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Nov 2021

  You were a puzzle I desperately wanted to complete,
                  contorting myself into every one of your missing pieces
it wasn't enough


I'd get ready to leave

      in love soaked drunken haze you'd talk about the children we'd have or where we might live and I'd stay for the promises of tomorrows you'd never intended to keep
       There was always a next time

times when the gin pickled your compassion and in place of loving brume you threw out hate; lamenting your misunderstood plight in life (straight, white men, often have this plight) and the unknowable pain this brought you

    your abuse came in flavors; bitter mockery, flaming anger and sour ridicule of the way I existed in the world, the same way, that on other days, in happier drunken states, you'd cherish

When you'd sober up, we'd talk and sometimes it'd be okay. Other days you gave me your burdens to hold and if I objected, with words, a look,  or just a feeling you had about me
              you'd scold me for you walking on the eggshells of everything you broke in us, that somehow, was my fault too

   I was always, always, confused by that but I'd try harder to be better so you could be okay
       I stopped talking to you about all the days and ways you hurt me. By then you'd stopped sobering up at all
               Even if you'd been willing to listen I'm not sure what you could retain, the disease had taken so much by then


no matter

   you had me well trained at that juncture.

I became the weatherman of our days. Reading subtle room weather patterns, watching for your rains
            preparing our home for your storms. Our home, you never failed to note, was never mine, but only yours. Though you asked me to spend all my hours there, should you ever sense I became too comfortable you'd remind me I could go

  I learned to lessen your thunder by offering foot rubs, lunch dates, and freshly baked bread. I'd stroke your hair until you fell asleep (passed out) smelling always of alcohol and my failure to keep you well.

  Some days the winds of your self destructive disasters were too strong to offset so I'd have to wait for them to pass. I trained myself to never look afraid because my emotions; my wants, my needs, my tears,
     and especially my fear made you 'regret' me

that pain cuts still

  I learned what your abuse intended to train. Showing you only curated versions of myself that you liked, in amounts you approved of and only at times you desired.
     asking even , for permission to leave the room

eventually though, whether days, hours, months or years
   it stopped being enough

on the last day we were us I was in your kitchen cleaning up after baking healthy snacks, to support your health, after cleaning my place, following an 8 hour shift
                                                     somewhere in the sleep deprivation and domestic details I forgot myself and told you something in my heart, something that made me happy
          to which, unapplied and inebriated, you told me how bad of an example I set at my job

where I'd been promoted

Something broke; awoke, within me and remembering myself, finally, I clapped back
         you sulked like a 36 year old teenager and passed out while I took a shower to cool off
  I tried to talk to you 3 times over the next 7 days about what had happened but at every turn you doubled down, insisting,
                           that per usual I'd made this
     "much to do about nothing"
        I suppose
                                                                                   my feelings
were a lot of nothing you resented being saddled with
    caring if you'd hurt me was a wrongdoing I'd presented to you, by having been bothered enough, to have feelings left for you to hurt
   with great, crescendoing silence, you stonewalled my invitations to engage
        in superiority drenched distain you were fine with us ending, if I wanted to make it that big of a deal

So, on a Saturday in August, we were done.

    I gave your mom the fulfillment of a promise I had made her when I found myself with no way to stay, and having to go.
                for the tiniest window I felt free in my grief, thinking, the worst was done
      then they asked, if I'd show up, just once more, a heal, oh, oops, hail Mary pass to save your life with our love that you were hellbent at throwing away
         I watched you abuse every person you sore to me only to protect and I cried, a little at first, then a downpour that wouldn't relent, a releasing of all your storms I'd never felt safe enough to embrace in our (your) home came pouring out

i watched everything we'd been or could ever hope to be die

   once it was over and my usefulness shifted to obsolete I was discarded. It suddenly became clear where you'd learned it; the art of disorientation through giving kindness and cruelty in equal measure
                             i cried for 7 hours that night

it wasn't until weeks later, after setting boundaries with all who'd emotionally fileted me, that I understood I was a survivor.

                              of abuse
                                                                    of you; my abuser

     in knowing and naming what I'd endured I found the pieces missing form the puzzle of my freedom, the answer why I could never leave or stay left
                                                but now I could
                                                                              so i did

No I do, finally free from us, thriving out of the ashes as someone new, someone you never knew.

THE RISING (3 months later)

I went to the last place I can remember who I was before you; the same place that held me after our first break; that welcomes me back
  after our last

I sang the music you never liked; the songs I put on a playlist of us that you fast forwarded through
                   I laid down in spiders; letting their webs keep all the words we shouldn't have said, the ones you left unsaid, and your portion of our blame you let me carry alone.
     I stood up and let the wind take all the anxieties reading the room for your moods gave me and I let them float away --- saying
the goodbye you wouldn't give us

  Honoring what was good in the love I'm leaving behind, seeing clearly, now, how your punishment-affection-withholding chipped
  away at my foundation
                   I understand the strength I held; hold, because despite it all I kept getting kinder, softer and wiser while you kept letting life make you colder; using my light to stay warm and blaming me, without saying a word, when it wasn't enough to stop your past from catching up to you
                                                 i originally left for you
but I'm staying away for me.
                                           For the girl your abuse buried (may she rest in peace) and for the fiery phoenix of a woman you lit her world on fire, trusting she'd be strong enough to find joy in the unknowable aftermath
                               today is my closure
                       pieces of what we were sprinkled on the grounds of where we'd been and I'm going home (my home)
                 beautifully whole
         finding hope blooming in the holes where your lies used to live, feeling the clouds fill me up, holding space for all that awaits; ready to begin and
                             I'm happy

the spiderwebs can keep all our yesterdays, I've got beautiful todays and tomorrows to attend to
Chris Hollermann
Written by
Chris Hollermann
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