1. I admitted I was powerless over you—
that my life had become unmanageable.
And so I threw up
and smoothed the tops of my hands to stop them from shaking.
2. I chose to believe that something unfamiliar
could restore us.
And so I rubbed my eyes red like sandpaper
and went to math class,
but the only numbers that made sense were the 11
months of you
and the 0 minutes I haven’t missed you.
3. I made a decision to turn my wants over to my needs
to do it without your help
because that was the way to recovery as I understood it.
And so I laid in bed and listened to your sleep-stuck voice
drip into my ears;
as if in exchange for the memories,
my eyes leaked water out of their wrinkled corners.
I rolled over to smudge them dry,
scratching my back
but shivering because
your nails might never leave their tracks there again
and I liked that kind of pain.
4. I took an inventory of
because I was finally alone.
I realized I can’t stay this way
but I will if I have to.
And so I laughed
and went to work.
5. I can admit to myself,
that my love for you has been the exact nature of my wrongs.
And so my chest gets tight when I think of these days,
how I have to stop myself from calling you,
and how I always will.
6. I should be ready
to remove these dents in my character
but I’m not.
And so tell me what I want to hear,
because relapse is a part of recovery
7. I once heard of a woman who was addicted
to the stings of bees.
She was not immune to the pain.
Her skin would puff and swell
but it was a quiet kind of burning
and she needed the way it made her feel.
This is how we are,
you and I:
I am the woman’s twitching thigh
afraid but ready
for the sting
delivered by my own hand
that is loving you.
One day, I’ll humbly ask for this defect to disappear
so it hurts less
but I’ll need something to replace the sharp ends,
something to jab my skin with,
something to make me feel this way.
Can you give me peace?
The kind I’ve seen only while sleeping lately?
Because you’re there when I close my eyes
and I don’t want to wake up.
8. I’ll make a list of everyone I’ve harmed
and if these steps don’t end in
then let me write my own name
9. because I’ll never be willing to make amends
10. Like before a surgery,
I haven’t eaten in days.
And in between my dizzy walks from the bed to the couch to the floor of the bathroom,
I’ve looked inside of me,
my veins clear and my heart empty,
and I’m not wrong.
This is wrong.
What I’ve learned from me
is that without you,
I am a body barely moving and a soul ripped jagged
like the page of a notebook that was torn out carelessly,
not even fully crumpled before it was tossed into a metal bin of afterthoughts.
11. I closed my bible and mailed it all back to you,
my arms heavy as I taped the box shut,
my body so depleted that I couldn’t wipe the sweat off of my forehead
as I scrawled your name across the top,
a prayer that for once, a return address would do me some good.
Let it come back to me. Let him come back to me.
Come back to me.
12. It’s the end and I’m supposed to share what I’ve learned,
so here’s everything:
Your heart beat makes me feel alive
and I want to cook you dinner
and know you until you’re seventy-five and slow-moving.
What I want to share with you is that
I’ve had a spiritual awakening and it leaves me screaming your name
and writing our love on the walls of the kitchen where we dance
barefoot and gasping for breath.
What I want to practice for the rest of my life
is drinking your words down like a honey that I just can’t get enough of,
and what I’m feeling at the end of these long days,
my eyes wilting onto the bed,
is that our story can’t have an ending because it gives me goose bumps
it takes a few tries to get these steps just right.