Martyr

stone-faced, she stood there,
loading the dishes for the second time that day,
mind a cluttering of thoughts,
and she sighed,
a bone-weary and exhausted sigh,
checking boxes and crossing things off a mental list that never seemed to end

it was like every other day –
she’d just cooked dinner,
readied tomorrow’s lunches,
laid everything out for tomorrow’s breakfast,
tidied the house,
worked ten hours,
slept too little,
dreamt too much

she heard his footsteps behind her,
and with a tender hug from behind,
his arms came around her as he whispered,
’I love you’, and asked if there was anything he could do to help,
as he often did

of course, she said no;
she always said no

she knew it was crazy,
but she’d rather be the martyr;
she always was, she had to be –
it was this black tar that surrounded her heart and made it unable for her to accept help or choose herself above any other,
to let go and trust

she simultaneously didn’t feel worthy of the help, as if she had to earn love,
and didn’t actually want the help,
because he’d do it wrong anyway

so she was stuck,
always playing the martyr,
with the tar in her chest that made it difficult to breathe,
made it feel as if she were on some overbearing and perilous journey that went on and on and on,
and if she stopped,
even for a moment,
if she needed the help,
deserved the help,
trusted enough to accept the help,
if she sat down and allowed the black to crumble and wither to dust –
if she allowed herself
a breath –

she might never get up again

-art is The Martyr of Solway, detail, by John Millais, 1871.

12 thoughts on “Martyr

  1. “trusted enough to accept the help” – I felt the fragility of your heart in this line. like trusting meant weakness. you do explore the feelings so deep. I did smile at the “he’d do it wrong anyway part”, a fierceness of your soul.

    Liked by 1 person

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