034

I counted the days since you left
until I could not count anymore

You`re the one who told me
I was going to be great
a fondness for the candour,
my scathing sort of wit

I counted the days since I last saw you
until the numbers stopped coming

credit where credit is due,
I gave my life all to you
the power of dreaming
with this empty feeling
I am because of you

I buried your last words
so deep I couldn`t hear them
my heart sinks to your faith
god, I wish you could stay

you were the place
where being believed wasn`t
so unbelievable at all

I counted the days since I last saw you
until it was just our moments
coming

until it was our moments leaving.

031

Sighs into sighs,
cradled by mountains and lies
say we’re absolved by closing our eyes
but we’re still seeing the brights of the sky
still pleading for a break from responsibility,
from owning my iridescence

no, I never thought I peaked
but I thought I was better than this,
assuming that we’d both take the heat
no, I’m not better than this

I hate my caricature, this mess,
no rejoice when you think of me now
I was a quaking mess, I confess
now I’m your worst-case, at best

I hate to understand you
when I don’t want to,
hate that I split this,
and now I can’t fix this

I’m trying, holding steady
ridges like tightropes
toeing the line,
false eminence, I know,
I’m no better than this.

031

I rest my head on your shoulder
you take the picture and let me go
take the picture and I don’t know,
if it’s all the same to you,
I don’t want it this way

You light a cigarette
ducking under an umbrella
going out into the rain
I taste the smoke as you go,
if it’s all the same to you,
I’m a little over the burn

You sit on the edge of the room now
indentations in the middle cushion
where you used to be,
won’t retract, no welcome back,
if it’s all the same to you,
I think I’m gonna spread out now

I’d show up for you out of love,
ride the aisle seat so you can see
be a window ornament
while you sit on your phone,
If it’s all the same to you,
I think I should sleep.

smooth white, you find the walls
more interesting than my eyes,
your drink is a better walk
than a walk with me,
If it’s all the same to you
I think this is it.

012

I was always laying you low
shrugging you off and blaming the heat
calling it early, leaving you in the street

Always had my feet hitting the ground
prepared to take you on the runaround
while I was a breath away from leaving
and you just wanted to keep me

I’d begged you to praise me and called it a lie
determined to forget whenever you’d try
decided your crime before you’d commit it
I was driven to blame you expecting you’d quit
Here’s to the shock that you finally did

I was always laying you low
shrugging you off,
but
I understand now
why they always want to hold you
one last time.

009

You made me funny

I made you broken

we came together in a war

set between me and I,

 

couldn’t see what you saw

chasing the novelty of a wreckage

you thought you’d hit the bumper

and watch me go,

I thought you’d heed the thunder

and just let me go

 
I could flood the cities like a hurricane

didn’t you know,

I’d sink my teeth in, in a heartbeat

take you down like a rogue wave

 
You made me think

but I made you sad

the resignation in creases that don’t go away

the recognition I don’t grow,

not into these capsules,

never be easy to take

 

You tried to make me free

wrapped in my vines, can’t breathe,

halfway up to the canopy,

 

you lost the war between me and I,

took down my armies

just to die at the door

you fought the war between me and I,

just to fall down on the floor

 

you made me funny

and I made you broken.

What We Learn About Love

I am not gracious when it comes to being loved. I do not trust intent, I feel solicited into an impossible tit-for-tat that I did not intend to enter. My brain tells me to ask them why or what they’re gunning for. I am suspicious, uncomfortable, and resistant.

It is not that there isn’t an underlying appreciation. I have been told that the saddest thing about me is that when people are kind to me, I cry. For a large period of my life, I could not be hugged without crying. I do feel it, but in a way I cannot explain, those gestures feel much more like pain.

There was no hugging in my household, growing up. Emotions were bottled until they burst, we shared underlying fears but did not talk about them. I was the sensitive one, as if the moniker would invalidate the somber reality that we all shared– the one I tried to suppress until I was sick, but it still managed to find its way through every crack.

As I grew up, I held that moniker close. Sensitive, in a way that implied that I was needlessly emotional. Needlessly upset, reactive, even happy at times. I was the “you were just a happy little girl, what happened?” child, the one who was held responsble for the way her parents smothered her in order to encourage silence.

I stayed in that world for too long, sitting a table that served only silence over a defeaning abuse that we all tolerated.

By the time I started to shift my attention to other relationships, it felt like pushing my chair back and hearing it screech against the floor. A listening ear would hear the collapse of my sense of self, hugs felt agonizing and I pulled my shoulders up. I was hyper aware of the sensation of other people against my skin, averting eye contact and either saying too much or two little.

I learned how to move past the people who worked to keep me strapped in my chair, I learned how to survive the sound well enough to leave in that moment. In me, I know, is the dueling of the love I was taught and the new ways I’m learning to be with other people.

But in truth, escaping that world has largely felt more like a physical move than an emotional one. I am free, but I am still there. They sit content, while I try to change my understanding of love. They are comfortable enough, while I still hear the chair screeching when the affection starts and I recoil from it.

So much of what we learn about love is taught by people who never really loved us – r.h. Sin

I have been asked if I grew up in a house where I felt I was loved. The further I go, the more my answer transitions into the honesty I could not offer as a child, the naive girl who lived in a neverending cycle of harm. No. I do not feel that I was loved. This is not a question of whether they meant to love me or whether they had tried– I did not feel it. There was no physical, emotional, no nothing.

I remember being left behind in the house when my mother walked out, when she took my siblings.

I remember being yelled at for not telling my mother that the boy she let my sister babysit was harassing me. She didn’t do anything about it.

I remember when I was assaulted and my mother made it about her, my father ignored it, and my sisters thought “it wasn’t that bad.”

I remember the sound of my father when he was angry, the silence when he ignored us for months.

I remember when I decided that this was not love, was not enough. I remember when I finally made the decision to leave and I felt like my entire world had changed. I was afraid to see them, but I came to find that I could own my space, start to see with clarity what went wrong.

But these are all pieces to a world you could not truly understand, fractions of my life that made me the person who cries at kindness. Even in the distance, I have all those years that cannot be unlearned as easily as blocking phone numbers.

I learned the wrong things. You might have too. You might not know that you can be loved even if you weren’t before, that you can restrain the voices that tell you to question affection and kindness. Maybe we can be the ones who learn how to love the people who love us.