January 7, 2020

I’ve Learned to Love Myself in the Ways I Wish You Would Have. {Poem}

You said I was too sensitive, too emotional—

my feelings too intense.
I should control them a little more.

All your lies, your sneaking around
were okay,
And I was the petty one for caring.

You had me on a string.

And for a very long time, I believed:
I was a bad person.
I couldn’t control myself.
I should be different.

“Hurt people hurt people,”
That’s what people tell me,
And it’s okay, because now I can see
You’re the psycho, and I’m free.
I’m not a bad girlfriend,
I was just blind.
I believed love was strong enough to push through
if I just left myself behind.

And you were charming, and healthy, and smart,
so I went along with it and stayed.
But every painful experience,
I pushed a little further away.

I love you, but I hate you,
the pain that you caused.
I hate that I let you make me
hate myself.

I yearned for love,
I needed it,
even if it was fake.
So, I lost myself in the chaos of us.

Tell me you love me. Act like you do.
Please, I beg you.
But being so desperate, my energy was gone.
And I became your shadow;
where you went, I went;
what you liked, I liked;
what you said, I believed.

After years of therapy,
hours of self-help,
Hundreds of dollars worth of anxiety,
depression, and mood supplements,
I still believed you when you said that I had not changed.
I would always be some crazy girl who no one else could stand.
I wasn’t enough.
My emotions? Too much.
I’m hot, you said. That’s why you put up with me.

And then I realized.

I’m not crazy.

I am so much more than that.
I’m a lover, I’m a fighter, a writer, a reader.
And I love dogs—like, a lot,
and, by the way, I’m beautiful not hot.
I am humble but sometimes, too, I’m selfish.

I try to stand up for myself and learn and grow.
Oh, how I love to learn about growth.
Sometimes it feels like I can’t learn enough,
and putting my self-help book down is a bit too much.

I have learned to love myself in the ways that I wish you would have.

I see the little things that make me happy,
like learning to cook, even if I undercook the potatoes every time,
or how much joy it brings me to draw a picture, even if it would never sell.

And I love the freckle under my eye,
and the patch of hair on my leg I missed while shaving.
I love my different, my misplaced.
The beauty in people is not perfection, but the flaws—
the little pieces that make them, them.

You simply don’t see me,
even after all these years.
And I don’t think you will,
and I no longer care.

Because I love me, for me
and I don’t need you around to fill some hole
with every lie you told, every joke you made against me.

Why did I hate myself so much?
Why did I stay?
Why did I stay?
I am growing more and more, every day.
And sometimes I’m afraid. I’m afraid to be alone,
but the fear is no longer enough to hold me back,
encompassed in your arms while I fall asleep to myself.

I know there is happiness after the pain.
And that happiness would never have come if I had stayed.

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Autumn Leigh Raasch  |  Contribution: 1,350

author: Leigh Raasch

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