I’ll never tell him that I still think about him. That songs send me back in his arms and places take me closer to our past and people leave me missing whatever fleeting love we felt. That I miss the way he smelled and how he strangled my hair and how our lazy Friday nights comprise some of my most cherished moments. Instead, I’ll remember why it didn’t work and why wayward feelings slipped through the cracks in our broken hearts. I’ll let moments pass and urges fade and wishes stay at the bottom of lonely bottles.
I’ll never tell her that I miss her. That regardless of stabbed backs and broken promises and vindictive actions, there are moments where the only person I want to tell a secret to is her. That there are instances only she would appreciate and stories only she would laugh at and parts of me only she would understand. Instead, I’ll remember an abandoned friendship and failed plans that revealed truths too substantial to ignore. I’ll let inside jokes pass and memories fade and toasts stay at the bottom of lonely bottles.
I’ll never tell him that I forgive him. That despite landed punches and effective pushes and sharpened words that cut deeper than both, I want my father around. If there’s a man I want his approval and if there’s an isle I want him to walk me down it and if there’s a Pulitzer I want him smiling in the crowd. Instead, I’ll remember every “bitch” and “cunt” and “whore” and “worthless” he filled my confidence with. I’ll let Father’s Days pass and birthdays fade and acceptance stay at the bottom of lonely bottles.
I’ll never tell her that I don’t forgive her. That every night she didn’t leave and every excuse she used to stay have stuck to the inside of my rib cage and formed a cocoon around my hardened heart. As a mother she should have known and as a mother she should have protected, yet as a mother she did neither. Instead, I’ll remember how scared she was and how hard she tried and how brave she is and how loving she continues to be, to an undeniable fault. I’ll let judgement pass and hate fade and resentment stay at the bottom of lonely bottles.
I’ll never tell him that I’m sorry. That I couldn’t love him how he wanted and couldn’t need him like he deserved and couldn’t survive with our masochistic similarities. That every time he touched my skin or kissed my lips or sent me spinning with pleasure were times that ended in a realization neither one of us wanted. Instead, I’ll remember that love is multifaceted and his presence is better than none and that, over time, he will find someone better. I’ll let lust pass and necessity fade and friendship stay at the bottom of a lonely bottles.
I’ll never tell myself it wasn’t my fault. That unending shots and a combative mouth and a need to be in the middle didn’t contribute to a night I can’t take back. That if I hadn’t been drunk or poked at his ego or tried to one-up his presence, he wouldn’t have felt the need to ignore my “no”. Instead, I’ll carry my guilt and cringe when I hear the word “rape” and attempt to erase his face from my memory. I’ll let shivers pass and screams fade and that night stay at the bottom of lonely bottles.
I’ll never tell because the unsaid allows me to live in a world I control. It’s where I’m still in love with him and still friends with her and still the apple of his eye and still angry at the wrong person and still enjoying his touch and still in control of the situation.
Don’t tell. That’s how you survive.