As I type this on my phone underneath a blanket, I am listening to the sound of our third born child's breathing. He crawled into bed with me. His little hazel eyes focused on me and he worked his magic, slyly smiling to reveal his chipped front tooth. He wanted to lay with me, but just for a little bit, or so he promised. His chubby sticky hand keeps wiggling around, searching for me. He makes contact with my body and I can feel his muscles relax. He just wants to know I am near. He wants assurance. His touching and wriggling keeps me up, but I won't push him away. I have more power than him. I'll keep allowing him the assurance of my presence. I'll keep showing up. I'll catch him. I keep whispering to him that I am with him. He doesn't have to keep checking. Baby birds are magnificent this way... He won't reach out for me for long. I will have given him all he needs and he will fly. I remember when I didn't want to keep the pregnancy that turned out to be him. I paid a lawyer $800 to dissolve something the court called our marriage. I would owe $800 more when the judge ruled, my lawyer told me. You begged for me to keep him. I felt overwhelmed and sad and lost. I had a toddler and an 8 month old. I didn't think I could do it. I did it and then some. I usually do. I kept him for you and then you shamed me during the entire pregnancy. I was too needy. I was too worried. I took too many trips to the ER for anxiety and fear that something was going wrong. You told me for the last 6 months of the pregnancy that this was the last one, never again. It was as if you'd completely forgotten that I kept him because you begged and pleaded for me to. I marched on. I was accustomed to being punished for your wants and choices. He turned out to be a gift. You aren't always wrong about everything. Something was wrong, though. Something was going very wrong, but it wasn't the pregnancy.
I could never really articulate what went so wrong for so long. In my mind, I constructed this system hinged all on me. If I could support you, find a way to believe all of your stories and lies, contort my ethics to accommodate whatever you needed, apologize enough, take responsibility enough, keep reconciling over and over... Then we'd make it. That was love, right? You told me that was how I could love you. I was deeply in love, I thought, so I tried it all. It turns out that we were both in love with the same person; you. The thing is that person is a figment of both of our imaginations. Folie a deux. We were both trapped in an illusion, holding fast to what we both thought you were. The system I constructed failed when I came to the intersection of despair and hope. I put my foot on the path and walked toward despair for a couple of steps. I sat down and wondered what it might be like to run head on into that darkness. I heard the voice of my friends call from the other path called hope. They screamed and grabbed for me and shook me. They called out the names of my children and reminded me of who I am. They reminded me that despair doesn't belong to me; it isn't my way.
You didn't catch me. That is what went wrong. I fell 1.000 times and each time you watched from above. Sometimes you even pushed me. You had more power than me for so long. You, this upper middle class priveleged white kid, and I, the black girl from a broken home, were unequally matched. Your power was born to you and mine was fought for. You pushed my hand away when I reached for you. That is what went wrong. My light, the one I had to develop to survive my childhood, intimidated you. So you pushed my hand away and denied me assurance.
Why didn't you catch me when I fell?
You don't have to answer that. I realize, now, that I never needed you to catch me.
I had wings all along.