La Danse

La Danse

"La Danse"

the mornings I spend with her 

feel as if they take place at a remove from the rest of my existence –

her legs intertwined with mine, pink-gold sunlight dancing across her collarbones

I want to wrap myself into and around her and never let go

she feels like magic beneath my fingertips and yet –

I know she is no good for me

that when she leaves a part of me empties out and floods the spaces she’s left

but never flows back to me

I know that she does not love me, 

and that she never will 

that these ethereal mornings are to her as inconsequential 

as a cup of coffee on a bench somewhere comfortable but 

unremarkable

she tells me I am not someone she is proud to share

I am not, I am not, I am not – 

she digs at the holes where I am unfinished and I swell to fill these spaces with some substance that is 

like me and 

also not

she throws pennies and bits of rock at my window while I sleep

and I drink too much

she is gone for days and days and weeks and 

when she comes back to me I hold her as if she had never left at all

sometimes, at night, I cry 

because she is so beautiful and her touch is so familiar

I know she is no good for me –

that she takes and takes and takes and to her I am not sacred, 

to her I am incomplete, to her  

I am not lovely

sometimes, lonely in her stead, 

I try to mold myself into the person she wants me to be

she comes to me now 

in moments of vulnerability – 

as I hold fresh peaches, alone, at the market 

as I weep at the Museum of Fine Arts 

hers is the voice I hear 

when I pause at the things I have not created, the books I have not read, the person I have not become

I know she is no good for me –

still

in the morning

I miss her

"I wrote this poem about an unhealthy relationship I was in about five years ago, a relationship which was both deeply unhealthy and also somehow very hard for me to recognize as such. The woman I was dating at the time was everything I thought I wanted – intelligent, brooding, philosophical, alluring. She was, at times, tender, but more often than not, she was aloof and distant and disapproving. I was painfully aware, both because of what she said and what she left unsaid, that I would never be enough for her – not intellectual enough, sophisticated enough, free enough, dangerous enough, beautiful enough, not enough, never enough. As I tried to become the person I thought she wanted me to be, my sense of self (and with it, my mental health) collapsed. Without her, I became shapeless. I lacked form. I did not know what I wanted or who I was. I felt like I needed her, and I think she understood that. My needing her made it easy for her to leave me over and over without explanation or cause, because she knew I would welcome her back with open arms. We don’t always talk about mental health and relationships together, but we should. This certainly was not the unhealthiest or most detrimental relationship I’ve been in, but it took a significant toll on my wellbeing. And it took me a while to connect the fact that I was deeply depressed, directionless, and empty with the fact that my partner did not respect or value me. Today, I #LivetoTell that that I deserve relationships (romantic, platonic, familial) that support my mental health and wellbeing, and that I am worthy of being loved for who I am."
Elizabeth O'Neill
Author

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