Bleeding Heart.

[12/11/18]

I read once that

Grief is as universal as love is,

And I think of that often when I equate the two

Because I sense an absence where there used to be something,

And I don’t know if it was something good.

In fact, deep down,

I know it wasn’t.

But it was something.

It was something.

I’ve read that grief only lives where love lived first,

And I know it’s true because I’ve loved.

I’ve loved a razor blade more than I could ever love myself.

It’s funny how sharp edges could take up room

Where I needed to be touched softly, gently, tenderly.

I let the bite of metal fill up what was empty in me,

I let pain become what I could find faith in.

No one wants to hear that you loved cutting yourself.

That you still might love cutting yourself.

Behind closed doors, hush hush in places we don’t talk about,

We shame the minds of the crazies,

Anyone so drastically disturbed as to look for peace in their own trickling blood.

Call me a bleeding heart.

And I’ll take it literally.

Because goddamnit, if I’m in this much pain,

Then it should show.

It should bloody well show.

The first time wasn’t the worst,

No, not at all.

Maybe it’s fair to call it a first kiss,

Nervous and quick,

The first taste of what it might look like to know this, to trust this, to love this.

Two small lines running parallel along the inside of a teenager’s pale wrist,

Lines that will never meet,

Can never touch.

I name them safety and belonging.

And I like them.

Today, my favorite scar is lined with six dots,

Where dark blue thread put me back together.

If I am to equate that initial taste of self-harm to the nervous and excited buzz of a first kiss,

Then this one was a mind-blowing fuck.

There’s love making and then there’s an insidious kind of body-unraveling.

It hurt, it hurt, and I hated myself for letting it happen –

But my god, did I hate myself more for knowing that I liked it.

There is a certain intimacy that comes from seeing what you’re made of –

Red and white and skin and cells and

Heart pounding and eyes stinging

And I’m not brave enough to die but

Just brave enough to bleed.

Diagnosis:

Laceration of right forearm, initial encounter.

Keep stitches covered for the first 24 hours.

Keep the wound clean and dry.

Wash gently with soap and water.

I don’t know how to be gentle to myself.

No one ever taught me how.

I know tears, stinging like fire in my eyes.

I know the crack of her hand across my cheek.

I know his hand, firm around my neck.

I know the way it feels to be thrown to the ground, the wall, the pavement,

I don’t know how to hold myself with grace,

To let these hands take good care of this body,

To be patient and understanding,

To offer a tender touch,

To whisper “I’m sorry.”

To mean it.

Diagnosis:

Anxiety,

Depression,

Post-traumatic stress disorder,

Nightmares associated with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder,

History of self-harm.

How can you diagnose a choice?

How can you treat a symptom when I am the disease?

I am the disease.

And that is the hardest part of all of this.

I have chosen to direct all of my pain inward, and I have grown comfortable with holding a body full of fire.

It sears through my flesh,

But my god, at least it lights the way for me.

If I contain it to this room,

It can’t hurt anyone else, can it?

But ash seeps through the gashes on my arm,

Flames dance behind my eyes,

And I am so tired.

I am so tired of the fight.

All it has done is color red across my skin,

And keep my body a foreign country

Where I have never been able to call this place a home.

It is a choice to hold my own fire within this being.

It is a choice to open the doors and look for restoration glimmering amongst the dust.

Perhaps healing in the very place that made you sick is possible,

But only if you can come to believe that, even if not now, but someday,

You are deserving of a new home.

I used to say that I wasn’t ready to be cured, because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye,

But the thing is, I don’t think any of us are ever ready.

I may never feel ready to give up the cutting,

The fire,

My most trusted friend.

The one who lit up the way through when it was the only way out I could see –

But I am ready to feel better.

And that makes all the difference.

My scars feel like a battleground,

I have loved and lost so much here.

There is anger in the dark, thick, purple lines,

And desperation in the quiet white etches.

I remember the careful hand that carved straight and narrow,

And the shaking one that ripped through, jagged and uneven.

I watched dressings dissolve in blood and tears,

And I took those old haunts to this ground to die.

But they didn’t die.

They won’t until I treat them,

Until I treat my body like a friend,

And I come with hope like candles,

Telling ghosts to go.

Who gives a fuck about a diagnosis when black words typewritten will never be enough to cover an entire heart?

Maybe it’s less about

“I swear I won’t do this anymore,”

And more about

“I want to feel okay.

I just want to feel okay.”

