The phrase “love yourself first” gets thrown around like it’s easy to do. It’s really not that simple sometimes. Sometimes the love we have for ourselves is a direct result of the mirrors our lovers hold up for us. The poem “New Skin” from The Lovers is a tribute to those lovers who shaped me and helped me find that love again in myself.
When we met I was carrying skeletons
growing flowers between my ribs and
you gave me sunshine and kissed me with
warm summer rain
being with you showed me all fo the love I had growing from the seams
then we faded like flowers do
seeds blowing into secret gardens
growing new roots
and the flowers between my ribs could never find the sun
no matter how many times I planted seeds and kissed them with
warm summer rain
I was carrying skeletons I couldn’t keep away
and I found myself sleeping in empty graves
saying take me away
one last time
I closed my eyes then saw the sun was within
and started growing marigolds from new stems
so when you came back like a chelidonian wind
oh you look just like I imagined
I knew I was home again
growing flowers from these skeletons
In 2020, divorce rates here in the U.S. increased 34% from March through June, and increased by 22% from July to October compared to the same time period in 2019. And I think it’s faily common knowledge by now that the majority of divorces in the United States are filed by women. I was one of those women.
I left a “perfectly good man” and “destroyed” my family. People act like it’s the coward’s way out when it’s actually one of the hardest things we’ll ever do. I knew that I would lose the majority of my family, community, and that all the blame would be placed on me. What I didn’t know is that even three years later I’d be getting messages from people who said my ex told them I was “crazy”.
Despite the fear, my desire to stay alive and be the happy, healthy mom I wanted to be for my kids was greater. In June 2020, I (finally) found an apartment at the only apartment complex that called me back and moved in. It was here that I wrote my second poetry book, The Lovers.
After my separation/divorce, I had so many people from my past come back into my life and tell me how they could tell I was so much happier. There were past lovers who helped me reconnect to old parts of myself that I had buried or lost, and new lovers that helped me open my eyes to see myself in a way I hadn’t before.
(And when I say “lover” I mean, people I have loved and people who have loved me on a spectrum from platonic to romantic love.)
The Lovers poetry book became what one of my friends described as, “a spell-binding concoction of love poems that brings you through the beautiful, yet sometimes heartbreaking and haunting, transition of relying on love and peace from your past lovers to learning to find that love and peace and beauty in yourself.”
Self-Love Journal prompts inspired by the poem “New Skin”
How have past relationships or experiences influenced my sense of self-worth and ability to love myself?
How can I use these experiences as opportunities for growth and self-discovery?
What seeds am I planting in my life right now?
How can I nurture them to grow into beautiful flowers or sources of strength and resilience?
How can I learn to find the sun within myself, rather than relying on external sources of validation or love?
What self-care practices or rituals can I incorporate into my daily life to nurture my inner light?
How can I make peace with the skeletons in my closet or the “empty graves” I may feel like I am sleeping in, and use these experiences to cultivate greater empathy and compassion for myself and others?
How can I create a sense of home within myself, regardless of my external circumstances or relationships?
What qualities or characteristics make me feel most grounded and connected to my sense of self?
What are some qualities or characteristics I see in other people that I would like to cultivate in myself?
While going through a divorce (or any relationship change) can be a challenging and isolating experience, it can also be an opportunity for growth, self-discovery, and finding a sense of home within ourselves. By exploring our past relationships and experiences, caring for ourselves, and making peace with our “skeletons”, we can cultivate greater empathy, compassion, and self-awareness in our lives. Writing and sharing poetry has helped me stay grounded and let others know that they are not alone in feeling the way they do. So if you’re going through a difficult time, I hope these self-love journal prompts and poetry help you see the beautiful parts of yourself.
If you liked this post, then check out my poetry book, The Lovers, which explores themes of love, self-discovery, and growth through relationships.