and were you being good to yourself? by Warsan Shire
Ah, but you turn thirty today. And wasn’t turning older always been a bit liberating and difficult, if only because you’re shedding the skin but are still caged in bones you were born with, and only because you’re genuinely surprised that you’re still here?
Every day your body is a grave that you rise from, and every night your body is a tomb you go back to.
What does growing old mean, I find myself asking these days. And am I growing, or simply passing through the years? I lie awake during the wee hours lately, whispering in the dark: do I even exist? I touch my face, my arms, pinch my hips: am I really here?
I make mistakes, yes. I make a lot of them lately. Constantly. Sometimes I learn, and sometimes I don’t. Which ones do I keep and own, and which ones I let calcify into regrets?
Here are things I’ll try to do: be good, forgive, exist. If I’m still around next year with nothing to show for, I’ll cross my fingers that I’ll at least have done this. Be good, forgive, exist.
Happy birthday, self. Be good, forgive, exist.
and were you being good to yourself?
[love letter to self]
i don’t think so. but, i forgive you, girl, who tallied stretch marks into reasons why no one should get close. i forgive you, silly girl, sweet breath, decent by default. i forgive you for being afraid. did everything betray you? even the rain you love so much made rust out of your jewellery? i forgive you, soft spoken girl speaking with fake brash voice, fooling no one. i see you, tender even on your hardest days. i forgive you, waiting for him to call, i forgive you, the diets and the cruel friends. especially for that one time you said ‘i fucking give up on love, it’s not worth it, i’d rather be alone forever’. you were just pretending, weren’t you? i know you didn’t mean that. your body, your mouth, your heart, made specifically for loving. sometimes the things we love, will kill us, but weren’t we dying anyway? i forgive you for being something that will eventually die. perishable goods, fading out slowly, little human, i wouldn’t want to be in a world where you don’t exist.