happy. content. coming to terms with myself. realising i can be loved for who i am. realising i can love myself for who i am. realising i love the person i have become and will continue to grow into. seeing how other people love me allows me to see it in myself. told my mum how other people loved me and she cried because she said i was lovely. i smiled back and nodded. i think i feel that too. i’m glad i can see it now. other people brought it out in me, but that’s okay. my reflection is different now. i have bruises on my body where his mouth has been. i silently ache beneath my clothes. marks. history. secrets. i’m carrying them. no one knows. i sit in my room, i light the candles, they glimmer in the window as the sun goes down. i dust off my vinyls and play records. i’m doing what i want to do. someone said they’re in love with me. i don’t believe them. i can’t allow it anyway, it’s not safe. someone asked if they could see me again. i said yes. i have marks on my body from another person but he doesn’t seem to mind. i do. we parked under a bridge and talked about life. i wound my windows down as he reclined in the chair and closed his eyes, the sun warming us through the windows. it was a beautiful day. we fell asleep swinging our legs on a bench in the forest, the light falling through the trees above us. we built rock forts and tried to knock them down. he kisses my forehead. someone else kisses my mouth and other parts of me. i belong to myself always. i am here and everywhere. i am in lots of places. so is he. one minute he’s in my car and the next he’s gone. i look at the empty space, the position of the chair where his body has been. i leave it where it is. i listen to music that has a different meaning now. i listen to words that have weight. they make things feel beautiful. they make me feel sad even though i’m not sad. i drive through country lanes listening to the radio and feeling free. i realise i enjoy being loved. i realise i don’t like being alone when i could be somewhere else being loved. i try to find a balance, the best of both. i sit here and light my candles and listen to my records and i write. i remember it all and i think about what will happen next. what else will i have to say in the next few days, what does the future hold. i am taking things one day at a time and enjoying it, every day is full of little surprises. i am making a life for myself and i enjoy being in control. this is art. art is living. living is art. i enjoy living. i enjoy holding hands and holding people. i like the touch of another person. i like feeling wanted. i like wanting other people. i like wanting to live. i stare at people’s hands and wait until i can hold them. i drive through country lanes and wonder what i’m doing and i laugh to myself because i am living and i didn’t think i would. i sit here and wonder. i sit here in wonder. i realise i am coming back to myself. i am whole. i press my fingers to the bruises on my skin. life flourishes within me.