she painted my world for me
made the sun look sad
made the sky grieve
blew decay on trees
poppies and peonies hung heavy and low like
bleeding hearts their petals brittle and dead
weeping to the ground below
she didn’t want me to disappear
into the clouds safe
from her fingers
so she drew a cage
of marble and white
just for my dwelling
she sang haunting melodies of younger days
and sat me on her wrist
and broke all my little bones
and then, my mother,
“I do this because I love you.”
No one likes to say it. It’s quite jarring of word, isn’t it? Abusive.
To be in an abusive relationship of any sort can be experienced in a fullness of being, or in a complete lack of it. You can feel like you are filled to the brim with a stench, a rot and no matter how much you exhale or cough, it won’t dissipate. Or it can be a feeling of complete emaciation and emptiness of all the essentials in life. The things that you cannot replenish.
It is a dirty trap, a deep pitfall, and it will sit like a handsome man at a bar, sipping on a gin and tonic, waiting for you to take the seat next to him.
I made my daughter chicken noodle soup a few days ago and placed it on the kitchen counter. Lately, she has loved to move the dishes from the counter to the table, because she is finally tall enough to reach both. She rushed into the kitchen at the sound of her name and I watched from my chair as she picked up the small, red bowl. Her mouth rounded into a tight o as she lowered her arms. Her brows furrowed as she dared the soup to betray her, and as she cupped the bowl in her little hands, the little one began the slow trek across the kitchen, legs in slow, uncomfortable motion. Her shoulders were raised in anticipation and with the next hobbling step, a few pebbles of soup dripped over the edge.
“No, no, mom, I had it!” She protested as I lifted the bowl from her hands and set it on the dining table.
You didn’t, my sweet girl.
Being in such a relationship is like carrying a red bowl of hot, chicken noodle soup for a very long time. The joints in your knees lock over time, your arms grow heavy from the rigidity, and you become suspended in an infinite moment of tension. Perhaps it is time to consider setting the bowl down. Perhaps you thought you could do it on your own and make it to the table, even enjoy the soup, now cold and no longer what it was when you first held it in your hands.
You may not have someone to carry the bowl, or wipe up drops of soup that you have let fall to the floor. But you should know, with or without the aid of another, you are infinitely rich in blessings. Each new day is a gift for you. The sky in all its grand and deep beauty is for you. The people dwelling under it is for you. The sun that beats warmly against your cheeks is for you. The wind that whispers and laughs through your hair is for you. I implore you remember these things are all for you, especially when you begin to consider you have nothing.
You cannot trust the person knows you do not deserve it, or deserve better, nor can you believe anyone is the ultimate answer to your suffering than yourself. Your hands may feel empty without the familiar weight of something in it and there will be no indicators or lanterns lighting the way, but have certainty what you are doing is right. You will see trusting yourself is simply acting upon what your heart has known all along.
Sarah Kim is a junior in the College. Infinity Songs appears every other Sunday at thehoya.com