Letters to Stories: Behind “Broken Love”

By Simon Heywood

It’s really safe to say that all of my poems are inspired by my personal life. For Broken Love, it really is no different. Let’s start with the title, however. The title was actually inspired by two songs from YouTuber and Artist Gabbie Hanna, Broken Girls and Broken Boys. I was listening to these songs one day and my mind lingered on the word “broken.” I went back to my notes and found that two phrases that stuck out to me that I’ve always wanted to use was “broken home” and “broken family.” As I pondered over it, I tweaked it and thus Broken Love was born.

This poem tells the story of how this modern world views the difference between staying connected and “being clingy.” In context of my personal life, I describe how as I am growing up and wanting to be more free and wanting to really pursue what makes me happy, I am the bird finally ready to fly out of its nest. However, my leading parental figures are so desperate to get me to stay, even though I am ready to leave. The more they want me to stay, the more I want to leave, and that’s the premise of “Broken Love.”

I wrote this poem really trying to echo the sentiment sung by Panic At the Disco‘s Brendon Urie, “If you love me, let me go” from his song “This is Gospel.” However, there was also another source of inspiration from when I wrote this poem, and that’s from the fantasy TV show Once Upon A Time. Early on in season 2, The Evil Queen Regina Mills realizes she lost everything, including someone she has grown to love, her son, Henry. Slipping back into evil ways, she magically takes back her son (to which the public view as kidnapping) and keeps him inside her house for some time. When his grandfather, David, aka Prince Charming (only fans of the show will understand the complicated family tree), barges into her house to rescue Henry, it takes Regina a moment before she tells Henry to go live with David for a while. As she tells Henry to gather his things she tells him “I wasn’t capable of it for a very long time, but I know, I remember that if you hold on to someone too hard that doesn’t make them love you.” That line stuck with me as I kept watching the show and as I was growing up with the show. Among many lessons the show taught me, this one still sticks to me, because it is very relevant to my present life.

My caretakers try so hard to get me to be like them or to get me to just be with them, and the more they hold on, the more I’m letting go. The sentiment of “if you love me, let me go” is something they weren’t raised with and is something they don’t and won’t come to understand. The more they try the more they get get hurt, and the more I get hurt too. It’s like if you’re holding onto a rope and someone is on the other end trying to pull you up. The tighter you hold onto the rope, the more weight is concentrated. It’s harder for someone to pull you up. In addition, the tighter you both hold onto the rope, the more your hands get rope burns and you eventually can’t hold on anymore. “The tighter we held on, the more we couldn’t.”

The poem sort of takes a turn away from that sentiment with the stanza that follows. Every single time I would make a mistake, I was shamed for it, as well as all the times I showed a hint of my true colors. Time in the house that was never a home left me cracked and broken, but there still was no emotional support no matter how loud I cried, because every time I cried, I was shamed for that too. It was like they saw I was broken, but shamed me for being in that state because it hurt them to see me so “down.” And the more they were hurt, I was too. It pained me to see how my pain caused by them hurt them.

The final stanzas were just declarations of what I have to do. If I stay, things get worse. However, if I leave, things may be stormy for a moment, but they will in fact get better. I spent all my life trying to do everything to please them, including suppressing everything that makes me happy and unique, and that broke me too. These final stanzas, foreshadow the impending events that will take place in the future, and whether they like it or not, it will happen.

Broken Love is out now on my Instagram. Poems are released on Sundays.

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