The Gifts of Guilt

The midnight blush of forgotten sins

makes me sit up in bed,

sweat running like tears

as my ego turns my spine to wood,

then forces it to splinter

so I can’t turn my head

without the reminders,

always the stab of needless wreckage to my innards

so I never lose sight of the tar I’ve soaked in.

Remember, remember the words you said.

Remember what was spilt and broken.

The only remedy is to stop turning,

to reside in the stillness

and let the shards be taken

in softness,

let the waters drip over their sides,

again and again,

until my back is curved to the floor

and my hands are thrown open.

And through the mixture of water and salt,

splinters turn at last to driftwood,

and my palms are full of softened bark,

trinkets for jewelry or a child’s game

or simply an adornment for sand.

 

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The Truth in Wanting

do you want to?

yes

are you sure?

yes

we don’t have to

no, I want to

 

Your words tasted of metal,

still coated in the sticky birth

of a mouth taught to please.

You lay flat on your back

seeking tunnels in your mind,

a corner to slip around

with the flourish of a cape,

and left me to make love to a hot-blooded corpse.

I played the prince,

recognized love from a picture in a book,

a likeness ancient and fragmented

seen through stained glass.

I combed your body for its image,

shaking love in its hundred-year sleep,

turned bend after bend following whispered sighs

and found emptiness that echoed in the space

I’d hollowed out for you within me.

 

It was a game of hide and seek

I wasn’t supposed to win.

You saw my hunger

and served yourself up,

skin crackling from the flames,

clutched the apple between your teeth.

And while you prayed that was enough,

you unzipped yourself from flesh

too often made for meat,

and locked yourself back in the tower,

threw away the key I didn’t know I was searching for.

And after yet another futile hunt,

I ached to scale the walls again,

because princes find love in red lips

and open corsets,

and princesses haven’t

been taught to teach.

Day 18: It Knows My Name

Betrayal is the breaking of a promise.

I swore in my heart to stay, dear one,

though I never said it out loud.

Our interlocked fingers had burnt down to ash

long before I let go,

only the shell of it left,

like a log that holds its shape

while its inside turn to grey powder,

ready to burst into a cloud of the past.

Is that the same as breaking?

I promised I would try,

cut myself open one last time

and found I was empty from all the trying.

I was so tired, honey.

 

Betrayal sounds like willful destruction,

to throw away someone’s naked gifts,

like broken china on the dying grass.

I never wanted to break;

just your permission to leave.

You see it as failure

– and I can hardly blame you –

as I take a sledgehammer

to our castle in the air.

Shaken and dazed,

I step out from the ruins,

blinking in the glow

of colours I’d forgotten

in the years of our ash-grey chamber.

Knees buckled into rubble

and old picture-frame glass,

your heart bleeds through your chest,

and the scars on my own

weep in recognition.

Forgive me, darling, for changing my mind.

Forgive Yourself For Not Being Perfect

The person I used to love most in the world is no longer speaking to me. Our relationship has gone through so many different forms over the last few years, and we’ve done our best to adapt to those changes.

Recently I felt the need to take some space from this person and tried to communicate this with them as gently and compassionately as possible. Even doing this felt like a failure to me. It seemed all around me people were able to continue in loving friendships with those who had once been their romantic partners. Admitting I was having trouble with it felt defeatist and weak.

A week or so later the guilt was mounting and I wondered if I’d jumped the gun, so I called them and we spent time together for a few days. At first it seemed fine, but it ended in a huge fight, with them telling me how deeply hurt they’d been by my request for space.

I felt I’d let them down, and betrayed who I’m trying to be. I failed to be a good friend. I may not talk to this person again, and I hate that our last conversation happened that way. I blame myself and I’m flooded with guilt.

Last night I clicked on a link that said “The Things Each MBTI type Needs to Forgive Themselves For,” and for my type (INFJ) it said “Forgive yourself for the perfection you never achieved.”

My relationships with people are the most important aspect of my life and I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best friend, sister, daughter, girlfriend I can be. I pressure myself to be perfect. So for this person who I care so much about to feel betrayed by me is the worst kind of failure. It’s the stuff of my nightmares.

But at a certain point I have to forgive myself, because of course I can’t be perfect. Of course I will fail, even at the things I pour my heart and soul into and hold dearest to me. Forgiving myself means acknowledging and accepting my mistakes and my imperfections. It means looking at myself through the eyes of a loving parent, who sees my missteps and waits patiently for me to learn from them, but loves me unconditionally throughout. It means looking at myself through the eyes of Spirit.

I see where my own pain has led me to make an angry comment, judge behaviour, be insensitive or unaware of someone else’s feelings. Seeing those patterns in myself, I understand that everyone else is hurting too, and that’s the root of their hurtful actions.

Self-forgiveness is vital, because it’s there we learn to forgive others.I can’t release others and grant them unconditional love if I’m harbouring resentments towards myself. Because it starts within. I do have a hard time releasing people, because I’m still clinging to this idea of perfection I think I can reach. As long as I believe it’s possible, I keep myself and others trapped, punishing all of us for not achieving the unachievable.

I want to commit to releasing this hold on myself. I want to choose again. So I choose to forgive myself for how things ended with this person who was once such a massive part of my life. I forgive myself and I forgive them for the mistakes we made out of our suffering. And when the guilt reappears, I’ll forgive again. And again. And again.

I can choose love instead.

Because at the end of the day, we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.