Fundamentally
I believe
We all deserve love.

It is this belief
That allowed me to love
Even they that
Would abuse me
And
Did.

It was love that bade me
Forgive,
And stay,
After words and fists
Spoke their truth
Of how that person
wasn’t giving love
But pain.

It was my belief
That being weak
Meant love.
This idea now
I see
Was caused by a
Desperately
Defeated
Self.

It is love
That now protects me.
It is love that
Won’t allow
Me to be
A doormat
Anymore.

This is not love
This immolation of self.
This disregard for my own pain.
It is love that stands
And walks away
From this
abuse.

It is love that keeps
My own pain
From leaping from
My mouth
Like a tiger looking for prey
Feasting on blame.

These are mine
Both love and pain both.
It is I
That chooses what I dispense.
As it is they
That have the same choice.
Is it love to choose
Violence?

It is love
That leaves,
Protects,
And knows the self
Deserves love
Fundamentally
And first.

-Angel Marie Russell

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