I left because love isn’t supposed to be a prison. I left because love isn’t supposed to be a whipping post. But when I did, I left the pieces of who I used to be with you – in your hands, between your fingers. I keep wondering if they make you bleed, if the next person I let touch me with more than hands will bleed, swim in pools of red, touching all the jagged edges and sharp borders of what’s left from what you broke off – those things you stole.
It just feels like there are so many light years between here and between letting anyone opening up the cover and run their fingers through my pages. I’ve had a few first dates, and a few first kisses. But you left me afraid, afraid of opening myself up to anyone else, afraid of letting anyone touch me with more than just hands.
I don’t mention you to anyone I know, to anyone new I’ve met. You’ve ruined enough of my poems by bleeding into them; I don’t want you to seep into this new life I am trying to make for myself. I don’t mention you, I don’t tell anyone about you because I like to pretend like this never happened, like I never met you, like I never loved you, like you never taught me that my heart can’t be anything but bruised. I’d keep acting like you and I were never real if I didn’t have so many scars from what we had, if I didn’t replace your name with the words the salt in my wound.
You were hungry and I’m addicted to bleeding, and I think this is how it all started. The devil smelled sad girl, and I don’t think I would have left dead if I didn’t exude hopelessness. You liked how I tasted and I think this is how I let you tear me apart limb by limb, why you thrived on biting chunks out of me. Blame it on your sick fantasy of breaking the broken, on my magnet for sharks, on my pull to ruin. The truth is this love could have never been beautiful.
I stopped loving you before I left. I don’t love you anymore, but it doesn’t mean that you still don’t hurt. I dream of that fall when you’re barely 21, I’m 24 and back then I guess I liked them young. I hadn’t loved you yet, and my heart isn’t as rotten as it is at 28. Red doesn’t make me think of blood and black and blue are only my favorite colors. There isn’t a dent left in me yet, and I wish I could scream at this girl you haven’t broken and bent to stop crawling into your bed. Tell her it isn’t too late, that there’s a part of her that can stay gentle, that there’s still some light left you’ll only snuff out if you touch, that the devil can make even the most painful things sound like love. I want to be this girl again – color still left in her cheeks, honey between her lips, the one who still felt enough. But I wake up, it’s spring and I’m 28 and I’m not sure if I believe in softer things.
But I’m working on it. I’m working on crushing the shadows I already had trailing behind me before we met – on those things you saw that made you zero me in as your target. I’m working on re-growing all those things about myself I loved and that I let you steal. I’m working on forgiving myself for letting you; on realizing I shouldn’t be sorry for loving, even if it was someone like you. I’m working on believing I deserve something more tender from love, from life, from myself.
I’m learning that the love of my life is me and only me, and that I should treat myself as such. When I meet him, the one who will touch me with more than just hands and run his fingertips and eyes through each of my pages, I hope my chest will no longer be heavy, that I will no longer be hemorrhaging, that I will have put the color back in my cheeks all by myself, that he will taste honey between my lips. When I meet him I hope I will have molded myself into water, that I will have drowned all those shadows that have plagued me my whole life, that I will have dissolved the salt in my wound and ridden myself of all that’s left of you. When I meet him I want to be in love with my life, and I hope he makes me fall for it even more. I hope that he massages my soul, my heart, and teaches me it should be anything but bruised. I hope he makes me believe in softer things again.