Maybe there’s no cure,

But there can be a treatment plan,

And for me it looks like one tiny white pill 3 times a day,

And a bigger pink one in the morning,

And a capsule that quiets the monsters under my bed

Or in my bed

Or in my head.

It looks like a text to my friends at 3 am,

And a coffee date when my hands need to shake around something warm instead of cold metal.

It looks like a weekly check in with my therapist,

Hearing the story out loud,

Knowing that it wasn’t just real in my head,

And that now that my words are alive in the world,

Maybe I can be, too.

It looks like my hands wrapped around my own shoulders, learning to nurture the depth of sadness I still hold,

Learning to be soft,

Learning to let myself cry.

I gave my razor blades to my therapist and I gave my body back to myself.

I stole my love back from the things I chose to hurt myself with,

And I started pouring it back into my art, my friends, my poems, my work.

It feels like losing,

But I hope it can someday feel like winning.

My hands feel empty,

But my heart feels something.

There is still something.

And I will not name it yet.

I will just give it time.

I haven’t cut myself in 8 weeks,

And learning to let go is the hardest thing I have ever done.

I often run my hands over the scars that remain

I never learned how to read Braille

But they speak a language that I know,

That so clearly translates to

“I have survived.”

There is grief in the recovery,

And they forget to tell you that.

You can lose the things you loved,

Even if you weren’t supposed to love them

And it will hurt differently than slicing your skin open did,

It will hurt when you knit yourself together,

It will hurt when you let go.

It will hurt when you stand up from the grave of all the monsters you thought you were burying,

It will hurt when you bury the person you used to be.

But like a light from your soul this time,

You can lead you back up.

A girl toting razors and pain had one dying wish,

A feeble plea,

She asked me to keep her safe.

I will not spend the rest of my days sitting at her grave.

I will heal.

I will listen.

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Rome.

Progress.

Noun.

“forward or onward movement toward a destination,”

I suppose that the destination is wellness,

And the movement is when I hold my trembling hands to my shoulders, 

Rocking on the bathroom floor,

Choosing to breathe rather than draw blood from my arm.

It is a choice.

It is a choice.

It won’t happen by chance. 

And I’m trying to retrain my brain to know that it won’t happen

With the sting of metal in my skin either.

It won’t feel good,

But that doesn’t have to name it “bad”.

No, progress will hurt differently.

I know this and I will honor it,

But my god, there is an ache not yet defined.

Rome wasn’t built in a day,

So the old saying goes,

And maybe I’ve always known that I’ll never be Rome,

But I would like to be a place worth living in.

I would like to dust the windows and air out abandoned rooms. 

I would like to plant flowers by the entry way,

And I would like to learn to let people come inside.

Perhaps I’ll be an Illinois afternoon in the autumn,

Chilly, yes, but worth a cozy cup of coffee.

Worth the memories of pumpkin patches with my best friend, 

Worth kids trick-or-treating and families smiling and Christmas shopping.

It is not loved so widely,

But it is loved nevertheless.

No, its no spectacle of grandeur, 

But it can be a home.

I don’t want colosseums, 

I don’t even want empires, 

I don’t need art suited for extravagant museums or a rich history.

I need the touch of my friends’ hands,

And the warmth of their laughter with me.

I need my scribbled, sketchy drawings,

And a history of my own built on resilience and hope.

I have spent so much of my life feeling homesick,

My god, all I’m truly sick for is safety.

No, I don’t want to build Rome this time,

And I don’t want the expectation of Rome anymore.

I won’t hold it. I won’t take it.

I’ll give a hearty “fuck you” to anyone who tries to force it on me again.

I want to cast it off and drown it at sea,

I want to make the waves that will carry me home to myself.

Safety.

Noun.

“the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury.”

You can be alone without being lonely,

And I’m learning to like to live with myself.

I have been so unkind to this body.

Will she ever forgive me for not keeping her safe?

She has known the hands of cruel men, memorized their touch like a child with their ABC’s,

And so I started writing their pain across my own skin, 

Because it was the only language I knew.

But it is not the only language there is.

I want to learn how to speak softly now.

“I am safe,” by itself is not a poem,

But it is the goal of every verse I have ever strung together.

It is the only Rome I will ever need.

Rome was not built in one day.

This poem was built in one day, but the sentiment was not. 

The sentiment is my life story, the fairy tale where the broken princess becomes her own protector,

Learns how to thrive despite all that told her she could not.

