Self-Love Comes In Waves

ocean waves
Gaetano Cessati

When you were 12, you wanted to be a mermaid

Mermaids were pretty

Mermaids were faultless

The closest you got was one summer when you stayed in the ocean for 7 hours

You wanted to understand what it felt like

You stayed till your toes got wrinkly and your stomach got too hungry

That night, as you slept, you heard the ocean move in your bloodstream

And you felt the waves crash into your heart and back

But you woke up in your bed covered in pink sheets

When you were 18, you had stopped wanting to be a mermaid

It would never happen

But you wanted to be an ocean instead

The ocean was big and blue

Stronger and deeper and never fully understood

You would come to the shore so often, your skin smelled of salt

You would lay on the sand with seashells in the pocket of your hoodie

You collected seashells and put them in a jar

Made them a home on a desk back in your bedroom

You would lay at the shore and close your eyes

Feel the tiny grains of sand against the skin of your fingers; so insignificant

You would listen

To the ocean moving and the waves crashing

The big blue ocean told no lies

So you listened

The big blue ocean spoke only in truth

So you started asking it questions

Why are the seashells you collect sometimes broken?

Why could you never be a mermaid and does that meant that big blue ocean would never be home?

You asked it when it could take you in instead of leaving you here begging its every crashing wave to love you

Why don’t you love me?

But instead of answers you got secrets

So you kept coming back till you could find an answer in its secrets

You look away and you’re 21 now

Standing at the same shore

Looking at a different ocean with different grains of sand against the skin of your toes

Different broken seashells inside the pocket of your hoodie

Or are they all the same?

You listen to the waves crash but this time you’re the one loving them

They never stopped telling you secrets

Never lied

And for the first time since a time you couldn’t remember

You didn’t wish you were something else

You didn’t wish for a different set of thoughts or a different set of memories

You didn’t long for something you weren’t

You didn’t need to belong

You didn’t ache to be loved

And this time, without asking, you understood

You understood why some seashells are broken and that they too can be whole

You understood how they are beautiful too despite you seeing them, despite you picking them up and putting them in your pocket, making them a home

You understood why when you were younger the waves crashed inside your vessels and why you’re standing out here and not in there

You understood that the ocean loves you regardless of what you breathe

And you, like the ocean, have always loved you too TC mark

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