This is how it happens: We contort ourselves, like paper flowers. We wait, twisted in our beautiful shapes until the tears fall to melt us away. Damp, we wilt. Damp, we tear easily. We are not quickly mended.
This is how it happens when we love with our full hearts, when we turn down our brain chatter, the endless no, not this one. Not like this: We grow twisted into beholder-defined beauty. We wait, in our places. We wait to be plucked up in delicate fingers. We hold the pose until we tremble at the slightest breeze, until our bodies, wracked with pain at the unnatural turns we endure, seize and quiver and shake with relief at the softest whispered maybe. At the nod of a head or the upward curve of a lip. Of any sign we are good. We think, maybe today I am enough. Maybe today I have done this right. Maybe today you will look at me and see how hard I have worked to be the lovable one you need. Maybe maybe maybe.
These are the stories we tell ourselves: I can’t leave now. We are on the brink. There is a cliff. I am the tether, I am the stop to the fall. I am I am I am doing good work here. I am.
These are the stories we tell others: It’s been a tough day. A tough week. Lots going on. A tough patch. I’m so sorry. It’s not usually like this. We are working on it. We we we.
The truth? This is how we die: Slowly. In pain. We die waiting for signs of life deep down we knew would never break barriers except between us and Hell because we are not the reason, we are not the fix, we are not loved or in love or loving. Because we are not ourselves.