There’s something familiar im experiencing here. Four letters, seven billion definitions. What I once thought was love turned out to be fear. It turned out to be rage. I gathered all of my emotions and locked them away in a cage as an attempt to appease you. To please you. How evil deception can be. My perception of what love is supposed to feel like has been altered by the perpetuation of this vicious cycle. I used to think that love felt like flowers in a warm, summer breeze, but you gifted me a crown of thorns and called me your strong, black queen. I sat on my throne while you fervently watched the blood drip from my scalp, and you groveled at my feet for forgiveness. For acceptance. You begged me to have patience, and I granted every self-serving request without hesitation because I needed you to need me, and you needed a savior. You needed a scapegoat. You blamed the alignment of the stars as an excuse for your behavior. You said a prayer and your slate of sins was wiped clean. You tasted my flesh, you kissed my scarlet tears, and you thanked God for sending you such a beautiful, relentlessly forgiving sacrifice for you to consume to cleanse your demons. And they made my body, my soul, and my mind their dwelling until I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize my reflection. I tried to baptize myself in a sea of strangers with no protection. I cried out your name like a curse when I got too close to deliverance. I removed the crown you gave me thorn by thorn and I dressed my scars with gold. Four letters, but only one definition with any significance. I made myself my home, and I watched the blessings of self love unfold.