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Remember That Time You Emotionally Abused Me?

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This poem is derived from poetry in She Who Destroys the Light: Fairy Tales Gone Wrong, Shahida Arabi’s debut poetry collection for abuse and trauma survivors.

Remember that time you gave me a black heart instead of black eyes

Warped words instead of scraped knees

Yet it still hurt, just the same?

Remember that time you used your silence

to bruise my broken soul,

which could’ve just as easily been broken bones

Because sometimes contempt hurts even more deeply

than sticks and stones?

Remember that time

I slowly became accustomed to your cruelty and the raging storms

The silent glare followed by the teasing eyes

The sweet nothings and the callous words

Bruising the soul and battering the mind—

Carefully evaluating how far I could go?

Remember that time when I

Recoiled in the

The hard grip of your hands

delicately tying my stomach into knots

Like a tailor making me a dress that would beautifully hug my thighs

And squeeze my throat at the same time?

I crawled into the chambers of my own heart and made a cage

Fenced myself in

Scribbled a message on the edges of the walls

Stop here and never again.

Only to sleep beneath the clouds at night

Wake up to the thunder and taste the rain

On your lips.

Remember that time when

I sold my heartbeats for a lived in cage

A secondhand soul and a man I had never met

I met his doppelganger

shook his hand and met his lips

Merged his name with mine until I met the second man

Who I pretended did not exist.

He stole my kisses and my laughter, became a thief for my pride.

Year upon year went by,

Where one man would appear and the other disappeared,

One with a smile and the other with a glint in his eye.

My heart hung heavy and my mind deep-dived, headfirst

Cutting the cord between the two, pretending I never knew.

I reasoned that the second man was nothing like the first,

though they looked the same—

swallowed my lies in tiny cups until they both

drowned me,

Annabel Lee in her tomb

by the sounding sea.

Leaving was not easy but it was also too easy

Remember that time when I left you because I had nothing more left to lose?

Remember when I finally became the victor, after being the victim?

Remember when I cultivated the dreams you tried to eradicate, pull out by the root?

Remember that time when you were finally met by my silence

rather than my compliance—

when my voice became so strong you could no longer break me—

instead, I used all the pain you gave me—

for resurrection. TC mark

Shahida Arabi is a poet and the author of the book She Who Destroys the Light: Fairy Tales Gone Wrong.


She Who Destroys the Light is available for preorder here.
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