man carrying woman on seashore

Maybe We’re The Ones Who Stay

“You’ll leave once you get to know me, because doesn’t everyone?”

That’s what you told me, and it’s what we’ve both known to be true up to this point. Parents leave, lovers leave, friends leave.

People leave.

If we show too much, if we care too much, the people we want so badly to stay end up leaving. They walk away, and we’re left standing there, holding all the love we knew wouldn’t be enough. We’re left feeling broken, irreparably damaged.

Sometimes we care too much, dig a little too deep, and we scare ourselves into leaving. We see something that sparks hope and excitement, and we run from that spark, fearing the inferno it could ignite. An inferno that might be all-consuming. An inferno that might be the end of everything we thought we knew.

We’ve both been left, and we’ve both been the one who leaves.

We know what it feels like to hold parts of yourself back from a person because it’ll hurt less when they leave. If they don’t know you, all of you, then it’s not really you they’re leaving. It’s the version of you that you chose to let them see. And somehow, that hurts less.

It feels impossible right now to imagine that you’ll stay. That I’ll stay. It feels impossible to let myself see a future with you, to see “you and I” as “us.” It feels impossible to let you in, because I don’t want you to take a piece of me when you go. I see that fear reflected in your eyes. Haven’t we both given enough of ourselves to people who leave?

But what if we’re the ones who stay?

What if we’re the ones whose broken pieces fit perfectly together? Behind the fear I see reflected in both our eyes lies something else I barely recognize anymore—hope. I see the hope that you’ll show me your darkness and that I’ll be a light in the midst of it. I see your hope that I won’t run when I see the real you, the you that you hold back so often. I see the hope that I’ll let you help carry the burden of my trauma and that you’ll be strong enough to bear it. I see my hope that I’m not too much or not enough for you. I see the hope that we’ll both see past the bad things to the core of who we each are, of who we could be together. I see the hope that we’ll be the ones who stay.

Being the ones who stay doesn’t happen by accident. We have to choose each other. When it feels impossible, when it feels impractical, we have to choose to fight for each other. We have to choose to fight for that ember of hope. We have to fight for all that we are individually and all that we could be together.

We have to choose to fight for that possibility that maybe we’re the ones who stay.

I just want to give my dog the life he deserves.

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