Poem: The other side of the door

Poem: The other side of the door

The room is dark and cool, it smells like hot metal and the air is dry.
A lullaby of ominous whispers consumes my subconscious, if I try to eavesdrop they fall silent.
Slivers of lavender light dance on sharp edges of images you don’t want in your head.
Images you couldn’t, shouldn’t, don’t imagine.

I obsess over them, I know them, I love them, I hate them.
I visit each one methodically, in a different order each time so I don’t become lazy or predictable.
A ritual to honour them, the skeletons I hold dear.
To keep me safe, to keep them safe, to keep you safe.

Restless in the room, curious and perhaps lonely I suddenly want out but no one knows I’m here.
I can’t tell you where I am because if you knew you might not come for me.

I beg them to let me go and they do, on the condition I take them with me.
I agree and in the light of day they hide behind a smile.
I keep my promise to return each night, and sometimes on Tuesday afternoons.
I distract myself by trying to find a way to keep them in and the world out and still live on both sides of the door.

I’m startled by the Cheshire Cat and suddenly feel a desire to betray my secrets.
I hear them begging me back into the dark, secluded safety of the room.
I’m not sure if he’s real, but I want to find out so I follow.
They grow louder, issuing warnings (threats) about the volatile world outside.

He walks me to my door and wants to come inside.
He wants to know what is there and I think he could love me even if he knew.
I hide them not to protect myself, but to protect him.
I don’t want him to look at me and see the images behind my eyes.


This is a poem I wrote as I contemplated my decision to tell someone I’d been raped. The first person I told was my wonderful husband who believed me and held me and never pushed for more details when I wasn’t ready (and who is one of my biggest supporters as I launch WYR).

I’m posting it here for Sarah Certa, who shared her story today. We didn’t know each other until last night, but someone referred her to the WYR Project and we got in touch. Tonight we were just chatting about how poetry lets you express yourself in a way that feels less exposed, less vulnerable than a graphic narrative of events. We were chatting about the sick feeling that comes with realizing that once you say it out loud your rape is real, and other things that 24 hours ago I didn’t feel like there was anyone in the world I could talk to about. This is what it’s all about.

– Lauren Reid




When You're Ready.org is a community for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories.



  • Shelly Bernhardt December 13, at 09:13

    Oh Lauren,my heart breaks for you knowing now what you have had to carry with you,every minute of every day since. You are a wonderful special soul which is not surprising,knowing who you come from. Love ya girl,the sweetness is yet to come! Shelly

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