At age 62, my pursuit of self-love abundance – the cure for SLDD -
self-love deficit disorder/codependency – still brings me to new plateaus
of understanding, clarity, and experiences of emotional freedom. This
poem reflects my 35-year battle to get to where I am.
The poem is meant to be an important reminder about the unconscious
(dissociated) and conscious battle we must wage against SLDD’s primary
causes: core shame, loneliness, and the addictive impulse to numb our
pain through a human magnet syndrome compelled relationship with the
next narcissist.
Moreover, it is written to help SLDs or self-love deficients (codependents) to
understand and identify the malignant power of gaslighting and how it tricks
us into believing in “crimes” we never committed and support of the jail
sentence we never deserved.






After twenty-five years of prison time

for a crime I committed against myself,

I was pardoned as an innocent man.


Although exonerated,

I couldn’t escape the guilt and shame

that gaslit me into a self-conviction

of a crime I committed against myself


As the rusted, steely prison door opened,

A terrifying blast of sunshine

attacked my eyes,

causing me to squint,

forcing me to submit to freedom’s burning light.


Although unsure and afraid,

my long-buried heart -

once terrorized by thoughts of freedom -

commands me to open my eyes

so that I can discern the difference

between hornet nests

and the promising gifts of the present


Despite my caged-animal panic,

I willed my eyes to open

to survey the vista of freedom.

that, until that moment,

only manifested through a

small opening of a window

vertically lined

with rusted, steely bars.


The incomprehensible compassion

from these welcoming smiley faces,

all brimming with compassion,

could not sooth my reflex to recoil

return in captivity’s dark

but falsely safe jungle.


Frightened of getting lost

in a jungle of unfamiliar territory,

I yeared for my former prison home,

and now vacat prison cell

Where my only joy

was playing poker for cigarettes.

with men guilty of actual crimes

that rivaled my gaslit ones.


But on this bittersweet day,

to return to a false sanctuary

where my heart and soul mistook  

bars and concrete-fortified walls

for protection against

my most terrifying inner demons,

and from the most dangerous perpetrator of all -



Today, I commit to a path of self-love.

I will not let the brightness of reality

cause me to squint or close my eyes

while denying myself my birthright

of emotional freedom and self-love.


If I ever am carried back t

o the trauma of yesteryear,

I commit to reaching for sunglasses

that will shield me from the grabbing tentacles

of shame, loneliness, and despair.

Hence, I will no longer recoil from the pain of new truths

Or the confusion of past nightmares

and new dreams of freedom. 


Today, I am safe and content in a life

requiring newly constructed walls of self-love  -

shielding me from self-decided guilty verdicts

of crimes committed against me.


I will never return to where I never deserved to be.


Ross Rosenberg

March 2024


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