Safety in Laughter
My therapist encouraged me
to be more vulnerable.
To take my heart from my chest
from time to time,
like shoes from their box,
and see if someone would fill in the empty space.
She challenged me to stop laughing
in places like my uncle’s funeral
because I couldn’t stand to see his hands resting across his body.
It’s not funny,
But my sister laughed, too.
My therapist challenged me enough
that I sat beside you on a park bench,
minimized my jokes, and explained
that, if you wanted, I could wait for you.
you filled the space in my chest
with broken glass
that I’m still trying to peel out
In honor of PTSD Awareness day of June 27, this selection comes from the book, On Becoming a Role Model, available from Thirty West Publishing. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.
Lynne Schmidt is a mental health professional and an award winning poet and memoir author. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press), and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West). Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor’s Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. Lynne was a five time 2019 Best of the Net Nominee, and has received honorable mention for the Charles Bukowski Poetry Award, the Doug Draime Prize for Poetry, and Joy of the Pen. In 2012 she started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.
Nilsa Ada Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. She’s an MFA candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverview, Florida with her multi-species family.