Soul Scars: Bill’s Letter and My Poem

The story of Bill Zeller has kept me thinking ever since I heard about it. When I read his final thoughts in the 4,000 word suicide letter he left, it brought me back to a time when I felt the very same way as he did. He spoke of how much he hated himself, how he felt so alone with “the darkness” that had followed him ever since the sexual trauma in his childhood, and how it kept him at a distance from every single person in his life. He believed that he was incapable of loving or being loved, that he was damaged beyond repair, and that this “darkness” had infected him forever. I remember that feeling well. I believed those same things, for the same reasons Bill did: I suffered severe sexual violence in my childhood. I didn’t tell a soul until I was eighteen. But one year before that, when I was seventeen, I wrote this poem. It clearly states the depth of my self-hatred, all the horrible– and completely inaccurate– beliefs I held about myself. It’s been several years since I read this and it was painful to go back and see how much I had to have been hurting when I wrote this. (I was also at the height of my eating disorder here, so there’s a lot about that, too.) Looking back I’m just so grateful to be in such a completely opposite place, where I can truly say that I love myself, I take care of myself, and I treasure my life and my body. It was a long, terrifying, gratifying, unbelievable road to get here, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I only wish that Bill Zeller could have come along for the ride.

12/15/01

Clawmarks in the Chrysalis: Voice of the Critic

So much is so wrong with you where do I start?
Get ready ‘cause I’m gonna tear you apart

You’re a lazy, incompetent, unwanted child
You should be contained but they let you run wild

You’re prissy, ungrateful, and out-of-control
You’re needy and greedy, all body, no soul

You’re a spineless, iniquitous, crybaby whore
Disgusting, defective, corrupt to the core

You’re nothing more than a doormat, a tool
You let people use you, faint-hearted fool

That’s not bad enough? Here’s the martyr bit
Ironic for such a self-centered shit

You don’t deserve comfort because you cause pain
If you hurt, it’s your fault– you’ve no right to complain

You’re friends have an uncalled-for level of grace
How do you exploit them and still show your face?

How long do you think they’ll swallow this bull?
How many more stunts will they let you pull?

Then there’s your family, you miserable brat
There’s just no way to justify THAT

You renounced them all in indignant disdain
So their every tear and plea was in vain

You tortured you sister, now she wants to die
You’ve tormented them all with lie after lie

And your mother, God love her, nearly lost her mind
Walking the labyrinth of fraud you designed

Consumed with rage, you carved out a plan:
“I’ll twist this knife as far as I can–

My life is over and you’re all to blame
I was neglected, you should be ashamed

Look at my scars, see my blood and my bones
I wanted to die and you should’ve known

I was abused by him and by her
Just look at what horrible parents you were”

You’re one twisted fuck, slowly killing yourself
While piling the blame on everyone else

It’s your own damn fault that you’re such a mess
That you’re so fat it makes it a chore just to dress

You’re COVERED in fat, you blubbery slob
You’re a massive, repulsive, corporeal blob

You’re face is too round, your ears stick out
Your neck is too short and your cheeks bulge out

With your pig nose and cow eyes you belong on a farm
With your head in a bag, shoved away in a barn

Your breasts are enormous, your shoulders too wide
The bulge in your stomach is too big to hide

Your thighs seem to quake as your feet hit the floor
Your ribs hardly show through your back anymore

Your ass is so huge, I don’t see how you walk
You look down on others but you shouldn’t talk

You think people see you as some kind of saint?
Just because you can make yourself run ‘till you faint?

People see you as weak, neurotic, a pain
“Sick” is the only distinction you gain
Undeserving of even THAT much acclaim

If your route to power is through mental disease
Then YOU should be able to get there with ease

But my poor little psycho, so wholly inept
Weakness is something you’ll have to accept

You will never be strong, you’ll never prevail
In every pursuit of your life you will fail

Keep clawing the chrysalis, but hard as you try
You’ll never find freedom, for a worm cannot fly

© Sarah Henderson 2001

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About writingforrecovery

Sarah is a writer and poet who speaks out about issues that make people uncomfortable. Sarah advocates for causes such a sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and mental illness, and often speaks openly about her own experiences. She is determined to abolish the stigma associated with these issues and believes that it starts with people telling their stories, so she started a blog called Writing for Recovery where people can do just that. She is the author of three volumes of poetry and is currently at work on her fourth. She is convinced that there's a novel somewhere in her, and occasionally picks at the chapters so far. View all posts by writingforrecovery

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