The first time I felt powerful
by making myself feel small was
when I told a boy he need
not ask my permission.

I’m a cool girl, I said.
I go with the flow, I said.
I won’t nag you, I said.

I let boys fantasize
about their dominion over
because that was the polite thing to do.

I changed the shape of my mouth
and the sway of my hips
to drive them out
of control
in control.

I made awkward moments
accessible, I
made stars
out of my eyes
(I’d practiced in the mirror),
I kept my palms exposed, I
broke my back, I
made the nights seem long

and the days feel easy, I
talked and I was quiet, I
coordinated, I
overcompensated, I
humbled at his name, I
did that.

I did that.

Everyone was so proud of me
for being different,
for being
one of the guys,
for knowing when to open
and close
my mouth
and my arms
and my legs,

for knowing
how to intimidate other girls
with my cavalier carelessness, with
the venom I reserved.

Everyone knew I was his, and
maybe he wasn’t mine, but
years from now,
at graduation,
everyone will remember
that time when I ruled the world, when
my ego was big

(and my worth was small), when
I mattered the most.
I did that.


I built up the strength by shutting myself in, writing me down, and out, into candle smoke and chord strokes/ pouring wax over wounds/ drawing horned crowns and empty eyes/ punching holes and tearing pages//I worked hard at it all/ at the decimation/ because I needed to be ripe/for the men to come/ not the boys/ target practice.



Amanda Filippelli is an internationally recognized editor, writer, and book coach, and serves as Editor-in-Chief for One Idea Press. She is the author of Blue Rooms as well as the host of Write to Heal workshops, where she helps people connect and heal through the power of storytelling. Before becoming a professional writer, Amanda worked in the mental healthcare system for ten years, teaching adolescent survivors of trauma how to take control of their narrative. She continues this work through her writing, workshops, and as a publisher. 

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