“When he says
he doesn’t love you anymore,
roll your shoulders back
and look him in the eye
even when it feels like your ribs
are breaking inward, like spider legs.
when he digs up old aches
that he swore he forgave you for,
and ask him why he didn’t leave you sooner.
ignore the way the words feel like sandpaper
running all the way up your throat to your mouth.
when he blames you
for mistakes that wear his face,
do not scream.
do not cry.
tell him that there are boys
who would be proud to say they’d loved you.
tell him that in two years
you won’t even remember his name
and don’t let him see the way you can taste your own lie.
when he leaves
ignore the howling in your blood
and do not get up after him.
not even to lock the door.
do not, do not
smell his shirts when you box them up
to give them back.
swear off dating when you realize
you’re chasing ghosts that wear his smile.
it’s okay to cry over him.
it’s even okay to forgive him.
but do not go back to him.
if he did not know how to love you the first time,
he won’t know how to do it the next.”
Sometimes, words have more power over you than people do.