Guest Blog Posts

Surviving through poetry – guest blog post by Nicki Riley

I was placed in a cold, brightly lit room, six months pregnant, although at the time you could barely tell. Due to the extreme stress I had been under, I had actually lost weight throughout this pregnancy. Nearing the end, this was becoming worrisome. Wearing the same clothes as the day before, my youngest at the time and I fled in the middle of the night. I still remember him chasing after the car as we drove away, my hands shaking in fear. I was about to give yet another statement against the father of my children. This would be the second domestic report that the police would have record of.

Christina Hagion Rzepka wrote -
"You can no longer control me the child in me you sought to kill, lives on victoriously."

He called me after being incarcerated for a few weeks, on about eleven different charges of domestic violence and breaches of probation. He told me he intended to plead not guilty. I told him if that was the case, I was prepared to testify. I would not back down this time as I had many times before. He plead guilty at his next court date.

"Don’t play his game, play yours" – Rachel Caine, Fall of Night

Over two years later, I could relive these stories, every single fight, every single bruise and battle without letting a single tear shed. I had been living in a war zone, and so had my daughter. I felt stronger than I ever been and began to write. I wrote furiously, I wrote about the disturbing things he had said to me. I wrote about the horrible things he had done. I found my voice again and, for once, it was clear; not shaken nor broken. I was ready to be me again.

"It's not goodbye that hurts, but the flashbacks that follow."

Poetry brought me back to life, like a fire burning inside of me. I was proud of the work I wrote, regardless of how upsetting or disturbing to some it may have been. I was proud to be able to write without fear, but most of all I was proud to be free.

After writing some dark, yet truly meaningful, poetry for myself, I started to write more about different aspects of my life: my parents' divorce, my struggles with depression and anxiety. However, the piece I am most proud of is the letter I wrote to my daughters. It didn’t rhyme. It didn’t follow any particular guidelines. It was just the most beautiful thing I had ever written.


As I started to write this work of art to them, the words flew out of me as if my heart and soul knew exactly what needed to be said. They were simply waiting for me to put pen to paper again. That’s what I love about poetry. You don’t ever lose it. You may lose yourself, you may lose your voice, but they’re never completely lost. Somewhere inside of you they are waiting. Once you find yourself, once you find your voice again, magic will happen. Magic I never thought I’d see again. Now every time I look into my daughters' eyes, I remember why I write, but most of all, I remember why I left.

I used to have a scared child, scared of her own shadow at times. Memories like this keep me strong. Memories like this will help me teach my daughters how a man should treat a woman. I hope one day my eldest forgets the fights she had witnessed.

"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary. The evil it does is permanent" – Mahatma Gandhi

Sometimes I still struggle. My anxiety and depression often come and go in waves but it’s a battle I choose to fight and never back down from. I’ve backed down many times in my life, but as I’ve reached maturity and truly found myself as a strong, independent woman, I realized my strengths and weaknesses. I realize when I’ve taken on too much at once. I’ve learned to take a step back and look at what really matters in life.

"When days are gray, and I have no notion of how I feel or of any emotion I think, I dream, I hope and I pray that somehow, I’ll find a much calmer way."
– A Much Calmer Way - John Glanvill

I’ve learned many things from the father of my children. One of the most important things he taught me through his actions was how to forgive. I couldn’t carry the burden of hate any longer and I made peace with what happened to me, what my children went through because of him. I am proud to say I have found a much calmer way of life.

"Anger feeds when you sit to dine, / Lathers as you take a shower, / Shows in a book between each line / Festering and growing power. / Only forgiveness will bring light." – Forgiveness Frees - Caycay Jennings

Do you have something say about poetry? An essay on being a poet, tips for poets, or poetry you love? is now accepting pitches for guest blog posts. 

Contact me here if you are interested! 

041316 MAY 15 Nicki Riley - PhotoI’m a small town Canadian girl. I have two amazing daughters that teach me daily more than I will likely ever teach them. They are smart, funny and keep me guessing all the time. I don’t often think of myself as a survivor because I don’t like to think of myself as a victim. I’m happy I’ve been through what I’ve been through. If my story can teach one person that it’s okay to leave then maybe it was worth it. I’ve learned a lot in the last 29 years and I wouldn’t change the life I’ve lead.

-Nicki Riley

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