She is her own knight in shining armor,

But the armor wears more like a cape,

Pink,

It wears like safety,

Like brightness,

Like life.

I expected it to feel different,

I wanted fireworks and ringing bells.

I wanted the sure bet of triumph, the way a gold star feels.

But recovery is messy,

It is the salt-laden roads on the way to my little place in Illinois.

They will get you where you’re going,

But the journey is paved with a valid nervousness,

A small question: will I really be okay this time?

I am getting better, you know.

I’m holding myself accountable now.

Somewhere between the snap on my wrist and gently nudging myself in the right direction. 

I’m not building Rome, but I’m building my Illinois.

A fluffy hat when the wind picks up,

Two little dogs in a green front yard that’s all mine,

My scarred and battered arm with a paintbrush, still useful.

Stars at night and my breath in a fog because it’s cold and I’m here and I’m alive to tell the story.

It won’t ever be as glamorous as Rome.

Not as marketable. Not as awe-inspiring. 

But it can be safe.

It can be home.

And you know, I’ve heard that even Illinois can be pretty beautiful this time of year.

Rain.

(Written 6/21/18.)

It rained today,

Not just the quiet pitter-patter,

But as if the whole bottom of the sky fell out –

And I thought of you.

You were destructive like this.

You could have just watered the flowers,

But instead you were the storm that pulled roofs off of houses

And tore me from myself.

It rained today,

And I remembered the showers I took.

All of those showers I took.

I foolishly hoped that I could burn my skin off,

Make it mine again

And get your fucking hands off of it,

Out of it,

Untwist them from my neck,

Pry them off of my mouth.

Get them away from me.

Get you away from me.

Shaking on the shower floor,

Teeth chattering,

Heart racing,

I kept my eyes closed

So that I didn’t have to see the blood swirl down the drain

Blurred by tears that escaped my eyes anyway.

Tears you didn’t deserve,

But I did.

It rained today,

And I imagined what it would look like

If Heaven could cry too.

A song of sadness for the girl

Who was raped on the floor of a church.

Perhaps each crack of thunder

Echoes the “no” I wasn’t brave enough to say.

But I’ll never get the sound of my own catching sobs out of my brain.

Where was God in his own home that night?

Where was he?

Why couldn’t he save me?

Why wasn’t I worth saving?

Maybe the sky cries now

To give me permission.

We are both sorry.

We were both too afraid to speak then.

We are both hurting now.

It rained today,

And I heard all of their words in the crashing craziness of it all.

“Pretty enough to get off to, but not really for forever” he told me.

“Too much emotional baggage,” was what the next one said.

“Too fat,”

“Too nerdy,”

“Too quiet,”

“HEY, I told you to be quiet,”

“I’m sorry,”

“I won’t do it again,”

“Be good, you’re supposed to be quiet and be good,”

“He wouldn’t do that to you, you’re lying,”

“You’re no fun,”

“You’re too uptight,”

“I always knew you were crazy.”

“If I had known you’d just lay there and cry, maybe I wouldn’t have even bothered.”

“I love you.”

Where was the love? 

Was there ever really any love?

I was grasping at crumbs and pulling them close,

But you never left me satisfied.

There was a hunger that went untouched,

And a sickness that you kept perpetuating.

Your brand of “I love you” was never made to fulfill,

But rather,

To infect.

Yesterday, it didn’t rain.

My therapist called me “love-starved” and I felt my eyes fill.

I pinned those words across my heart.

A gold medal for the heart that weathered the storm,

That made it out alive.

What a brokenly blessed relief to put a name to this pain,

To validate the emptiness,

To take notice of that aching,

That hunger.

“I don’t know exactly what I needed or wanted,

But I know that I never got it.”

Words that I spoke on the same couch

On different days,

And they ring true now.

The boy who raped me

Didn’t love me,

Oh my god, I just wanted someone to love me.

I needed love.

Honest, unconditional, respectful 

soul-cleansing 

love.

It rained today, 

And I cried for the girl who was love-starved.

I mourned for what she lost –

The sense of control,

Her dignity,

An ability to trust,

And the ownership of her body.

My body.

My body flinches still,

Freezes in fear still,

Houses scars and sadness still.

And it houses a heart here too.

It still knows how to love.

Despite all of it,

I still love.

Maybe,

Not all was lost.

It rained today,

And I fed myself the love I was so starved for. 

