Dwell

There was a time that I believed no one could love me.

When you’re thirteen, you’re excited, you’re anxious. You’re on fire. Everything’s new; everything’s a thing to figure out. You start thinking about the future, about the boy or girl you’ll spend the rest of your life with. You dream all the adventures and mishaps you’ll have and not have, about the blue-collar job that you’re going to eventually hate one day, how many kids you’re going to have, how much money you’re going to make.

When you’re thirteen, it’s all about waiting for life to begin.

When I was thirteen, I wanted nothing more but to die.

There was a time that I hated being home. Not in the same way that most teenagers hated being home because they had friends to see, and places to go. I didn’t have many friends. I had nowhere to be. All I had was home. And it terrified me. I remember every afternoon when class would end, the way my stomach would knot up at the idea that I’d be coming home again. I remember the way I could feel my heart drum through my ears on the car ride home, the way my hands would shake opening the front door, hoping he wasn’t home. And if he was, hoping he wouldn’t notice I was too.

People are always leaving. Everyday, we meet new people—in passing, or on purpose—we meet new people all the time. You hear about something someone did, or what someone’s something thinks about someone’s whatever. Everyday, words, and stories and opinions are perpetually thrown back and forth in front of us in an unnoticed crossfire, and in the shallow motions of social norm, this is how we meet people. This is how we let people in.

We let people in, and let them have a look around—sometimes for only for a little while, and other times for much too long. People overstay their welcome, and still there those who don’t stay long enough. Everyday, people walk in and out of our doors, and we give them everything we can give them.

But no one ever stays.

Conditional positive regard is when someone loves you only when you fulfill certain conditions that they require you to fulfill. I learned this in Psychology 101 today.

“This can go two ways. I can be nice papa, and love you, and treat you like all your other siblings. Do you see me doing this to your brothers and sister?”

“No.”

“But I can also be the opposite. You are in my house, under my roof, and if you don’t do your part around here, I will send you out on the streets. Do you want that? Do you understand?”

— 

It may have been December, or early January—all I remember is that it was cold outside. Papa called me into his room.

“What is this I’m hearing about your grades?”

And everything after that was a blur. Suddenly I’m being thrust out of the front gates of my house—or what was at this point, once my house—and into the street. The rusty black gates were slammed behind me.

“I don’t want to see you around here anymore. Get out of my sight.”

It might have been 8, or 9pm. I remember it was dark, and no one was out except the night guard who was making his rounds. He saw me, but pretended not to. He sped away on his bicycle.

I watched the guard bike up the road, and I thought about how people are cowards. How there are heroic-minded people, but no actual heroes. I thought about how I was such a coward. Always wanting to run away, but never leaving. Now I’ve been spontaneously thrown out.

“You bring her back inside right now!”

“You don’t pull your weight, you don’t belong in this house!”

 

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