Coryl Reef

writer, artist, and freelance editor // blogging about words, life, and all the rest

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Compasses and Other Ornaments of Direction

COMPASSES AND OTHER ORNAMENTS OF DIRECTION is a 4-part journey that starts in the bliss of toxic love and finishes with lost and forward-thinking freedom after an abusive relationship.

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Origins & Backstory

This poetry is meant for my personal healing, as well as to showcase the complexities of having loved someone abusive—and to warn young girls that the attention of an older man is almost always a bad sign.

This is a collection of poems I’ve been working on since 2013, when I first started trying to break free from an abusive online relationship. The majority of the poems were completed years ago, but only now, in 2017, have I processed them and the events they percolated from. I added more poems recently, bringing the collection to 4 parts instead of 3.

I’ve also started to realise the fucked up origin of all these words and pains. I’m only now telling it with an appropriate amount of clarity, rather than disillusionment.

When I was a teenager, first new to the Internet and chat rooms and messaging programs, I met lots of people. People who were nice, people who weren’t. People who were catfishes and people who were random weirdos like me just chatting to others for the fun of it. And when I say “teenager”, I mean I was a 13-year-old who was relatively unsupervised and interacted with some creepy men.

I tend to romanticise the man and the relationship I had with him. I want so badly right now to speak well of him—a sentiment echoed in the poem “reincarnate” in the 4th part of the collection—but I know I shouldn’t. There are equal parts shame and protection when I think about him. I’m ashamed to have been involved with a man who was in his 20s when I was 13 to 18. He’ll be in his 30s next year.

I don’t talk to him now. I haven’t met him in person, I haven’t spoken to him in years, and I have no intention of reconnecting with him or revealing his full name. We weren’t exactly “involved” or dating, but I spent every waking moment talking to him or wanting to talk to him. The messages we sent were entirely in the realm of romance—from future planning to sex to emotional vulnerability, for all intents and purposes, we had a romantic relationship.

This is a hard story to tell when it’s one framed by shame and hurt, instead of the superiority or nonchalance with which I used to tell it. I hate being wrong. And I hate feeling like I’ve done something wrong. I was a child and he was an adult. No matter what anyone says, I’m not at fault.

And I guess this poetry collection is me trying to express the blame and pain I’ve held onto all these years, all the time I was brainwashed into dependency, all the parts of myself I molded to fit his desires.

It wasn’t right. None of it was. And I tried to turn my wrongness into poems.

This page was last updated on March 7, 2018.