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I Know It Well.

There is a place that still belongs to you, a reminder for my still fractured heart.

A friend recently told me she still cries, sometimes, when she thinks of her first fiancé. A love that was but wasn’t: enough, whole, right. A happy marriage and two beautiful kids will never erase what once was. For memories are merely wrinkles etched upon your soul. Pieces of a past that will forever influence your present and your future.

There is a place that still belongs to you, at 3 AM when nothing make sense.

A dream for the nights I miss you. That soft voice and steady laugh. Mornings wrapped up in your arms. The way I feel you touch me there. Again. Again. Again. The best I’ve ever had. The worst I’ve ever had. A nightmare for the nights I hate you. The lies you whispered like sweet nothings to disguise the other women in your head, in your bed. I fall back asleep praying to forget you.

There is a place that still belongs to you, a lesson I’m still learning.

A never ending supply of writing material. The book I have yet to write. Someday I’ll plaster you across chapters. Someday I’ll categorize our failures into lovely phrases more constructive than our conversations. I’ll make love to you in words, and in the same breath, I’ll tear you apart syllable by syllable. There are no promises to be made for treating our story with grace. The same way you broke every promise you ever made.

There is a place that will always belong to you, a reminder of what love isn’t.

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This town is full of too many loves that never were
Familiar faces are only fragments of what I’ve tried to forget
Close enough to want inside of everything but my heart
But hearts are givers without choice
I believed I deserved better before I met you
Now I hardly believe in myself
And the ability to love again

Giving works until there’s nothing left
Just the memory of what I wished had always been
The fairy tale I grew up believing in
The one with the Prince who saved her
The knight who said she was the only one
I’m Cinderella without a fairy godmother
My hand of cards is missing a chance

I listen to Dixie Chicks radio when I’m sad
You’ve ruined everything for everyone
Who has tried to steal my heart away
And sometimes I wake up crying at night
The hurting is always all mine
I pray to be set free so
Goodbye Earl or whatever your name is

I thought mistakes were just moments
Not the prologue to the rest of my life
I wish I could love him the way I loved you
Twice the man and an even better friend
I can’t imagine the heartache if you had cared
I’m still picking up the pieces
Of a love we never had

This town is full of too many loves that never were.

Kaleidoscope Keepsakes.

Explosions in the sky sounds like you —that easy silence, every breath telling me you felt it too. I hear tears next to memories of all the things we used to do. And, still it calms me. The soft ebb and flow of the chords singing syllables only known to me. And, once to you. Music isn’t the same without you. It’s been years and last week was the first Bon Iver has once again come through my speakers. It doesn’t hurt the way it used to. Just lost, like having a home you no longer know the way back to. Your favorite highway, divided, widened, made public. Nothing is sacred once it’s shared. Never the same the second time, the last time. 
The first time I fell in love I was young, naïve. I’m not sure I even knew what it meant. Different is frightening at 17. Easier to run 700 miles away, pretend reality was only make believe. Love is just a a fairytale until you’re ready.
The last time I fell in love was messy. The way your room feels after a trip. Dirty laundry and unpacked memorabilia strewn across the floor. It’s home, just not clean. You can’t live this way for long, even though you want to. Even though it’s easier to ignore. But love should never be lazy, never feel like a chore.  
Sometimes I think about you, when I’m with him. His tongue moves differently than yours did. He doesn’t know how I like it in bed. Like the time, with the scarf, on the chair. Maybe that’s why you’re meant to be with one person that way. Intimacy is hard to erase. You miss this. Compare that. Start thinking I’m not over it all over again.  
Again, and again. You’re expected to play the game but nobody tells you how many losses you’re going to take when you start. The more I try the less I know. The more I see the less I want to be anything but alone. I’m honest. Too honest. And I’m scared the one person who gets that about me will be the only one who ever will. 10 years and I still want to look to him for advice, for approval, for relief. The pause when nothing else makes sense. He is my late night conversation and my phone call home. The one I think about when I can’t think anymore. Something to hang onto, that song you’ll always remember because of the memories you’ll never forget. Never regret.

The Ghost of You.

Sometimes, I sleep with the ghost of you. With the memories that are still warm and easy to curl up in. You hold me tight with all the words I’ll never forget. The ones I wanted to believe you meant. The ones I held onto too long. I lay next to the handful of nights I thought you’d stay. When love was something I felt instead of just another line you played.

Sometimes, I sleep with the ghost of you. I lose hours wrapped up in your arms. You kiss me over and over again. My toes curl; I lose control. We have sex like it’s the last time every time. I cuddle up with what’s been lost and what will never be again. You were the love I thought I wanted. I was the girl you never did. This bed is now as empty as your promises.

Sometimes, I sleep with the ghost of you. I lay next to the images I wish I could forget. The ones of you with her and her and her. The empty look in your eyes as I cried. The ones where you genuinely stole my heart. Holding me tight in your arms as you told me everything would be alright. I lay next to the memories of sadness and regret. You were my biggest mistake, my hardest heartbreak, my fucked up love.

I sleep with the ghost of you, sometimes. And, I pray I never meet anyone like you again.

There is a difference between flaws and warning signs. The way he leaves clothes all over his room, and snores so loudly it wakes you up. Those are flaws. The way he criticizes you on your appearance or your tendency to over think things and the way he flirts with other girls. Those are warning signs. The sooner you allow yourself to accept the difference, the sooner you will save yourself a lot of heartache. You should be the only one on his radar, and you should be enough. Pretty enough. Skinny enough. Kind enough. Spontaneous enough. Smart enough. Fun enough. You should be worth fighting for. Every minute of every day.

