a reaction…

I’m grateful I can’t see myself the way you do. I tried. That was maybe a bad idea, but I read what you wrote and I was confused. I needed to see myself through your eyes, and when I looked, I saw a monster. I saw a twisted, unlovable wretch. It’s strange, I don’t see you that way, even though we’re different. I don’t see anyone that way. My heart aches that, to you, I am the evil in this world; the thing on the street corner unworthy of a second glance.

I felt your words. They etched themselves into my skin; they left me raw and bleeding. That is not love. Love is not the harbinger of defeat, but the knight that fights on when a battle seems lost.

I saw what you wrote about him too. What you said about that beautiful man that I would have gladly died in place of at the very young age of four. I knew him. I can still feel his hand on my head and see the twinkle in his eye when I made the right move in chess. He used to make the best oatmeal, and I couldn’t eat anyone else’s after he was gone. It tasted wrong, felt like lead in my stomach. He was my hero and I lost him and there you were, perverting my memories, ripping his smile out of my head, replacing him with another monster. A beast that turned his back on me when I asked for a hug and rumbled, “Not good enough,” back in my direction.

That’s not love. Love isn’t destructive and cruel. It doesn’t look for faults in order to make old wounds larger; it tends them while they heal.

I called my mom, braver than I was when I was a child and had been hurt just as bad. I cried. I told her it was painful, and she rebuilt me. She rebuilt him. My mom wrapped me in the blanket of her words. That’s love. Caring for the broken even when you disagree with them. Sewing together the open wounds caused by life. Love is the calm in the center of chaos. Love believes the best when that’s hard to do. Love holds tight. It throws a lasso out and doesn’t allow you to give up. Love is knowing that I cannot mess up bad enough that she won’t chase me down to pull me tenderly back in.

I love you. You may find that hard to believe, but it’s true. I love you, and those that have hurt me in my past, and those that will hurt me in my future. I can’t help it. I believe that everyone is worthy, and that everyone deserves my best. I believe that this entire planet is aching with a lack of love, and I, in turn, am aching to fill that void.

Your words are etched on my skin along with other similar words from years gone by. That same piece of me that drives me to love unconditionally, also makes me feel the anger of others deeply. It doesn’t dissipate, it stays with me. I carry those angry words with me as a constant reminder that I have work to do. This world needs more love; it needs more acceptance; it needs more humanity. I carry your words with me as a badge, a reminder to do better, to be kinder, to keep myself from hurting others.

Love is the most important thing in this life. Love makes me wake up on days when I wonder if it is worth it. Love gets me through the mire of tragedy and defeat. Love is the only thing I have enough of to give freely to all, even if they don’t want it, even to you.

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