Since childhood
   she has learned
  that wishes, spoken aloud,
   can be twisted
  brought to life in horribly unexpected ways
   A child snatched by goblins,
    hearts ripped out
      or skin torn off,
  people twisted into
   caricatures of themselves
    by helpless, obsessive love wishes
   So she locks her wishes down
     keeps them behind her lips,
      inside her skull,
   someplace safe
     and warm
    and so private
  no one will ever, ever hear
    and twist
what she wants
   into some fucked up version
   of reality.


Why are we so gentle on those
   surrounding us
    and so hard on ourselves?

  Why express loathing, over and over,
      of the things we despise in ourselves
     the "weaknesses" or "flaws"
when we can see the beauty of them
   in those we care for?

  i tell my friends
    over and over
   they are lovely, wonderful, gorgeous,
   good enough
     for anyone or anything
  while fighting my own feeling
    that i must ask permission
   for everything -
    to talk,
   to exist,
    to take up space
      in others' lives
   to BE

i tell them
   "pay attention to your limits"
  while fighting my own
    until i force panic attacks,
    unraveling all the triggers
 because i want to be DONE.
   No more fragility
  no more feeling of being pathetic,
   ignored and left behind.

i tell them
  "you are never a burden,"
  "anything you want or need
    that i am capable of,
      just ask me"
"you don't have to isolate yourself"

while shutting myself down,
   feeling that if i reach out,
     if i expect attention from anyone
   a burden.

And while i know, logically,
   that i am not a burden,
    not pathetic or weak
      or a waste of space
   or resented for reaching out,
    burrowing into one's own head
   is so much harder
     than saying it to someone else.


The Hardest Lessons

The hardest lessons
   i have had to learn
   all involve myself.

  That it is okay
    to not be okay,
    even on the days that
  and i can no longer respond
   to even gentle humor.

That in spite of it being easier
  to blame myself than
  to acknowledge if someone i love
    is to blame for anything,
   i cannot blame myself
   for everything, and that
  the way i'm treated is NOT
    necessarily a reflection
   of who i am.

That i'm allowed to have emotions,
   that no one gets to dictate
    how deeply i feel, or about what,
     and that i'm not fucked up
    just because i react strongly.

That i'm human,
   allowed to expect
  the things the voice
   in the back of my head
   tells me i don't deserve,
  that i should never expect.

That my needs are valid,
   not problems
  and not issues i need to fix.
That i'm allowed to look
  into another person's eyes
  and say "No," clearly,
  and that it is their problem
 if they cannot accept it.

That i am worth loving
  even on the days
  i feel completely unlovable.
That the longing i feel
  is valid
  no matter what.