This body is still healing,

This brain, this soul, they are healing too.

I will bandage the wounds and

I will put armor around this heart.

My body will belong to me again.

No one will have it unless I let them.

There are takers and there are givers,

And I will choose to be the leaver.

I will leave him.

I will leave what he did to me.

I will leave the pain of the girl on the floor of a church,

And I will let go of the guilt that she never should have carried.

I will grieve hard, and grieve well.

Because my god, there is such a loss to grieve.

But

It rained today,

And I washed him out of my hair.

The air was lighter to breathe and the tears were lighter to cry.

He is gone.

He is gone.

I am here.

I am still here.

It rained today,

And it felt like healing.

It didn’t put everything back together,

But perhaps it watered the broken things.

Perhaps it can make things new again.

Perhaps it can make things grow.

It rained today,

And I didn’t die.

Not on the floor of a church

Not on the floor of my shower.

Not by your hand.

Not by anyone else’s.

It rained today,

And I came home to myself.

I stopped thinking of you.

I started welcoming back me.

Father’s Day.

(Another free verse. To the kids in the same boat as I am today, where something is missing or it is broken, if you’re recovering from his presence or his absence – I hear you. Grieve hard and grieve well. Grow, anyway. 🌻)


Wanted:

A dad who would build me in trust,
But instead I got a man who only built walls.

You built up a whole house

With no spare room for a little girl

Who only wanted 

To learn to love.

I knocked on every door, and you never once let me in.


I don’t go knocking anymore.

I don’t look for anything there anymore.

Your house isn’t a home,

It’s a wasteland.

And I won’t be caught wasting my time.

You know, 

Everyone sees my mother in me.

Her eyes,

Her nervous energy,

Her passion.

But her straight red hair had no say

In the unruly brown curls I got from you.

Some days, I think I borrowed some of your anger as well

But I’ve channeled it right back at you.

Curious how

You gave me a cure

For a hurt that you inflicted.

What broke you so badly that you couldn’t ever find a way to love us?

Your house is haunted.

The ghosts of what could have been dance freely, living the dreams that you never dared to fulfill.

A little boy plays catch in the backyard with his dad.

The girls hold your hand, beaming, at the father-daughter dances they both ended up missing.

Birthday candles,

Lost teeth,

Cookies for Santa,

The walk down the aisle that you won’t ever get,

Because goddamnit, you already gave me away.

You know, I’ve known so many men who look like you,

And so few who look like love.

Weren’t you supposed to look like love?

Weren’t you supposed to teach me what love looks like?

I’ve spent 25 years learning how to accept a love that doesn’t hit or yell,

A love that boasts of honesty,

Of acceptance,

Of genuinely wanting to have me around,

A love deserving of holidays,

And a love that always leaves the lights on,

And the door unlocked.

Everything worthwhile I’ve come to know

Has been learned without you.

And God, I’m so grateful

For a pride that was born for me

By me.

You own no part of the goodness that I am,

And I’m sorry for what you’ve missed.

Your house could have echoed with a child’s laughter,

And instead, it echoes the emptiness that we couldn’t fill.

Not because we weren’t enough,

But because you were hardened and mean and self-absorbed.

You wouldn’t let us in.

You did this.

Not us.

Not me.

Keep your padlocks.

Keep your keys.

Keep your hurt.

Keep your anger.

I built my own house and made it a home. 

I grow flowers in the front yard and I keep a room for a little girl who never knew a parent’s love.

I’ll love me this time.

I’ll cry and I’ll heal and I’ll grow.

I’ll learn how to mourn the vacancy.

And I’ll hate that there’s always a vacancy.

I hate you for what you did but

I’m still grieving for what I never got.

Today doesn’t belong to you.

Neither do I.

Neither do I.

Welcoming Springtime, Welcoming Scars.

Every time spring rolls back around and the sun compels me to roll my sleeves back up, I feel a certain sense of panic. People are going to see. People are going to know what I have done to myself. I am always overcome with dread, with embarrassment, with shame. 

The thing is, I understand your concern (and I’m also grateful for it). I also understand your fear. I understand it when you don’t understand. 

And I want you to know: I see you when you see. It’s alright. You don’t have to do the awkward double take when you think I’m not looking. You don’t have to apologize for the shocked wide-eyed glances nor for the worried or grossed out looks either. They make sense. I’m sorry for making you uncomfortable. You know, discomfort is one of the feelings that lead me to this. We can probably talk about that. (Ooh, bonding!)

