And then I invited him to meet me IRL

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Summer night, circa 1995. No AC, windows open. Lights off, radio playing endless alternative rock hits from atop a white laminate dresser. Zombie ends, and a familiar voice drifts out from the speakers.

“How’s everybody doing out there tonight? …


The way we think about healing from trauma and mental illness is all wrong

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I have this image in my mind of what it means to heal.

The best healing is a process that puts things back together as if they’d never been broken in the first place.

The healed me knows how to get through a conflict without her heart racing and her…


Before I could bring myself to talk about it, my journal was there to listen

Photo by Eugene Chystiakov on Unsplash

4 weeks, 6 days. And so it begins.

Early pregnancy is so damn unfair. The days drag on as if their sole purpose is to drive me mad. Every time I use the bathroom, I check the toilet paper for blood. Every time something brushes up against my breast, I…


Writing about trauma is about communion, not bravery

Photo by Hernan Sanchez on Unsplash

Thank you for your courage to be honest.

How brave, thank you, Nikki.

You’re so brave.

Brave.

Brave.

On May 2, 2019, I published my first ever personal essay. …


But not for the reason you might think

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The storm door opens, then closes with a long creeeeaaaak. From my vantage point in the kitchen, I watch as a black backpack sails over the back of the couch and lands haphazardly on the seat, spewing water bottles and writing utensils from its half-zipped pouch. …


How to slay them, or at least keep them well-fed

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

I sink into the sofa. In my hand, the remote is aimed at the television. Finally, a few minutes of peace before I fall over from exhaustion.

“What do you want to watch?” asks my husband.

I hold up a finger. “Shh!”

The soft sound of weeping drifts down the…


Resisting the pull of functional addiction

Photo by Mishal Ibrahim on Unsplash

I couldn’t have been older than twelve or so. I was sitting on the living room floor, eating canned ravioli over the coffee table and watching Fresh Prince on the TV.

“Nikki,” Mom said, waving her cigarette in the air with one hand, bringing her beer down from her lips…


I can’t be invested in someone else’s recovery

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

My parents sat on the couch, each holding a can of cheap beer in an insulated holder. I was blocking their view of Jeopardy!, and they had no choice but to look at me. I looked from one to the other, pleading.

It was an ordinary evening, a monotone nothing…


Recovery is a chance at resurrection

Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

Act I

The sunlight is beginning to filter in through the curtains. I twist and turn on the cot, curling my knees toward my chest. I pull on either side of the itchy blanket so I can feel its pressure around me, holding me tight.

“What the hell is wrong with you?”…


No one wants to face the ugly truth, but ignoring it perpetuates the cycle

Photo by Susan Wilkinson on Unsplash

When I was about four or five, my parents acquired a wooden paddle. It was a gift from one of their friends, a man I loved dearly and called “Uncle.” And its sole intended purpose was to spank me.

One day, I was outside across the street from my house…

Nikki Kay

Words everywhere. Fiction, poetry, personal essays about parenting, mental health, and the intersection of the two. Check out my column at Invisible Illness.

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