Self-Love

I was birthed by a mother who could not love her children
My books tell me this is a woman who could not love herself
I was just a child when she began using her hands and words to break me
But she convinced me that I had been broken since I was born
She grew up in a generation where women bred babies
But if she had been raised in today’s society, she said
She never would have had me
My grandma tried to kiss away the broken parts of me
But it was still not enough to make me love myself
I spent my life thinking I should have been an abortion

I met a boy when I was just 13
He was my first love and I held onto him for seven years
We played I’ll show you mine if you show me yours
And then he revealed to me the scars underneath his clothes
I tried to kiss away the broken parts of him

But it was still not enough to make him love himself
His fear of inadequacy broke a part of me too

I ran into the arms of a man who couldn’t be honest
He loved the adulation of multiple women in every city
I held him while he told me about his desire for others
And the shame he wore about feeling this way
I forgave him when he told me about the one he saw regularly

I told him I just wished for him to stop self-loathing
I tried to kiss away the broken parts of him
But it was still not enough to make him love himself
His fear of rejection made me feel worthless

I ran into the arms of a man whose embrace was cold
He loved the outdoors but spent all his time trapped in a hospital
I held him while he told me about the people he missed back home
And the people he delivered bad news to day and night
His words were never sweet
I tried to kiss away the broken parts of him
But he told me it made him uncomfortable that I cared
That’s when I realized that our disconnect was not indicative of my value
His fear of emotion had existed long before I arrived

I ran into the arms of myself after that
I asked myself why I run away from those who are not broken
And why I only hold those who seem so detached
Why do I feel so empty each time I can’t help them
I have a self-preserving mind that wants to protect itself
But a self-sacrificing heart that wants to protect others
Perhaps because I felt the world had failed to protect me
That’s when I realized I was a walking paradox
And that no matter how many broken souls I kissed
I could not repair my own
If I did not learn how to love myself first

I met a man when I was 25
He loved his family, his friends, his work, and himself
But he told me there was still one thing missing

This was my cue to leave many times before
This time I returned to give him a second date
I told him before I do, I want to tell you my secrets
My fear of abandonment has existed long before you arrived
I’m afraid to get close to anyone so I seek what’s unavailable
And push away those who are ready for love
But if I let myself fall, I lose myself each time
I cannot afford to shatter again so I need to take it slow
That’s when I realized I was healing the broken parts of me
I did not need him to kiss them away because they were mine
I think this is a sign I’m on my way to loving my whole self

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Published by

Sarah Jae Park

Mental health advocate, naturopathic medical student, intersectional feminist, self-care enthusiast, and amateur writer