I’m trying to exorcise the ugly inside me.

No one does right all the time. There are times that I well up with it, rage like splinters beneath my nails, doubt like claws running down the back of my neck, fear sour and dripping from my tongue. Humans are gardens, but even the most beautiful of gardens have weeds within, root systems poisoning the soil.

Recently, I’ve encountered the successes of people I love. Not just any success, like getting their dream job in nuclear physics or buying a dream house on the coast. These are successes in fields that are tangential to my own dreams or long-denied desires. The kind of success that I wonder what it tastes like, that I have spent nights curled in my bed trying to stem the cravings.

And, now I find myself choking on jealousy, scraping my throat and burning holes in my smile as I say “Congratulations.”

I know that their success doesn’t mean my failure. I know that my path is different from theirs. I know these things. But, I still feel nauseous, like if I purged myself that blood and nails would pour out of me. I feel diseased and rotten and unworthy of those successes, and it burns like a cancerous hole in my gut.

I’m twenty nine years old. I’ve done so much this decade, and yet it feels like I’ve let it pass me by, that I’ve done nothing. And, I have all these dreams that have been set aside for survival, and when I see my loved ones (who never gave them up–who never pushed their dreams away) achieving what I long deemed impossible, it makes me want to scream because I didn’t have the courage.

Not that I have nothing. I have money in my bank account and food in the fridge; I have a car that works and rent I’m able to pay. I have friends I adore and a man that I’m making a life with. This is the garden I have nurtured, and it’s a good one.

I just have to pull some weeds. And maybe (maybe) it’s time to plant new seeds.


Published by Ren Martinez

Ren is a thirty-something Lost Boy whose personal aesthetic is “suspected of witchcraft by local villagers.” She subscribes to cheerful nihilism, the destruction of the patriarchy, and the belief that glitter makes everything better. She is a Richmond-based writer and performer who has fiction and non-fiction work found in a variety of publications, such as The Mary Sue, RVA Magazine, The Quotable, and Nostrovia Press. She is currently the fiction editor and a regular contributor at Quail Bell Magazine. She is also the co-host of the podcast, This F***ing Guy! Find out more at or read her dumbass tweets on Twitter @itsrenmartinez

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