The Fortress

a lyric poem by Chrystal


Educational establishments are safe places.

They were. For everyone but me.

I belonged there but not everywhere it encompassed.

The walls that kept students safe from the outside did not keep them safe from each other.

I faked strength but not well enough. Never enough.

She always had more and I was weak in her eyes.

Transparent in the eyes of my attacker but opaque in everyone else’s. The picture of strength to everyone that, in my eyes, didn’t matter.


Brick by brick I built a fortress through my silence, and her confidence grew as mine diminished.


But my fortress protected no one but her. I was left to stagger blindly through the darkness.


I transformed into a different person. Meek, silent, cautious.


Doing simple things gave me anxiety, I felt as though I was being judged. Watched from all sides.


The person who I was, bold, outspoken, and unapologetically myself disappeared.


I had made up my mind. If who I wasn’t accepted, I was determined to be someone else. I wanted to fit in.


I felt like a misshapen puzzle piece, not belonging anywhere, making no connections with anyone.


Everything changed when I decided I had had enough.


But it’s like they say, things have to get worse before they get better.


I decided I was no longer going to be the victim.

But she had not decided to let me go just yet. She made my life a living hell.


But through sheer willpower, I obliterated the fortress she resided in.


I wiped the dust from my eyes and rose from the rubble.


She was no longer welcome. No one would ever be again.


I looked inward and discovered myself. It was nice to reunite with who I used to be.


I missed the freedom that came with being who I really was. I didn’t realize what I had until I lost it.


Who I am now was impacted by who I was during the time I lost myself. I was undefined and not myself.


I had wandered and stumbled blindly throughout the fortress that held me captive and my attacker safe.


With the destruction of the fortress I emerged like a butterfly from its cocoon:


Finally new, changed but still the same little caterpillar just in different packaging.


I left the fortress behind, but I will never forget it. It made me who I am today.


I know I will continue to change, but the rubble of the fortress will always be a rest stop on my memory lane.


The era in my life where I lost myself.



Chrystal is a junior.










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