Love is hard work.

I don't want to be

From vavva_92 on Flickr. Click image for original.

Content note: talk of self-harm, sexual assault, suicide.

I used to be a songwriter. Or at the least, a writer of poems. Then I basically stopped for a long, long time. For some reason, though, lately I’ve been turning back to poetry to express some of my thoughts. So I share this with you all (though it was originally meant only for me, then put on Tumblr, but I think maybe I should share more personal things on here that might not be so polished).

I used to pinch my skin all over,
enough to hurt but not scar.
Punch my thighs, wrench belly fat
confide to myself, “you’re worthless.”

My beauty was just average,
but my ugly was beyond compare.
My successes, just passable
but my failures all-consuming.

“you’re worthless”
*slump and cry*

26 years takes a toll on a girl.

A year ago, I bought pants that fit 1
in a moment of clarity, a vision of hope.
The fog rolled in, just like always.
“Still worthless” droned on in a chant.

The weather warmed.
I dared to wear a skirt of my own free will 2
It used to mean selling my soul
but when paired with sandals
even for an hour one evening
I felt like I could almost breathe.

Sweltering summer, the call of a lake
I pulled on a swimsuit —
my breasts were impressive. 3
I worried, remembering the time they were not my own. 4
“Worthless slut” murmured in my ears
I cringed, but I wore it anyway.

Fall came. I bought orange nail polish. 5
I never really wore it before.
I stared in wonder at the vibrancy of my fingertips,
berated myself for my vanity.
But I kept the polish anyway.

I let my leg hair grow long and soft,
wondering if I could find beauty,
if this made me a Real Feminist now.
I stroked my calves,
an internal wind rustling
and “worthless” took a breath.
I decided there’s something to both hair & smoothness —
the covering & uncovering are both sacred.

I rang in the New Year dreaming of death 6
while suppressing planning my suicide,
while “worthless” drowned out any hope.

26 years takes a toll on a girl.

A week later, I started wearing makeup 7
— anything to distract the self-loathing.
My lined eyes widened, glossed lips parted:
“I look good” breathed hesitantly — a battle cry.

This week, I’ve broken down daily.
This is where the self-harm would begin.

But I’ve started new rituals.

pour oil in bath water
“you’re worth it”
pull razors safely across legs
“you’re worth it”
moisten my face
“you’re worth it”
dab color on skin
“you’re worth it”
pull on pretty clothes
“you’re worth it”
drink plenty of water
“you’re worth it”
paint color on nails
“you’re worth it”
go to bed when I’m tired
“you’re worth it”
eat food that I want
“you’re worth it”
make art when I’m scared
“you’re worth it”
spend time with my friends
“you’re worth it”

worth it
worth it
worth it
my god, am I really worth it?

26 years takes a toll on a girl
and love is hard work.

But that’s okay.
I’m worth it.


72 thoughts on “Love is hard work.

  1. so so so worth it!!!! love is hard work and hard work pays off…so keep at it. good luck and thanks for sharing. It takes someone real brave to be able to say this out loud. way to go!!!!

  2. My goodness, self-love is such hard work! I love how well this poem expresses that. And I’m so happy for you, that you are headed towards the ‘worth-it’ end of things, away from the ‘worthless’ end.

  3. So much talent. So worthy. You are on your way. The lovely thing about the hell of pain is that the joy you will know one day will be in direct proportion to the pain you have endured. Good things wait for you. Keep writing!

  4. I appreciate you posting this piece. It is so personal. It expresses much of your pain but the uplifting “worth it” over and over again is so powerful and positive and strong. I hope you continue to say that all day, all of your nights until it rings true in your heart and in your head. It is true. There is a reason you are here. love yourself, even if it is little by little until you love all of who you are inside and out.
    thanks again for posting.

  5. You are worth to live a LIFE!!!! FLY – first love yourself. I wrote an affirmation to declare my worthiness for happiness.. I hope it helps…check it out.

