I always thought I’d marry you. Always thought we’d travel the world and have a few kids and have a dog and a cat and a house. I thought I’d wake up to you every morning, thought I’d roll over in the middle of then night and smile down at your sleeping face, thought I’d give you my sleepy smile when you came back to bed after getting up to get a drink of water.
I always thought I’d marry you.
"After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul."
I always felt safe around you. When my world began to shake, I fled to you for stability. You knew my comfort words, knew how to talk me down from the ledge. You understood the nightmares and the flashbacks. Understood the trigger words, the jokes that weren’t okay. You gave me a key for those 4am panic attacks, so I could crawl into bed and feel the security of your skin. You gave me a place to rest my crumbling bones.
"and you learn love doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t always mean security."
You always bought me presents. Little gifts from quarter machines, chocolate during those “tough times” of the month. The rescued kitten for my birthday, the diamond necklaces for Christmas. My favorite movies.
"And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t always promises."
And we fell apart, and all the orphaned kittens and forehead kisses in the world couldn’t save us. And I fell apart, all over my floor, all over my best friend’s couch, all night long. I’ve dehydrated, lost my voice, felt as if my heartstrings tore. I’ve lost my appetite, lost sleep. I’ve spent nights in terror from nightmares without your consoling. But I kept breathing. I let someone in, felt the familiar blows of hurt blow my fortress of confidence down, got back up and took a deep breath, reminded myself of who I am and why I am, and cauterized my wounds. I take deep breaths now, remind myself who I am and why I am. I listen to my music and write my poems and remind myself that I am an incredible woman. I play with my own hair and wipe my own tears. I put my own self back together.
"and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child."
My aspirations are more than lists on paper.
My friends’ basements are Saturday night refuges.
I am not defined by the men I love.
I take myself on dates to bookstores and do my writing in the comfort of my own bed.
I sleep alone, no sheets to share.
My heart, while a little empty, feels just a little bit bigger.
"And you learn to build all your roads on today,
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.”
I broke my own heart. I broke my best friend’s heart.
But here the both of us are, still breathing.
I look back at three long years and walk away happy I shared it with him,
and with my head turned to the sky,
I walk a little more confidently.
I’m a little bit stronger. I’m a little bit more beautiful. A little more shiny and new. A little more free.
Falling in love with myself first this time.
A little more clumsy, a little more fragile at times.
But I will be so much better with every tomorrow.
and until I fall asleep for the very last time.
"And you learn that you really can endure,
that you really are strong and you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn,
with every good-bye you learn.”
-After a While, Veronica A. Shoffstall
Now Playing: Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette