Invasive. Intruder. Imposter. I am all of those and I always have been.
I’m eleven years old, promising my mother as she cries on the side of the bed next to me, that one day I will leave this house and after that, I will never come back. I’ve been keeping that promise more and more, having not been to my parents’ house in over a year. This is counting two Thanksgivings ago when I came back to visit for the weekend and was immediately kicked out. My mother still visits me from time to time, but I don’t go back there and I don’t intend to. I don’t belong there and I was never welcome. I was unwanted and yet I was needed to keep hold of the dynamic that was present.
I’m fifteen now, falling for a boy I will later refer to as my ‘first love’. I’m fifteen years old and I know nothing about myself, but I know everything about him including how his heart is still with someone else. I am not wanted by him, but he needs me. I cater to the attention and reassurance his ego craves. I am his punching bag when his doubts and insecurities arise. We’re both lost, but he always knew what he wanted. I always knew what he needed.
We continued our on-and-off-again relationship for the next couple of years until he left me for a girl who liked going to the gym and playing video games. I disliked both, and suddenly I was unwanted, and no longer needed either. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get into another relationship until I gained more clarity on who I was on my own. I haven’t been in a relationship since.
I’m 20 years old now, a few months away from 21. I just came home from a dinner with a group of friends I considered ‘my people’ for the past three years. They sat in a cluster around a table at a Vietnamese restaurant. I sat in my own discomfort. I stared at the strategically placed TV in the restaurant the way that people stare at their phones and click random buttons to look like they’re doing something important while waiting alone in a crowd of strangers.
I wonder if they could see the discomfort through my silence. I wonder if they could feel my insides screaming, “I don’t belong here!” I am not wanted here, but my presence is needed to keep hold of the dynamic. I wonder if they notice, but I tend to forget how well I’ve mastered the art of pretending.
Over the years, the situations have often been recycled into alternative, modern versions of the past, but the feeling is always static. I can distinguish it before I even walk into it. And yet, I walk into it anyways.
What I do know is that life tends to keep recycling the same at you until you finally learn the lesson it is trying so hard to teach. I guess I’m still in the midst of figuring this one out.