As I (not so) patiently wait for Gretchen Gomez’s release of her second collection, Welcome to Ghost Town I decided this was the perfect time to reread her debut, an Amazon best seller, Love, and You
I first read Love, and You about a year ago right after the end of a toxic and all around destructive relationship and this book hit me in all of the feels. I remember reading it in one sitting and flipping through the pages wanting to consume every last page, every last syllable as I read the words out loud unknowingly until I found myself crying at some of the poems, my chest filling with pain as I cling to the book as if it was the only thing keeping me from falling apart. I didn’t want it to end, but I wanted to know how it ended. I needed to know Gomez was going to be okay. I needed to know I was going to be okay. Since then I’ve read this collection numerous times but have never sat down and wrote my thoughts on it other than a short Goodreads review that does not do the debut any justice. Hopefully this will make up for that and will make any of you who aren’t already excited for Gomez’s second collection become as excited as I am.
From the opening of the collection Gomez dedicates the book “to women who know they deserve better” which is a lingering, underlying theme in this book. Women deserving better. Throughout the collection the author writes about her pain loving a man who does not see her worth as a lover, as a woman. He takes her love for granted, he doesn’t give her a place in his life, and isn’t there for her when she most needs him. The way Gomez writes about her pain, her mistrust, her heartbreak allows you not only to feel the emotions she felt at the time but stirs up emotions that lie within you which is no easy feat. I felt as if I was going through the relationship with her while reliving some of my own heartaches – it was such a surreal feeling that at some points I had to stop reading to wipe away tears, catch my breath, and only then could I continue reading.
The author writes early on about all the times she should have put an end to their relationship, all the red flags she could now see looking back. This foreshadowing was the most perfect set up to the events which we to play out in the rest of the collection from the fighting, to the leaving, to the wishing he’d come back to her. As I read through these red flag moments my heart sank for I could relate on some level to each of them which made me consume her words as fast as possible – I needed to know what her final breaking point was; I needed some sign to help me figure out where my final breaking point should be for I was going through similar situations.
One of the most powerful pieces in this collection that a lot of people will overlook is how she too started “reciprocating toxins”. I remember reading this poem and staring at it; it hit me straight to the gut – and it hurt. It called me out. As a woman who has been there, been the receiver of abuse, I also learned to give it and not many people are willing to admit that character defect in themselves. Gomez however is not afraid to tell her readers and admit to herself that she “can’t always play” the victim. I applaud her for this vulnerability and thank her for the reality check.
Gomez also beautifully intertwines her Latinx culture by writing a few pieces in Spanish, her first language, which makes this book stand out from the rest of the collections that share the same themes of love, loss, and grieving. Having those handful of poems gives her readers such an intimate look into her personal life, and I for one am so thankful that she shared them with us.
The last thing I will touch upon from this collection is this poem:
this dark crazy love
with someone while
they trigger your mental illness.
Read it. Read it again. And again. Let it sink in.
This poem, like the victim/reciprocating toxins poem, hurt me to read because I felt as if Gomez had wrote it for me. And maybe she did. Maybe she wrote it for me, and for herself, and for every single person who allowed themselves to be mentally fucked over (her words, and now mine as well) by someone they loved, someone they believed loved them. Her words cut like a knife but in a good way – in the way that allowed me to start letting go of all the harmful stigmas that love should heal, should save, should somehow magically cure my mental illnesses. The trope that if someone loved me, I would finally be able to love myself. I never knew a poem, art, could do that until I read Gomez’s work.
So even if you’re not in a toxic or abusive relationship. Even if you’ve never been in a relationship like Gomez was, there’s plenty of poems in this collection that will stick with you long after you put her collection down – if you can put her collection down. Her words are not only powerful, but they’re soft in the way they resonate with you, they stay with you, but they can comfort and heal you if you listen to them, if you allow them to. This book broke my heart, this book then mended the pieces back together and reminded me that all the love I have to give I am allowed to give it to myself first and foremost. That I am under no obligation to give it to a man (woman, or any other person) who doesn’t see my worth, understand my needs, and give it back to me ten fold.
If you haven’t yet read Love, and You I hope this inspires you to go grab a copy for yourself here and share in this beautifully heartbreaking-collection.
You can find Gretchen Gomez on both Twitter and Instagram under the handle @chicnerdreads and follow her blog here.
Make sure to mark your calendars so you don’t miss her release of Welcome to Ghost Town this October!