On Seeing the Person you Love, Love Someone Else

When she tells you about her for the first time, she will be drunk.

Don’t react.

Keep a smile in your voice and on your face.

Use short, concise sentences, like, “It’s all good”, or , “I wish you happiness.”

Don’t say much else.

Your voice will show you are running out of air.

The anvil she dropped on your chest just landed.

You haven’t gotten good at breathing around it yet.

Realize that she doesn’t love you. She never did.

Practice saying “it didn’t work out”

and “we broke up”

until you can say the words casually, without tears.

The first time someone asks you about her,

You will feel tears form.

Make sure to cough,

let the tears be explained away by allergies.

Make yourself as busy as possible.

Wake up at five am every day, so you can go to the gym before work.

After work, go to the gym again.

Volunteer for everything, say yes to every request.

Spend hours writing, late into the night.

You know how to do this.

You’ve gotten good at being used and discarded.

You need to fill every second of every day with as much activity as possible.

The goal here is exhaustion.

The long, endless nights in a dark, quiet house are the worst.

Avoid these at all costs.

That’s when the tapes in your mind, the ones you have had since childhood, will play.

On repeat.

They will bring your deepest, darkest insecurities to you.

They will belittle you.

Demean you.

They will try to make you believe you are worthless.

When you realize they are now playing in her voice,

it will crush you.

Begin a new practice of having a drink before bed.

Just one.

Drown her voice with bourbon.

The goal here is oblivion.

The first time you see a picture of them on Facebook,

you will be physically ill.

As you wretch over the toilet bowl, your stomach will turn itself inside out.

You will realize then that in the past week you have eaten exactly

five grapes

and two saltine crackers.

That’s why you can’t get sick.

Your stomach is like the rest of you.

It can’t tell when there is nothing left.

Know through all of this, that this is not your fault.

You love someone who doesn’t love you back.

She doesn’t love you.

She never did.

She never will.

 

Liar

It comes to me in dreams,

All the things I should have said to you.

Like you are an asshat

or, how can you lie so easily?

Or, call me if you change your mind,

or, please, don’t go.

I want you to know I don’t regret a second.

I will keep my memories safe,

tucked away in a corner, and one day,

when I need them

I will take them out, and like any good writer, edit them.

I will keep the time you told me

Anywhere I am is home,

and delete the fact that you were lying.

I will keep the fun we had singing bad music,

and delete the fact that you were lying.

I will keep the time you told me you weren’t going anywhere,

and delete the fact that you were lying

And I’m crying while I write this,

but I will delete my tears too.

Because you don’t deserve them.

Because they don’t matter to you.

when you said they did, you were lying.

I know the reasons you left me.

It’s not about my past,

It’s not about my looks.

It’s about honesty.

It’s about honest, real love, and that terrifies you.

My real-ness and my honesty scared the Hell out of you

and why wouldn’t it?

You have worked so long to hide the real you.

How could you possibly be prepared

For something real to touch your soul?

The last time I saw you,

I knew I would never see you again.

But you were still playing your game, so I played along.

I watched you pull a steady stream of fish from the lake,

so proud of each catch.

I imagined being that fish,

My mouth ripped open by your hook,

saying I’m so sorry.

I’ll try harder to breathe,

out of water,

for you.

 

 

Ghost Story

You tell me you watch ghost stories alone in the dark

When I tell you I can’t do that, you tell me ghosts aren’t real.

I laugh, because I don’t know how to tell you how wrong you are.

My ghosts don’t roam empty corridors, or hide behind doors that no one dares to open.

My ghosts inhabit my body.

They roam the corridors of my mind,

and hide behind the door of my heart,

that no one dares to open.

Panic is a phantom that dwells in me, sometimes for months at a time.

Anxiety an angry specter leaving my extremities numb and shaking,

my heart racing,

and the people I love alienated.

Baby, to be with me is to inhabit the haunted mansion that no one will go near.

It can be a hopeless place,

with a thick black shroud of depression blocking out any hope of light.

But today,

when you held me in your arms, you made all the light come back.

You told me I am amazing,

and my hands shook,

and my heart raced,

not from panic, but anticipation,

and today,

for once,

the ghosts were silent.

Stay With Me

Stay with me.

You have told me you will,

from that first night.

Those first, tentative hours of learning.

“I’m not going anywhere” you whispered.

Did you know I heard it as an oath?

A covenant I cling to like a raft in the white waters of my life?

 

Stay with me,

Not an easy undertaking, to be sure.

I am a riptide.

All those who have come before have gone,

swimming to the safety of the shore,

frightened by the darkness and passion of my soul,

the sunlight so often unable to penetrate the inky blackness.

Stay with me.

When my demons are circling,

too numerous and malevolent to be named,

forcing me to banish you for crimes that are not your own.

Be the one who is brave enough to stay.

Take up your sword and fight with me

until the pale, watery light of morning breaks through.

 

Stay with me.

Let your presence be an avowal of permanence.

Let your light be my constant guide

and together, you and I just might do the unthinkable.

But you have to be ready,

you have to be sure.

Stay with me.