Thank You for Teaching Me I Was Worth More Than You: An Open Letter to the One Who Nearly Broke Me, But Not Quite

Boho 3.jpg

“You didn’t love her. You just didn’t want to be alone. Or maybe, maybe she was good for your ego. Or maybe she made you feel better about your miserable life. But you didn’t love her, because you don’t destroy the person that you love” (Grey’s Anatomy)

When I look back now, it’s hard to believe I ever thought you loved me. How desperate I must have been to call that love when in your hands I became so small; crushed by the heaviness of your fingers as they pressed into my skin, the imprint faded but still visible after all this time. How eroded my worth became with each crash of furious words that washed against the already worn breakwaters of my heart. How afraid I became of not just you, but of everything I once was that I no longer trusted myself to be, for fear I would take a wrong step and set off another landmine beneath the surface of your skin.

You left that day, stopping only to push the knife in a little deeper on your way out the door. The pain was so great I hoped to bleed out, right there on the floor where you left me. I wondered if I could survive what you had done to me; if I even wanted to. But resilience has always coursed through my veins faster than sorrow and though weak, I found the courage to pick myself up from the floor that day.

It all seems so long ago now. How far I have come since these pale scars were once open wounds. How distant the taste of bitterness upon my tongue now seems. I’ve long since stopped wanting to call, to write, to tell you of all the ways you nearly broke me, but not quite. Instead, I have come to realise should I ever pass by you on the street, there is only two words I would need to say.

Thank you.

Thank you for teaching me I will never again settle for someone who can destroy a woman and call that love; who can not only justify their abuse through victim-blaming, but make a woman believe they actually deserved such abuse.

Thank you for teaching me I will never again be controlled by another in a relationship; that I am the keeper of my own life, my own choices and my own relationships and I’m entitled to live my life with freedom, and not be imprisoned by another person’s power over me.

Thank you for teaching me I need not compromise who I am and all I believe in order to be loved; that I do not need to scrape my knees on the ground of another’s approval, nor ever apologise for who I am to those who choose not to accept me regardless.

Thank you for teaching me I do not need another to complete me; that I am better off being alone than ever being with someone who does not love me with respect, kindness, thoughtfulness, gentleness, acceptance.

Thank you for teaching me never to look back; for all the apologies that didn’t reach your eyes, for all the promises spoken through lying teeth, for all the times I did come back only to end up more shattered by you each time.

Thank you for helping me understand men like you never change.

Thank you for teaching me I deserve more than you.

Thank you for teaching me about love.

The kind of love you could never give.

The kind of love I am worth.

The kind of love I will only ever accept from another so long as they can love me the way I have finally learned to love myself.

Second Chances

butterfly.jpg

And it never really changes.
 
The words look different. The way they form a line this time that seems straight and stable; so well-crafted, so precise. There seems to be no faults, no cracks, no frayed edges, and you feel yourself drawn to the letters that fall seamlessly from his mouth and land without effort in the aperture of your heart.
 
But it never really changes.
 
You said there would be no more chances. That the last time was enough. You look down at the scars that had just started to blend into your skin, barely noticeable now. You try and remember what every one of those scars cost you. Except, this time the words look different, and you can’t.
 
He forces his way closer, and somewhere deep inside, you still believe in second chances. You weaken. After all, the words look different. This time will be different.
 
It never changes.
 
It doesn’t take long before the words begin to reshape; after all, he’s an expert in manipulation. They become familiar threads of anger, blame, guilt and shame that he weaves around you; a web of abuse he seeks to trap you inside so he can satiate his need for power and control.
 
You’ve been here before.
 
Nothing changes.
 
Except for you.
 
You changed.
 
You realise you don’t need this anymore. You have become wiser, braver, stronger in the places he once broke you. You have become sure, resilient, steady. You pulled yourself from the ground where he said you belonged and rose – a fighter, a warrior, a survivor.
 
You forgot. Just for a moment, you forgot. But now you take one last look over your shoulder and turn your face toward the sun and remember who you are.
 
You are fire, and you blaze with the fury of all you are worth.
 
