By Katherine Gale

Your love was a prison
In which I stayed willingly.
Because I did not know that I would find myself behind bars.
I did not know how cold the concrete would feel, that no one could hear my screams for escape,
that I would be completely alone inside, despite your presence.

You were not by my side, you surrounded me.
Your prison began as a dream come true.
When I entered, it was a mountain summit, it was sunshine, it was hope.
It was built with romance, passion, and excitement.
When I decided to stay, it was thousands of stars on a clear night, it was pleasure, it was laughter, it was hope.
I was your wildflower, whom you swore to protect, you smothered with affection, you clung to.
Why did this paradise collapse?
Because your love turned to concrete and weighed me down.
Your darkness took over and I was trapped.
The walls closed in, shackles locked onto my arms, legs, and neck.
I was in your prison; my cellmate was hope.
And the day came when hope died.
I was alone, you surrounded me.
I was alone.
I was screaming with my mouth closed, I was crying for help with dry eyes, I was hidden within your prison walls.
Until I made my escape.
I ran, and kept running.
You and your manipulative metal bars behind which my mind was trapped faded away in the distance.
But no amount of distance guaranteed my freedom.

I may not be within your walls, but the shackles clung to my arms, my legs, my throat.
With me, I carried their weight, but I had yet to notice their presence.
My mother saw them, my loved ones winced from the marks they clearly left on my skin.
But I had yet to see them.
I was no longer within your prison walls, so I was free, right?
The shackles connected to chains, that connected to you.
The further I ran, the longer the chains, the heavier the weight.
It was when I stopped running, and took a moment to reflect upon myself,
I’d see a shackle, collapse from the pain.
First I myself would break, and then the shackle.
As time went by, I began to break the lighter shackles in which I was restrained.
And I danced in my freedom.
With every broken shackle, I was further from you.
The weight upon my life slowly lifted.
Until I came to find the shackles that will never themselves break, but only break me,
The shackles of which my only means of escape are to break the chain.
But then what? I must carry the weight of these chains.
They’re so heavy.
But I have to carry them forever.
Made from the darkest, densest, metal of your mind.
I carry them.
On some days, they weigh me down. Some days they break me.
On other days, I forget that they are there.
Those chains will never cease to perpetuate.

I see others carrying chains, dragging them behind.
I see others who have yet to notice their burden.
I see others whose prisons still look like paradise.
And I have found others who have escaped their prisons.
We look at each other, and we know how heavy the chains are, how tight the shackles are.
They are so tight that sometimes we can’t breathe.
Sometimes we can’t move.
We can’t continue.
Not unless we rest.
We can’t choose to put down these chains, we must carry them forever.
And until you are imprisoned you will not understand,
The empty feeling that fills your chest
The happy memories that blacken
The flashbacks like sharpened knifes as they tear through your mind.
Desperately imagining where you’d be if you had never stepped foot in that prison.
Thankful for the strength you have gained from carrying this weight,
confident because you know the longer you carry them the stronger you will be.

Somewhere on this earth walks my prison, with his hidden bars.
Right here, right now, I stand, free from my prison.
Yes, I still carry the weight of its chains,
But I am no longer restrained.

Katherine Gale is an editor and contributor for The Apollos, see her full bio here!

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