I’d Tell You (A Poem)

If I could say all the things I wanted to say, I’d start by saying you are the reason why it’s so hard to let people in. I’d tell you that you are the reason and why I keep myself guarded.

I’d tell you that you are the reason, why I smile even though I want to cry, why I laugh when I feel like screaming.

I’d tell you about how many meals I missed because you didn’t get groceries. Instead you got your nails done. I’d tell you about how I missed 30 days of school, because you never came home and someone had to be the parent. I’d tell you about staying up late cleaning the house because I knew if I didn’t, you’d wake me up screaming that I was lazy and ungrateful. I’d tell you about falling asleep in my first hour class – sometimes even my second – because I had homework to finish the night before.

I’d tell you about how everyone asked me about my home life. About you and how I lied. And lied. And lied.

I always lied, because back then I still considered you my mother. Back then I made an excuses and reasons. I’d tell my friends ‘She’s doing her best,’ but you weren’t doing your best.

Were you?

I’d tell you how I wanted to run away almost every week. How that one time I did wasn’t the first time I thought about it. I’d tell you how disappointed I felt when my grandparents didn’t even try to keep me. Instead Grandma told you ‘You need to fix this.’

I’d tell you how for a few weeks you’d try. You’d do better but then you’d go back to the same things. And you did try but I wonder now if you really tried hard enough.

I’d tell you that I loved school because I didn’t want to be home with you – not that you were ever home. I’d tell you how I’d meet my friends’ parents and wonder why I didn’t get that. What did I do so wrong where I didn’t get a loving mother and a doting father?

I’d tell you how there were moments where you were a good mom.

You’d make us dinner and we’d watch movies and play board games.

But those moments were few, and usually drowned out by the bad moments.

The moments where you worked doubles all week and didn’t come home for three days. The moments where I had to beg for money from my friends or stepdad so we could have heat or water or gas or food.

The moments where I took care of a child with a 102 degree temperature and had no one to turn to. The moments where you would come home after work and then leave to go drink with your friends.

The moments where you’d come home drunk and I’d have to clean up after your vomit and tuck you into bed, when it should’ve been you tucking me into bed.

The moments where I’d break and be a normal teenager and act out and not do my chores. Then you’d yell at me and tell me you were disappointed, and I’d go back to being the perfect daughter even though all I wanted was to not be. All I wanted was to be a kid, but I couldn’t. I had to be the parent. Because you wouldn’t be. The moments where I’d lay in bed crying and all I wanted was you, but you weren’t there.

If I could, I’d tell you how many times I contemplated death. How when I first put that blade on my wrist, I felt like for once I was the one in control. I’d tell you that I didn’t hide those cuts on my arms and legs because a part of me wanted you to say something. I wanted you to ask what was wrong. I wanted you to be the mother and comfort your daughter but you never did.

You never said a word.

I’d tell you that my friends saved my life because they cared. They asked questions and comforted me. I’d tell you that I was too cowardly to commit suicide even though I thought about it, because all I could think about was my brothers and sister. Who would take care of them when I was gone?

Certainly not you.

I’d tell you that leaving was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m glad I left. Because I was drowning. I was a day away from self-combustion. All of my friends knew it. They could see that if one more thing happened, it’d be over.

I’d tell you that I used guys for sex because it made me feel something,

And I let them use me because at least someone wanted me.

Even if it was just my body. I’d tell you that I burned some bridges because of how angry I was.

If I could, I’d tell you that when I left in that car heading to Arkansas, for the first time I could breathe. And yes, I was scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But I didn’t care. It was the first time I felt like I was going somewhere better.

If I could, I’d tell you how I listened to “Break Away” by Kelly Clarkson on repeat, Over and over, because I was the one breaking away.

I’d tell you that I no longer worry about my brothers and sister, because they are so much tougher and braver than me. They’ll be okay. They’ll make it.

If I could, I’d tell you that you wear rose colored glasses, that even if you read this you wouldn’t understand. You would still claim you’re a good mother, and that you are doing your best.

You’re not though. You repeat the same actions over and over again. The same mistakes but you never learn. And I could try to tell you but it’d be a waste of words. A waste of air.

If I could, I’d tell you that I don’t hate you, though sometimes i wish I could. It might be easier to hate you. It may save me some grief if I could hate. But I don’t.

If I could, I’d tell you that every time we speak on the phone, I want to chain smoke. I want to light up that cigarette, pulling out the smoke, as if I could blow the anxiety you make me feel.

If I could, I’d tell you that the reason why I dye my hair and refuse to have dark brown hair is because everyone always tells me how much I look like you. And I don’t want to look like you in fear of becoming you.

If I could, I’d tell you that I pity you, but most of all I’d tell you that I don’t think about you at all. You barely cross my mind. I don’t need your approval. I don’t need anything from you.

If I could, I’d tell you that I got where I am today, in spite of you. You didn’t make me the woman I am.

I did.

My friends did.

My grandparents did.

My cousins did.

My aunt did.

I did.

Everything I have done I did myself, with the encouragement of the people who love me. You had nothing to do with it.

If I could, I’d tell you that I am no longer that little girl wanting her mother’s love. I am a young woman. And I’ve long figured out that the only person you love is yourself. Or the bottle.

If I could, I’d tell you that the reason I don’t any of this, is because it wouldn’t matter. You still wouldn’t listen nor understand.

If I could, I’d tell you that I’m happy where I am, and I can’t wait to see where I’ll go next.

If I could, I’d tell you that I am finally free.


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