{ SUBSISTING }

I could subsist off of very little love, and I believed that to be a virtue and a strength. I came from a family that spoke a lot of words with no meaning behind them. Just a nervous buzzing surrounding the issue– that of an aching loneliness and a failure to connect. Each and every one of us was held captive by my pitiably damaged and tyrannical father.

As children, he would teach us to clasp out hands tightly together to say prayers to the All Powerful Patriarch and then he would siphon the energy of these divine acts into himself. He would groom our souls to obediently accept his logic and words as absolutes:

“I do this for you,” he would proclaim as he packed us away again into boxes– mislabeled and confused. He would unload us under the ever watchful frown of our mother– a frown that was silent and envious and unavailing.

I could subsist off of very little love which I saw as a good thing. My abuser agreed. It gave him everything he could ever hope for. I was a pre-made and prepacked snack to consume. His payment? An empty promise to my rapidly beating and ever hopeful heart. To be paid when-never.

I could subsist off of very little love. Little, but not none. As time grew, he increasingly swept me up to extract my blood and drain my spirit. My limbs grew feeble and my mind became a fog.

“I do this for us,” he told me with a gesture at the grainy and faded vision of a future we had been planning together.

My mother’s frown had found a new residence upon my worn and neglected face. I felt it slip in one night and rest upon me with a sigh, and with it came an unshakable truth. A resolution stirred my quivering soul awake. My mind groaned. Its chains shook.

No more. Enough.

I won’t subsist off of very little love. No, I will consume it with abandon. I will draw it towards me with the hunger of a child long deprived, and I will soak it into my skin like a healing salve. I will bask in love and delight in its glow. I will pull it out from inside of me and then pour it back into me again. I will draw it from every corner of these rooms, every monument in this city, every tree in these woods. I will fill myself until I am strong again and then….

Then I will hold my lips above the mouth of the vile creature that was my abuser, and I will suck-suck-suck back every ouch of love he robbed from me until I am myself again and he nothing but a husk. I will do this shamelessly, and I will laugh with a red, vicious grin. My mother’s frown will never wear me again. I will tip the scales of karma back to their original places, and I will whisper to my abuser in a low, unfaltering voice the truth that he and my father could never speak:

“I do this for me.”

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