Diary of a Poet: Connections Lost, Serenity Found

As highlighted in some of my previous pieces, I am on a daunting journey. It has not been easy in the least bit but I have the privilege of reveling in peace for the first time.

The chase has taken me through several states and two countries but wow, it was worth it to bathe in this sunshine. Despite all the rain and thunderstorms, I thought I was too weak to survive. I want to provide a trigger warning for anyone consuming my words. They are heavy and need to be taken in dosages. If anything makes you feel you need a break, take it and visit this when you’re ready.

When I say revel in peace, I do not mean it lacks sorrow, heartbreak and pitfalls. Those things are part of it; they are what we reflect on when there is silence for the first time in our lives. When you no longer must anticipate the anger or frustrations of the world being thrown at you 100 miles per hour. Endless heartbreak and chaos are happening daily in the world, from high homelessness rates to wars of no end, which leaves us all with so much pain to shovel through. I have always felt so deeply and am deeply empathetic to all the pain we must witness.

It’s easy to feel everything for me. I’ve been told all my life “You’re too sensitive” or “You’re too emotional,” and the list can go on. Growing up, I took these as charges against my character. It became this internalized negative attribute I fought against with the wrong people. I had to learn over the years who to reserve my discontent for, and it was for the adults responsible for my wellbeing before I could comprehend what I needed to feel safe. That is what my peace has allowed me to think about for the first time: safety. Granted, abuse within the parameters of my family, from mental and emotional to physical abuse, has always been around for decades, but I made the hard choice of breaking away from the status quo. I took the chance, knowing it would be lonely. I tried in all kinds of ways to let these people who raised me realize I was hurting.

Being sensitive to others and holding space to unfold has become my greatest strength as an adult. There is no weakness in my character traits. The perspective of being sensitive equals weakness stems from my mother’s father, who recently passed away. I could only hope the younger generation of my family would not feel the same wrath, but it is not for me to impose. I have stood in the place of observer for many years, and in the time I have stood up for or on principles surrounding peace, healing and genuine love, I’ve been discontent.

Being met with such cognitive dissonance for a few years at this point has made me cut my family off. This was a long time coming, years in the making, but it came to a point where I could no longer accept the disrespect, dishonor and lack of emotional maturity. I held that idea most people do, “Oh, but it’s family”; no, they are people you are related to by blood but family gives space for unfolding emotions and genuine connection. After decades of feeling unworthy, suicidal ideations and attempts, I feel like I can breathe. This is the first time in a public way I have discussed this, and I think many people must hear.

Some would say it is courageous of me to walk away from a family structure that harmed me far more than it has healed me. Most would say they could never do that, and I could understand both sides. It takes grit, determination and more strength than I ever thought I had to chase my peace until my legs hurt. There are no days without tears, guilt and shame, all of which are being shed slowly, but it’s hard, nonetheless—challenging, yes, impossible, no.

My freedom has grown in a beautiful forest of endless possibilities. I currently work for a fantastic company and received my first promotion in my professional career. I have an amazing lady that I plan to marry as soon as possible. I live in a new place and explore my life on my terms. I have spoken to some family since the death of my mother’s father, but it has not been consistent because I know the work they need to do has not been done. For anyone out there reading this and trying to figure out what to do and how to navigate these toxic familial relationships, you are so far from alone and everything will be okay. You will get your peace and feel that freedom at your feet. Healing is natural, possible, endless and fulfilling beyond measure.

I think many of us participate in family structures that are unsafe because we believe it is all we have in this world, but that’s not true. We have ourselves; we owe it to ourselves to choose peace, love and happiness to no limit. We are not given a roadmap to life or a highlight reel of what might happen when we are born. We are born and raised at the hands of others, but that does not mean we owe anyone anything besides ourselves. This is a journey I anticipate staying on until other parts of my family unit join me and figure it out. As for me, I am moving with peace in my spirit, and as always, please move in and with love.

Bryana Saldana is an Afro-Latina poet born and raised in Orlando. Saldana had her first published poem through “Women Who Roar.” Saldana’s pronouns are She/Her/They.

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