I Matter


By. Jill Landback

It tells me I don’t matter
in a voice that sounds convincingly like my own most days, I hear this once an hour
as if someone has set an alarm clock
vibrating through my veins
it screams, it whispers, it sneers

but it always says the same thing:
you don’t matter
your hopes, your insights, your strengths
none of it matters
because no one sees you
no one is watching
no one is waiting on the other line
you are the tree in the forest
and no one will hear you fall
or watch you rise
or witness you weather the storm 

it’s you against you against you so get their attention 

make yourself matter
and do this by becoming nothing 

skin on bones on bones on bones in the absence of substance 

of muscles and dimples
they will marvel at what you once were and then you will matter
but only because you are already gone. 

Then there’s another voice it’s the voice of my daughter when she wakes in the night she says, 

you matter
I have to matter, to be her mother
and for her to be my daughter
and if I believe that I don’t matter—
that the only way to live is to disappear
what does that say about the way she matters?
I tell her that her legs matter because they run fast
and her brain matters because of all her clever thoughts and that her voice matters when she sings
and especially when she yells
even at me 

and that she matters simply because she was born
but if I cease to matter
everything I’ve ever told my daughter about the way she matters 

ceases to be true. 

So, I battle the voice

every hour on the hour on the hour 

and choose the truth where I matter 

because I matter
because I am a mother and a daughter. 

Jill Landback is a single mother, poet, children's book author and illustrator, student, and social justice warrior. Her work uses a playful hand and metaphor to deliver hard truths about mental illness, addiction, abuse, and parenting. jillmlandback@gmail.com