And you are worth so much more than a love that was only ever abuse in disguise.
 
In honour of Domestic Violence Awareness Month ❤️
 
Butterfly Illustration courtesy https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals

And They Will Always Try And Make You Feel Inadequate

b6c70611b9e3c1698b92349389d12c39--gypsy-boho-boho-fashion-summer-hippie-gypsy.jpg

And they will always try and make you feel inadequate.

They will grab you by the hand and drag you down your alleyway of imperfections and show you the walls lined with your failures. They will claw their hands deep inside the pit of your stomach and search out your insecurities and place them behind your eyelids where even in sleep there will be no escape from your deepest fear of scarcity. They will barrage your mind with taunted whispers of all you should be; with ridicules of all you are not. They will wear down the resistance of your heart with arrows of rejection and dismissal and ostracism and abandonment for every moment you attempt to stand firm upon the truth of your own heart.

This is how they crush your bones so you fit inside their box where they will always be able to shape you into who they want you to be.

This is how they throw a blanket on your fire until your flames are no more and you become only the ashes and dust of who you were created to be.

This is how they wrap their cords around your throat until your skin is raw and the power of your voice is silenced by the fear of speaking out loud.

This is how they keep you small. This is how they keep you quiet.

This is how they keep you from being more than they will ever be.

And when they have almost succeeded, and you have forgotten the sound of your own name, let me remind you, my love.

Let me remind you that you have been created beyond compare. That every breath you take is the heartbeat of an answered prayer. You are perfect in your flaws; made more beautiful by the broken pieces you stitched together with your threads of courage and hope; threads that glimmer in the sunlight and warm the darkest shadows of those around you. You are a heart made of soft wool that wraps its compassion around others when the world gets too cold for them. You are the strength and resilience of an oak tree that others clamber beneath when the wind blows and the storm rages. You are the force of the night as it triumphs over the day; the softness of the tide as it surrenders to the moon.

You are incomparable fingerprints and remarkable thoughts imminent inside the beauty of your mind. Your eyes are colours of marbles not yet named and your laughter is made of music never heard before and your toes beckon upon winded paths not yet imprinted by others.

They will always try and make you feel inadequate.

And some days you will believe them. You will believe you are nothing more than the mistakes you live to regret, nothing more than the times you have failed, fallen short, the sum of your deficiencies. You will believe you are only deserving of love and acceptance if you comply, conform, make yourself less than so you do not overshadow or intimidate or threaten them with the fury of your flames. But you are born of the galaxies and made from the fire of the stars they contain.

You are here to burn for all that sets your heart on fire and watch it turn to gold.

They will always try and make you feel inadequate.

Don’t let them. Listen for the sound of your own name. For here lies everything you are. Everything they are afraid of. Everything they will never be.

And everything the world is waiting for.

And This Is How I Love

20882220_959756690832831_883238166652293935_n.jpg

This is how I love
I am like a wildfire in February
Propelled by the north winds
That rage with the same fury
As my breath upon your neck

I burn with chaos
I am madness that consumes
I hurl my passion at your skin
You are like sun-baked grass
My fingers catch you ablaze

My lips are ruthless
There is nowhere untouched
Every edge of your landscape
Ravaged in violent destruction
Til your bones are only embers

But you remain cool
You are frost under August sky
Damp wood upon a forest floor
You wince as my urgent flames
Burn against your faltered heart

You pull away
And I remember I am too much
That I am supposed to be meek
And in your distance I am wiser
But in your apathy I am left cold.

Then You’ll Remember How To Fly

Heather

And he will offer you words
Handpicked from his fields
Where manipulation grows
Upon soils rich with deceit
They’ll look like wildflowers
That smell like new promise
And for a moment your heart
Will be fooled by their beauty
And your mind will then dwell
In places where luscious earth
Feels warm beneath your feet
And the purple heather sways
In time to the summer breeze
The places where wildflowers
Are born and freedom can be
Found under boundless skies
And for a moment you’ll think
He actually means it this time
Then you will look down upon
The marks around your ankles
And wrists that still weep tears
From shackles and chains that
He made you believe were love
And then you’ll remind yourself
That freedom doesn’t look like
A cage and love doesn’t look
Like abuse and once more
You will remember
How to fly.

