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How do you start a poem about the death of a person still breathing? How do you put a roller-coaster into words? You just – start: The blame game was designed to give the ego a front seat. I’ll try my best not to engage. The truth is, we both lost sight of the magic. What this was and what it could be? Could’ve been? I- I don’t know. When I speak of you I can’t tell if it’s more appropriate to mourn you or to sing your praises? Which side do I speak of? I look at my scars and I feel your pain... unhealthy, but I’ve watched you fight yourself for years and can’t trivialize your attempt to love either of us. Second time didn’t work but when I close my eyes the third time is the charm. I shared some of my deepest parts with you beyond a physical connection -- therapeutic listener, lover, and best friend. I miss you. My heart is at war right now. I hear a lot about how I made the best decision by never looking back but they don’t know it hurts every time I think about it. Us...You... I mean I wanted so bad to hate you, but when they bring you up in anger I think back to hearing you battle with yourself the nights you thought I was sleeping. I feel you kiss my forehead and whisper in my ear, “please don’t give up on me.” I say to myself, “She wants to love you, she doesn’t mean to hurt you. She’s not herself, she’ll change’ and Just like that, I’m defending all that you mean to me --- all that you meant to me. You fill in the gaps: Dear black women,

Underrated, abused, and pressured to play God to those convincing you that you were sent here to save everyone but yourself, remember these words --- Love doesn’t require coaching. We can’t keep getting caught up in the illusion that love is best felt after tears. Stay clear of those who say love is gentle then turn around and say you must defend ‘love’ in the form of a fist. Never bow down to a love that doesn’t honor you. Lord I beg ---Teach your daughters to respect their elders without carrying their burdens. How many times have you been convinced to “love them through it” without them ever asking, who’s loving you? How many times? My answer – too many cries to God to count. “She wants to love you, she doesn’t mean to hurt you. She’s not herself, she’ll change”– she never changed. How dare I have allowed myself to adjust. I use to spend my nights trying to pinpoint the day I became okay with being the safe space to someone who plants land minds inside of me. The day I rejoiced sleeping in the chest of someone who didn’t treasure me. I found the answer in another question “when did you stop loving yourself?” You choose you: Forgive me, I held your love to the standard of the love we both craved from our mothers. Normally I’m careful, but when I looked in your eyes for the first time I saw angels long enough to convince me that loving you was the easiest way to not look like I’ve been hurting. But I was, hurting. You see it makes sense why I attracted you. I never realized that your dying need to be saved fit perfectly with my need to hide from my own truths... you mirrored me. But baby I got tired of running. I wanted you to get tired of seeing the demons in your reflection too, but you just couldn’t shake the addiction. The more of me I began to face the less I recognized you…I tried, but, I couldn’t love you enough for you to want to love yourself too. Understand, I forgive you. I forgive you for days. You made more of an appearance in anger than in love. I won’t hold it against you, but I can’t stay. I’m 22 trying to break the curses of thousands of women who destroyed themselves before me. It’s time to put that trauma down. I hope you understand my absence is not because I don’t love you —— I did love you, I do love you. It’s just, I can no longer house the heart of a coward too afraid to love themselves out loud. My children deserve a mother with a strong foundation, a mother that is able to show up and love courage down their spins without any apologies for yesterday. And I just can’t see her, with you. You leave: …. and there it is, clarity. So this is what they mean when they say to love them is to let them go. It’s no secret that after pain comes healing, but I found a truth many tears shed in search to find…after love comes, Love. Thank you for leading me back to me. The things I can’t say to you I write. It’s all on paper now love. I smear my blood on every page to remind myself that everything beautiful has a consequence. In between every hidden message I pray you find strength. To forget you isn’t possible, but letting you go is the last hurdle before peace so here it is. This is me teary-eyed without regret, setting me free. No more crosses to bear, no more feelings to hide.

Thee release.

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