[Saying farewell to someone, after any relationship, is hard. Getting out from underneath the loss, from the pain of abandoning the familiar is terrible. To finally find yourself unmoored, only able to rely up on yourself and no one else. I wouldn’t lie that I found freedom in this, but there are people out there that prefer company to isolation. This goes out to anyone who felt the struggle of moving on, moving out from home, making new friends, dating again. To those getting out of abuse relationships of all kinds, and who know you don’t have to be romantically involved to face abuse of any kind. For those that know the doubt, the second guessing, the self-skepticism. This is a salute to you. These are reflections to help with the healing, hopefully they will not wound or harm.]
There once was a time where I trusted implicitly, knowing it was returned, and then there came a day when I struggled to remember why I did in the first place; why when I looked over across the car, answered phone calls or texts, that I had taken those first steps, like a stumbling baby, to make friends. I had been alone for so many years I wonder now why I hadn’t just suffered through until the end and gone to high school. Except for one thing, I had never had one before and I was curious. What do these people find in one another? How can they even communicate with one another with such ease? I had parental figures, those I trusted automatically – like breathing – to protect, feed, and clothe. But never someone to play with, make mischief with, someone to say why don’t we, instead of why we shouldn’t.
Memories had kept me anchored, when the world was light and good, rainy summer nights watching fireworks, laughter bubbling like champagne and pouring over through tears as pillows were tossed during sleepovers, inside jokes no one else would understand. Nostalgia kept me constant. But then there was everything else. The scales seemed to tilt so far the floor beneath me shook. Out weighted. All that I had put up with, all the subtle nicks and jabs to my ego, my self-esteem, my confidence, minor and subtle accidents that were treated like breaches in codes of honor. And now even doing the simplest things make my hands shake, and makes me clumsy and befuddled. I wonder at how I manage to hold conversations with anyone. But the amazing thing was these small mental abuses were never that subtle, you weren’t ever built for subtlety. You could flirt and you could mesmerize, sometimes I wondered if it was magic, what would have everyone so charmed by your essence? Men come and get out just as quickly, once they get what they came for, once they see what I hadn’t.
I had let myself take the punches, numbed myself, leathered my skin like a punching bag for you to abuse, thinking I could take the knocks because I loved you, remained loyal to our friendship, revolved my world around you, allowed you more latitude than really anyone would. And you must have liked that kind of manipulation, thrived on it, especially since I wouldn’t challenge you on it. My loyalty blinding me to what you had done to me. Thinking naively that this would prove my friendship. Being around you despite my parents telling me not to, young rebellion sated with consorting with you instead of rougher, more damaging things. Time away would convince me otherwise, family, my other friends, when I did have friends other than you – when you weren’t policing the relationships I kept around me, for they all knew if you excluded them I couldn’t maintain a relationship with them and still be best friends with you – all tried to convince me that I should separate but everything worked against my being separate from you.
Even now I question that maybe it’s my own mind playing tricks, building monsters in your shadow. Making horrible visions out of the wisps of smoke from your cigarettes. But you went out and had that turned on you, a taste of your own medicine, and didn’t like receiving; so you came back to me, mended the bridge I thought you had burned, to restore the balance. The bridge you had burned, when I had actually committed a breach of contract, desperate for others to know what I knew, you had laid the trap and snapped it shut around me, and I was cutoff, left un-moored and drifting, with uncertain shipmates, I hadn’t known I couldn’t trust and others that were dying. In that time, I realized there was no one to rely on but myself, in a way what you had done was both a gift and curse. And I allowed it, allowed you to rebuild that war torn bridge because by the time you asked for reentry once again, as I nervously debated for hours whether or not to allow it, and you questioned with a laugh as my hands nervously wrung a paper, diner napkin, why had I appeared so nervous as if it was something you couldn’t comprehend. I was going to college and was without friends, taking care of a dying grandmother, waiting for word of the condition of a cancer-riddled uncle but didn’t realize I was in the process of building a new foundation of friends for myself – with the promise of more – but by then we were upon a new path and practically picked up from where you left off.
again you jibed and punched and danced upon my skin but there were scars now, sewn patches from damage long repaired and the new friends oiled my leathered skin into something resembling flesh again. They questioned and explained the problem, cradling me gently to explain that I didn’t have to suffer, I didn’t have to keep allowing myself to be punched, to take the knocks, to prove my worth as a friend. Then the worst thing happened, sending your own personal progress back to the beginning, and I did the only thing I knew was right, the loyal thing, I stayed and remained as best as I could. Making myself almost dangerously sick with the effort.
I tried so hard until one day that effort wasn’t enough. Outside influences pulled us in differing directions, you tried to resist, and I went willingly. I tried to retain my connections as best as possible, everything about my attempts so impossible. And you gave up, since I couldn’t maintain my usefulness, and I no longer could take being dismissed out of hand for all that I had done, simply because I couldn’t always be available to you. Because I wouldn’t bleed for you. For once I chose to be somewhere else instead of immediately by your side, when there were many times when I was second best and never complained, just patiently waited for you to want my company again. So now I took a page from your book, a Molotov cocktail since you practically gave me the glass bottle, cloth aflame, and burn a bridge myself I probably should have long ago. It takes everything within me to do it, I could collect and keep people forever like I do bric-a-brac forever unchanging on my bookshelves, dusty comforting and familiar. So even now I am left with an empty feeling, wondering endlessly over things said, unsaid, and if it was myself that was wrong and if you were right, but then I have to remind myself, that you would always make yourself the victim, pointing out what I had done wrong and how I should apologize. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you apologize, and I wonder if I ever will, if you would ever admit to anyone, even yourself, that you were wrong. Even through all of that, this is where I leave you. I will move on out of necessity, but remember you always with affection and say goodbye, even though you never gave me the chance. But then again I never really ever stood up for myself when it came to you. I guess I wasn’t strong enough to take your punches after all. Goodbye.