Image courtesy www.guu.vn

I Wish I Could Be Better For You

better.jpg

I wish I could be better for you
That I could be like the poems
You read when you can’t sleep
Like the first taste of red wine
That kisses your eager mouth
Or the drops of saltwater that
Cling to your skin on a hot day
I wish your fingers didn’t bleed
From holding on so tight to me
That your ribs were not broken
From the way you fit my heart
Inside the safety of your chest
I wish I was more than sadness
That I could be louder than my
Silence and softer than my rage
I wish I had been taught of love
The love you are well taught in
Not the kind of love that forces
Your legs open in the nighttime
And fills your mouth with shame
I wish I was not made of mistrust
And sewn together with betrayal
Maybe then I would know how to
Be like the woman in your poems
Maybe then I would know how to
Be better for you.

I Forgive You, And In Doing So, Forgive Myself

alone-woman.jpg

Today I woke with your name upon my tongue, bitter, like the dregs of whisky that burned my throat last night as I drank to the sound of sad movies and faded dreams.

Bitter, like the taste of poison in my veins.

Once, you were the tender kiss of morning coffee upon my lips, the gentle warmth of the sun as it streamed through worn blinds and washed over our bones; our limbs tangled in the bed we used to share.

Now there is only the imprint of your memory, laid to rest in the cold grave next to me where you belong no more.

Yet still you remain, trapped inside my heart where the acidity of all we became seeps into my bloodstream and contaminates my flesh, my organs, my soul.

Yet still you remain, trapped inside the walls of my unforgiveness where I have refused to set you free. Where I have imprisoned you to my hatred, to make you suffer the wrath of my anger the way I had to suffer yours.

Except, the only person who suffers, is me.

I step outside, barefoot, and feel the cool of grass between my toes. The air is fresh, pure, and I breathe it into my lungs, ache for it to cleanse the remnants of you that reside within my core.

No longer do I wish to keep you here, inside my heart, where you corrode my veins. No longer do I wish to keep you here, where I am shackled to pain, where I am captive to misery with every breath I take.

I gaze at the horizon where city meets sky and in this moment I know.

There is nothing to do but forgive you.

There is no weakness in forgiving you, it is not an ill-fought surrender.

It is bravery, it is strength. It is release, liberation; freedom.

It is an act of love.

Not only in setting you free.

But in setting myself free.

Because in forgiving you, I forgive me.

I forgive the girl who needed to be loved, whatever the cost, no matter how much it hurt. Who didn’t understand back then how much she was worth and all that she deserved. Who settled for less, settled for abuse, turned the other cheek, all in the name of love.

I forgive the girl who made mistakes, who made wrong choices, who hurt other people because of how much she was hurting. I forgive her that she stayed, when she should have walked away. I forgive her vulnerability, her weakness, her desperate need for acceptance. I forgive her that she didn’t know how to fight for her heart back then.

But now she does.

Three simple words.

I forgive you.

No longer will I continue to hurt you for the way you hurt me.

But more importantly, no longer will I continue to hurt myself.

I step back inside, get dressed, and make myself some coffee. The day stretches out before me like any other.

Nothing has changed, except, everything has.

Finally, I am free.

Image courtesy fashionshowing.wordpress.com

And Maybe I Will Go To Therapy

19396681_927281684080332_8219816740489730789_n

One day I will not be so young
And foolish in the ways I hurt
I will arrive at therapy sessions
And learn how grown-ups heal
I will take notes in a notebook
With its pages still untouched

I will no longer soak my pores
With bottles of cheap red wine
Until I cannot tell the difference
Between alcohol and the blood
That seeps between the pages
Of the books I will never write

I will no longer be the angry glow
Of cigarettes along empty streets
As I watch garbage trucks at 4am
And hold nicotine against my lips
And pretend it is you I hold there
While a streetlight flickers above

I will no longer throw my outrage
Against the wall above your head
And watch as your fingers bleed
From sweeping shattered pieces
Into bins already full of confusion
That I cannot find a way to empty

I will no longer fill your suitcase
With the heaviness of my fears
Then show you to the front door
Instead I will tell you not to leave
“I need you,” I’ll speak out loud
And my eyes will not look away

One day I will not be so young
And foolish in the ways I hurt
And maybe I will go to therapy
And learn how grown-ups heal
Or maybe there is no right way
To put ourselves back together
After all.

