Don’t forget to tell me good-bye when the time’s right. Don’t forget to hold the door open and watch me leave. Don’t forget to keep that smile on your face and, please, don’t forget to dream about me every night after.
When the next one whispers how much they love you when they think you’re sleeping, don’t forget to hold your breath and pray they don’t know you’re awake. Don’t forget to distance yourself and stop answering the phone. Don’t forget what those words sounded like when they came from my lips.
Down the road when you hold the-one in your arms and look at their sleeping face, don’t forget to picture mine. Don’t forget the feeling in your arms as they ache to hold me instead.
When things stop working and they leave you, don’t forget about the way you left me. Don’t forget the sway of my hips, or my tensed jaw.
Don’t forget me.
You can find me in the lock-jawed silence of every word I have never spoken when it meant the most – when the bombs were planted at the base of every heartache and mistake, and I only stood watching, mouth zip-tied shut.
I let the ruins of shattered memories fill me with ghosts I have never learned to forget, and at night they come out of my throat like flames.
Can you find the war still going on behind my eyes, and can you feel the loss inside me?
The shadows feel like old friends with daggers pressed into my back, but I hold them with love I’ve never stopped feeling. I whisper with my last breath that I will save them, when I never could. When they could never save me.
He called it trauma.
I didn’t even think the shell of myself was so cracked.
How was I supposed to know this is what it feels like when the war has gone on for years? Even though the white flags were raised, no one can let go of the anger.
I didn’t realize I was still dealing with the aftermath.
We tear our skin off so that our souls are bare and when they touch it feels electric. I feel the pulse of my heart and I wonder if you feel it too; I swear it takes up the whole room.
Your hands are on me and I try my damnedest not to think of him. My eyes fight to stay locked onto yours so I don’t lose myself in dreams of the past I can’t seem to shake off. I don’t think you see it that way.
You tell me things so sweet it make my eyes water and I try so hard not to hear his voice. I know I can’t say them back. I know you know it, too.
I haven’t been able to understand why you accept so little.
We dance like lovers do and I breathe you in to the best of my ability. In, out. In a little deeper. Hold. Exhale. I pray this silent wish is granted.
Side by side we lay, our limbs intertwined and mixed like they were meant to be that way. We look like an art piece and I think it looks a little sad. I wonder if you see it, too. But I don’t ask.
I could never pry my lips open wide enough to make anything in my mind a reality. I ignore the beat of my heart and try to get lost in yours.
I sink into you and I’m so glad you pull me closer. I empty my lungs in a desperate attempt to let myself be pulled so far in I melt into your skin, into your bones, into your life. I want to let you breathe for me because I can only seem to find toxicity every time I open my mouth.
When your eyes close and your breathing evens out, I whisper my love for you until my throat runs dry. Maybe if I say it enough it’ll find it’s way into reality. Maybe if I wish hard enough, it’ll come true.
I love you I love you I love you.
I wonder if he can feel me shiver in the middle
of the night when I’m lost in dreams you made into nightmares.
I wonder if he notices the way I trace
the ink on my skin and picture a hand of the past.
If I could I would make so many promises,
but I don’t trust myself to keep them.
My tongue has turned into ivy and they
wrap around words too soft for me to bear.
My skin has added a few layers from the cold
you left me with and I forget how soft
I used to be. That’s the thing, though.
You’ve taken who I used to be,
and twisted it.
His hands trace every scar I’m laced with,
kisses each dent and jagged edge as though
he could somehow fix my broken bits.
The worst part is, though,
I let him.
There’s a lonesome piece of myself still cold from your absence. I tell myself I’m okay now, I tell myself I’m fine.
Every cell I’m comprised of still feels the ache of missing and the ache of hurt; every cell still shivers with the memory of the cold.
My fingers can’t feel anything but you and everything else fees like water, or it feels like sand. My lips remember the imprint of yours and nothing else can sate them.
I can press myself further into him and close my eyes and repeat lies until they feel true but there’s a wide burden of you that’s still gaping and weeping. The stone in the center of my chest has no intention of budging or flexing and I can’t feel for anyone else what I could feel for you. I don’t know how to become pliable.
Your soul still lingers with mine and they dance in your memory.
I thought I was over you but it turns out the ghost of you left remnants in every crease I’ve ever been made out of.
There’s parts of something still holding on and I feel it cutting into the soft flesh and tearing me into pieces of myself.
Somehow I still miss you.
Somehow I can’t replace you in the heart of me that is made out of love.
Somehow I’m not letting myself let go of you.
Before you showed me what you were made out of, you were perfect for me. And I can’t seem to let that go.
I can hear the screaming in my head of all the things I’ve ever broken. The shattered remains may cut my feet walking through them but I have to walk through them. The guilt around me is the air I breathe and I try to act as though I have a breathing mask on.
But I don’t.
I hold on so tightly to all the things I have ever known and even when new perspectives come into the picture, the old one still remains and still sings softly in my ear as a reminder of what it was. Most of the time I quarantine it to the back of my mind where all of my busy thoughts are.
But they’re still there.
Now I have this new skin and I have this new heart and I can smile from the freedom of knowing it’s okay to be okay. Even though I have all these new things that make it easier to breathe, my past still clings to me as a shadow. And yes, I can shut my eyes as tight as I can, and pretend it’s finally gone.
But it’s not.
I’ve replaced the frayed string holding me together with pretty yellow ribbon, and though it holds much tighter, I still need it.
But at least the package is prettier.