Pieces of Myself
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Words have more power than we give them credit for; they can break you down or build you up. Gray used his words like a weapon- cutting like a knife right through me, building me up just to watch me fall, leaving me dangling on his strings.

 

As a songwriter and an artist I find the most inspiration from my everyday life, my own stories. I pour my soul into each lyric in the hopes of connecting with all of you. When I wrote Pieces of Myself,  I rewrote it a thousand times. Although the lyrics were different and the melodies varied, they all had the same message. Pieces of Myself came from a place in my life where I had to pick myself up from the darkest corner, discover my voice, and gather the strength and courage to find myself again. When I finally finished Pieces of Myself, I walked away with a purpose: to share my story as a lesson, as inspiration, and as hope for anyone out there in a similar situation. This is my story. These are the pieces of myself that I can give to you.

 

 

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Gray
"He was a light switch - flipping from light to dark and I was stuck somewhere in the gray in between"
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I could trace the outline of every one of his tattoos. I still picture his smile and the goofy way his face would scowl in annoyance when I would call him “Crush” from finding Nemo. I think of him every time I smell cigarettes and axe cologne. He could talk his way out of anything. He called his mother religiously and sang like an angel. He never failed to surprise me. His hands were scarred and constantly shook. He would look up at me with big green eyes and I swear I could see right through him- it was the only time he was ever vulnerable. He put on a show for everyone around him. Music pulsated through him, and he listened so loud through his headphones I could hear the song right through them. His hair always fell in his face, and he wore high fashion even if we were going out down the street. He had an opinion on everything- especially me.

He was unpredictable, laughing one moment and angry the next.  Kissing then biting, soft then firm. I could never read him so I tiptoed around his heart.

 

 

 

 

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The Light Part 1: Finding Gray
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They say you find love without looking for it. I stumbled into it.

Gray was someone I never thought I would fall for. He was everything I wasn’t. Rough when I was gentle, hard as I was soft, dangerous when I always played it safe.

It had been a long time since I had first met him on the roof of our freshmen dorm and since then he had slipped out of my life, only to resurface years later. It started as most relationships or “flings” do today, with an Instagram comment and then a Facebook message. Not exactly the height of romance.

I knew we would both be home for the holidays and had commented on one of his Instagram photos, and before I knew it, I was driving up to his house after years without seeing him. I willingly walked into his house and back into his life.He talked and I listened while we drank cappuccinos and he smoked cigarettes. We later drove to the movie theater, and as he put his head on my lap I tried to deny every romantic thought.

Weeks passed by without seeing him, until one day I saw him while I was standing outside my apartment. I was dressed and ready to head to a party with some girlfriends when I saw him passing by. I called out and waved, he smiled and grabbed me by the hand. Pulling me forward, he told me I was coming with him to his fraternity dance, I looked over my shoulder. With my friends urging me on, I let him lead me.

The theme for the dance was black and I was wearing brown so he gave me his embroidered leather jacket to wear, weaving me through the crowd. I danced like an idiot, horribly self-conscious, wishing I were drunk. As we danced, he got closer. He pulled me in as we swayed like awkward middle schoolers and he kissed me. I was in a daze.

That night, we continued kissing up against the wall outside the bar, he told me I was pretty, and brought me back to his place to have sex. It wasn’t romantic. It wasn’t love, and I would have no way of knowing what this night would lead to in the next few months. I was happy he thought I was pretty- his approval, even then, meant something to me.

The culture we have created taught me to expect nothing, that sex was just sex, and no matter how many times I left my heart in my hands I always walked away reaching for something.  That night after the dance turned into a string of late night texts and calls. I’d come over and leave as quickly as I came. It was the closest thing to a relationship I had felt in college so I unzipped my pants and I unzipped my heart.

 

 

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The Light Part 2: Falling for Gray
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The first few months with Gray were filled with passion and friendship, a combination that terrified yet thrilled me. I had grown dependent on him, trusted him and I loved the way he made me feel. It was a beautiful combination. We could stay up all night talking or watching movies- laying in a tangled mess for hours.

