continue to breathe.
Thank you, Mom, Dad, my brother, and friends.
--Emelia Rose, Student