  6. You have been so brave. Never give up – you are worth it, and at your age there is so much of life to experience. Keep searching for the good things x

  7. Thank you for being so raw and real. Your pain has been our gain, and you are sending out a ripple effect that will continue to impact others. Thank you for your courage!

  8. It would be so repetitious to say that we all get that feeling, because we all do. But you’ve done really great with that piece, its so tragically beautiful and I hope that you were as inspired by it as I was :)

  9. I love how this went from a place many people are familiar with to one where many of us would like to be. I’ve got that worthless “worthless” refrain in my head, too.

  10. Wow. Just wow. I admire the way you took something as common and overused as love and turned it into something different. The love for oneself.

    Self image is a huge issue among so many young people these days and I think its soooo important that people such as yourself share their stories and are open about their experiences, because no body can understand what another is going through in quite the same way as someone who has been there. You have the strength and ability to really make a difference in peoples lives through your writing and I hope youll continue. I also hope you will find the courage to maybe branch out one day and speak publically about your struggles with self image and self worth, because I think you have what it takes to really make a difference and save lives. All in good time.

    However in the here and now you are worth it. You are beautiful and I believe everyone has a purpose in this life. We all face struggles and I believe our struggles are meant to teach us something, so that we can use our knowledge to better ourselves and better our lives and the lives of those around us. You will touch many people with your words and with your experiences, I just know it. The strength you have shines through your writing and I am looking forward to reading more of your work.

  11. I love the fact that you literally laid your soul bare for all of us to read. There are so many times when we forget about how beautiful we truly are because at one point or another, the scale was tipped toward the negative side of things–even if only for a moment. You are more than worth it, no matter what negative thoughts try to creep into your mind. You sharing this can be the healing that someone out there may need. Thanks so much for your openness and honesty.

  12. sure…we all are worth it….loved the way you presented it. self-debasement …we all fall prey to it but that is so destructive. I feel like putting the orange nail pain today….

  13. As I read your post, and the comments that follow, I reflect on how the conflicts, failures, accomplishments, thoughts, feelings and rants of one person can relate, touch, heal, penetrate, and inspire so many others. Worth can only be defined by those willing to possess a thing, so as long as you live – your priceless.

  14. Your words could have been about me at more than one point in my life. This is very relatable, right down to the nail polish and concern about vanity. Once we realize we can wear what we like too, that we are worth it people and not the other imagined kind, life begins to open up more, as your work illustrates beautifully.

  15. Amen. Eventually those changed rituals become routines, and you will absolutely believe that you are worth it. Keep writing, love. It’s inspired, and it helps… right? Keep going, you’re not only worth it, you’re priceless.

  16. Yes, YOU are WORTH IT! Thank you for sharing such a personal piece. It beautifully depicted the difficult journey one may go through battling with the negative internal messages formulated during painful experiences. There’s such power and strength in you for taking control and consciously choosing to engage in a different dialogue with yourself. YOU’RE WORTH IT!

  17. Dani,

    Poignant and lovely work here, and I thoroughly enjoyed your structure and flow. I found you on Freshly Pressed-congrats on making it there. :) I know that this was published a while back, but since I just discovered you, it is new for me.

    I just want you to know that your post touched me, and I admire your bravery on sharing what you do. I am thankful there are other people out there that can face exposure with courage.

    It has been a battle to share things like this, for me-and not delete them…For fear of being judged or labeled (any many other things), but I have managed to do it. I started my blog to survive, to deal with my own demons-never the same for any person-but I can identify with you. It saved my life-my blog-writing poetry again, connecting with this community…finding my voice. Your voice gives me strength too, to continue here.

    So, I thank you most gratefully for your words and your wonderful heart. You matter. You are worth it. I honor you, Sister. I will be following you path…

    Fair Journey to you, and Blessed Be,

    The Bardic Amazon

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