We All Have a Lioness Within Us
Tainted Lionheart was born through the contents of my heart’s greatest vulnerabilities. It was published six months ago and has brought me more liberation than I ever imagined it could. But the road to creating Tainted Lionheart was not an easy one. It was not written with the intent of publication but with the notion that I needed a place to put the innerworkings of my mind during a time in my life I felt most lost. It was my healing. My therapy. My way of working through what had happened to me. My personal record of it.
I wrote poems into the early mornings of Summer 2019 while my baby girl slept and the world was its most quiet. Verses poured out of me with tears to match each emotion, and despite several breakdowns I managed to work my way through 400 pieces. I probably could have written this book forever. I was so consumed with its themes, that for a while I saw no end in sight to the content I was creating. I just wanted to stay in that mode of restoration through poetics that I engrossed myself in.
The idea of people seeing into my life in such an exposed light was one I struggled with. I no longer feared the power of poetics, but about sharing my story. I was a pregnant 28-year-old woman who became a single parent while my child was still in-utero, and the shame I thought I’d face for having fallen onto such circumstances was something I did not think I could bear.
It’s why I wrote instead of confiding in others. Even though what happened to me was not my fault, I was mortified, and I belittled myself through the situation I was put into, convincing myself that I had right to be ashamed to tell the world that the love of my life loved another, and we would not be starting a family as a unit.
The more I wrote, the clearer it became that the burden I was throwing onto my back every time I hid behind my words was being put there by a false sense of responsibility I thought I had to sweep my situation under the rug. I was so sick of feeling like because my situation was not ideal to social norms, that I could not talk about it. It made me mad. And after fury enthralled me, I began to think of the women who have more sensitive stories than me to tell who probably feel the same as I did.
From there, publishing Tainted Lionheart became more of a duty than a passion project. I wanted to use the manuscript to prove to women that there was no shame in having things be a bit unkempt in their lives. Poems like Sweep were my way of validating that I was no longer going to disguise my unpleasantries with a sugar-coated smile. It was okay for things to be messy, and those messy things did not have to stay under wraps.
I condensed the book down to about 125 poems that I thought told the story I wanted to portray best and broke it up into three chapters. The first section, Bruising, follows the story of how I got hurt and what it was like for me to experience that pain. It is definitely the most vulnerable section of the collection, with poems like Palm Reader and Disposable talking about the sadness I experienced and how low it made me feel. It’s still hard for me to read that section because I want to bear hug the lost woman who was trying so hard to navigate through her hurt.
It was difficult to fathom how people would perceive my words, and I did not want them to pity me. It wasn’t about a damsel in distress, but a woman who was not afraid to admit that she got burned. No filter. Besides, through the book’s second chapter, Brooding, there was plenty of angst to show that there was a shift happening. In that section, I focus on the moments where I was angry. The period of my healing where I allowed myself to be pissed off. Poems like Pumps and Contortionist became my way of taking some of my power back. Those pieces were about me forcing the accountability back onto the person that hurt me and reclaiming my right to speak my truth.
But I did not stay brooding forever, as the third chapter, Breathing, was created. That section is my rebuild. That portion of my story focuses on the moments I moved on and let go. Though I am proud of the entire collection because of the courage it took to write it, it is through this chapter that the greatest power of myself was built.
I forgot what it was like to write about happy things because in so many ways I had forgotten what it was like to be happy. But in writing for that part of the book, I felt the weights of my shame lift and fly into the past where it was meant to rest. Acquittal and Purpose gave me the proof I needed to know that I had grown from what I had gone through, and I was standing taller than I did before.
For six months, Tainted Lionheart has been released into readers hands across the globe. And the best part? I have no regrets about being so transparent with the context of this collection. I am a tainted lionheart. The whole concept of the title is based around this idea that sometimes it is the things that taint us that turn us into the courageous people we end up being. I had been hurt, but I grew strong because of it.
Six months have granted me the incredible blessing of connecting with some of the most badass women this universe has ever seen. Women who have all gone through intense, deep-rooted pain they rose from the ashes of. Women who I am linked to because I made the decision to share my story.
This collection is the most important work I’ve ever done in my professional life because of the way it has resonated with other women. It is through those women that I know the journey of this book will stand tests of time as I go forth and write more books. There will never be another collection like this one for me, and I wouldn’t want to compete with it. I just want people to continue to read it and find common ground through the power of storytelling.
If you haven’t given Tainted Lionheart a read yet, I am obviously bias in my telling you it’s highly recommended. All I ask is that if you do, to go into it with an open mind. Go into it with the ideals that the purpose of the book is to know that it’s okay to hurt, and it’s okay to be angry, as long as you make the decision in the end to restore yourself.
And to those who have read and supported Tainted Lionheart. Those who have shared works from the collection, and who have recommended it to others. THANK YOU. Lindsay and I had a goal of selling 25 copies of this book. 25. That’s it. And to have more than quadrupled that audience within its first day of sales was something we still have not fully processed. To see it sit on Barnes & Noble bookshelves, well my gosh I’d have called you a liar had you predicted that for me a year ago.
I am full of gratitude, and hope, and freedom through the platform Tainted Lionheart has given me. And it’s only just beginning.
You can find out more about Tainted Lionheart and how to purchase it here.