Which came first- Crippling self doubt or the magnetic desire to numb myself? As far back as I can remember, these have been the tracks playing in my mind. Tip toeing around the house, trying not to wake up my father as he sleeps off the booze. The smell of mixed drinks and his violent snores fill the middle of the room as I quietly retrieve my toy from under his feet. If I wake him, there will be a series of arguments. Or he will walk out with no indication of when or if he will return. I slink up to my room to play alone, grabbing some Doritos and soda to drown my feelings.
I pull my pants down to my knees, searching fruitlessly for that perfect spot of blue that hasn't disappeared beneath the goosebumps that cover my bruised flesh. It's cold out. I don't feel anything. I don't see anything. I don't hear the sound of children nearby as their parents walk them to school. He left me again. Left me days ago saying “I'll be right back…” I should have known the truth. My $40 and his pretty face are gone. I gave up believing in happily ever after a lifetime ago. If he doesn't show up with a jail wristband, it's over. Sticking myself with poison, hoping I can spread my ribs to massage my aching heart back to life one day.
I got your text message. I read it again and again. I want to believe in someone. I want to believe in something. When you told me you “adore me”, I want to believe I am the person that you see. I want to believe you aren't the ten other men that hurt me. I want to believe you aren't my father, looking for any reason to leave. I want to believe in a friend that elevates me above my fears. I want to believe I am better than this. I dissect happiness into the smallest pieces. I inspect it for the tiniest flaw. Which came first- Crippling self doubt or the magnetic desire to numb myself? I am not sure. I need you to shake me loose from these rotten bandages so I can finally heal.