The virus is still here the day after Labor Day. Nothing restarts. There is no pencil sharpened to its most perfect point that can bring the wave of hope a new school year brings. Our backpacks were never unloaded from Spring’s lessons. We will greet the peers next to us predisposed to fear the space between our seats.

Yet the season behind us wasn’t only fraught…

Life starts over the day after Labor Day. The new year gets the glittered glory, but instinctively, we await a resetting as adults no different than the days we eagerly entered our new classrooms…

From early childhood, we are conditioned to feel shame in the pursuit of the desires that stimulate our minds and bodies. Gratification of the senses is indulgent; pleasure, in any of its forms, is sin; in sexuality, it’s grounds for societal eradication and displacement from the warm embrace of the wondrous Kingdom of God. Women are mothers, wives, and sisters living in compassionate servitude to our people, honored for our commitment to looking, always first, to their needs. …

With a pop of the Champaign cork, streamers wisping through the blue sky, the party was over–the love I’d hosted was spent. A confetti memory, a once-was story, trashed by guests sent home to their next.

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Each man that’s walked into my life, strolling romantically past my barriers, pushing my strong girl façade aside, has walked out with a part of me–a slice of my being tucked carefully in a tissue papered box. Each one, breaking me down with their own unique flair. All of them leaving me more hollow for the next.

They leave behind nightmares of monsters–things that…

In the United States, more than 10 million men and women are physically abused by an intimate partner. On average, that’s nearly 20 people per minute. Women between 18 and 24 are most commonly abused. I was one of those people.

The content below contains potentially triggering content on the subject of domestic abuse, physical violence, emotional trauma and rape.

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Ten years ago my waist was smaller, my skin softer and my body more nimble. Neuroscience says my brain, though nearly developed, like most of my life skills at the time was not quite there. The front lobe, controlling judgment…

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My historic railroad home sat nestled between a nearly-abandoned lot of waist-high weeds, storage crates, and an automotive shop. The porch sat almost below the crumbling viaduct, connecting downtown to the west side of town. When the bridge came down, it took only a few short days. One morning I walked below it, past the broken Budweisers, toward my office and the next I found myself standing wide-eyed against the chain-link, staring blankly at the piles of rebar towering above me like curled ribbons.

Somewhere in the stacks of concrete was a tagged traffic sign I’d established an intimate routine…

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“Why’s a girl like you alone?” he slurred, weaving his hands through mine, pushing a curl of my hair behind my ear. Every neurotransmitter in my body filled with preparatory breath for one, big, harmonious, panicked song.

Please. Stop.

“You’re beautiful and smart and funny.” The skin on my neck tightened–tiny cracks spreading like wild rivers across my trapped knuckles. I forced my lips to curl and my eyes to sparkle, while I thought about slamming his weathered face into the coffee table.

“There are hundreds of men who wish they had someone like you,” he ambled. “I wish I…

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I was 17, on the eve of my first “real” Valentine’s Day feeling the juvenile tingles of love for the first time. I found the perfect card, jotted the perfectly coy but sweet, perfectly cute but hearty note and tucked it into a ribbon wrapped box of scratch-made treats. Pleased as can be, I snuggled myself into my teenage nest and eagerly waited for the day of romance that I was sure was ahead.

Fast forward just short of 24 hours later to my first “real” look at what would become a long-standing relationship with societal-forced romance. I slammed my…

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From the time we’re informed of the importance of our desirability, women carefully craft our physicality and delicately curate the conversations we allow to escape our glossed lips. Knowingly, we keep our voices at a low hum, our stance unassuming. We shrink our bodies and paint our faces to look akin to our porcelain-skinned, rosy-cheeked, blissfully silent baby dolls.

We are taught in practice from our mothers, sisters and grandmothers who’ve learned the lay of the uneven land, taking notes from the scoldings, judgments and booming voices of men. We fall into prescribed gender norms, further forging a path of…

Pain is one of life’s certainties, a souvenir taken from livingfrom loving wholeheartedly, allowing the world to see us stand vulnerably in our own, authentic skin.

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

“Pain is not a sign that you’ve taken a wrong turn or that you’re doing life wrong. It’s not a signal that you need a different life or partner or body or home or personality. Pain is not a hot potato to pass on to the next person or generation. Pain is not a mistake to fix…” Glennon Doyle says. “Pain is a traveling professor. When pain knocks on the door — wise ones breathe deep and say: Come in. Sit down with me. And don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.

So often when we…

I watched the flowers change with the rain and sun, not so much different from the transformations I watched my soul endure. The slugs, still capable of making my full body tremble in disgust with too close of an inspection, taught me lessons on living, the pursuit of peace and acceptance of everything that may be writhing beside you, wherever you are.

The path was buzzed short, winding up the hill away from the farmhouse, speckled with creatures adopted for loving on broken hearts. I’d been on the property for only a few short hours and made my way up…

Jessica Brauer

truth seeker ✧ storyteller ✧ wellness advocate ✧ feeler of feelings ✧ follow along @jessicaebrauer

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