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Nights Like This One
This is the kind of loneliness I can’t seem shake. This night, it feels like the hollowed-out area of my heart can’t be filled. When I shiver, it’s not because of the cold. On nights like this, I curl up onto the edge of my bed, and listen to the gentle noises the house sings out to me, lulling me to sleep.
When I wake, my face will feel too heavy. My eyes will itch to close, to make up for lost sleep. I avoid mirrors; Seeing the purple flesh under my eyes, or the chapped redness of my nose reminds me of it all. I don’t want to remember anymore.
On sleepless, lonely nights like this, I’m left to recount events that none should have ever gone through. These nights, I can look back, and only think of the sorrow that you have caused, of the pain you’ve inflicted on the people closest to you. I always wish that you hadn’t been lead into temptation. That money didn’t shove us down on your priority list. That desperation didn’t lead you to addiction.
Sometimes, when people ask, the back of my throat itches with the story I want to tell. In my mind, I recall the things that happened, but they play in fragments. When I try to explain my emotions, but they only come out as concepts instead of feelings. I can’t start from the beginning, because there isn’t one. What I can start with is the day my whole world fell, the day realization took the place of denial, and my reality finally began to make sense.
On November 3rd, 2005, you woke me at 3 AM with your sobbing. Paralyzed with confusion, I lay there to hear a thud and split, and the heavy footsteps of men walking down the linoleum hall toward our room. My brother stared over at me with a curious look of relief and sadness. My sister wimpered next to me.
And then it blurs. Somehow, we made it to the living room, and the four of us sat on the sofa, quietly weeping. The guns were pointed at us. Ironically, the flash of red and blue coming through the windows reminded me of Christmas. When I looked through them, I could see your boyfriend lying on the ground in his boxers, guns pointed at his head, being read his Miranda rights.
Sitting there next to you, watching this, I couldn’t help but feel like you were gone from us. You sat there, sobbing, and yet… I couldn’t feel you there. When they took you away from us, handcuffed, you didn’t dare meet my gaze. Later, I’ll learn, when you tell me through the plexiglass in the county jail, it was because you were so filled with shame and regret.
My memory fogs, again. I met many smiling, unknowing social workers. I ended up, somehow, at the house of my dad’s, cradled in his arms. It was now to be my house, too. I’ve lived here, with my dad and step-mom, for four years now.
Looking back, I don’t understand how we could have lived the way we did. You went through so many cycles of depression, and then joy. You lost too many jobs, and we lost too many homes, and I can count on two hands how many times we’ve moved. Because I had to do things for my sister that you couldn’t, I grew up way too fast. Childhood is absent from my childhood.
I learned to not question the way things work, and to ignore the details. When people you barely knew tore through our house and stole and broke things, you brushed it off as if it was nothing. When I woke in the middle of the night to smell pungent smoke that filled the air, or saw things I shouldn’t in the garage, I kept it to myself. Now, four years later, things that didn't make sense then are slowly starting to make sense.
The effects of that night, and the effects of the eleven years that I lived with you, came in ripples. First, the shock that the person closest to me could hurt me so much sent me off-kilter. Even today, my subconscious tells me to avoid getting to close to people, because I know they will hurt me someday. I'm not close to my dad. I break away from friends who know me too well. I isolate myself, because I'm too afraid of being hurt. To be honest, I blame you for that. I also blame you for my depression. Sometimes, sadness grips me like a clingy child would a blanket. I suffocate under my sorrow.
However, I also thank you for exposing me to the world. No longer am I naive. I have a wisdom that is far beyond my years. Today, I know I'm more mature than most my age, more mature than many adults. Including you.
In over a year, I haven't seen you. Sometimes, I forget about you, I forget that you are, or ever were, my mother. Sometimes, I forget you love me, because you've hurt me so much. And sometimes, I'm left again to face the truth, and to sigh about what happened. On nights like this, my mind goes over it all again, trying to make sense of you and Life and Love and Sorrow. And in the end, what I'm left with is details that manifest in the back of my mind, and keep me up, on nights like this one.