My comfort zone is hiding. It is second nature for me to pull my sleeve over my hand and always keep it held tight with a finger or two. But how many bold and powerful things grow when buried beneath a comfort zone? 

I want to be bold. I strive for powerful.

The goal is to be soft and strong at the same time, to coexist with the good and the bad parts of myself.

So here it is, spring time, and you’re probably going to see. I want you to remember this: I’m still me. I still love to doodle, I drink my tea with too much milk, and I never know what to do with my hands. I love unicorns and Snow White and the moon. I’m working on loving myself, and God, aren’t we all? I was hurt, and sometimes, I am still hurting. I am the aching wounds of a girl whose soul has felt broken, and I am the resilience of the scars that stitched her skin back together. I am healing.

I am healing.

There is no shame in the process.

I am choosing unashamed.

I am choosing transparent.

I am choosing authentic.

I am choosing myself, in every form, in every season.

(If you have questions, please feel free to ask me! I am not a mental health professional, but I have lived with my particular brain and it’s disorders for a long time now, and I am happy to share my experiences. I love the opportunity to shine a light on issues that have been so darkened for so long. One of the things that has comforted me most is the knowledge that other people have felt this way too. Other people do what I do. We are all more alike than we think sometimes. Simply, we all do things. We all have our stuff. And talking about the stuff, starting the hard conversations, sitting with a friend in a place of pain – it is so important. That’s how we fight back. That’s how we learn recovery.)

(Here’s a portion of a blog that I love, a narrative about self-harm scars that feels like it came from my own heart. I’ll link the whole blog below. ❤️)

“Please don’t be afraid of the marks that you see. It is OK to ask for my story. It’s OK to acknowledge you see what is going on. I don’t mind. Please don’t look away with embarrassment or discomfort. Only through honesty and openness can we beat the stigma of this disease. This is an illness of great shame and secrecy. Please don’t continue to let it exist in silence. It is OK that this has happened to me.”

https://twloha.com/blog/the-story-of-my-scars/

Nurture.

(A poem for a little girl I once knew.)


A little girl, 

Maybe 5,

Cries in her closet alone.

Long hair, braided with pink ribbons,

Freckled cheeks, streaked with warm tears.

Rooms away, and yet,

Worlds away,

A family prays over breakfast.

The clinking of silverware with the bright peals of laughter provide a twisted soundtrack

To the quiet gulps of a hidden hurting,

A child consumed by a pain she is too small to carry.

No one hears her.

No one sees.

They’ll tell her that she is an absolute dream,

And she is.

Straight, neat letters written in her small, concentrated hand come home wearing badges –

A+, way to go!, perfect score!

Perfect.

Perfect.

Perfect.

Always so fucking perfect.

She learns to hate the word perfect before she learns to tie her shoes.

“But you’re perfect for ME!” they’ll cry out,

Justifying stacking the weight of the world upon the shoulders of a little girl,

Not yet tall enough to even see the view they’re already holding her back from.

A million expectations work like hands, 

Covering her mouth,

Stealing her voice,

Using her,

Taking whatever piece will soothe their own aching,

Fulfill their own dreams,

Tie together their loose ends with her own pink bows.

“You’re the one with the potential for all of us.

You’re the one who’s going to make it for all of us.”

A little girl is decorated with trophies,

And she can’t understand why she grows up compelled to decorate her arms in scars.

She is gold stars and her shy smile on TV.

She is artwork framed in the sunniest places.

She is easy to be proud of, because she’s all she’s ever been asked to be:

Good.

She is so good.

But she is two shaking arms holding herself together as if she’ll break without them.

No one ever held her.

No one ever peeled back the first place sticker to see the gaping wounds

Of a girl who was so good,

But never quite good enough.

Nurture.

Verb.

Care for, and encourage the growth or development of.

Sure, there was a bed with pink Barbie sheets.

There was a lunchbox, packed daily.

There was water, hot and cold.

The lights always turned on.

But was there anyone to care for the lights that were always off 

Inside the heart of a child too tired, too bogged down, to reach for a switch?

What does “I love you,” even mean when there’s always an understood “but” afterwards?

How long can someone float along a sea of expectation before they lose their pace and drown?

What does it mean to be perfect for someone else, and why can’t she just be good enough for herself?

Why isn’t she good enough?

Why isn’t she good enough?

The accomplishments were warped screams, the only way she knew to say “notice me!”

