All Writing & Art, Articles / Longer Pieces, Poetry. Prose. Letters.

Please Don’t Wait For Me (I’m Not Coming Back)

I’m sorry I left you, dear one. I’m sorry I left so unceremoniously, without satisfactory explanations or word of when I would return.

You see, I didn’t know where I was going, or even that I had begun leaving, I just knew I couldn’t stay; I was changing, I had changed.

I didn’t belong within the life we’d built on a shaky ground that demanded I never look at the truth of who I am or who I had been.

So, in what must have seemed to you a careless, thoughtless, structureless move, I left.

I don’t think you realised I’d gone at first. For you it was a slow departure, one where I began looking less like the me you knew by the day. And then one day, when you looked up from your stagnant viewpoint, I was gone; unrecognisable, with few identifiable features remaining of the girl you once loved.

It was never my intention to leave you.

I didn’t (consciously) ask to face myself. I didn’t want to look back at the girl who was abused from before she knew how to talk. I didn’t want to admit the horrors I lived through or the pains I buried that were slowly killing me still.

I had no plan for this. I never asked to be taken one night by a flashback of life-changing proportions, leading a catastrophic chain of events and years, when I began remembering abuse after abuse, trauma within trauma, grief upon grief, loss over loss.

image © Mariann Martland

I couldn’t speak to you of the terrors I was seeing, the terrors I had lived through for all of my young life, and much of life thereafter.

I had no words for what I was facing, how I was now living (or merely existing most days), how I felt like death was closer than ever before, how it was all changing me beyond my own recognition.

I didn’t know how to show you that the mask was being torn off, ripped apart in the face of my truths.

I couldn’t have predicted the onslaught of fresh pain and additional trauma I was about to tumble into, as I tripped into cycle after cycle that my body and mind knew oh so well; cycles that led to new rapes, assaults, abuses again and again as I walked through the similar horrors of my childhood.

I didn’t mean to fall back into these cycles, but fall I did. And while I couldn’t find words to explain these new nightmare days, each one of them changed me too. Over and over and over.

And so, she was gone.

I was gone.

The girl you once knew with the shiny façade was no longer the girl you saw. She didn’t exist anymore.

I tried. I tried to return to you and to her. But that life had withered and shrunk as my world exploded and expanded before me.

image © Mariann Martland

I no longer fit and, bit by bit, I no longer wanted to fit.

As I began to see my past more clearly, along with the cycles I was desperately clawing my way out, I started changing even more.

Everything I once knew no longer served me. I began to see that this false version of myself would not allow me to live the healthy, fulfilling, full life I desperately crave.

So, now, I can’t go back to the life I once led. I cannot return to the existence that forced me to pretend all was well, all was okay, that I was okay. I will not fit back into the cage that forced me to conceal every pain I felt behind the shiny barbwire bars.

Because while you saw a girl who was breathing, smiling, living life as though nothing could break her, inside I always felt like a girl who was suffocating, silently crying, existing in a horror-film that broke her daily.

I know you miss me, or her (as you don’t care to know me); I know you miss her.

I miss you too. I miss everything we once shared and everything we thought we were going to share. And I’m truly sorry that I couldn’t live up to my end of the bargain by staying and existing as the girl you once loved.

But she’s gone now.

You once told me you’d wait for me. You said you’d be here when I returned.

Back then, I probably needed to hear it, I probably smiled as you spoke the words, because back then I couldn’t bear the thought of continuing in a hidden life where I faced up to my history by day and stared bloody, harrowing pain in the face by night. Back then returning felt like the only liveable option there might be.

I couldn’t see a future where I would began speaking out my truths or letting others into my pains or my joys, my failures or mini-victories as I work through memory after feeling after memory after feeling; it went so deeply against the grain of all I had been taught.

It still does. But everyday, little by little, I’m doing it. I’m living that life.

There are still days, weeks, months when I would give anything for someone to take it all away – all of the pain and all of the hurt, every memory and each crushing revelation that falls upon and out of me as I face the truth of who I was and who I am.

Yet, while I cannot pretend I’m always hopeful for a bright future, or know with certainty that I’m on the right path, while I cannot tell you exactly who I am now or where I have gone, I do know that I no longer want to return to who I was.

Now, returning would be more painful.

Stuffing back all of the words I have spoken and hiding behind a mask that no longer fits would be more intolerable to how I now live my life.

I cannot be that girl who lived each day pretending to be something she wasn’t, faking a smile or forcing a laugh, hiding all the pains and the shames and the atrocities my younger life held, or those I then encountered along this walk through the shadows.

image © Mariann Martland

And I can no longer play any part in your pretence, your need to cling onto the mask. I cannot feed the hope that she will one day return.

So please don’t wait for her. Please don’t wait for me.

One day you might find a way to meet me, fully, where I am, or maybe you’ll find a place for the woman I have become to (re)enter your world in a different way to how I once lived there; a way that embraces my truths, my stories, my real, true self.

But I cannot cling onto this hope, just like I cannot be who I was. Who I was is not coming back.

So please don’t wait for me.

Instead, go, move. Move out of the space that begs for me to return to you. Move away from the space that asks me to change back into who I was. Move into a life that is true and real for you, one that does not expect me to live there under a mask of perfections.

Go now and live a life that does not ask me to fill the space I once existed in. Go now, and find all the ways you can live and love and learn without the girl you were waiting for to return.

Go now and find out who you are and who you will become. (And if we meet on that road, that road of truth, then I’ll greet you with open arms and a love more real than we ever felt together before).

Because I’m not coming back, dear one.

Please don’t wait for me.

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