I’m writing this because I know. I know what it’s like to be in a relationship that you are simultaneously addicted to and ashamed of. I know what it’s like to spend every night at his house and “pretend” you still live at home. I know how special and beautiful and important he tells you that you are. And I know how you cry silently after he’s finished and rolled over, but you still have the deep pangs of loneliness in your gut.
This is not your story. This is not who you are. You are living in the ache of my past and I can’t stand to watch you waste your time and energy on this boy. He is not a man, not even close. I can’t passively wait and pretend that it is okay. You’re a little too close to the flame to notice the black silt covering your face, but everyone else can see it. Sister. He doesn’t love you like you deserve to be loved. He’s not a man. A man cares more about your thoughts than his pleasure. He would rather see you blossom and glow than impress his friends. He would rather thrill you and explore you and connect with your heart/soul/mind/strength than unplug with his usual hum of drug and drink.
I’ve been silent before. I’ve watched other bad relationships move quickly and furiously and now they sit at the edge of disaster. But not you, sister. You will not end your story in his trap and with his temper. There are too many people that need your light and your flame and your spirit to watch you squander it away for boy. I’m being judgmental, I can admit that. I don’t know his story. I’ve met him once. I’ve heard you say nothing but good things about him. But I just know. I’ve seen it all before. He’s boy.
I’ve dated boy myself. Did I tell you that?
Did I tell you when boy took me to my senior prom? I’ll never forget when mom pulled me to the side of the limo, pinched my arm as tightly as she could, and with her nastiest face said, “Don’t you dare have sex with that.” I was furious and embarrassed and rolled my eyes and gave her the finger (behind her back, obvs) and waltzed on my merry way, to prom and sex and all the other things she did not wish for me. But I know what mom meant. I disagree a million times with her methods, but I understand that her intentions were good. She wanted to tell me that this was not my story. This was not who I was, not what I was made for. My deep fear is that I sound just like her and I don’t want that. Her words made no difference to me because how dare you tell me what to do?
I’m not you and I’ll live my own life and savor my own mistakes and YOLO and forget it, ma. Nice try.
I think back to that moment, to the eve of the start of the worst relationship of my life, and I wonder what she could have done differently. I wonder if there were any potions or powers or prayers that would have made me quit him that day. I was probably too far gone, plus there was the ego problem, but I still wonder.
I think about what I would say if my baby girl was about to run off to prom, with boy. I’ve rehearsed my script a few times, and it sounds something like this.
Baby girl, you do not have to do this. There is love beyond your imagination, waiting for you, but it’s not here, not with him. You don’t have to go. Tonight we could say fuck this day and fuck this boy and we could take the limo to the airport and buy the next plane ticket out of this shithole and we could quit everything and be humbled by the fact that we are tiny specks on the universe and there are other humans on earth and love beyond seeing and grace that extends to the ceilings of the universe and we get to choose our own warrior paths and we can write this story however we damn well please. Tonight feels important and it is. It’s important because every day of your life is miraculous and you are the most magnificent human on the planet. Your love and energy is limited and it is vital that you give it away to the right pursuits. Tonight you could go have senior prom with boy, and if you choose that, I trust you and I know who you are and I’ll just keep reminding you that you are the warrior of your own story. Some battles are not mine to fight and I can let go. Have fun, the world is yours. The airport is open late and I’ll go home and pack our bags, just in case.
Here is my offer sis, I’m not gonna leave you hanging. In my family, there is space for you. We can say fuck the boy and fuck the place and get the first flight out of that shithole because we’ve got a warrior on our hands and she’s got work to do, mother fuckers. You have a welcome space in our spare bedroom. We will provide for your every meal and want and adventure. All you have to do is show up and breathe the ocean air and kiss your favorite salty skinned babies good morning. We don’t have to talk about it. We don’t have to explain it to anyone else. You can run by the sea or sit on the couch for three weeks and eat potato chips and watch Kardashians. No judgement. You can find three news jobs or just stay by my side and bathe my beauties and sweep my kitchen while we dance party to Taylor Swift. All of this is open to you and available for you, at any moment.
I also understand that I’m mostly an insane person and you are probably very convinced that this (CO with boy) is where you should be and losing the jobs and the car and the logistics and the heartache would be too much, too painful.
But pain is your best teacher. It wakes us up and keeps us moving and reminds us that we are alive and have so much to do with our short lives and we better get a move on, dammit. I would invite your teacher to come in and stay. Ask pain to examine the walls and push into the soft parts, careful where she can see the scars, extra gentle around the heart area, please.
I wish you did not have to learn from pain this way. I wish you could learn from books and poems and music and your sister’s annoying love letters. I wish these things could be explained from 20,000 feet above. I wish I could tell you about the road ahead. I wish I could persuade you that God has a plan and a purpose for your life and you don’t want to miss it.
My offer is not one that changes, ever. My family is permanently open to you. You can have all of my money and all of my time. I wouldn’t hold a cent back from you and I wouldn’t hold it against you. I’m impossibly in love with you and maybe that’s part of my problem. I don’t want to share you with anyone else. I want to put your face on billboards and sing your praises in a parade with fireworks and puppies and cotton candy. I want to be the campaign manager of your passions and the cheerleader as you practice and train for your warrior life. I just hate to think that the boy you are spending all of your heart and energy on does not want to do the same thing. He’s not throwing you any parades, I’m not even sure he’d show up to mine.
I also know that you might (probably will) choose to stay. Choose to stay in his house, in that bed. Choose to make a life with boy. And I know you are brave and strong and smart and I know pain will teach you like only pain can. I cannot rescue you from anything. You must face the storm that is life and you must do it in a way that makes sense to you. If you choose boy, I trust you and I know who you are and I’ll just keep reminding you that you are the warrior in your own story. Some battles are not mine to fight and I can let go.
Have fun, the world is yours.
The airport is open late and I’ll go home and pack our bags, just in case.