Read 11:42 PM

“I’m okay now. Really, I am. I know you didn’t ask, but I had to say it. How long has it been since we’ve spoken, Mom? Two years? Three? I’m losing count. I don’t know if this will go through to you, don’t know if you even check this Facebook account anymore. Back in my college days, you kept it up, shared photos and statuses painting all of us as the big happy family, leaving out the part about us living in poverty, about you leaving every weekend to go to your boyfriend’s house, leaving me to be the parent for the little guys. And I’d turn it into a game with them since they were too small to really know what was going on, get them outside, out of the heat because you hadn’t paid the bills in months and we had to go without AC, had to sleep on stripped beds in 97 degree heat and even that didn’t help. I’d take them out to the backyard and inflate that kiddie pool we had sitting in the garage, the one with holes that I had to patch with duct tape. I’d fill it up with hose water, and for a little while everything was okay. We were cool. We were having fun. There were a lot of things I never told you before I left for school. I guess this is my chance to tell you those things. I don’t know. What I do know is that New York City was a hell of a lot different from Des Plaines, IL. I turned over alternate realities in my head, imagined a world where you were genuinely proud of my writing and publishing instead of acting like you were proud on Facebook before treating me like shit in real life. It’s a funny thing, getting out of poverty and away from abuse. You feel like you have to constantly prove yourself, have to do things that will quiet the tape in your head, the tape of other people’s voices who can no longer do you harm. It’s feeling guilty when you go out to a nice restaurant, dressing nicer than you did while growing up and wanting to tell people who look at you that these nice-looking jeans cost $5 at Goodwill, that this shirt was a gift, a gift you blushed at when you looked the price up online. These are just things that happen. I just figured that that’s what family was–getting cussed out by your mom on a daily basis, having to microwave cups of water to take a hot shower, only eating when you got to have school-provided lunch. I wouldn’t learn the extent of how fucked up my upbringing was till my late teens, when I’d finally open up to someone about my home life, open up to a girlfriend who wouldn’t work out but who’d play a pretty formative role in my life. But anyway, it wasn’t till I saw the wide eyes and dropped jaw that I understood. Until she cried, I was fine. But once she did, I cried too, like a kid who scrapes his knee and only cries after his mom freaks out. I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this. You’ll probably never read it anyway. Even so, I feel like I just need to get this out. I know it sounds stupid, but I feel like I don’t know you. Don’t get me wrong, you were there. We had conversations, some of which weren’t terrible. But there was this impenetrable wall, this giant question mark hanging between us. I feel like a stranger to my own mother. I’m doing well now, Mom. I know you didn’t ask, but I wanted to let you know. And I’m not just saying that. About doing well. I met someone new, and she’s sweet, and kind, and funny, and caring. She’s an artist. It feels good having someone who gets me, who understands why I’m up till 3 in the morning writing a story ’cause I can’t stop the flow. I feel like I’m floating when I’m with her. Did you ever feel that way with Dad? I know it ended with fighting and all the rest, but there had to have been a time when things were okay. Maybe before I was born, I don’t know. Just curious, I guess. Anyway, that’s it. That’s all I have to say. What do you have to say?”

Read 11:42 PM

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