My heart has always been a catch-all


Bella Long

A sun-kissed photo of the book Bella is reading and a hill

My heart’s always been a catch-all for all of those around me.

A receptacle for the bad, the worse, the horrendous. Soaking up others’ emotions, people-pleasing until I can’t anymore, until I have nothing left to give. 

This time last year, I had nothing left to give.

I was weighed down by expectations I had put in place and rules I felt I had to follow—something that’s only too obvious when scrolling through my Notes app poetry.


“We’re stuck in a loop,

Pretending to make progress for the sake of progress,

Never quite genuine.


Repeating old pleas, 

Recycling the same tears,

Watching the same sun set

And rise, set

And rise.”


But it’s March, and I still have everything left to give, a whole human being on my own, soaking up what can only be described as bliss: sleeping over at friends’ houses, casual brunches, and sitting in the sun.

I no longer feel like I once did—like I’m overflowing with emotions I don’t know how to handle.


“The coffee pot




Into my thrifted coffee cup


Yet, as it overflows, no one notices.

No one turns off the coffee pot,

It just




Onto the kitchen floor”


Instead, the weather is warmer and warmer with each day, heating the cement of my back patio as I sit in our wicker chairs and alternate between throwing the tennis ball for my dog and typing words upon this page. 

And I’ve learned to avoid the burnout that use to consume me this time of year, appreciating the fact that while healing isn’t linear, I’m doing much better, happy with the things within my reach and the things that are within the near future. 


“I’ve pleaded with fate to skip me across state lines— 

Grand Rapids is putting my soul to sleep— 

Wanting new experiences to grasp.


A new sky that’s a new shade of blue,

A new time zone to get accustomed to,


The same moon visible from my childhood window.


The same window that has showcased purples, blues, and yellows.”


I just applied for housing at MIZZOU—a school filled to the brim with yellow and stripes. 

I got into their Honors College, and I get to choose my classes this June, and I’ve bought my whole family t-shirts with tigers on them. And for once, I’m happy with the space I take up, not thinking I’m too much or too little, undeserving of the ground under my feet.


This year is going to be a year of healing.

Fixing what she has broken within herself,

Repairing the holes she’s punched in her walls.


Fewer migraines, fewer tears, fewer moments questioning herself and her abilities.

She doesn’t want to get her hopes up,

Doesn’t think she can deal with crushing her own expectations,

Handling another year of something failure adjacent.


But there’s something new in the air,

Something that is kin with her soul

And makes her want to cross her own boundaries if only to brush the stars.


Stars that have always been in her peripheral,

But she’s finally close enough for her fingers to tease the floating entities,

Learning more about herself in the process.


Luckily enough for her,

Skin sheds itself every couple of weeks,

And she is no longer stuck with the baggage she carried with her last year,

Choosing to turn a new page, explore a new universe.”