Witness-Bearing: Acknowledging Your Own Pain to Heal.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” -Maya Angelou

In Argentina, I learned of an important term that is crucial to many of the victims of the world’s most tragic crimes: Bearing Witness.

That when people seek punishment for their offender, more than revenge, what they really are seeking is the acknowledgement of their pain.

I figured that perhaps, that might work with our heartbreaks too. And maybe to lighten my mental and emotional load, I needed to bear witness to some things.


I needed a reason to stay away. I needed to know why I wanted to be in a bad place for so long, and why I no longer need it.

I realized: I always believed I could be my truest self with this person, but that’s not so. 

I used to be my silliest but not even anymore. I became insecure and embarrassed. I couldn’t give to my heart’s fullest because I was afraid to be taken for granted. I couldn’t trust like I wanted to because I knew what was going to happen or was already happening.I had to be blind and dumb even when I wasn’t, to keep the peace and hope I was loving in a way that made you feel free. I had to laugh and pretend things were okay. I had to stay still even when I was hurt. I couldn’t say the truth even when I knew it. I had to let you play your game and say the things you wanted because I knew what you were trying to do and it wasn’t worth the energy I had left to call you out. I lose my sense of what I want to wear, in fear of what you’d like and not like. It was hard for me to even pick out my own shoes because I know you’d judge. I don’t know the trendiest things, the hippest terms. I had to pretend you were enough even when I knew you weren’t trying. I had to convince you that you were worth it and deserving even though I knew you hadn’t earned a thing. I had to convince you to come to me even though I knew it made me feel worthless. I had to help you heal through your break up even when I knew you were selfish. I gave you all of me, when you never reclaimed me even after being with you for so many years, hurting me, knowing it made me feel like trash. I couldn’t be me because it would make you feel bad about yourself, it would discourage you, it would chase you away. And I couldn’t even let go when I wanted because I knew just how fast we’d drown, and how easily you’d be gone.

I couldn’t be me. At all. I was willing to accept all of you. But accepting all of you means throwing myself so low and away. You accepting me, meant pushing you to be the best you for a brighter future; to do work you weren’t willing or ready for. I never hurt you. Like you did me. You scarred me. That is the difference. I gave you my all. You took my all, and gave the scraps that you felt like you could sacrifice or remembered to give. I kept your love tank full, but you always wanted more because you never sustained it yourself. Just like everything else you do, you eat it up so fast without thinking how to make it last and just look for more. I sustained the bits you gave me to live off like it was my last meal. I thrived and used my own self-love to cook the next bits you’d give me and stretched myself thin to not let you notice. This is the difference. And you would never understand. I beg myself to not let you invalidate my experience and how and why I hurt. Just because your pain is too big for you to see anyone else’s. 

I now accept that I was trying to change you; into the best you I believed you could be, into the you I thought you deserved to be, the you that I hoped you’d finally be happy to be. Because you said the obstacle between us was that you didn’t feel happy with yourself; you didn’t love yourself. So I took it upon myself to help you be happy, because I didn’t want you to be any less. I know no matter what I say, you or people will think that, that is my self-centered, nativity not wanting to accept that she has flaws or was at fault. That’s not so. Because I can be sorry, I was sorry for the whole year you spent with someone else, deeply believing I was the worst person in the universe. I was sorry every time you cheated. When I am sorry, I ask how to be better. You and I both know the countless hours I spend researching, preparing things, buying gifts and doing all that I can to love you better and fix us. So, I sure did try to change you; I wanted to help you grow and be the happiest you could because I took note of everything you ever said made you unhappy and thought that if I solved those, you would be okay. What I didn’t realize was, you already made a home there. You were comfortable in your darkness. And trying to save you out of love, made you uncomfortable and resent me. Please don’t try to guilt and shame me for only doing all I could to love you as right as I could, without your help or communication.

And in turn, I began to resent the both of us. Me for feeling exhausted, and you for not helping me feel loved as much as I was trying to help you.

I had to write this one, because maybe I am not so strong like you where I don’t care what you think of me and how you feel. I’m not so strong to tell someone I didn’t hurt them and that I always hurt more than them no matter what I did.

I’m not victimizing myself, I am witness-bearing. 

For one moment, because I’m alone, I don’t have anyone to guide or protect me but myself, I just wanted to put the echo of your cold voice and my inner bully to sleep. 

No one else can do it for me. 

I wrote this for all the times you’ve said I asked for too much, for trying to change you all the time, for not accepting you for who you were, for taking things too personal, for trying too hard, doing too much, for making you feel like you weren’t good enough or that the problem was always you—Whenever I just wanted to tell you that I was hurting and felt like I was fighting for us alone. For all the times I knew something was wrong, but was made to be ungrateful, until it was true.

I wrote this for me to come back and read, when I’m slightly drowning in the night or a random time in the day, because I believe I’m awful and unlovable. Because the thought of someone trying to love me, sometimes quite actually scares me. 

I’m writing for this for all the strong and fighting souls who are feeling a bit dim tonight; needing to bear a little witness for their scars too. 

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