And, even in the rough moments, the moments of doubt, he should still be committed to you. To working together to make it work. That moment you find out he went downtown with his friends and ended up with a bunch of other girls when you weren’t invited. Leave. That moment he calls you too emotional and doesn’t care to ask you why you feel the way you do. Leave. That moment you’re laying in bed with him and realize there’s something missing. Leave. That moment you feel like you’re the only one putting in one hundred percent. Leave. The first time he kisses another girl. Leave. The first time he makes you feel inadequate or question who you are. Leave.

It takes two people to build a relationship. A good one will never be built on lies and deception, on comparisons to other people and a blatant disregard for who you really are. You will never win when he has his eyes on you and everyone around you. You can’t change someone, as much as you want to believe you can. They have to want to change themselves. And, they can say everything you’ve ever wanted to hear, but their behavior will tell you the truth.

I know you can’t see it, because you’re in love. Or, at least you think you are. But love doesn’t leave you questioning your self worth. Love doesn’t cause you to fear whether or not they’ll stay another day. Love doesn’t stay on the surface. Love is not selfish. Love is not conditional. Love is not disrespectful.

Your friends see all of those things. And, they’ll tell you over and over again how much better you deserve. Listen. I know you think no one knows him like you do, and he is different with you, and all this other bullshit. But, do you really want a man who isn’t that way all the time? The people who truly care about you can see his true colors shining through. Pay attention. Even when you can’t. I know you have to figure it out on your own, but trust the people who know you and know him. I promise the truth really will set you free.

Most of all, believe in you. I know that’s cliché and we say it all the time like a song you know all the words to but wish you didn’t. But, it matters. You matter. Take a step back and look at all the factors. You have to be your own before you can be someone else’s. And the minute you become dependent on someone else is the day they win. You are no longer secure enough or confident enough to leave. Maybe you don’t want to be alone. Maybe he pays for a lot of things. Maybe you are just naive enough to think he’ll be who you want him to. At the end of the day, you are only cheating yourself.

You are beautiful. Any guy would be lucky to have you. You are intelligent. Which means you’re smart enough to know this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. You are brave. Remember the last time you lost someone? You’re still here. And you can walk away from this too. Life is too short to make excuses or to ignore the warning signs for the wrong kind of love.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only son… What would he sacrifice for you? Will he love you selflessly? Will he choose you over every girl, today, tomorrow, and always? Can you trust him? Does he respect you? Does he love you for who you are, inside and out? Does he care about every desire of your heart? Will he protect you? Will he stand up for you even when you lose your way? Would he choose you over his job, his money, his self?

You deserve the kind of love that moves the mountains. The kind of love other people can see when they’re around you. The kind of love that God created.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

May you believe that.

Always.

It’s Sunday

I want to read a book
In my oversized chair but
We had sex there
Hands pulled back
With only syllables
Writing a fantasy
I only just confessed

and I think
nothing is holy anymore.

Honestly, Me.

I turned twenty-six on Thursday

I remember when I was in high school, I had all these plans about where I’d be at this point in my life. Dreams, really. Naieve notions about how old is old enough for this, that, and the other thing. I realize now I don’t know as much as I thought I did then.

Life isn’t a timeline of should have’s.

I’m not the same person I was last year. I’m not even sure I’m the same person I was a week ago.

I carry with me a lot of the same surface level dreams I did then: Get married. Have a family. Write a book. Travel to Europe. Run a marathon. Be a better person. But, my view of those dreams has changed and adapted over time due to the circumstances I have endured and the people I have encountered. They say, you become who you surround yourself with. I used to be a stubborn enough person to not believe that was true.

Now, I realize people change you slowly, melt you like a candle. Some people are cigarette breaks, others are forest fires. One day you wake up and realize your flame has burnt out. And you have no idea how to get it back.

I’ve learned that subtle compromises often turn into great risks. That first time you choose to be less of who you are for someone else is the first time you lose a piece of your heart. He should ask you about the tattoo on your ankle. Care about the fact someone you loved deeply died for it to be there. He should ask you about the tattoo on your wrist. Ask why you thought God’s grace was so important then. He should ask you about your heart. What makes you come alive. Why writing is so important. Why you haven’t slept with everyone like he has. He should care about loving you the way you love him. And, you shouldn’t have to ask.

I’ve learned that just because you’ve been friends with someone forever, doesn’t mean they will stay. I’ve learned that just because you want to get married and have a family, doesn’t mean you’re ready. I’ve learned that even though you believe in God, doesn’t mean you believe He loves you.

I’ve learned that words really can hurt you. It’s hard to sleep alone, after. Sometimes, you won’t be the friend you thought you were. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Your family will love you even when your friends don’t. It’s okay to cut people out of your life. Music is still beautiful, even without him. You can be angry. You can cry. It’s okay to stay up all night, and call in sick the next day. Retail therapy is okay as long as it’s not your only therapy. Loneliness will either make you run toward hope or into despair. Life is a series of choices. Sometimes, you’ll make the wrong one.

I’ve learned that life is really hard. Often, you fight battles you can’t even see for yourself.

One of my friends recently said, I miss Kari.

I miss her too. In the past couple years, I’ve lost large pieces of who I thought I was.

I hope that twenty-six is about finding her. And not who she used to be, because I don’t think you can ever really go back to who you were. But I want to find who I want to be. The pieces of the girl I miss, transposed by the experiences of the woman I am. To something brighter than where I am right now.

We all have our own demons. And, to clarify, that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for my life or the people and blessings in it. Because I have an amazing family who love me unconditionally, friends that have stood by me through thick and thin, a job that challenges me every day, and a God who chooses to protect me even when I don’t fight for Him. I am blessed beyond measure.

But I’ve learned that it’s okay to not be okay. And to be honest about it.

I hope in the year to come I am able to share that with each and every one of you out there. May we all be honest with ourselves, and fight for who we are.