We stand in a circle talking as the rain falls outside. The gloom seems to have settled around us while we force pointless conversation. He attempts to show excitement as he raves about the latest movie you both watched and all the meals that you have cooked. I try to muster happiness, because he seems to be there for you more than he ever was for me.
The conversation slowly shifts to the events of the day. The minutes have escaped us and we really have to leave. Before our goodbyes, he reaches out to grab your money. His hands are trembling. My eyes flicker from his face to his fingers. I wish he could see my disapproving glare, as if doing so would make him notice the pain that he is causing. I want to scream at him; order him to take a damn drink so he can stop the withdrawals before they get worse. I want to tell him that he isn’t doing us any favors by waiting until we leave to crack open the first can. He cannot fool us.
The next words out of his mouth don’t help matters. “You don’t need all this money today. Only take half of it. There is no reason you should spend all of your $40.” I can’t help but wonder why he has to control it. You are only ten, after all. That money is burning a hole in your pocket. It’s yours, and the only way to really learn to manage your money is to decide how to spend it yourself. Besides, you have your older sisters to help you make decisions.
We finally leave and move toward the promise of a good day. I wish so badly to invade your mind and give you the perfect day without you having to request any of it. Throughout the drive and all of lunch, you are quiet. We ask you why, but you say it’s nothing. You are thinking of all the shopping we are about to do and are excited about the lunch you are going to eat. You cannot wait to spend a day with your sisters. I watch your face as it struggles to keep up with your lies. They roll off your tongue and you don’t crack a smile; you don’t try to make us believe.
At the stores, we are pulling clothes of racks rapidly. We can’t wait to find you something that you will love. The fitting rooms broke your spirit, though. You spent countless minutes studying yourself in the mirror, and when you emerged there was no confidence in your eyes. You sought approval, asked opinions. You’re told so often that you aren’t perfect, that you have to change. I want to make you see your beauty. I want you to know how much you have always lit up my world.
As the day ends, my pockets are empty. I’ve tried to give you everything you could possibly want. I wanted to see your face light up. I wanted you to be happy.
When we return, he can’t hide the drunken heaviness in his voice. A fog has seemed to settle in the room and your smile slowly fades. You feign excitement as you pull things out of the bag to show him. He can’t even pretend to care as he scoffs at all our choices. His hand reaches for your money and he tries to hand it to me. I shake my head, tell you to keep it for yourself. My stomach churns when I notice his hands no longer shaking. I almost wish they still were. I hate to leave you with him.
I hug you, tell you to call me if you need anything. He screams, “She will NOT need anything” as if he could sense the subtle hint in my voice.
Driving home, I feel sick. My previous happiness vanishes. One day doesn’t change a thing. I want you to be happy. I want you to live as a child and stop putting him first. I want to tell you that while hope is good, too much hope can hurt. He’s proven countless times that he won’t change. I’d hate for you to hurt when he doesn’t.
I want you to talk to me and share how you feel. I want you to have a choice of where you live and how you are treated. I long to watch the hurt slowly melt from your eyes.
You have no idea how desperately I want you to finally be free.
Let me make this crystal clear
That I don’t need your help
& I’m okay by myself
You can go to hell
& I feel it’s time that I have said
there are some things that I regret
Like never checking out the odds against this bet
'Cause I would bet my favorite things I ever owned
That you would leave, and I’d be missing you like hell.
But I won’t.
Go to hell.
I stood by your side on one of the worst nights of your life. I sobbed with you. I hugged you. I did whatever I possibly could. In the weeks that followed, I talked to you nightly. I traveled across the state to attend dinners with people I didn’t know. I walked with you through your pain. I tried to help you.
If I were ever in the same situation, would you do the same for me?
I can’t help but to think that you wouldn’t. You’ve hurt me more times than I can possibly count. You made me believe that I was only hurt because I was insecure and jealous. You made me feel like I was second to everyone else in your life - like I didn’t matter.
You’ve taken plans I’ve made and thrown them into the dust. You’ve dragged me along to events I don’t want to attend. You pushed me to be better, prettier - more like you. You’ve scoffed at my “style.” You’ve made me feel that my lack of plans for the future makes me inadequate.
Our conversations feel stiff and forced these days. I’m starting to wonder why I even bother anymore. You’ve pushed me too far, “best friend.”
I deserve to be listened to. I deserve to have someone who loves me unconditionally and supports me in whatever I chose to do. I deserve to have someone in my life who follows through with what they say. I deserve so much better than you.