I told a man the story about the night we got arrested. It helps to talk about it. I never get to talk about it. I didn’t get to talk about it then; you told me I should be embarrassed. I was.
I heard that you were arrested again, this time in Vegas. I heard you got off with a fine and community service. I heard you had to go to impulse control counseling that won’t make you better at controlling your impulses; it will only make you better at knowing what others expect from you, so you can push the boundaries of those expectations and manipulate others into believing that you’re doing your best.
I still keep tabs on you; I can’t help it, the way I know that you can’t help it, the way I know that you’re reading this now.
We don’t love each other, but we’re curious. Curious because it’s the only time our tricks didn’t work. Curious because we never loved each other; we only ever fought for control.
There were times that we even stopped and asked ourselves, Why are we together? We had nothing in common except the fact that we had both always relied so heavily on the love of others to survive.
Every now and then, I choose a single moment from that relationship to focus on. To over-analyze. To try to understand. The only things I’ve come to understand are patriarchy and racism, power and control.
I should have never been arrested for trying to scare you off. I was trying to protect myself. You were not afraid of me. You grabbed the knife out of my hand, cutting your palm, and you ran outside to tell the police that I cut you. I didn’t even know you had cut yourself; you didn’t react. I wonder if you felt it at all, or if you were too angry to feel a thing. You seemed so strong, so powerful.
And when you blamed me, I felt so responsible. And when I heard you snoring from the jail cell next to mine, I was so upset. And when you asked me if I was okay in the van that transferred us from one jail to another, I was so confused. I said yes. I had made a friend by then; she was in for drunk driving. She thought you were cute, and I said, “He’s all yours.”
It took years before I shared that story publicly. It took until last night for me to share it with someone I’m dating. There’s still this part of me that wonders, what will he think of me?
He listened. He didn’t make me feel strange for going on about this thing that happened four years ago that still traumatizes me. He didn’t make me feel like a burden. It felt good to get it off my chest, and then he said, “I have so much respect for you.” It was the last thing I expected him to say. I expected him to question me. I expected him to blame me. There’s still a part of me that blames myself, and maybe I need to talk about it with people who will support me, because maybe I need those reminders that it wasn’t me. I need those reminders regularly, because sometimes when I make a mistake like I did with Griffin, I think back to that night and to other nights, and I think maybe it was me. Maybe I’m the abusive one. What if I was the abusive one all along?
I still have those fears. That’s why I wanted to apologize, because I thought, I’m so manipulative, why am I so awful? And I wanted to apologize for everything I’d ever done that may have been manipulative, because I so desperately did not want to be the person that I sometimes fear I am.
Anyway, I know that I should forget, but I can’t.