(tw; family dysfunction)
I don't remember the day we first met.
I don't remember the time or the place
or what you were wearing
or what the very first thing you said to me was.
Honestly, it's difficult to imagine you
speaking to me at all, because, well,
that would require me not giving off an aura of distaste
to everyone in my general vicinity,
due to my extreme distrust of people in general.
Knowing me, we probably didn't even speak
until I grew used to seeing your face day after day,
became accustomed to your presence.
It's likely I knew your name before I said a word to you,
as I am an introvert with a side of social anxiety,
and it's always been a bit difficult for me to make friends.
Even after the first words we exchanged
transformed into our first conversation,
as pitiful of an excuse for one as it may have been,
there was nothing spectacularly romantic about it.
It was just passing remarks littered with wit,
sarcasm, and largely inappropriate humor.
I don't remember when you became so important to me.
No matter how much I wrack my brain,
clawing meticulously through every memory I can reach
in my largely disorganized mind,
it's impossible for me to pinpoint that one moment,
the instant in time that changed everything.
What I do remember is the way every inch of your face
reddens when you laugh,
that contagious grin spreading across your cheeks
as if you had just heard the funniest thing in the world.
I remember how it feels when I'm the one causing that smile,
that rush of accomplishment I get when I can make you happy,
even for just a moment.
Those little things, however insignificant they may seem,
are stuck with me,
ingrained into my brain like the stain of spilled grape juice
on a once-pure white shirt,
imprinted into my soul like an unexpected fissure in a landscape.
They torture me, day and night,
and you would expect by the way I describe these feelings
that I want them to go away,
that I want to remove the stain you've made on my life,
stitch my landscape back together
and act as though you hadn’t cracked me open,
and maybe, once upon a time, I would have,
I never want them to go away.
As much as it pains me to feel this way,
and as much as I sometimes despise being so attached to you,
undeniably and irrevocably reliant on your existence in my world,
you've made me feel ways that, a few years ago,
I didn’t think were possible.
Not long ago, I wasn't even sure if being happy with myself
much less feeling anything close to whatever this may be,
because I haven't quite figured it out yet.
All I know is that I care about you,
no matter how much or how little that may mean.
I care in ways that I probably shouldn't.
I want to protect you, keep you safe from harm,
and when I can't, it hurts.
It physically hurts me to see you endure any kind of suffering,
and yet I know you have to, every single day,
because you've told me so.
I've sewn together the shreds of you,
the real you, that you've shown me,
and as short and fleeting as those glimpses may have been,
I only want to see more.
I want to know who you really are, behind the mask,
behind the walls of the impenetrable stone fortress
that you've built for yourself.
You like caging your heart in your chest to protect it from harm,
I know that all too well,
but I want to put the pieces of you back together,
and even if I can't,
I will hold the shards of your soul with my bare hands
and keep you close to me.
No matter how long it takes,
no matter how painful it is,
no matter how much I bleed,
I'll do it for you.
Most people sweep broken things into a dustpan
and toss them in a trash bag,
tying them up and leaving them on the side of the road
with all of the other discarded and damaged items
that once had a purpose,
but I'm not one of those people.
I keep every broken thing I've ever come across,
if I can hold on long enough,
whether it be pieces of someone else or pieces of myself.
With you, though, I think it's both.
You remind me of the way I used to be,
and the way I am now.
Maybe that's why I care so much.
Because I know what it's like to have a mask.
I understand how it feels to have to protect yourself
from your own family,
because even they find ways to hurt you,
even when they try not to,
even when they don't.
You know that, though, or at least,
you may have come to that conclusion,
because I've offered shreds of myself to you, too,
the suffering I've had to endure.
You know, but I want you to understand why,
why I've allowed you to see the pieces of me that
I rarely show anyone.
Because I understand what it's like, and at the end of the day,
we're not that different.
After all, we’re both in pieces.
We’ve lost so much of ourselves,
and even though we’ve tried to keep the fragments together,
losing them was inevitable for us.
There’s not enough left to restore us completely.
We would have to search to the ends of the Earth
to even come close to making ourselves whole again,
and even then, it wouldn’t be enough.
But maybe we don’t have to.
Maybe we only need to look right in front of us,
we have enough to make something extraordinary.