Closer.

It is the dark
and I force us to have a heart-to-heart
because there is something about nightfall
that makes my mouth
want to spill like a sieve
and your lips have no intention
of becoming a dam
to stop me.

It is the dark
and I am telling you about
how I might creep you out
and you bled me dry
and I had nothing
after  you had
up and left.
And I don’t expect you to apologize for this.
And you don’t.

But when I tell you
I know you won’t hurt me,
you agree.
And it’s that small reassurance.
that I haven’t been lying when I told others this,
that unleashes every hold on me
that believes I have to be my
caged self in front of you

so I come pouring forth,
rushing river,
and you take me in stride,
silent like every rock
that splits the water

and I didn’t get a chance to tell you
but I thank you for it,
I love you for it.

It is the dark,
and, sitting next to you,
I am who I am,
nothing more
nothing less
and I am content.

Afterglow

I want a love
that feels like being sated;
where I am warm and sleepy happy,
but don’t need the sweet ache.

I curl myself into a comma
at night and pretend the covers
that cocoon me are instead
somebody holding me tight.

Tonight
my neck aches
and I miss the way fingers
used to massage me
in places I never knew were sore,
in places I’d never been
worshipped before

So give me a new one:
I want a love
that feels like the afterglow,
minus the hands.
A love I can sink into
soft and sure,

a love where physical
isn’t a necessity,
but a neck rub
will give me just as much
pleasure.

Paraphrasing Eleanor Roosevelt

There is something beautiful,
something breaking open
at the thought of
my ability to believe
in you
with no questions asked.

There was something so soft
in the way I knew you’d achieve
all your dreams, one day;
even if I wasn’t there to see them.

I pass by tshirts
and posters and trinkets
and everything reminds me
of moments never shared,

and it all is still so
beautiful,
that I am still so soft,
even with my stitching;

your dreams are still attainable,
still reachable,
please believe me.

Gabby, circa 2013

The only way I know
how to put this
is that you met
the mess of me.

How the night
before I met you for coffee
I couldn’t sleep.

How the last time
I saw you I was
unnecessarily petty
and unhappy.

I know I’m not the girl
you met;
I know you never loved her
like she loved you,
but now,
I miss her the most
out of everything.

Growth.

As I sit here with a quarter cup of coffee left, delaying working on my master’s project (because editing is simultaneously the best and the worst part of the writing process), I think of why in my head, I look at this year like I’m taking a mental vacation, like I’m taking off from reality.

A lot of it had to do with the relationships I had: I was looking to the wrong people who had to remind me that what I wanted or didn’t have interest in was “okay” by their standards. I was pouring love and time and money into somebody who for as long as I have known him has only toyed with me as a flirt and “friend”. I let him see too many sides of me and while I can’t regret it, I learned that I need to finally cut ties with him in order to grow.

He’s one of many people I felt I needed to impress, wanted to be special to. As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing alluring about me: you basically see what you get and I wanted him to see something different, extra even. Yet, this took a bigger hit to my self-esteem than I realized at the time and I ended up shrinking into myself, becoming bitter and envious and utterly confused. I lost myself, what little I felt I had left.

And it’s funny because I felt like this time I knew who I was, even though in some ways I was recovering. I felt like I was a fully rooted person, I felt like I could bear everyone else’s burdens, but when it came down to it I repeatedly put myself in an environment where nobody knew who they were and if they did, I didn’t like that person.
I didn’t even like me.

In the weeks prior to Christmas I beat myself up a lot. I lost “friends”, I hated who I was, I felt alone and unwanted and messed with. I wondered why people said things and did things and then acted the complete opposite. (And to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever have closure for some of those questions.)

But then, one night when I was completely and utterly broken down, crying out to God and feeling so lost as what to ask for, it was a mix of voices that all hit me at once. It was looking at a long lost friend and admiring how he didn’t care what anyone thought of him. It was my best friend telling me to let go and forgive myself or else I couldn’t move forward. It was my sister telling me it’s okay to be lost, to not know. It was my manager telling me “let the right ones come to you”.

So, as I write this, as I air out the last weeks of what 2016 was to me, how dark and lonely a place I found myself in, I also found peace.

Peace in the fact there’s a plan for me, there’s people for me, there’s a life I know nothing about ahead. Peace in the fact that I am actually alone and don’t want anyone else for the first time in my life. The fact that I want to take care of myself, that I enjoy showering because I can put care into my body. That I can play with different make-up techniques, mess with colors and experiment. That I can take pictures and document even the stupid little things that excite me. That I have a wish list I can add and subtract from and save money toward.
That I’m reading for pleasure again, trying out new genres, visiting old friends.
That I’m trying to learn a new language, that I’m trying to go to bed early, do some kind of physical activity, and even learning how to do the simple things like cooking, cleaning, and laundry (chores I never really was forced to do but now want to).

I’m writing things I like, even if not posting, I’m writing more than poetry. I am editing this project and watching it become this new thing, watching how grief transforms one person entirely but that is just one way. Watching how there is still growth in it, hope in it. (Actually finding the first piece I ever wrote about this character and how much the vision has changed.)

And these are all little things, but they’re also all positive. They are little desires and dreams of mine, but they’re mine and I’m so proud of how far I’ve come, not just from where I was drained this summer but also from removing myself out of multiple toxic outlets and just taking time to figure out myself. To find joy in what I have, in what I do.

In short I’m learning to love who I am, even if she’s flawed, even if she’s not your typical beautiful. Even if everything that once mattered to her wasn’t really who she is but what facade she put out.
I’m finding joy again, I’m living in peace. I’m learning there is more inside of me that makes me who I am, like goodness and kindness and gentleness. I’m learning to be patient and to stand firm in my beliefs even if everyone around me is doing or saying differently. I’m learning how much my morals really matter to me. I’m learning that beauty really is only skin deep and that I need to be a woman of depth. Of unrelenting and unlimited faith.

I don’t know if anyone reads this or if anyone cares, but in the first ten days of the new year, I find myself liking this version of me. I’m reminded of who I was before I met half these people, before my club family, and “friends” and boys. And I’m seeing her again, grown up, knowing she’s enough, choosing joy and using her time wisely.

Future Realities

“Lovely”
like a stain on your lips
that doesn’t come from kisses.
Like the first ray of sunshine
that signals spring.
Like believing this life is not the end,
like hoping for bliss.
Like kindness.

“Lovely”
like a sugar rush.
Like constant laughter
running like light
through an open floor plan.
Like children falling to the floor,
rolling on their backs and giggling.
Like sanded furniture.
Like wild flowers,
fresh flowers
springing from every crevice.

“Lovely”
like silence,
like an honest promise,
one that’s kept.
Like moments where it is you
and God
and the birds singing on the window
ledge,
and maybe you’re in that townhouse
or that cottage
but you’re smiling easier
and in awe of the littlest of things
like the way ice cube press together,
share space with tea
with citrus
with everything that represents simplicity.

“Lovely”
like possibility.
Like this life you’re living,
like what the future could hold.

“Lovely”
like waking up
and realizing
this world
is your dream.