I am lack of vulnerability,
and ill-informed confidence.
Trusting my gut.
Trusting no one.
It took a college education to heal from old wounds,
to know the hold of he who came before
could be shed like an old skin I’d grown tired of.
In truth, I feared the boredom that could accompany connection:
familiarity past falling in love, past fatal attraction.
He’d jaded me for all future lovers -- thorn embedded in my side,
its effect fading over time, but making itself known
whenever I sought to love again, to endanger my freedom,
to hope for a promotion past “possession.”
I’d grown proficient at being alone.  
You grew on me all the same.
Your eyes smiled with kindness, hearty laughter that stilled me,
effusing all the charm I hoped for, intertwined with small gestures.
Every time you waited for me, allowing me time and space,
I awaited the declaration:
“I own you.”
But you didn’t, and you don’t, and you’re not him.
You are only the first man I wanted to own me.
My heart longed to tell you how you made me feel,
yet feared the loss of your steadying friendship.
Whichever road I chose meant losing.
The words I planned to say were a death sentence,
knell that echoed round my anxious heart as I
anticipated all the potential words of rejection.
When they finally spilled out of me, pre-meditated & chaotic,
my affection perfectly punctuated with a simple, “I like you,”
you said nothing.
I considered your aversion to discomfort, to pressured questions.
I allowed you time and space, waiting for your words,
waiting for your eyes to tell me what your mouth could not.
But there was nothing.
I was nothing.
Now I fear silence,
almost as much as I fear love.
I am afraid of how much I want to love you,
which is why I unfolded my heart.
In that moment of confession, I was propelled solely by fear:
so afraid of you,
so afraid of the power I was bestowing.
You could break me if you tried.
Or you could love me,
if you weren’t so afraid.
Madeline has never found a couch, coffee or cozy nook she did not love, and is currently seeking to acquire all the books she can. After studying English at Belmont University, she is now studying Social Work at UTRGV, hoping to help others find their voice. You can find her driving at night, singing with the windows down, or scribbling away in her room as a means of coping with the mess that is life.

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