(poems go here) This probably stems from my not-so-likely childhood of alcohol-stained arguments and an echoing sentiment of loneliness temporarily cured by few fellow eleven-year-olds with parents that worked late and bike rides in the safety of anywhere but my own home.
My distrust sewn in the fabric of a single mother who had warned off any companion she had ever had and was stuck with me, the leech on her desperate attempt at youth, at life, at freedom.
Patterned in the nights where malt liquor gave her the bravery she needed to raise her hand at me, and in time God himself gave me the bravery I needed to raise two hands back in defense.
Deep-seeded confusion would follow me into the years of my adolescence. Boys passing notes, sharing eyes that had me inherently interested suddenly as "that age" came upon me.
But how do you learn the natural balance of two people willingly coexisting when your only example was a woman who tore down every man that fell in her long, desolate path?
A woman who at first glance, seemed immaculate. A smile that would command a room, confidence that pushed men to their knees and coerced them to beg for a place in her life.
Little did they know her poison was already boiling in preparation, a six inch severance to their spine her venom seeping in at sloth-like paces that would make detection literally impossible, incurable, irrevocable.
She could make the strongest person crumble and shatter into a thousand pieces of insecurity and aching question that sat in the depths of their hearts and their bellies, eating at them slowly along with every ounce of rejection they had ever faced. Validating it.
So, no, my foundation for a pure of heart relationship was uneven, at best, unsteady and cracked at insurmountable depths, seeping into my subconscious, forming habitual mistreatment and an absence of reality.
And now, here I am, standing before you, a poster child for self-responsibility, fighting demons that I did not instill within myself but I absolutely refuse to give hospitality to.
But here I am, 19 years behind me, high school behind me, puberty behind me, 19 birthdays, christmases, 19 summers behind me, and still riddled with complete vulnerability laced into the confidence that I have grown, nursed to life in a petri dish project, protecting it from the eyes and minds of others, swatting away at the guilt in the foreground that says "THIS. IS. YOUR. MOTHER." Severing a natural attachment that has been shredded and splitting for years, frayed by nights pinned up against a stove, staring into the eyes of a woman who has lost complete control, decency, sanity, her eyes disturbingly empty, her face red and lips swollen as she screams, numb to her teeth clashing together, her hands shaking in a sickening and unnatural manner unfit for a child's eyes.
The same hands that would cross boundaries time and time again. That would turn affection into something disgusting, and scew lines made to indulge comfort.
Still, here I am, 19 years behind me, still learning the value of familiarity and truth. Still grasping onto child-like definitions of love and stability and desperate for my own individual self (ME) to be enough to fill someone's expectations without promise of alteration or modification or improvement.
Exhausted of apologizing for my faults so extensively, so repeatedly, so often.
Still, here I am, 19 years behind me, sometimes ready to conquer the world filled with naive, fake self-worth and light eyes that send humor into every situation, sometimes doing my best to make it through dark nights without releasing my own sacrifice in desperate attempts for long-awaited mercy from the universe that I drown in.
So, here I am, before you, 19 years behind me and the only comfort I can offer myself is that I will never bestow upon anyone the burden, the gift, the ultimate strength in raw human survival that my mother bestowed upon me. That as long as I live, despite the mistakes I make or the expectations that I never live up to-I will never be someone's reason to fight insanity on a daily basis.