Holding On / Bargaining

Sometimes I can't help but fantasize
About finding myself in the dark with you again
But not the way it was
In my mind, I'm anything but afraid
Like practice, I strategize
I imagine every possible escape route, 
All the ways I'd fight back-
The nearby objects I could fashion into weapons,
Or how, with nothing within reach,
I'd wield myself
When my tethers come lose
And I find myself sinking out of the world,
I think about how I'll let myself crack
Like a glass of whiskey the next time
You dare to hold me too tight
And I'll shatter-
But this time you'll be the one burning,
And soaked in your own blood
And your skin will scar
And your palms will carry evidence of the pain you inflicted,
Of the choice you made for both of us
And you might understand what it is
To long to cut yourself away from your body
No matter how well the wounds heal,
Whenever you see them you'll feel that sting.
I hope it punches you in the gut everytime you forget to forget,
I hope the shame and fear steal your quiet moments,
And you lay awake until dawn,
Your skin burning with exhaustion
Because that pain is still so much kinder
Than the nightmares-
Than finding yourself trapped,
Straining muscles in your neck
From trying so hard to scream yourself awake.
I used to hate the term "survivor"
It felt too much like a celebration-
Like being awarded a medal
With bullets whizzing past my head
But I'm starting to understand
Surviving isn't the epilogue,
It's all the in-between;
It's forcing away the memory of your breath,
Warm and vile on the side of my face
While I try not to panic at work,
It's choking down "deep breaths"
Everytime your bruising fingernails
Invite themselves into my shower
It's reminding myself how incredibly unlikely it is
That you would be standing behind me in this grocery store,
A state and 17 years away-
Clenching my shaking fingers
And sheer-willing myself into faith;
"Don't you dare look over your shoulder."
It's caring for this aching wound of a body
As my instincts circle us both; skittish and frantic,
Anxious to tear us apart when I can't bear to feel you anymore
Surviving is fighting you off
Over and over and over again,
Day, after tired, goddamned day.
I hope someday you understand what it means to be your own prison cell
Maybe you already do.
Maybe I would have felt for you
They say, "forgive, for your own peace"
While standing in the glass of my wreckage
As if peace was still something I hope for
But I'm not ready to forgive.
You see, lately it's the only fight I have left
My first curled around this rage,
It's the only piece of this that's ever been up to me
And I'm not ready to let go
It draws air into the vaccum of my lungs,
and it beats my heart into some kind of rhythm
Too often still, it's the only thing keeping this gutted body here.
And although that was enough to satisfy you,
I have to occupy this nervous system-
The years stretching out before me
Like a mountain peak that never gets any closer,
Limbs climbing onwards on autopilot
And whether I like it or not
I'm still in here
I guess that's all surviving really is, huh?
Some victory. 
Is it hubris to hope
For anything more
Than that?
Or is this the only good ending?
Because if survival, if success,
Means dragging my exhausted,
Burnt-out-wreck of a being along
Until the years turn it to dust,
If my life exists,
every day of it,
In /spite/ of
How can I ever be free?
War filling the space around me
Squatting in these trenches-
Heart bursting, trembling frame, and ragged breaths,
Clutching my shiny survivors' badge;
Perpetually losing
How then,
Is it so Unfathomable
To try to understand
That the urge to retreat,
To forfeit this territory, this body,
To the growing maw of No Man's Land-
A frozen snarl of barbed wire and carnage-
Calm, in it's deadly way;
Unprotected, and thus,
Could be a victory?
How selfish,
How cowardly,
How dare I?
They spit, from their home an ocean away,
And in the next breath, beg me
To keep fighting-
For their sake-
Without the faintest idea of the cost.
I doubt they'd have the stomach to hear it.
And although I've been told how healing it can be,
I doubt I'd have the stomach to speak it out loud.
Because as often as I imagine our re-match,
I don't know if I would survive you again
I don't know that I want to.


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