What it Means to Love Me

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What if he was the one?

I can’t tell you how many times
I’ve pondered this question.

I need the type of man who won’t try to save me.
No.
He must let me walk through fires
because he knows I’ll survive.
And that my survival will
make me burn bolder.

I need a man who knows when to
wait for me on the other side of the flames
with a bucket of ice cold water.
Because he knows some fires
are too horrific to heal from alone.

Yes. that’s what I need.
The type of man who just knows.
He must know that I’ll survive on my own.

I haven’t met you yet.
I always thought it would be beautiful
to be a whole woman before I found you.
I finally know I’m getting closer to being complete.
Not needing you to complete me.

I used to search for you
all the time.
I wondered if you were the
boy at summer camp
who sang songs, staring into my sappy eyes.
Or if you were the boy who
I fell for on a hike
on my 23rd birthday.

I remember the last time
I wondered if I found you.
It was winter of 2015.
We were sitting in a Manhattan
coffee shop on a frigid winter day.
I didn’t want him to let go
of my crumbling body.

No matter how sure I was that
he wasn’t you, I wouldn’t be the one
to let go of our dead relationship.
All that survived between him and me
was the smell of moldy love lingering
on our clothes.

What if he was the one?
What if I never found love again?

He made me feel safe.
Yes, safe,
A haven where I didn’t have to face the fire
because I could throw myself into his arms.
Shielded from the flames.

That last heartbreak was such a tragic blessing.
Setting my world on fire,
leaving me to burn wildly.
With sirens singing to me as I sank.

It was too difficult
to stand up that day.
I sank in the fire like a
widow mourning her
dead husband.  

But there was this rage burning inside of me,
urging me to rise once more.
I fought the rage, but it only blazed
more wildly.
And every time I dropped
to my knees, the rage begged me
to rise again,
and again,
and again.

Until I rose to my feet and
began mending my
love affair with myself.

I stopped searching
for you that cold day
in 2015.
Because I realized
I was the one.
I was the one that I needed to love.

All this time,
I was begging for me.
And I was abandoning
myself to find you.

I know you’ll
love me so much,
but I want to love me
as much as you love me.

And I know when we meet,
I’ll feel love for you that aches
because it’s so damn beautiful
and tender and intoxicating.

But I will only know I’ve found
you because I will have felt that
beautiful, tender, intoxicating
love for myself
first.

So when you we meet…
please know to love me is to love
a woman who fights fiercely
to fall harder and harder for herself.

And when we meet…
you must trace my scars
to know the fires I’ve survived.
And then, and only then,
You’ll know I can handle the fire
Because I belong
to me before
I belong to
anyone
else.

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