What am I to you but a sad, funny joke? The petite girl with the pretty face that never could get it right. In a circle, we sit outside, the family finally together. Smoking our cigarettes and I speak very little because things I say come out dumb and are promptly ignored. Do you notice?
I know the cycle by now, but it remains the same. I love my family much more than they know. I want them to know I’m proud of them. Not for the places they are in their lives but for who they are. For the shared humor and mild taste of understanding. They are beautiful to me, but I am not to them. The occasional joke is shot in my direction and I smile and go with it but there is truth behind the jokes and they are never positives.
Every day, I feel somewhat alone. I’ll shoot a text to a random person, living across the pacific but the conversations are never long or intriguing. They are empty but with them, I feel less alone.
Another family occasion arises and I am not invited. Another family dinner, another family outing, another celebration. I am never told. Only when I hear it through passing and ask do I get to be a part of the family.
I never had an addiction to drugs. I never drank more than on occasion. I never wasted time partying, hitting clubs or bars. But I was always so trusting and naive that I hurt myself helping others. Now, I’m here again. Back down on the bottom. Running away from something that scarred me.
You don’t see the scars. You see only where I am, at the bottom of a wooden ladder trying desperately to climb back up. You joke about the things I can’t get right or the things I can not do or the things that are wrong with me. How I owe the university money with no way to pay it. But I did it almost on my own. It made my day to know I’d be back in school in a few months but it was a passing thought to you it seemed.
You never seemed to notice the good in me so much as the bad. You complain that I never bought that case of Pepsi’s that you wanted, but with no job, I bought you groceries. And I watched Lily. I fed her, bathed her, dressed her and put up her hair. And I was the one to put her in the corner for hitting. And you forget, when you had no money and no food, how I spent everything I had to help you out. You said you’d pay me back because that was money I needed to live off of but months upon months down the road when you were on your feet and doing well, you complained because I asked you to pay me back. You took a retreat. You bought a second computer and a new car. Some things you needed but others could have waited because I was homeless and needed it. And all those trips I made just to visit when she was sick after grandma passed. She laid in bed and didn’t speak to me and later complained that I wasn’t there enough.
I give you all my heart and soul. I get nothing in return. For all my efforts to show you what I’m worth, I still feel like the outsider. The failure. The person whose presence is only acceptable when I’m not speaking. And all the accusations, they’re silly. But I can’t blame you because none of you really know me.
So here I am. That girl that stood in line for 2hrs at the job fair, in heels and the only dress I own. Printed off resumes, a notebook and pens all filed neatly into a folder. Just to talk to someone for 3 minutes but I think I left a good impression.
So here I am. Dumped the day before because my life was too much for him to handle. He couldn’t see me through my hardships or see my efforts to get somewhere. I moved across the pacific, I couldn’t stand that place I knew my whole life. So much pain attached and I just needed to get away. Years of abuse, and being raped. Years of silent hurt because I didn’t want anyone to know. Then finally when I did reach out because I hit my breaking point, I no longer wanted my life, you left me there in cold hurt with only slight efforts to help.
I am not pitiful. I am not stupid. I am not incapable. But you, all of you, can see nothing more in me than those things and the stubbornness I carry.
Do you know that I love photography? Or a cup of coffee in a little shop downtown? Or reading books under the trees at East LaPort? Or long walks barefoot when the world is silent? Do you know that I love Philosophy? Or that I took fencing, boxing and Sansei-GoJu Ryu Karate?
No. You make jokes that I’m not in the real Army. A gunner for the Military Police corp. isn’t enough if its only National Guard. You’re a cook in the ‘real army’. When we go out, who faces what? You’re in the kitchen, I’ll be in the turret. I am not your Army child, I just want to get through college.
To you, I have very little to offer. But do you see me? I’m a resilient little shit. I keep getting knocked down but I come right back up. Is that not in the least something to be proud of? Quit your nit picking and love me for who I am. Because I love you, all of you, for who you are.
And all those guys trying to get my attention, they tell me that I’m beautiful. I laugh because they know nothing about me. I’m more than a body or a face or a circumstance. And I found one person who seems to understand that. He walks with me and for hours we talk about varying analysis’ on the human psyche, positions in life, our hopes for the future and all things to which meanings will change in time. He’s just a friend, but he’s the only person in my life that makes me feel important or worth while again. And you hardly know his name.
You hardly know the college I went to back home. I’m forever fighting for the acceptance of the people who make me feel more like a worthless burden than a human being. Maybe you don’t intend to do it, but I can tell the differences.
I was that tomboy once, dad’s favorite but don’t tell the others. But was I ever truly anything to anyone? I was that ignored stepping stone for independence against a house of abuse. The first one to take that leap away from it, and I was only criticized. You were all wrong to blame me for his drinking problem after I left. A child should not endure the violence or hurt and then be left to blame for leaving. You’re wrong in your accusations of me today. And you’re wrong for not seeing what I’m worth.
Truth is, I’m a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman and no one ever gave me the chance enough to see that. But I’m giving me that chance. And one day, when I’m on my feet and doing ok. You’ll think about me, about how little you talk to me or how little you try to be a part of my life. One day, you’ll miss me. I’ll never leave the side of my family, but this is the moment of detachment. I’m not trying to impress you anymore, I’m not going out of my way un-thanked anymore. I’m doing this for me this time, and I’m doing it my way. Fuck what you think. I’ll always love all of you but quite frankly, fuck you all.
“Not being understood may be taken as a sign that there is much in one to understand.”
— Alain de Botton