Why do I cast the part of me that wants to be witnessed in my pain as my worst part?
For years my only way to communicate my grief was to wring it out of myself, dripping onto the table between us, a puddle to match your eyes, ever wider.
I learned to contort myself, to double over and force the little pinball of hurt through me, bouncing it up and up until it finally came out in gasps and tears.
I told myself I was manufacturing the pain, making a spectacle. That it was for the attention.
I knew it was wrong and I was wrong for doing it.
What if that hard little ball was all my compressed trauma and grief, packed down into a Nibbler pellet of radioactive waste? What if it was all my tears and disappointment and fear and anger and bewilderment at her, at myself, at life, none of which I knew how to cope with, all carried in my muscle and viscera, and the only way for me to off gas even a tiny part of it was to wedge the door open hard, throw a crowbar in and push?
What if I needed you to see me the way I needed her to see me? What if I wasn't play acting for you but honoring the memory of me, small, standing in her path, her hurting me and my heart breaking.
I wanted her to love me. I wanted to be so good it would make her love me, make her stop telling me I'm bad, stop thinking it, stop feeling it inside herself at all. I wanted to bring her all the wildflower bouquets and draw her all the pictures and give her all the gifts. I wanted her to hold me in her lap and stroke my hair and tell me everything is going to be okay.
Maybe wanting to cry in front of you is performative. Maybe performance isn't a dirty word. I needed her to see me and she never did. I need someone outside myself to see me, see that I'm not what happened to me, to bear witness to my pain and honor it. That little girl who wanted to be good.
I was walking the one block to your house and thinking about crying in front of you and now I’m in your bed alone crying by myself and both are me, both are valid, both are good. I can never be good enough because I was never bad to begin with. I’m big now and I am alive in my after and my pain isn’t a pinball now, it’s a giant collage I unfolded in therapy and drew on and punched holes through and cried onto.
Here I am, now, face wet, smiling.