I loved you even when your dirty hands felt like sandpaper and when your promises thinned out into water vapor. I loved you even when I realized you made it a habit to test me and bend me to see how far I could go without breaking, and you kept on and on, even when I was past the point of tearing. I spent my time with you imploding and exploding, waiting on any reciprocity I could keep, until my palms were shredded with wounds from refusal to release the rope I tied around to hope that maybe you’d someday love me like I needed – like I deserved.
But you never did.
We had our good moments, but there were too many times you treated me like like losing me wouldn’t make a difference to you. And sure, you had your sweet moments, you showed me kindness, you did things for me, you took me on dates, took me on trips, showed me the affection I was starving for. But, how much could that ever have actually meant, if you were still emotionally starving me, if you would go back to throwing me your scraps of love or attention, back to being cold, back to sometimes even being cruel to me? How much could your love mean when you gave it to me, when you’d once again make me feel not woman, not loved, not cherished, not beautiful?
I stayed – because I lied to myself – lied and told myself that everybody loves differently. Some people aren’t as open, not everyone shows love the same. But love isn’t careless, love doesn’t lie, love doesn’t cheat, love doesn’t make you question yourself, love doesn’t make you love yourself less, love doesn’t do all those things you did to me. And staying with you was like picking at old wounds. Because nothing ever changed.
The worst thing is, how any time I was hurt, somehow I’d end up being at fault, apologizing; how I was labeled crazy for thinking something, for accusing you of something, and come to find out some of those things were true, come to wonder how many times I was right.
The very last time you broke my heart, I realized I couldn’t love you anymore and still love myself, I couldn’t be with you and still respect myself, as I laid crying on a bathroom floor, having to sit up because laying in its frigidness reminded me too much of being in your arms. You barely ever held me in your arms, and when you did – when I made you – that’s exactly how it felt. I knew then, it was better to be alone, than to be with someone I’m not sure ever loved me.
Because you only loved me when I wasn’t there, when you were lying, the same way you only loved me when you were sorry. I should have known, there was caution red tape wrapped around everything you ever did to bend me a little more, to break me a little more, but it just isn’t easy for someone like me, to believe that there are people who would stand there and watch you bleed. I’ve run out of bandages, out of gauze, and out of reasons to believe you ever loved me.
There’s nothing more that I wish for, than to be able to have the pride to lie and say that you didn’t break me, but that’s just what it would be – a lie. You perfected its art, brilliant magician of ever making me think you didn’t mean it, that you loved me – the perfect illusionist. But I’ve seen past all of that, and you did, you broke me.
But it’s because you broke me that I was left for the better. It is because you broke me that I will never accept less from love, from any relationship, than exactly what I want, than exactly what I need. It is because you broke me, that I will never let a relationship define my worth, that I will never search for my worth in how a man loves me. It is because you broke me that I will never compare myself to another woman, and wonder what she has that I didn’t, because I will never stay with someone who betrays loyalty. It is because you broke me that I know being betrayed says nothing about my shortcomings, but everything about who does the betraying. It is because you broke me that I know exactly what I don’t want, and am more sure than ever, what it is that I want out of love. It is because you broke me that I am taking care of myself.