The only way they would notice her.

And all they did was build a facade, 

Make up a daydream, 

A mythical creature of who she could be if she wasn’t so unbearably sad.

It never felt like her.

Never felt authentic.

Never felt deserved.

And when the accomplishments stopped coming, 

She realized her voice had been taken long ago,

And she didn’t know how to squeak out a cry for help. 

She had learned how to be a million wonderful things,

But she never quite learned how to need what she needed most.

She needed to be held.

To be consoled.

To be seen.

To be heard.

To be believed.

To be honestly and unapologetically loved for who she was – good grades and pink hair bows and even for her sad brain.

Especially for her sad brain.

I know her, and I know her well,

For I am weathered and I am wise.

I am the product of abuse and neglect

And of my own resilience.

I have carried so much pain,

And so much guilt

That was never truly mine to carry. 

My shoulders have ached with the aftershocks of letting it all go,

But there is a certain strength that comes from carrying such a weight for so long.

My arms have learned how to hold together what hurts, how important their touch is to the broken.

My eyes have been trained to see the invisible sorrows, the ones etched not just on wrists or streaked down faces, but the ones plaguing brains and shattering souls.

My voice still shakes sometimes, but it is loud. It does not dare to be drowned out. It makes waves. They will hear it’s echo.

A little girl,

Maybe 5,

Cries in her closet alone.

I go to her, pull her close to me, and listen to her sobs.

I hear her.

I understand her. 

I hold her tight, and settle in.

We breathe in, we breathe out, together.

We will hurt, we will heal, together.

I will take her with me wherever I go.

And this time,

I will nurture her.

mirror.

(I wrote another poem. I’m finding myself a lot in free verse lately. I don’t know exactly why I chose all undercase this go-round, but I like it. I hope you do, too.)

mirror:

“mirror mirror, on the wall,”

so your favorite fairytale reads

and you,

you’re just so relieved that your mirror can’t speak.

can’t mention the chip in your tooth,

nor the clumsy scars above your left eye,

and not a single word about the way your skin breaks out because you’re just too fucking tired to change your pillowcases

sometimes.

it makes for a twisted story, doesn’t it?

the broken princess 

loves the moon and words and air plants and coffee and anything pink,

loves things until her soul aches

but her heart never quite learned how to hold love for herself.

i collect mugs

and unicorns

and scars

and nightmares.

you know, no amount of furniture rearranging changes the fact that

this room i grew up in

is the room i was raped in.

and underneath the pretty area rug 

is still a shadow of the blood belonging to a quiet and trusting 16 year old.

her blood still boils inside my veins,

tell me how i’m supposed to forget.

tell me how to comfort her

nurture her

believe her

hold her

because god knows no one else ever did.

he liked my hair long and straight

it took me until 21 to cut it all off

and with the weight of hair off my shoulders

i pulled him out of my lungs little by little,

and i pulled bottles and laughs and there were vodka-soaked kisses and something even a little bit like love,

but somehow i always ended up in bed alone

throwing up on the floor,

and i don’t know if i’ll ever feel like i’m done purging his ghost from me.

how do i unlearn the things he beat into my tired bones?

how do i remember even now, that perhaps i am not made up of mistakes but rather stardust?

how do i hold this body with the tenderness it has never known?

how do i love when the trust has been fucked out of me?

how do i even love the girl who is left in the mirror?

and all i know is this:

some questions don’t have answers,

and healing does not come easy.

but look for the hands reaching for yours, and they will not let go.

they will not always let go.

they will not always let go.

reach back for the one in the mirror sometimes, too.

learn to like your curls and the blonde that shows in the sun,

the honesty in your blue eyes,

the dimple that comes out to play when you laugh.

sweet girl, don’t ever forget how to laugh.

he didn’t take that from you.

he could never take that from you.

you are stitched together with the care that you have created for yourself. 

how powerful a thing

to reflect your own light.

and when you sleep through the night at 25, say a prayer for every step you took on your way back to yourself. 

and keep going,

keep believing in princesses and magic and therapy and miracles and hard work and perseverance and in yourself.

goddamnit, believe in yourself and your 

broken

brave

beating,

still beating heart –

in the girl who is made up of pain and so much unapologetic hope,

of a past and of a future.

meet her in the messy parts.

see her.

notice what’s real, and notice again.

mirror mirror on the wall, 

repeat to yourself, 

you are not loveless.

you are love.

you are love.