Woman in a Box, by Tonia Marie Houston

Photo by Kevin Connors

Photo by Kevin Connors

“I am the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul.”

-from Invictus by William Ernest Henley

There is a story I have wanted to tell for a long time. It is my own.  I live in a prison of fear, a tidy box I place myself in day by day.  I wake up and my first thought is not of joy, it is my fear of what lies ahead.  I have to give myself a key, undo the puzzle of my misconceptions, to release myself into the freedom of both my inner and outer world.  I have lived this way for a long time.  I don’t know how it began, but I know that only I can break myself out.

There are days, which have rolled into months, when I have lost the key, and the puzzle is incomprehensible.  Or I am too tired.  But I make the choice to keep searching, to keep willing the puzzle to come together.  No matter what.  Because the box hurts me, the walls close in, and they are spiked with regrets.  The box hurts others, I make bad decisions when I live in this place of fear, and fear is not a shield, it is a mallet, or a Morningstar, and its aim is uncontrollable and deadly.  I make the choice to open the door of my confinement, to step away from the abyss of self-recrimination and the cycle of self-abuse.

During this time of indefinite detention, I relinquished the key, and the gift of the puzzle, to a captor with a multitude of shadowed faces. Victimization and drugs are two of the personas that held me in custody.  I blamed others.  Anger barred the light of life as it could be.  I became institutionalized to my surroundings, accepting that choices were no longer mine to make.  I made efforts, from time to time.  But the walls of one cell seemed the same as any other.  There was little difference.  I moved from one fear to another.

The sun did not burst forth, trumpets did not sound upon the arrival of this knowledge.  I worked as any prisoner breaking free.  I chiseled away recrimination, apathy, misunderstanding, and tunneled through the sewage of self-hatred.

Each day I wake up and must make the same choice.  I must forgive my past and release myself to the divinity of passion for life.  I quoted from Invictus at the beginning. It is Latin for “undefeated, unconquerable.”


by William Ernest Henley

“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”


About the author: Tonia Marie Houston was born in 1979 and resides in southern Illinois. She is a mother, writer, poet, bookworm, and blogger. In addition to poetry, Tonia is writing her first book, an urban fantasy for young adults.

Visit Tonia Marie Houston’s blog. Find her on Facebook.

Photo credit – Kevin Connors



Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers

9 responses to “Woman in a Box, by Tonia Marie Houston

  1. Pingback: A Little Help From My Friends… « passionfind

  2. I love the powerful language and imagery. Very well done.

  3. Thank you, Heather. In all honesty, it came from a place I feel uncomfortable exposing, but someone said that’s when we write at our best. I appreciate your thoughtful words.

  4. novelreid

    Tonia, this is a BEAUTIFUL post by a BEAUTIFUL person! Your words and imagery are as inspiring as your attitude. Keep chiselling, never give up. Fear is the dream stealer. Your courage and spirit will see you through.

  5. Tonia makes a good point about writing what hurts the most or what exposes you – and it IS when we write our best. (I normally post an introduction; sometimes I post a wrap-up. I did not want to spoil this lovely post by writing anything other than the photo credit.)

  6. Here’s a quote I like, author unknown. “Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.” Thank you, Heather and Karen, your words are very considerate. I appreciate your support, and am happy to have a positive response to what I said. 🙂

  7. Stacy S. Jensen

    Thanks for sharing this Tonia and Karen for hosting. I think its perfect to just dive right into your work.

  8. I love it. It sounds as if you, like me, know the depths of the mind.

    • Stacy, I think so, too. Fear of failure, and perhaps a little fear of success(if that makes sense) kept me from pursuing my passion and dream of writing for a long time, over two decades. PIBarrington, thank you. I had to revisit a few dark places to get this piece out, but it was theraputic as well as unnerving. My appreciation to you both for stopping by.

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