this is why it hurts

this is why it hurts

Did it hurt,

the first time you gave yourself away?

Did it sting,

when the little pieces splintered into fragments

that you wished you could take back,

offered up like candy on the altar of broken relationships?

Unaware, perhaps, of the crime you were committing,

you were focused on perfecting that disarming smile.

Their weapons came down

as they smiled and took the piece of you

from your bleeding, outstretched hand

before continuing on their merry way.

(That was before you learned how to bandage the wound.)

Did it hurt,

the first time you made yourself so small?

Did it pain you,

maintaining the smile, trying to make it say

all that you thought it needed to?

Their reactions—so helpful!—told you how it could be tweaked.

Soon it was not just your smile

but your whole entire body

contorting into Acceptable Shapes and Sizes.

Did it hurt,

the first time you told yourself the truth?

Did it ache

when you became aware,

watching yourself as though you were observing someone else

commit the crime you had committed countless times before?

One day you paused from all your work

and in the silence,



the face of God was like a mirror,

your fragmented reflection gazing back,

wide-eyed, anxious, and bewildered.

“This is why it hurts,” the Whisper said

as your eyes took in all the fractures.

You saw how you’d been pulled apart

and now felt yourself held together.

“Let us meet again.”

Each meeting brought the mirror.

Studying it was like confession:

“O God, please forgive me. I knew not what I was doing.”

After a time,

many meetings later,

someone approached you with an outstretched hand,

as you had trained them to do.

But this time, just as you began to reach mechanically

to break off another fragment,

you thought of the bewildered reflection

and the Whisper of a thought stopped you:


            just this time,

you don’t have to give yourself away.

What if,

            just this moment,

you stayed with yourself?”

Maybe the sum total of your ‘not enough’ doesn’t preclude you

from being loved as you actually are—

not as you could be or should be 

or will be, 

some day.

Did it hurt,

the first time you resisted?

Did it sting

the first time you let your whole fragmented self

be held, loved, and free,

just as she actually is?

You are already called “Beloved.”



be loved.

~Lindsay L. O’Connor

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