He surprised me with a trip to Disneyland. We spent the day like a couple would- holding hands, stealing kisses between the twirl of the rides, sitting on the side of main street under the fireworks.  It was the happiest day I ever spent with him. It was the day I fell in love with him. All the doubt, all the hesitation fell away, I saw him with his hands down, the walls finally penetrated. He acted like a kid in a candy store- all the pain and hardship was washed from his features. This is the Gray that I loved- with a goofy smile standing in the happiest place on earth. 

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The Dark
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We fell into a routine, smoking cigarettes off his balcony- the mixed aftertaste of nicotine and stale sex. I loved the way he made me feel. He knew how to push me to the edge of my comfort zone and made me look outside my own narrow lens of the world. He was one of a kind and he knew it. I grew hooked on his kiss laced with lust and the way he knew how to please me. He was erotic and dangerous. He would pour water on me just to make me cold, to watch my body tense. Spit in my mouth because it turned him on. By giving him control over my body, I gave him control over myself. I didn’t know that losing myself in this game of cards meant I would fold on the table. I just wanted to feel the high of betting on his love.

I turned my back on everything and everyone in my life. I entered his dark world and didn’t even realize I had lost myself in it until I couldn’t find the exit sign out. I loved the Gray that stood in the sun, and feared the dark shadow of the man that stood in his place. Things began to unravel like the thick rope I had tied around my heart. The more I cared for him, the more he turned away.The closer he got to me and the more comfortable, the more he controlled my life. He would take my phone, scrolling through the messages dictating what I could and couldn’t say.  He would delete the images on my Instagram that were “ugly”. He hated that I went out and drank with my friends. His opinions became louder, his own voice rising over my own. The more I opened myself to him the more I lost myself. I let him mold me into the woman he wanted.

 

The master manipulator, he knew how to control me like a puppet on his strings. I would feed in to the things he said, the rosy picture he painted. I bought into the lies he told me, he knew just what to say and how to say it to leave me wrapped around his finger. Words were his weapon and it became a cycle, he would start slowly, picking something small, talking down at me, ripping me open wide, exposing all my insecurities and using them against me. I started to see myself through his eyes and the person who stood in front of the mirror had lost all confidence in herself. He told me I wasn’t sexy- but I was pretty enough for him. That I was so desperate for love and that I would never find what I was looking for- but would never find someone better than him.  There were too many nights where I would give his words power- until I was lying in a pool of my own tears, yet still lying in his arms.

 

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The Gray In Between: Part 1 "The Giver and the Taker"
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I sat in the bathtub, black tears running down my face. Holding my arms across my naked body. He came to sit down next to me, towel around his waist, reaching for my hand. He looked into my eyes- laying down his heart, he apologized.  We went around and around in this tireless rotation. The thing about Gray is that underneath it all I knew he was just like me. He was just as insecure, just as unstable, just as fragile. I propped him up because I was afraid of what would happen if he were to fall. I let him take every piece of my own heart, just so his would stay together.

 

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The Gray In Between: Part 2 "Free Falling"
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It felt like free falling, letting go of Gray.

The darkness that Gray had brought into my life loomed overhead like a thick cloud. The tighter I held on, the more I lost myself. I no longer knew the shadow of a girl that stood reflected in the mirror. I didn’t know why I couldn’t walk away with my fists held high in rage. Why I couldn’t demand more respect for myself. Why I didn’t want it. I hated that I let this fraction of a man walk all over me time and time again. I hated that I still loved him. I was stuck in this “in between” trying to find the Gray I loved but only seeing the dark man that stood in his place.

It felt like free falling, letting go of Gray. I let myself fall knowing I would land in a thousand pieces. Hitting the pavement at full speed. I remember it ended as quickly as it started. I sat with my hands clenched, words tumbling out. He nodded, a stone wall of emotion. Hot tears rolled down my face, I felt like I was losing my entire world. He simply walked away.

