I was born into a line of women too afraid to leave.
My mother sleeps with her eyes open in his bed
and wills herself not to cry to strangers
when they offer her a glass of wine.
I have seen her pack her suitcase in her head
as she nervously wipes her stained red teeth,
always snapping out of it and straightening her skirt
before she makes it to the door.
Even in her dreams, she is terrified of him
not having a meal to come home to.
I did as I was taught and gave
“I love you”s like apologies,
staying even when I began mixing up
“growing up” and “giving up”
never even noticing my tongue had
slipped until I was corrected.
Five pages of my journal began with
“reasons to leave” and still,
I did not tell myself to run,
just continued to scribble things
I needed to change about myself,
saying that my shaking bones did not
excuse my shortcomings,
that I needed to be more for you.
I wish someone had told me:
in the struggle to love another better,
do not forget to love yourself.
You are more than your failed relationships.
Your lovers do not shiver when you touch them
because they can feel ghosts beneath your skin.
When he talks to you about “forever”,
do not be afraid to say “no.”
You come from a line of women who
forgot what “no” tasted like,
who kept their feet out the window
but felt too guilty that someone would have to
clean up their mess to ever jump.
But you are not your mother
and do not need to put makeup on
before he wakes up
out of fear that he will see desire to be more.
You do not have to open your legs to him in sleep
because your grandmother taught you to
never turn down somebody who says
You were born on a battlefield
with white crosses in the spaces where
love took a bullet to the chest,
but you are more than a wounded soldier.
The moon is sleeping in your stomach,
waiting to remind you that
you can glow without
somebody’s hands inside of you.
I wonder if anyone ever told you:
just because he says he can
does not mean
you owe him yourself.
- I Wonder If Anyone Told You | Lora Mathis (via lora-mathis)