My father told me as a young child about the crabs in the bucket theory. In short, it means that there is always one person trying to climb out of a metaphorical bucket and there are a handful of other crabs trying to keep it in the bucket.
To my ex boyfriends who I can’t seem to shake off:
(1) I was barely eighteen when I met you and I fell in love with the parts of you that no one else liked. I thought your shitty tattoo you did yourself when you were fifteen to see how much it hurts was the most interesting thing painted on your almond skin. You had eyes that were so black, when I looked at them it was impossible to see anything but the things in myself I did not like, as they reflected all the bad and ugly in both of us. You told me about when you felt the demons literally following you around and I said you were completely deranged; I couldn’t shake the feeling of someone following me around for weeks following that. We never make love, you only want someone to sleep next to you on your floor. And I do. I don’t know what exactly happened, but you stop telling me to come over and I start filling your missing shoes with bartenders and half priced drinks. You were the first man to touch me in a way that I can still feel if I try really hard. When you pop up now, like spring, you come slowly and fade quickly, but I like to think that there are days I rest comfortably in the back of your head, next to you on the floor.
(2) I am exiting my first thing that has any semblance to a relationship and I meet you in a strange way. The first night I met you I could have married you on the spot if courthouses were open at two in the morning. They are not, and I think I resent that to this day. We dance to records and you tell me about your entire life. You tell me you’ll take me to San Francisco with you, and I still do believe that you honestly meant that. It is a short time, filled with the most poetic heartfelt absurd crazy tipsy turvy will i ever feel this way again, experiences I had. I tell my friends about you. You wear suits and have a master’s degree and talk about things I never have even thought about. I stay up late trying on your over sized shirts and making fun of your collection of fine leather shoes. Things shift, you tell me exactly how and why I am not the girl for you. I take this as a challenge, and you tell me to fuck off. This ends in a spiraling attempt to keep you and around when all I end up keeping is a bottle of bourbon by the bedside to put me to sleep and I horrible anxiety about text messages that I don’t think I will ever be able to break. We’re friends now, and sometimes we sleep in the same bed to comfort one another. I like us a lot more now than I did then. The room is always silent but it feels like home. I look forward to our Sundays.
(3) You. I can’t ever wrap my head around you. Of all the shitty shit combined, it was you who did it in the best, most profoundly cruel way. When I met you six years ago I never thought that I would end up falling in love, hate, passion, and heartbreak with you. You broke me like a horse that could not be tamed you were the one who mamed me enough to where when you say down, I will drop to the floor. I am face down on the floor because of you most of the time. Whether it is screaming crying, falling onto a floor laughing, or you holding me down to hit me so you can get your fill of sexual pleasure, I am on the floor for you. You are the most complicated, broken, beautiful individual to me and I cannot explain this feeling to anyone but myself. The days we shared that were easy are so far between now that I feel myself filled with relief to not fight with you. My mental health has been completely altered because of you. I was always sad, but this is a feeling of pitting the insides out of someone for sport and I do not understand why you poach me. When you leave me, I know you will come back. And I can’t ever seem to find the words, the physical exertion to ever muster anything besides it’s okay. One time I thanked you for what you did to me because I am so numbed to it all at this point that it makes it better to just pretend that you are good person with -character flaws. Today is another day where I cry in public because you can’t meet me for dinner. Today is another day where you are in a room full of people who love you, and I am alone searching for strength to tell you to stop. It doesn’t stop, I am constantly shackled to a person I do not want to be because of you. If you could ever find a way to see this, I hope you know how I physically ache most days, and how I hope to God that my child never feels what I have felt because of you. This is not beautiful, this is a hurricane that destroys everything and leaves nothing but broken glass and ruined homes behind. I am the home. I cannot forget you, and I cannot rebuild until you leave me. Please leave me.
(4) I write this in an effort to remind myself that there are always people whose sole purpose is to keep you where you are. I am full of things that I am so proud of, that I constructed and tend to, I am better than the pain that I feel because of you. 1,2 – thank you. You, despite your inability to love gave me beautiful times and helped me grow into a beautiful woman. 3, you will not win. I can leave. I will leave. I am more than you.