Collateral | Teen Ink


March 9, 2021
By Cathy_Shang GOLD, Shanghai, Other
Cathy_Shang GOLD, Shanghai, Other
16 articles 7 photos 0 comments

“I swear he changed”

I believe you.

But neither of us can alter the past.

I’ve become a flower that had wilted into itself:

Shoulders always tense and curled up,

Always afraid, always nervous, always remembering.

It’s hard to bring a withering flower back to life.


“Try giving him another chance, he’s sorry.”

I hope that’s true.

But I’m not obligated to give more chances, no matter how sorry.

At a certain point it stops feeling like giving chances of redemption

At a certain point it feels like giving bullets when he missed the first time.

I’ve worked hard for this anger.


I don’t care if they’ve changed. I don’t care if they’re sorry.

It’s not fair is it?
It’s not fair
that I’m the collateral damage

to their becoming human.

The author's comments:

When I finally snapped from all the people asking to forgive, I put these pieces together and wrote this poem. When “I don’t want to,” and “no,” simply are not enough to deter people from invalidating trauma, I wrote this poem to declare that no matter how they’ve changed, I have no obligation to forgive. I do not have to forgive for being used as a stepping stone to someone
learning to be a human, neither does any other survivor of trauma.

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