worth it.

the heartbreak and pain
were not accidents
for they led me down a narrow trail
accompanied by old monsters
lonely and shattered,
i fought them off

there i was,
winding through the forest and crawling through the gravel
torn up

on an isolated and dangerous path
that led me right to you
and to myself

we live in a jungle.

it is the sly comments
the uninvited stares
the suggestive look
the desire-filled look
the i want you, i will have you, whether you like it or not look

every whistle
every step a little too close
leaves us trembling

do you see me?
your eyes gaze at me
but do you see me?

do your eyes see me as more than parts to be coveted and dreamt of?
do your ears hear me as more than a voice you’d like to silence with your lips?
does your mind comprehend that my shaking hands and racing heart cannot take another minute of your company?

because of you
my eyes see yours looking me up and down like a project to conquer
my ears hear a young girl catcalled in the streets
my mind cannot comprehend why it has to be this way
and my legs run towards the idea
that it doesn’t have to be
             —no more staying quiet

conditional

guilt suffocates me like cellophane
each layer clinging tightly to my body
one for each year of heartbreak

she says her love wraps around my being
what she doesn’t know is
it fights so hard to break through the barrier she has built
it pulses against me
unable to penetrate the 19 layers of pain she has provided

and through tears
she whispers,
“you know i love you, right?”

despite all her cruel words
she expects me to know this
to wholeheartedly embrace it

i can see it,
but i cannot feel it
for guilt and shame overwhelm my senses
and suddenly i am drowning in my memories
admitting to a love i do not feel

wrapped in this godforsaken cellophane,
a gift from my mother
i am bursting with emotion, yet empty

wrapped so tightly
desperate for love
i walk around suffocating
desperate to feel
something she cannot provide

         —i know you did your best, mom

recovery

i use to swing along the line of life and death in my mind
teetering with reasons to stay and reasons to go

how could i ever think such thoughts when there are sunsets that make even the most pessimistic of people stop to gaze,
with hues of orange and pink and lilac
covering the horizon in swirls and gradients so beautiful that only the naked eye can capture its true essence

how could i ever think such thoughts when there are sunday mornings filled with pancakes and my father in a small café
hearing the clinking of coffee mugs and the strange yet familiar laughter of strangers

how could i ever think such thoughts when there are beaches with velvety sand and a symphony made up of gawking birds and the sound of the ocean kissing the shore,
filled with naps in the scorching sun and the reading of new novels that have been left in my bookcase for months

how could i ever think such thoughts when there are soft kisses and passionate kisses laced together with sweet smiles and the whisper of “i love you”, leaving even the most grounded of people up in the clouds

the sad thing is,
i know exactly how i could think such thoughts
because they once took up all of the vacancies in my mind
they are unwelcome visitors that still bang on my door from time to time

to the broken:
i hear you,
i see you
i will hold your hand until you see light again, just as people have done for me
and i will walk with you until the heaviness turns to feathers of hope

clouded

how do i stop fearing the future when i also fear the present?
why is the past so haunting yet so inviting?
on which side of reality will i finally be content?

                  —anxiety

rebirth

When I’m with you, there are never enough hours in the day.
Every minute we are together passes like a bolt of lightning during a humid summer storm,
and every second is gone as fast as my heart after you ran away with it.

You’ve picked weeds from my brain and turned them into sunflowers, planting them with beautiful words and nurturing them with your gentle spirit.

No one can make tears of happiness fall from my eyes like you can, or make me want to leave my perfect little town to be a part of yours.

You’ve helped me find myself, and with each self-discovery, I find a little piece of you, too.
The gaping holes of despair and bitterness that use to cover my soul have been filled so lovingly by your caring heart.

Like a stunning mosaic glued together with pinky promises and childish giggles, I am whole again.
I will never stop being so captivated by what we’ve built together.
Our broken pieces bonded together so effortlessly, and I can’t wait to keep creating artwork
with you.

it ends here

at one year old, i giggled and toddled around,
and at 5 years old, i began to understand.
at 6 years old, i proclaimed my need to lose weight off of my thighs.
time came and went, but the message remained the same.
as other mothers passed down a love of baking or hiking to their daughters, my mother held my hand and walked me down a self-destructive path.
at 14 years old, i began counting calories.
at 17 years old, i found my finger down my throat and lines on my wrist.
at 18 years old, i crumbled.
& at 19 years old, i learned how to walk away.
how to run away.
escaping the lies that had been fed to me along with a 900 calorie diet.
i learned that strong is all that matters.
i learned that words said to try to shrink my thighs and my hips can be silenced by the fortitude of my own thoughts.
most importantly, i decided that
this ends with me
when I have daughters of my own, i will pass down a love of running, not because it will make their bodies thin like bending branches, but because it will make them strong.
i will show them the wonders of writing and emptying out every nook and cranny of their brains.
i will expose them to different cultures, exploring new food, excited by the flavors and not trembling because of the calories
i will show them how to love themselves, and hold their hands when they do not.
i will never comment on their bodies,
only their brains, their hearts, their spirits
above all else, I will love unconditionally
because
this ends with me

run

a moment on your lips,
a lifetime on your hips
better run!
don’t run from your self-loathing,
run from the calories
but never run to me.
thighs, tummy, arms
smaller, flatter, stronger
eat this, not that
tell me about your new diet,
but keep quiet about your dreams
a body is made to be skinny,
forget strong

why did i find your finger down your throat
attached to an arm with marks made out of anguish
how could you do this to me?
where did i go wrong?

—words from my mother