I’ve been trying to love myself. Showers after work to lull me to sleep. Washing my hair to remind myself that although my beauty is skin deep, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to look pretty on the outside. I slathered myself with coconut oil, warmed in my hands. Leaving me slippery and soft.

But the smell makes me sick. Fear creeps into my chest as I try to figure out what is bringing these memories back. That as I lay in my bed or walk around these confined spaces, I smell the reminder of disgust and self hate. That regardless of how I may feel that day, no matter how much I love myself, I will always be pulled back into that time.

I’m self conscious as I remember scabs forming. Hard and difficult not to pick at. As I spread the oil on myself, they softened. Same as my will to live. Easy to peel away. I couldn’t get rid of them no matter how hard I tried. Another growing where fingers dug into my skin; they were harder and more painful than the last.

I slept with ice packs and prayed this feeling to go away. That this nightmare was really just that. That I’d wake up, grateful I could sleep it off. But I couldn’t. This was mine to keep.

Ice doesn’t remind me of restless sleeps and numb fingers. But every day as I attempt to love myself, I’m reminded of mistakes and regrets. Gently tearing myself apart with this scent.

Self Destructive Behavior

He said that as long as he spoke the truth, he would be okay no longer speaking. But when did his truth become mine? Because when I spoke from my heart, suddenly our words contradicted and he was still right only because he proclaimed to be.

I could hear his words in the back of my mind. “You’re self destructive.” But I couldn’t find his words being presented in my actions. I looked around and saw that self care is important to me. And I haven’t tried to kill myself in awhile. So where was this destruction? Was it in the way I ate McDonald’s or was it because I loved myself enough to defend my choices and actions. That I wouldn’t allow someone to force my hand to change.

I’ve never been one to argue because sometimes others know better than me. And when you’re unsure of yourself you look to those around you for guidance. I use to close my eyes at night, praying for signs and people to lead me in the right direction. I couldn’t trust myself to make the right decisions. They were permanent choices I had to live by. If someone else made them, at least then they’d be the ones to bear the consequences. But I still found myself wandering around in circles. No promise I’d ever find my way.

I pushed away the feelings of doubt and began making the choices I avoided for so long. Allowing anxieties to keep me on my toes and faith to guide me forward. I became more comfortable in listening to myself instead of the preachings of others unwilling to walk in my shoes. So why do I find myself replaying his words over and over in my head? That my behavior is self destructive and this self love I have going is unhealthy and indulgent. That as I make these decisions on my own, I should second guess myself. Unsure if what I’m doing is best for me or if it’s what just feels best.

What does it matter though? Long as I’m happy, right?

Soft Regrets

I hate writing.

I hate the way I express myself through finger tips instead of tongue. The way I can only tell you how I feel when my face is to the screen and you only hear my voice echo off the virtual pages. That voice notes even cause me to stumble because that’s one step closer to you hearing my voice crack and shake.

I hate writing because it forces me to be real and honest and sometimes even pure. Things I’ve tried to run away from with no success. Before I share a piece, my breaths are shallow, anticipating whether I’m sharing too much. As these words hit pages, as they are read aloud, as they affect other people, the consequences become real. Doubt arises to question if this is the right decision because I can still back out but there’s no healing in running away. 

Forced to write with honesty as I sat in a creative writing class, I wrote about you. It was the start to my healing so I would no longer carry the …burden of you on my shoulders. She had us read our papers to the class and through a shaking voice, I found my strength. I’d no longer allow you the power to control my self esteem.

But I still hate writing.

Because I expected that to be the end but here I am. Still writing about hurt feelings, honest fears, and the things that crawl deep within my soul.

Words of Affirmation

I spat the words out, leaving a bad taste in my mouth. How could I use these moments to speak so lowly of myself? I paused cause I was my greatest friend. I needed to speak gently to myself.

It didn’t work.

Disgusting and worthless. The words felt like labels on my forehead. And I couldn’t help but think they were true. In the pit of my stomach I knew I deserved every terrible comment anyone made about me. I looked in the mirror, wiped the tears from my eyes, and repeated my mantra. I would always remain light and love. I asked around, wondering they saw the same in me. Their words came gentle and kind but I couldn’t see anything in the dark. 

This feeling of uselessness didn’t last long. Only long enough to remind myself this confidence I built ain’t always solid. Sometimes it takes more that positive words and kind friends to love yourself.

Growth in Self Love

She tried to catch my eyes as I avoided hers, “every time I’m bout to do something, I remember what you said and I think “love yourself.” Girl, take your own advice.” 

I brushed her off knowing that I wasn’t going to take my word as bond. Loving yourself takes more work than loving someone else. That sometimes self care involves doing things I don’t want to do. And I wasn’t ready so instead I continued to fall in and out of love with people and things knowing they couldn’t keep me happy.

Still forcing my attention, I focused on what I craved most. Those nights I curled up in his arms afraid of the day I accepted that he wasn’t the right one for me. That his body was placeholder I was too nervous to remove, unsure of what I’d find instead. Not wanting to deal with the fact that sex was no longer bodies intertwined with bodies, passion, sex funky I ignored the way my stomach dropped as I tried to feed that craving.

I realize that life is about getting hurt and sometimes that hurt comes from accepting the things you don’t want to. And I have to accept that my desperation for love is my favorite form of self harm.

Worth Gold

“You accept the love you think you deserve.” I struggled through trying to figure out how we didn’t fit in this equation.

This is the first time I’m not wondering if I’m enough. Because I’m use to men who love to kiss girls like me. Men who think girls like me are cute for short term flings. But don’t want to build other things. Because the last guy who laid in my bed, whispered sweet nothings in my ear, and still told me about girls who didn’t look like me. And I wasn’t sure if I was jealous because I liked him or just ashamed that I wasn’t worth his affections. Acting out as though that would change his mind. Thinking that if I take on her personality and he’ll love me more.

But I worked hard on me. To try to figure out who I thought I was meant to be. I focused daily trying to build this self esteem. Repeating that I’m light and love. Even when I felt dark and alone. Reminding myself that I should be enough, if only just for me.

And that’s just a cop out because now even though I know I’m enough, I realize I may be just too much for you. When he spoke those words, I shook my head instantly connecting it to us, not wanting to accept the fact that I’m settling. I shouldn’t need a quote to tell me that this isn’t my ideal situation but I do. Accepting the things you can’t change is cheesy when I could be holding another man’s hands. So I remind them that the heart wants what it wants. And I’m going to stick around until “I love you but I love me more.”

Your Second Poem

The butterflies traveled from navel to chest. Holding it in wasn’t working anymore. I choked on my own words as they escaped out. “Hello.” My voice broke, betraying how nervous I was. You’re only response was to look down at me from the corner of your eye. I shut up.

I use to speak to you so easily. Freely without fear of judgment. Now I worry I won’t have enough time for each word. Sentences jumble together. I’m scared you won’t understand me so my thoughts race trying to catch up to my mouth. 

Walking past, I reminded myself not to reach out for you. Not to grab at the hem of your pants as though you were Jesus and I needed healing from this pain you’re putting me through. This is suffering and you are not my savior.

And you realize but don’t care that I’m sensitive. I’m easily hurt and right now? Right now I’m licking each wound created in your presence. I’m pacing back and forth, waiting for you to glance my way if only for a second. I’m hoping we lock eyes and your face tells me that I’m still enough. We won’t. I’ll continue putting my energy towards someone who doesn’t offer any back. 

There’s no beauty in a broken heart caused by someone you never had a real thing with. And there’s no advice for getting over something you have no name for.