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I Can't Leave
I used to go to sleep thinking about you. I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from smiling, trying to keep my laughs silent so I wouldn’t wake up the other people occupying my home. You would always make me laugh like that, remember? You teased me about it; you said I could never stop laughing even at the littlest thing. And you were right. If it came from you, it would inevitably make me smile and laugh.
Those were the light and fun conversations. The ones that I wished we could have all the time, without anyone else interrupting. I didn’t need interruption when you were near. I couldn’t stand it. I loved you, and I didn’t want to share the one thing that made me so happy.
I remember the first time I felt a pang in my chest that didn’t stem from the excited nervousness you could make me experience. I liked that feeling; it was one of my favorite ways to feel, a natural high. But this time it wasn’t a feeling of excitement. I had recognized it immediately; it was one of fear. You were scaring me. You were making me sad.
How could this be possible? This wasn’t you, this wasn’t the person that could make me laugh just by the way you said hello. It must be my fault, I rationalized. It couldn’t have been you, how could it be you? No, no I would not believe it was in any way your fault.
Of course I apologized immediately. I begged your forgiveness, promising I would never be so stupid again. You begrudgingly forgave me, to my relief. I resided never to do anything so detrimental to our relationship again. For a while, I watched everything I said or did, trying to predict the course of events to make sure what I did never impacted you in a negative way and make you upset with me again.
But my predictions were not always correct. Stupid mistakes on my part, nevertheless hurting you in the process and making you upset with me again. I of course continued to beg your forgiveness, punishing myself for doing something so ignorant. You didn’t deserve to have to deal with this, and I didn’t want to make you. But it kept happening, again and again! I feared the day when you decided it wasn’t worth dealing with anymore. My biggest fear was that you would walk away from me, never looking back.
But you always came back. When I thought I was about to die from loneliness and depression, you came back. You pretended you were never upset at all, and I did nothing to change your mind. I didn’t want to think that it was possible that one day you might not come back, but when you were near I couldn’t believe that was possible. When you were kind and funny, nothing could go wrong.
As soon as I felt it was safe again, you made a 180 degree turn. You changed from respectful to rude and kind to mean in no time flat. And I kept blaming myself. It took a year and a half to even think that something might be wrong with you too. I decided it must be our differences clashing, nothing either of us could do about it. We would learn to figure out each other’s quirks and get around them. Then nothing would go wrong anymore.
I started with mine. I had never really had high self-esteem, so discovering problems within me was not a problem. I came up with a good list before I started on yours. Each time I thought of something new for your list, I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t your fault and that I just didn’t understand. But when I really couldn’t think of any reason why you would do such a thing, I added it to your list. I had a few decent ones before I decided I was finished.
After I had really thought over all my problems as well as yours, I began to notice them much more often. Trying always to better myself, I tried to catch myself in the act of doing these things so I could come up with an alternative. When I noticed them within you I tried to steer you slightly in a better direction, one that wouldn’t cause a fight. But in the end, it did start an argument. You never knew you were hurting me. It wasn’t your fault, it was only mine.
I remember when I realized that it wasn’t all my fault. It was a shocking revelation, completely unheard of. For you to be the root of my sorrow was unimaginable. But there was no other plausible explanation. What could I do but admit that it was all you.
I realized you were using me, and that you had been for a very long time now. I was the person that would let you always be right and never in the wrong. You craved that; you needed that. Since I gave it to you, you used it as much as you could. I was an easy target. I had no self-esteem and nothing good going for me. I was intelligent enough for a conversation when you were bored, and when you were in a mood you knew you could take it out on me without consequence. It was always a game, toying with my emotions. I bet you think I’m pretty stupid for never figuring that out.
I thought the solution was simple. Get out. Walk away from you like I had been so terrified of you doing to me. What harm could you do to me if you were no longer a part of my life? All I had to do was walk away. I could stop answering your texts and never acknowledge you when we were forced to be in a close vicinity of each other. Soon you would give up, deciding it was not worth it and look for someone else to take my place, until they got the strength to leave you too.
I was so sure I could do it. This was what was best for me, I couldn’t deny that. But when I saw you again, when I was just about to turn around and walk away, I stopped. I looked at you from where I was standing, knowing you hadn’t spotted me yet. Part of me wanted to go up and talk to you, but another part helped me to stay put. Why could I not turn around and not look back? I had plenty places to go that you would never show your face in; it wasn’t that you were everywhere I needed to be. You were just here. I didn’t need to be here, yet I did at the same time. There was a gravitational pull drawing me to you. I suppose I had never noticed it before, simply because I had never tried to fight it before. But when I was, it made itself known.
I kept trying to fight it. I was stronger when you weren’t around and I couldn’t see you. But when you were in my line of vision all was lost, and I became no more than a slave to my own emotions. I had thought so highly of you before. I still do, even though I know now that I really shouldn’t. At first I blamed force of habit. But it was more than that. I didn’t have the strength to let go, simply because I didn’t want to.
There were still times when you made me laugh and smile. I’m not ready to give that up yet. I’m not sure that I ever will be. I know now it’s far from worth it to endure hours of fear for a second of laughter. There are other people who, if I had let them, could make me feel better than you ever did. But I can’t seem to let anyone else in when you are still around and in my life.
I wish I could say that this is goodbye. I’ve resided so many times before that this was really it this time, and that I was really going to kick you out of my life. But I never went through with it. I always came back; only to find you never even noticed I was gone. I wish that was enough to make me leave, but it isn’t and it never was. My mind has put you up on a pedestal; keeping the place you had in my mind sacred and untouched by no one else but you. Letting other people in and taking you out has proved to be an impossible task.
I know you are very bad for me. I know I have to leave if I want to experience a normal life again, without all the pain you cause me. I am afraid of you. I should not be afraid of someone that I love so much, someone that I trust with all I have. I fear what you can do to me. I fear the power you have over me. I fear the fact that you know just what kind of control you have, and exactly how to use it to always keep me at arm’s length.
I’m very aware that this is not healthy for either one of us. I’m sure that my leaving would make us both much better off. But I can’t do it. It’s not that I don’t know what you're doing to me. It’s just that I don’t know how to leave you with the strength that I need to stay away.