Before you love me, understand this. I am broken, fractured, shattered. My heart has an arrow punctured through it, my back has a knife embedded, my mind has a shield hiding inside it. People have broken me, again and again. Never repairing, never caring about the flowers they kill. They kicked up dust into the vents of my heart and never tried to unblock them. They intoxicated everything inside and never once tried to clear them out. They just watched my body rot from the inside out, never once asking for forgiveness.
All my life I was the second choice. I have a father who chooses the stepsister. I have a mother who chooses the sons. I have a grandmother who chooses the boyfriend. I have friends who choose others.
All the people I have ever run to for help, choose someone over me. When I am breaking down, when my engine fails to start, they never notice. When others walk into a room, suddenly it’s like I have become a part of the wallpaper. Like I have sunk from existence.
Before you love me, understand that I will always be fearful of you wanting someone else. Of you choosing the fair maiden over the dirty servant. I will always cling to you like you are air itself. I will constantly worry about who you talk to, how close you are, and if I need to start packing the things buried in my heart.
I will constantly overanalyze every glance at another girl. I will constantly overthink every smile, every head nod, every hello.
Before you love me, understand people have not always been kind to my skin. Kids used to make a game out of who could create the biggest bruise, the biggest scratch. Kids used to make bets on who could make me cry the fastest, the hardest, the loudest.
They used to take my flaws and turn them into daggers. They used to take my fears and turn them into swords and bombs. Once upon a time, kids relished the idea of hurting me to the point where I begged for death.
Know that when I flinch or hide under my eyelashes, it’s because I’m used to a raised fist. Know when my eyes well with water it’s because a raised voice once meant a hurtful hand upon my skin. Know it’s not because of you but because it used to be all I knew.
Before you love me, understand people did not always keep their word. They promised sweet nothings and gave them to others. They promised to return after a long journey and left me an old woman waiting for the return of her loved one. Left me a dying animal too attached to the one who gave them food.
They promised me their time and attention. They promised me their love and joy. Yet they gave me empty days staring at a clock. They gave me tombs full of tears and spiderwebs.
Before you love me, overlook all my history. Notice when I am cold, notice when I am burning with passion. Watch for when shadows fall across my face and watch for the sun coming out from behind a cloudy sky. Listen for my voice cracking and listen for a giant’s booming laughter bellowing from my lungs. Inspect every part of me, every dark corner, every hidden nook and cranny. Write down the good and the bad.
Before you love me, make sure you will love every part of me. Make sure you will hold a shield to my demons and a candle to my angels. Make sure that you understand why I need space and why I need to be held closer than a newborn baby.
Before you love me, make sure I can love you back without it ending in aching pain and heart-wrenching cries.
by Kaitlynn Schrock