I had a therapist tell me once it was ironic how much love I gave out cause I didn't give much to myself. She laughed like self-love was a sick joke. I chuckled then cried at home. I had someone tell me once I could not love anyone else till I learned to love myself. This time I got to laugh. This time the sick joke was mine. was me. Might as well wait forever. I remember hating myself at the age of seven. Journals filled to the brim with criticisms by eight I had enough pages to stitch them to wings.To fly close enough to the sun to see my tears turn to steam. Felt the wax burn on my shoulders and mold into thick skin. I was nine when I wanted to die. 12 when I found a solution. Figured if I could cut my legs enough gravity would let me go. When it didn't I tied a pillowcase around my neck twisting like the ropes swings I knew so well from childhood. Heard my heartbeat pound in my ears like a warning drum then fade. I'd almost convinced myself I'd done it. When I started writing I smeared my blood on every page. To remind myself that everything beautiful has a consequence. I'd hoped to stall the clotting long enough to give myself to the craft and let myself go. I have died so many times. So when I told you that loving you almost makes life worth it I was not joking. When I tell you that loving you almost makes me forget how much I hate myself it is not poetry. Loving you is taking all the love I could never give myself and putting it to good use. It is reminding myself that if someone can love a dying thing this way can hold the Lazarus of my body and give thanks for the way it holds back. If someone can kiss the scars administer the pills absorb the bad days and wake up smiling next to me then I can try and breath again. Because self-love does not always come first or second or even ever. But your love be the guardrail on the ledge. Be the drawers that hide all the sharp things. Be the body that carries my collapsed frame into bed. Be the flowers you bought. Because even though they are dying too they still dance. Love will not heal me. Will not wipe my slate of a body clean. I will always be a woman with wounds. of a rope marked neck. and melted skin. Love will not heal me. But it will hold my hands if I ever heal myself. And maybe teach me a joke. That I can stay alive long enough to laugh at. I love you. enough to want to love myself too.