I learned how to love myself by the way you loved me.
.
Studied at the table of angry glances and displeasure
Held myself rigid with fear, at every clenched finger
Around the fork and knife hovering near
All for the way I cooked your dinner
.
I learned how to love myself by the way you loved me.
.
Took notes on every way you turned your back
Nose,
Eyes,
Cheek
Mocked my passion and interests with bared teeth
.
I learned how to love myself by the way you loved me.
.
Remembered the words you called me
A liar, a thief, a cheat, and a slut
Stupid, Inconsistent, Incapable, Not Enough
Using them like flash cards before a test
Drilling it in my thick stubborn skull that I have no “best”
.
I learned how to love myself by the way you loved me.
.
Organizing my life with tabs and carefully labeled files
I knew never to list myself as a priority.
I knew never to put myself out of place.
Because it was selfish and cruel to others
I know that I have no empathy
I know that I don’t ever change
.
I learned how to love myself by the way you loved me.
.
With fists and boots I beat and kicked
Never learned any lesson without force
You were right I didn’t get the message
It needed to be driven in
.
I learned how to love myself by the way you loved me.
.
Took advantage of my own power
To wield it without remorse
I grasped for the sadistic pleasure
Of what I made of my own shuddering form
I don’t deserve anything less.
I don’t deserve anything more.
.
I learned to love myself by the way you loved me.
.
Ruthlessly.
Without compassion or regard to my needs
I learned how to exploit my weaknesses
Strip away my strengths and power
Regurgitated your loathing I believed
And turned it into a faith I followed religiously
I starved myself of love of food of the sun
Punishing myself in your place
Because I knew that's what you would have done
And I didn’t want to forget how to be the humble one
I don’t know how to live without punishments for my guilt
Little things that eat at me till I’m raw
I need consequences now, to ease the anxiety of being wrong
Of being flawed
.
I learned how to love myself by the way you loved me.
.
But the way you loved me was wrong.
.
Now I don't know how to love myself at all.

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