Letters to Stories: Behind “Fly Free”

By Simon Heywood

This poem more than anything is a response to my entire life. Everything that I’ve ever been through, everything that people have put me through, this poem was one angsty but an attempt at an “empowerment” response. When I was eight, I moved to a new town, and for all of my grade school life I was constantly bullied. And that also meant within my own house. This poem I wrote as a response to all of that.

The title of the poem was inspired by a phrase I created when I first started The Hummingbird back on Wix as a freeflow blog. Ever since I wanted to get into the business of being considered an “influencer” I wanted to make sure I was making a positive influence, and that meant brainstorming different phrases as closing statements (i.e. the typical sign off). When I was on a spree of writing poems, this phrase, “Fly free,” came to mind and I couldn’t help but think at the possibilities the meanings that phrase has and the opportunities I could take with those meanings to shape the narrative of the poem.

The first six lines of the poem was a general set of statements to those who were the bullies of my life. However, as the poem gets deeper, it targets the biggest bullies of my life. The ones who were supposed to nurture, raise, protect, and love me. The people of my household, my (biological) family.

All my life I was guilted for showing different aspects of myself to them. I was criticized and bullied into silence. Throughout all of that my parents always wanted me to be strong. I had no idea that would come at the cost of mental and emotional warmth and support. Looking back, I realized that because of what they put me through, what they didn’t give me, I actually didn’t tell them much about how I was bullied in grade school. I faced scrutiny day in and day out, outside the house and inside as well.

I realized quickly that I did have to become strong, but I wasn’t going to become their definition of strong, because what they have in mind is entirely different from what I have in mind.

The more I kept living, the more I fell short of their expectations. It still hurts met this day that I tend to fall short, and it caused this complex in me that I’m never enough for people as well as caused me to always seek for outside approval. However, I realized, especially now that I don’t have to live up to their expectations, because it’s not what would make me happy. The more I realized how important my own well-being was, how important it was to make myself happy, the more I came to understand that because their standards are so far from contributing to the growth of my well-being, their standards were set as a way to control me.

I realized more and more that when I started finding these parts of myself I’m growing to love, the more it wasn’t my parents’ vision of what they want me to be. They would try to control me, always so subtly. And they keep trying in different ways, because like the last two lines of the poem says, once I leave they’re afraid I’ll never return. In my perspective, they have to realize that as much as I keep them at arm’s length and as much as I keep my distance from them, they pushed me away first. And that more than anything entitles me to fly away one day and only look forward to what makes me truly happy.

Fly Free is out now on my Instagram. Poems are released weekly on Sundays or Mondays.

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