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He said, Tell yourself who you are,

or others will make you a minor character

in a play where they are the stars.

So, I gave myself permission to be

a poet, a musician,

a good all-of-the-above:

wife, mother, sister, friend—

the many roles I inhabited,

but always felt deficient.

I have rarely known love

in the way I need love,

yet, I am surrounded with love.

Tell me, self, where have you been?

Why haven’t you defended me

against the dark thoughts?

Why haven’t you picked me up

and protected me,

held me in your arms,

and told me I am worthy

of these simple things?