Image courtesy pinkithy.blogspot.com

Someone You Used To Know

Someone.jpg

You speak the broken pain of regret
Into the place you laid my memory
The sound echoes then fades away
Remorse lost inside an empty grave
Yours were the words that killed me
Each one a fatal wound to the heart
And now you want to keep me here
In this place of sorrow and sadness
You imagine me to be crushed bones
And withered flesh upon decayed soul
As if without you I have only perished
As if you could ever hold in your hands
The power of my life and resurrection
No darling, you will not find me there
In the place you buried my torn body
With your own blood-stained hands
I will not hear your hollow repentance
As you grieve the woman that is gone
For I no longer dwell inside your grave
Nor do I lie in the walls of your coffin
Instead I mended my shattered bones
And stitched together my gaping heart
I rebuilt the woman you sought to kill
Because you left me without a choice
I am no longer dead in the wake of you
My heart beats wild and true and fast
The world will know my scarred beauty
They will see the way I rise from ashes
And walk in the strength of my worth
But to you, I will be a faded memory
Of someone you once used to know
But never again will.

It Wasn’t Your Fault

6

It wasn’t your fault.

It wasn’t your fault you weren’t protected from getting hurt when you were younger.

It wasn’t your fault you weren’t told how much you mattered, how much you were worth.

It wasn’t your fault you had no voice, that you were powerless and not taught to say no.

It wasn’t your fault you didn’t know how to draw the line around your heart, mind and body to protect yourself from being hurt by others.

It wasn’t your fault the people who should have shown you where to draw that line instead made you feel you weren’t important enough to keep safe.

You grew up with no lines and no boundaries and you didn’t know the difference between love and abuse, and because of that, you allowed others to hurt you, when all you really wanted was for others to love you.

And that isn’t your fault.

Let yourself be angry. Let yourself be angry that you were never told how much you were worth. That you never protected yourself because nobody ever protected you. That you allowed people to violate the lines that should have been there but never were because you weren’t told how to put those lines in place.

Because you weren’t told how important you were, and how much it mattered.

How much you mattered.

Let the anger rise within you. Allow yourself to cry tears of rage and grief for all you have lost. For all others have taken from you – not what you have given away – but what others have taken from you, that you can no longer get back.

Use that anger to fight for yourself in the way you should have been fought for. Use it to reclaim all that has been taken, to reclaim your heart. Let the anger become a fire that rages in your soul and burns away the tarnish that others have left upon you. Let the flames consume you, let them purify you, let them cleanse you and refine you until all that is left is the beauty of who you really are.

Your worth is great. You were created by the same hands that created the galaxies and the stars and the oceans and the storms and the wind that rages across the four corners of the earth. You were breathed into existence, not by accident, but with purpose, with promise. The entire universe listens just to hear the beating of your heart and the whisper of your breath. You were meant to be here. You were supposed to be here.

You were wanted here.

And you are worthy of the kind of love that nurtures your soul and heals your heart. A love that sees your value and worth and believes in you. A love that is strong and kind, loyal and true. A love that brushes the hair from your eyes and kisses your forehead and gives you its jacket when you are cold and holds your hand when you are scared and draws you into its arms and doesn’t let go until it stops hurting. You are worthy of someone whose feet are anchored; who loves you when you radiate with the light of the moon and stars, and loves you even harder when you are cast in the shadow of your own cold sorrow.

You are worthy of a love that will never, ever hurt you.

Draw your lines, dear woman, for within these lines lies the truth of all that you are worth.

And the moment you come to know this truth, is the moment nobody can ever take that away from you again.

~ © Kathy Parker ~

Image courtesy kolyan.net