I had my list of reasons on standby in the back of my head. Like a wallet full of condems, I kept them there ‘just in case.’ If ever there was a chance that I could feel like staying, I would quietly recite my list of reasons in my head.
1. He didn’t hold me when I needed him to. When I had delivered a fetus into our bathtub, he should have held me. He didn’t. I wasn’t looking for sympathy. I just wanted him to hold me. I was emotionally and physically drained from the ordeal. I was sore and numb at the same time. I only wanted him to hold me, nothing more. He yelled and dismissed me. He complained about the dirty dishes. He told me to get out of bed and clean the kitchen, while my uterus was still spilling out of me, tears still wet on my face. He made me feel hollow at a time when I needed to feel solid.
2. He scared me. My anger rises slowly, like a burning piece of paper under a magnifying glass. It takes a while to get going, but when the flames rise up, they engulf the paper completely and all at once. His anger was like rogue bottle rocket ricocheting through a house. I never knew what he was going to hit. I never knew how far he would go. I only knew to get the fuck away from him when his passions flared. His temper was unpredictable and abusive.
3. Instead of supporting me, instead of building me up, he criticized me and shot down my dreams like enemy aircraft. He didn’t believe in me. He treated me like some sort of fast food burger that he had to settle for because he couldn’t afford a real meal. He treated me like a mistake, like I was a karmic punishment.
4. I did the same to him, and that hurt just as bad.
I never really loved him, and yet I did and still do. There’s another list too. The list of reasons why I stayed for as long as I did. The list of all the things he got right. That list is just as long as the other. But for a long while now, no matter how hard I strained my eyes, I couldn’t read it. I didn’t want to. I still don’t want to.