I have been so careful with you for so long, always worried that one misstep, one swerve to the left, and my entire world would go up in flames. I was raised to believe that love means going out of your way to ensure the happiness of someone else, even if that happiness carries the price of your own.

So, I stayed silent when I wanted to scream. I waited until I was calm enough to form words dripping with the sweetness of sugar before speaking up. And even then, only carefully and deliberately. Everything calculated, with all possible outcomes weighed and measured to the ‘nth degree, twice over.

My southern upbringing taught me well.

Do not rock the boat. Be grateful for what you have. Always be polite. Never lose your shit in public (people will talk). Someone always has it worse. Do things for yourself. Rely on no one.


It’s a complicated story, isn’t it? My feeling like I was never up to par with what you deserved, while never questioning in the least what I might deserve. My happiness always the sacrificial lamb for keeping the peace and maintaining the status quo.

I happen to thrive on discomfort, after all. As long as it’s my own.

I’ve been taught not to look too closely at anything, because doing so only results in disappointment and shattered illusions of the false reality that gets me out of bed every morning. And yet, here I am, evaluating every glance, every conversation, every big picture and small picture we’ve ever created together, and I can’t help feeling a little angry at my hope that someday someone will eventually offer back in return as much as I am always willing to give, like a naive child waiting for this world to be fair.

It’s not just you. It’s all of them, lined up and grinning, waiting for more to take, with nothing to offer in return but more expectations.

So, when you ask if I’m happy, I can’t help but wonder what you’re really asking me, deep beneath those layers of feigned concern and hope that I’ll say “Yes, of course I’m happy. You are all I have ever needed to be happy.”

But, I am what I have always been.

Sitting on the outside, trying to claw my way in.


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