I let myself shatter.

 

Kendra Calhoun
Pieces of Myself: The Song Behind "The Story"
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There is something beautiful about being broken. As I laid with my heart shattered around me, I held on to whatever I had left. I held on to the few pieces of myself that remained. Although that shadowed girl still lives in me, it was my choice to finally walk away. To find my own voice, my own power. I chose to stand in the rays of my own sun. I finally felt free.

In being broken, Gray didn’t take anything away from me rather he finally made me decide who I am and what defines me, and that will never again be a man, a woman, or anyone else. I learned that no one can take away the memories, moments, wishes, fears, desires, the pieces of yourself that truly define who you are. Those are yours and yours alone.

I proudly and humbly introduce my latest single “Pieces of Myself”

Pieces of Myself

Written by Kendra Calhoun and Olivia Morreale

 

Your words they strike me blow by blow

They leave their mark, they draw their blood

You stand on my back to build yourself up

 

These cuts you’ve left in my self confidence, you’ve worn me down

 

I won’t break, I won’t break for you

I won’t lose these pieces of myself

I won’t break, I won’t break for you

I won’t lose these pieces of myself

 

You use all my insecurities

To thread up on your wire, a puppet on your strings

So all I see are my own imperfections

 

These cuts you’ve left in my self confidence, you’ve worn me down

 

I won’t break, I won’t break for you

I won’t lose these pieces of myself

I won’t break, I won’t break for you

I won’t lose these pieces of myself

 

 

I hold on cause I have to

Because I’m still in love with the thought of you

Yes I hold on cause I have to

Because I’m still in love with the thought of you

 

I won’t break, I won’t break for you

I won’t lose these pieces of myself

I won’t break, I won’t break for you

I won’t lose these pieces of myself

 

I won’t lose these pieces of myself





 

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The Artist Behind Pieces of Myself: Meet Dominique Peranich
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In a small town named after a half moon, Dominique discovered her passion for drawing. As a kid who struggled in athletics in a family consumed by athletics, Dominique used to look at art as her only talent. Art was her way of distinguishing herself from her sisters and was a way she could prove her worth to her family. Now, art is a way she can discover herself and is a way she can get lost in other worlds. The inspiration for most of her pieces is music. Dominique takes certain lyrics or quotes to create an image and start a new story. Along with Pieces of Myself, Dominique is in the process of creating a graphic novel. She hopes to continue a career in art once she’s graduated from the University of Southern California

Follow @dom_pera to see more works and to watch the graphic novel come to life.

Check out http://dominiqueperanich.com to see more works.

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What I remember...
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Silent. I have remained silent for over six years. Pushed it deep down into a place where it now feels like it happened to a stranger. Like I am reliving a bad dream instead of a memory. But with the recent news and the inspiration from many strong women who have spoken of their own stories, I finally decided to step out of the darkness and stop denying the ever present truth, that I too have been a victim of sexual assault.

There are many parts of the night I don’t remember, that remain blurred. But there are also so many parts that to this day still send shivers down my spine. The smell of whiskey, the cold, the stairway, how heavy his body was on top of me, the shame.

I remember waiting for him to pass out so I could slide myself away, gather my clothes, and leave quickly.

I remember asking myself if I had just had sex- and if he had ever asked me if I wanted to.

I remember sobbing myself to sleep next to my best friend.

I remember that he couldn’t look at me the next morning.

I wish that it hadn’t shaped and defined how I view sex, relationships, and even myself - but it has impacted me every day since and I have worked tirelessly to try to reclaim some sense of self dignity, of pride, and strength that he took away that night.

It’s been over six years and it still hasn’t been enough time, not even close. How can society say that 34 is?  

I want to thank Christine Blasey Ford and the countless other women for their courage. For sharing their voices and speaking out when I didn’t have the courage to.



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