I ask my brother on Christmas Eve for a game of Trivial Pursuit. Barely looking up from his online poker whatever, he says yes.
I wait. I wait. Until it becomes apparent that I won’t be playing anything.
Like last year. The year before that. Yesterday. 1995. Year upon year upon year of “wait”, “just a minute” or “nah, don’t wanna”
Year upon year of a little girl waiting for someone to hold her hand, sit with her, make it better, make her feel wanted, needed. Years of a little girl wanting her mother, soft arms around her, silky voice in her ear, that sense of being making things alright.
Instead, here, we bought you something expensive and pointless. See how we love you?
I get it. Men just don’t. My father did the best he could with a 17 year old son and an 11 year old daughter. He learned to cook, took driving lessons, shaved off his beard and threw out her clothes.
I sat at home alone. I cried myself sick wondering when he’d die too. I tried to shore up some sort of tradition, eagerly waiting for approval but shrugged off as pointless, useless. I stopped even trying to make a school lunch. I stopped expecting a full stocking Christmas morning. I learned to cook my own dinner.
I learned how to walk my drunk father home with the least amount of yelling at 12. I learned that boys don’t talk about their feelings, and people get weirded out by girls who did.
Shut up. Don’t talk about it. Don’t be so morbid. Stop thinking about it. Shit happens. What’s done is done.
I want my Mommy. Where is she?
I’m learning lately that I’m not over all this as I thought, that inside my chest that little girl is still!fucking!there! after all this time, cowering in the corner, crying, abandoned, alone.
You’re so strong! You’re fine!
NO! she kicks and screams! It’s illusion! Can’t you see I’m rotting from the inside, the core is weak and bent? Can’t you see? Why can’t anyone see?
I know my father had it rough-believe me, I of the hyper-empathy knows. I know what losing a spouse can mean-my heart has been constricted by that fear many a time. For years, I have been all too eager to let him off with a free pass, to love him anyway, for what he couldn’t do.
But that little girl, 20 years later-she should be dying, if not dead. She should be walking away, not still trapped. I have no need of her-and yet she sits, screaming ABANDONED! UNLOVED! at the slightest hint of someone else doing something without me. She bangs on my ribs when someone is wrapped up in something else, murmurs in my ear that I’m not good enough, that I’m defective, to sit real still or they’re leave too.
Memories of an empty living room, left alone with my thoughts to fester, unable to reach out since no one was able to reach out to me. Unable to ask, unwilling maybe, knowing that as a child, you shouldn’t have to ask for love, for attention, for a little fucking hope.
My father fed me, clothed me, on some level did love me. But he always looked past me, to what he needed to do, work, home repairs, or his favorite, beer. Something was always, ALWAYS much much more important than me, and it’s imprinted, like a syrupy hand that I cannot wash off.
I say from time to time that I do not want this little girl anymore, that I’ve grown past needing her, or wanting her, and I just can’t be rid of her. She’s like lice or fleas.
But for once, I want to try and say goodbye to her. Good-bye to the hurt and pain of a family too fucked up to see beyond itself. Good-bye to a parent just not up to looking into the eyes of his motherless daughter. Good-bye to a brother who just can’t deal with it, or let anyone else. Good-bye to a little girl I should have let go of long ago. Good-bye to a parent I tried to make too much of. He was only human too.