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“Please don't do this again.” I felt a hand on my shoulder and the bed slump next to me, causing me to lean slightly to the left, my head resting on the body that had put itself beside me. An arm was slung around me, and the hand started moving up and down my arm, an action meant to comfort me, but did the opposite. I felt confined and trapped and I didn't like it. I shrugged my shoulder, trying to get the person to stop touching me and they obliged my silent request. I turned my head to see who had come and tried to get me to open up. It was my mother. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail with bits hanging down on her face. Her eyes were wide and filled with worry, and I could tell she was holding back tears, trying to be strong so, for once, I could be the weak one in the relationship. But I couldn't fall apart again, and certainly not in front of her.
It took me so long last time to finally rebuild myself after he left. After he said those words that broke me and left me shattered for months on end. She had to watch me fall apart every day for too long, and I watched her break as well. The only thing worse than breaking yourself is seeing someone you love break because of you. I couldn't watch her fall apart again so I wiped my eyes and gave her a small smile.
“You don't have to keep worrying about me. I promise I'm getting better.” I tried to sound confident to assure her that I really was okay, but she didn't buy it. Because she was the only one who saw through the exterior that the rest of the world couldn't. I build a fortress that people had to take years to get through, and so far, she was the only one to stick around long enough to actually break the barricade of the fortress walls. When other people caught a glimpse of the inner me, they ran away in the opposite direction without looking back.
When I finally showed my true colors to my father, I expected love in return, but instead received a look of disgust and betrayal. He left me and my mom behind, and I was to blame. My mother tried to convince me that I wasn't the reason. She tried to convince me that I wasn't the reason that my family fell apart, and was left scattered in pieces that would never be whole again.
I didn't know where my father was or if he ever intended to come back. He never called or tried to stay in touch, and I was doubtful that I would ever see him walking up our porch steps again, but I still hoped. I still waited for his return. I sat in my bed all day, looking out my window, waiting to see his blue ‘67 Chevy Impala roll up the street. My mother sat with me and had every day, all day for the past 18 months after she discovered that that's what I did after I got home from school all day. I was normally more lively and talkative, but today it was raining, like the day he left, and the memories flashed through my mind.
I was on my knees sobbing, apologizing for something I couldn't change. I was apologizing for being who I was, to my dad who couldn't stand the thought of having a son who was different from the other teenage boys that went to my school. He kept saying that he wished he had anyone but me as his son as he went through the house with a garbage bag, shoving all of his belongings inside. By the time he was done there were four bags full as well as a suitcase beside them. I was screaming for him to stop, kneeling on the floor, grabbing onto his leg, trying to force him to stay with me, to stay with us. If my mom came back and found him gone it would break her, and I couldn't bear to see that happen. He kept yelling for me to let go, but I wouldn't let him leave. That's when he turned around and slapped me across the face so hard the edge of my vision started to become black. I screamed even louder, sobs filling the air, but I let him go because that wasn't my father. My father didn't hit me. My father loved me. My father wouldn't leave me.
When he was my father again, he would return. He would hug me and tell me he was sorry for leaving. And everything would return to normal. And I would finally be okay. Until then, I sat waiting and I would continue to wait until he came back. My mother had tried to get me to move, trying to convince me that none of the events that took place was my fault, but I never believed her and the only way I could ever repay her was to make sure that if he ever did come back that I would be here to make sure that he didn't leave again. I only agreed to go to school because she promised that she would stay home and wait to make sure we never missed him. I would never forgive myself if he came back and we missed him.
Therapists had  come to the house upon my mother's request as she was worried about my state of mental health, but I told them all that there was nothing wrong with me, that I would not take any medication and nothing that they would say was going to make me move off of my spot on the bed.
I was told I had PTSD but I refused to accept the diagnosis. There was nothing wrong or unhealthy with missing my father. And I could stop waiting for him whenever I wanted, but I wouldn't let myself.
I would wait for him until he came back and that was the end of it.
“Honey I'm worried about you.” My mother's voice broke me out of my trance. “I'm worried you're going to waste your life here, sitting and waiting for your father. I promise I don't blame you for his leaving us. I just want you to be able to live your life and I don't think sitting here constitutes as living.” I had heard this speech many times and I told her the same thing is as I did every time before.
“Mom, I am perfectly content with how I am choosing to spend my life because if dad comes back and I can convince him to stay, I just might be able to forgive myself for making him leave in the first place.”
My mom started to get annoyed, which she did from time to time, and normally I understood considering she had a teenage son who refused to leave his room except to go to school because he was convinced his father who left years ago was going to magically appear on his doorstep, but she didn't usually get agitated on days like this, when I was lower than I normally was. “Why can't you just understand that he isn't coming back? Is my love not enough for you? Is that it? Am I just not enough?”
“Mom, please don't think that. I am doing this for you.” I wanted to make her understand that the only reason I sat here was to make sure that she got her husband back after I made him leave.
“You aren't doing this for me! You're doing all this for yourself. Do you think I like all of the looks I get in the supermarket? What do you think people think of me when my husband left and my child sits in his bedroom all day waiting for his father to return?” She was getting riled up and I knew she didn't mean any of it, and that once she calmed down that she would immediately apologize. So I let her continue, and, although I knew she didn't mean it, I couldn't help but believe her words as she went on about how I was just a selfish child who needed attention constantly. “And for once, could you think to do anything for anyone other than yourself? You know the world doesn't revolve around you? Oh wait, it has to otherwise, you have a fit and just make more work for me. So, do not say you do this for me because you sit here for yourself. And one day I'm not going to sit here with you anymore because I am done. I am done with you and your constant watching of the window and the porch and everything. I just want my son back, not my husband, my son because I lost him too that day. And, that you can actually do something about. Forget your father. He's gone and he's not coming back.” At that, her voice cracked. She burst into tears and left my room, slamming the door behind her.
Guilt ate at my inside since I was the one causing my mother pain. She was right about everything and the thought of losing her as well made me sick to my stomach. All this time I thought my refusing to give up was giving her hope of recovering what she had lost, but it was draining her of the chance to get her son back. So, for the first time in 18 months, I followed her. I left my place on my bed. I left my position at the window. I stopped watching the porch and went to give my mother her son back because she deserved that much. And I deserved to become her son again. I didn't need my father, and I certainly didn't need to keep wasting my life sitting here waiting for him when he's the one that left.






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