When I Tell You To Leave, What I Mean Is, 'Do You Love Me Enough To Stay?'

Every morning I wake up with a heavy chest.

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I say I think you should leave, but really what I am asking is “Do you love me enough to stay?”. The words enter my brain yet escape my mouth, as I spew the vilest things I can come up with just to prove how much I do not care about you nor could give fewer craps about anything, really.

I mean the things I say, too, or at least at the time, as you pack your things — intentionally slow, waiting for me to back down when we both know I am too stubborn for that. I want you to disappear so I can be right, so I can bolt the door behind you and crawl inside myself, turn my skin inside-out and float into the nothingness of heartbreak.


Lately, I cannot stand the sight of myself and it is easy to blame that on you. My parents. Society. Finding fingers to point at everybody else is always the fun part of being a disappointment.

This wasn’t supposed to be my story yet here I am, living a life that cannot possibly be mine. Searching for happiness in all the wrong people, but I don’t even know what makes me happy — do I?

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Every morning I wake up with a heavy chest, the weight of every single thing that has ever happened to me pushing down until I cannot breathe or think or move. There is strength in finding a way to suppress this — or at least that’s what I have been told by encouraging people who probably just want me to be normal so things will be “easier”.


To live the long, ordinary life I would imagine as a child, playing M*A*S*H until getting the life I thought I wanted. Marrying the most popular boy in school who has never even looked at me, driving a mini-van full of mini-jocks.

My head hurts from grinding my teeth, but I do not stop. I can’t. I find myself spiraling into familiar habits of chaotic self-loathing. I try to control urges as they come, reminding myself that is all they have to be until I do something about them. It isn’t that I want to die but rather just torture myself every moment I continue to exist in ways that normal people never understand.

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Taking care of myself has never been much of a priority. Self-care is more like an afterthought, a final plea of thinking there has to be a point to it all, right? I search for meaning in everything, connecting dots that are not even there just to give myself excuses for poor decisions.


God wanted me to have children — he did give them to me after all. But I find myself at odds with that logic, unable to wrap my mind around what happens to the people who bite off more than they can chew. People like me, people like my friend, Michelle, who took her own life before she saw twenty-eight birthday cakes or did all the things she wanted to do.

People always leaving is something I learned long ago, from the forever-wise Peyton Sawyer: who taught me pretty much everything I know about being a moody, blonde that always needs to be saved.

And while the idea that you are truly alone in this world at the end of each day often seems dark to some, I find comfort in knowing that the only person I can ever really depend on is myself. It is a constant, the one thing I can always know and control and change: me.


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Emily Lingenfelser is a 20-something mom who writes and captures moments to make sense of this messy world. She runs the website, Emily is Fearless.