Written by Monica Hand.
Graphic by Peyton Cabaniss.

Honorable Mention in the Spring 2019 Creative Competition, “Challenge.”

The hardest thing you will ever do is love her.
Though you pine to love her the way she needs,
With an unconditional, forgiving fury.
It’s not easy- you know that.
She knows that.

You tell her it’s her fault you can’t love her- it has to be.
Because you know it’s not your fault- it just can’t be.

The guiltiest, dirtiest part, you cry,
Is that everyone thinks you love her.
That show you two put on-
It’s intricate.
And they actually believe it.
And why?
Because they love her.

They think the fucking world of her.
But you?
You wish she could figure her shit out.
To be smarter, prettier, wittier.
You wish she could just
Be better.

Sometimes,
Those moments alone with her,
You cherish, you sigh- finally alone.
Exhausted from that façade,
From that wicked world of love surrounding.

But other times,
Most times, you can’t stand her.
You want her to grow up, to wise up,
To shut the hell up.
You want anyone, anything, everything,
To take her away from you.
To distract from the fact that,
You just can’t seem to love her.

Then, you start to wonder,
If you ever even will.
You start to worry,
If you ever even did.

Because loving her,
Hell, that might just be the hardest thing,
You’ve ever had to do.

There’s no how-to to teach you.
You tried instead to learn from them.
Dissecting their adoration in silence,
The others that give a damn.

You watch, you listen, you take note.
You try so hard to understand their motives.
The reasons that they, anyone,
Can somehow not loathe her.

And it helps, it really does.
You see that she may have good in her.
You start to see a shadow of what they can see.
A glimpse of the girl that you wish you could love.

The girl that you are.

But their love can’t replace yours.
It can’t fill up the hole that you yourself dug-
That shallow grave you wanted to hide her in.
All their love, no matter how strong,
Could never sustain her, sustain you.

This kind of love has to come from you,
It has to come from her, it has to be real,
And it has to be from the inside.
The inside? you ask. Fuck that.

That’s what makes it so impossible, you know.
Because on the inside, you see everything.
You see the things that the others don’t see,
Or what they get to pretend not to see.

You see her past and you see her last.
You see her myriad of anxieties, pyramid of fears.
On the inside, there is no one there to tell you what there is to love.
To tell you where you can locate those scraps that make her worthy of love.
Of your love.
Of self-love.

On the inside there is no one to tell you
That it’s okay that she’s not perfect.
That it’s fucking okay.
There is only you.

And you don’t know what to do.
So you’ll look back in that mirror,
At the reflection, and she’s there.
She’s always there,
Staring right back.

Today, I decide, I’ll tell her I don’t hate her.
And maybe that’s the hardest thing,
I’ll ever have to do.

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