this is not about you. not
the you of us, anyway. not the shadowy figure
who emerged from the emptiness left
by my father, the charming motherfucker
who destroyed me. not the you
who haunts me still, keeps me up at night,
the you that is woven into every word.
no, not the you of us.

this is about the other you. the one
who gave me butterflies. kissed me dizzy
in the middle of the night, left me reeling,
called me beautiful girl.

i am admitting something taboo, here.
so pay attention. this is something i am told
is wrong, wrong, wrong.

bad.

a truth that means i deserved what i got:
what you gave me.

so here it is: i cared about you. that you, i mean.
not in the desperate way i clung onto later,
when i could hardly move with the weight of your
breath resting on the back of my neck.
but in the way of a teenage girl giddy with
a new boyfriend, a tall man - funny, even sweet.

& all the way until the end, some of that feeling
remained.

they tell me this is not normal. this is not
acceptable. i should have loathed you
from the moment i laid eyes on you. or,
failing that, from the first warning my friends screamed,
or the first time you ignored my desire
in favor of your own.

i should not make exceptions for the days
we laughed, for the way you held me
after the flashback, for the flowers you gave me
or the times you tried so hard.

i am not supposed to say these things,
not supposed to remember the good parts,
& to tell the truth, i wish i didn't have to.
it pushes the blame even further onto my shoulders,
transforms me from "that girl who was too
optimistic & made a mistake" into "you
know her. the one who sleeps around
& then cries rape."

i already am afraid of the world & afraid
of your hands & afraid of what happened & afraid
of the part i played in our downfall.
i couldn't bear it if they turned on me,
confirmed my doubts & told me it was
mainly my fault, really.

.

.

.

all this time later - more than a year -
& i still make excuses. apologize for you,
remind myself that i invited it. insist
you are human, capable of love -
of loving me, specifically - & just didn't understand.

& tell myself, it was an accident. think of how you
cried the night i ended it, hold those tears up as
proof that "it's complicated."

proof that maybe, just maybe,
you are not the monster
they say you are. or that maybe,
i am not the monster

they say
i must be.