I am waiting for the other shoe to drop

You squeeze me and say you missed me.
I smile, a fist loosens as I hear your mood.
Inside I am wondering when that nastiness is going to creep out,
Scalding and scraping me raw – again.

You say you love me, an expectant, grand gesture.
I say yeah, hmmm, I wish I could lie.
Inside I am waiting for you to list all the conditions I have to fulfill –
So that you will love me.

You write it’s okay, that you respect my choice.
Where is the quick frown, the impatience telling me not to be stupid?
Inside I tremble with exhaustion and paralysis –
When are you going to change your mind?

Your gifts pile up, cent for cent,
As my guilt rises up, sloshing around my torso
Inside I am calculating how much I will have to pay later –
To repay my debts, plus interest.

You tell me childhood stories.
Funny how you are never in them.
Inside I know nothing will change; no wait –
It’s getting worse.

I was taught, by you, for every niceness
There is another shoe to drop,
Another foot to kick me, trample me,
Another whip to make me bleed,
Another tear to slide down,
Another wave of inadequacy to drown my worthless self.

I am tired. Exhausted, pissed, finished.
Confused, shaky, anxious.
Can’t breathe. Paralysis. Can’t. Breathe.
Why can’t you just leave me alone, the way you have when I needed you the most?

You spit on my self-worth because you made me.
What else could I wish for but to please you, worship you, service you?
You don’t give a shit. You’re only making yourself believe you do.
If I don’t do what you want, I am worthless, selfish, cruel, a monster, a machine, a loser, failure.
All this because I dare to be a feeling human, a child.

Every time I want to hug you and slap you.
Because after all this time, I am still afraid to hate you.
But I am trying. I am a big shot now, with my own head, heart and soul.
And yet every time you approach me as a friend,
I am waiting for the other shoe to drop
Because it’s never far away.

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