My father gave me something like love except for the swearing and shaming. At least he always worked to support the family, though his money was perpetually scarce.
My mother gave me something like love except for the long stretches of neglect punctuated by outbursts of rage. At least she always cleaned the house, or taught me to do so.
My sisters gave me something like love until they felt insecure, which always happened sooner rather than later. I learned to hide myself in plain sight to let them take the limelight.
My partner gave me something like love except for how he acts with complete disregard for our family’s wellbeing, spending his time and money on whims to stroke his male ego instead of our necessities, but at least he doesn’t beat or cheat on me.
Perhaps the currency of love is like that: always a bit dirty, even if the faults are invisible to the eye.
Maybe I’m blind to the ways that my own love falls short, and those closest to me can hold up that sacred mirror if I am brave enough to look.
I’m sure I’d be horrified to see my own shortcomings magnified in front of me. But underneath my humanly errors, I’d also see the pure intentions of my soul, which probably look something like love.
If cortisol was currency
I’d have already paid enough you see
Cut open my veins
Behold my riches
See that I’m debt-free
For any wrong you think I’ve committed
I’ve paid far more in physiology;
My over-achieving stress response that over-taxes me
My innermost body is ragged
From being invisibly ravaged
I try to hide from the naked eye
How much I am falling apart inside
Although I feel like I am unraveling in plain sight
I’ve never spoken my mind freely, not once in my whole life
Can you imagine what that does to a body?
Maybe you don’t have to imagine
Maybe you know
My teeth are ground down to the nubs
My tongue is a caged panther imprisoned by my jaw
Aching with atrophy and unrealized potential
I try to open my rusted jaw but it clamps down bitterly on my tongue
I have to remind myself to breathe at least once every few minutes
I consciously try to rearrange the puzzle pieces of my face
To form an expression other than my overly nervous smile
When I am not in service to others
I struggle to hold myself together
I am only comfortable in the giving role
Perhaps because everything was taken from me before I received it
Child abuse robs the child of their whole life
I am fighting to reclaim myself
My weapons are inner peace, hope and understanding
My body speaks a universal language
From my eyes to my legs
My body is an international currency
Used to barter, bargain and beg
I have forged deals in the most unlikely of places
I feel like I always overpaid