• Joshua Williams

My Heart is a Hologram

When love becomes a dark place, you desperately search for your own star. Some kind of shining beacon that makes you feel one with yourself again, makes you feel bigger than the inky black sky above you holding secrets so tantalizingly close that you don’t even dare to blink. Those nights under that sky that you thought were so heavenly are suddenly stolen from you by one word from someone you thought you could trust with your own heavenly star, “no”. That light that you had kept so close to your heart, the one that you dared to share with another, goes out. And so, we go on. With weak lantern-like hearts we trudge on, barely acknowledging the footsteps in front of us. Haunted at night by the feeling of loneliness, holding a grudge against ourselves for not feeling good enough. You can feel hurt, you can even feel angry, but you cannot feel sorry.



Gaslighting is a term used to describe the manipulation of a person or person(s) with the goal to control or create a narrative that will make you question your reality or sanity. To put this in perspective we are going to dive into the depths of the love I thought was my right to share and examine the literal heart of the matter. I make the poet’s choice when it comes to love. To me, that means I’d rather hold and recall the memory than the person. To be gaslit and hold the ideals of love in the shaking hands of my prose meant that I was no longer as sure of myself as I thought. Suddenly, my lighthouse I was so sure held the shoreline just revealed another ocean, one of self-doubt. By acknowledging this ether-like sea I had inadvertently set a new path for myself, one fraught with a deep hurt I could no longer ignore within myself much like the pernicious waves that lapped upon my tired feet…


the wiles of the depths


below the ocean floor


does not compare


to the creaking of my floor


when you leave my bedside


and seek another


for warmth


I’m left cold


I know


he isn’t mine


and my pillowtop


in all my loneliness


whispers back


I know


He was gone before I was, I could see it in his eyes. It was like he had grown bored with the very idea of me after it was clear I was smitten. Am I not unlike wet ink? Smeared when wet and left to dry? The lofty expectations for my love were suddenly under duress. Who could I be without this love? Why would he take it away from me? These questions both perplexed and kept me up at night, it was like nothing made any more sense, how could my own heart lie to me? Then it clicked, I felt as if all that I had perceived of what I thought was an “us” was ripped from my mind and torn into shreds that fell like confetti on my pillow top at night. The histrionic behavior associated with the gaslighter or “baiter” stems from an overwhelming need to control their narrative and everyone else’s around them. And, like most prey I blamed myself for attempting to love in the first place.


Poetic depth aside- my personal perception of love became its own battleground as time went on and I mourned the loss of my once buoyant heart. I found myself pondering the question “is my heart now doomed to follow a hopeless pattern” dragging my hopeful heels from gaslighter to gaslighter? In some ways, yes. The complicated heart of the matter is that when being subjected to this type of emotional warfare there are PTSD-like effects that can rear its head in surprising ways and even in the long term. This can be in the form of doubt and trust and may even manifest in a harmful ideology about one’s self worth. I would foster a growing cynical outlook on love and project that onto myself and I can say that looking back, this was attributed to my previous gaslighters fostering a sense of personal growth and safety and taking it away as if I deserved to feel punished. So, I would punish myself.



The struggle I face now even two years later after the fact, is how do I protect my heart while remaining open to something real?”“ Well, to start I have to acknowledge that much like the unknown ether I found myself in when they left me, that coming to terms with what I simply don’t know and learning to trust my own intuition and another’s intentions is paramount to my healing. I also realize that just being cognizant of the damage doesn’t clear the mental rubble, even though I am as receptive as I’ve ever been to love. I would be lying if I said I still don’t occasionally hear the ghosts of lovers past whispering in my ear, harbingers of doubt.


Through a gaslighter’s eyes they may seem almost charismatic to most, their appreciation feels “earned”. The difference with the way they seek out love from others is that they rely on false perception. There’s a narcissism to a gaslighter’s mindset that once you’re aware of it, it’s easier to recognize what they’re doing. Deconstructing life and love through a gaslighter’s eyes is no easy task. They are undoubtedly seeing life through an almost self-aggrandizing rose-colored lens. Not to say that they are incapable of real emotion, it’s just preferable if it’s on their terms.


It was the way


you smiled at me


I almost saw the roses


Before


The thorns


I’ll be


Digging into your side


A silent thief


Like silk I move


Into your dreams


A complicated projection


It’s your needs


I need


To be in love like that, in this body, in this skin, feels like I’m their misunderstood blessing. I would ask myself who am I to this man who clearly only sees one facet of me and refuses to also see the worth embedded in my skin. I wore that observation hidden under clothes then, finally dangled it like jewelry around my neck – a necklace made up of tears that I didn’t understand yet and fixated prose. The issue at hand with this type of love is that it lives in the form of a dangerous beast inside of our heads. The danger of which I let dictate the other lovers in my life until their kind memories had sifted through my fingers like hot sand. I find an excuse every now and then, usually at night. To turn and look back whilst knowing that all I’ll have is the complicated memory of how they all made me feel. It feels fitting that this occurs at night, in the dark. Because, much like the night I couldn’t see much beyond what I felt. There’s a beauty in that pain, an unseen to the naked eye constellation of innocence and hope that even while scattered across my dark room I still feel my heart there, beating, waiting.

Meet the Family


Joshua Williams is an African American artist, activist, and poet. They are the bestselling author of "Joshua Williams in a Week of Suicide(s)" and "Love Bandit" both available on Amazon.com


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