You. You are an amalgam of every man I have ever had feelings for, every man who has been important in shaping my life, my womanhood. Without my help and assistance you could not exist and thrive in my reality. I know you and I resent you for what you are and what you do to me and what you have done to me.
You said you would call, but we both knew it would only be to say you couldn't be here, not now, not today or tomorrow or anytime soon. You wish I could understand how complicated your life is. You wish I would help you as you fumble for the perfect words to explain the concept of "I didn't bother because I just don't care that much, but it makes me feel guilty to say it out loud to you."
You said you really wanted to see me, but we both knew you didn't want it enough to actually turn empty words and thoughts into action. I wanted to believe. I want to believe. There is nothing that would make me happier than knowing someone, anyone, out there feels a desire, no matter how miniscule, to see me. I felt triumphant when I let myself think about establishing a connection with a human being of a magnitude that could cause a need to arise in that person for my presence. When I had to admit to myself, yet again, in an unexpected and unwanted moment of clarity, that your words were just...well...words, and calculated ones at that, I felt demolished by the utter collapse of my carefully contructed and nurtured self-delusion.
You said you were different, not like the rest, but we both knew that every day made it more painfully obvious you were exactly like every other one who came before you. If it makes you feel better, I think I believed it a little bit longer this time. Of course, I say that every time, so maybe it's not you, maybe it's me.
You said you loved my confidence, my laugh, my infectious enthusiasm...but everything you've done since you said those words has had a net effect of destroying the very qualities you claimed to find most endearing. Oh sure, you didn't do it on purpose. Inattention. Poor planning. Lies you didn't even bother to veil in truth except when you were worried about your own self-preservation. You build me up only to leave me to break myself down with solitude and self-doubt and bitter loathing of my own neediness. I always come back, but with a few more chinks in my armor. You can rest now knowing you've done your part to enlarge the toehold for the next man who won't call and won't act and won't be what he says he is but will be exactly what and who I know he is.
I hate it that it makes me cry when you don't call, even though I knew in my heart that you wouldn't. I hate being disappointed again every single time, just like it's the first. I hate that I still have hope, even after all this time. Like a wound that just won't heal, I open my heart over and over and over again, knowing each time that it's a horrible mistake, and yet thoroughly unable to stop myself. I'm a glutton for punishment. Greedy for attention. I need to feel special and loved and attractive and I'm incapable of the kind of self-manipulation necessary to do it without your help, no matter how ineffective and unsavory it might be.
I hate it that you want my forgiveness. I hate that it's always my responsibility. I have to build you up so you can move on to the girl who I will have prepared you for. I am the vessel for your aggression and thoughtlessness and lies and manipulation. You leave it all with me and move on, carefree and light without your burden. I hate that you want anything from me. I hate that I am always left to pick up my own pieces. I hate that I cooked for you and remembered your birthday.
I want you to know that I'm still not broken, but I wish I was. I want to tell you that I won't believe the next one, the one who says he'll call and that he's different and that he thinks I'm funny and pretty and smart, but I will. I can't help it. I can't stop. I want to be a girl who is able to reflect inward and appreciate the lesson and the journey and her own inner beauty. But I'm not. I'm broken. And you're broken too. You're like a mirror with a fatal crack, but I would rather see myself reflected in you than to not see myself at all and have to wonder if I even exist.
You didn't know you would represent all the ones who came before you, and for that I apologize. You didn't know that I would actually hold it against you. But I do. You barely know me. You don't know the real me at all, and the parts of me you do know probably do not accurately represent who I am because I'm too scared to show myself to you. And that's not your fault, so I'll let you slide on that one. If you rejected my persona I could recover. If you rejected the person who I think I might be when I let myself think, I'm just not sure I could take it. I don't even think, if I'm honest with myself, that I like you all that much. But, there is nothing I want more in life than for you to like me. The validation of your approval allows me peace; ill-gotten, short-lived, and nebulous at best, but, as my mom always says, beggars can't be choosers.
I want to stop needing. I hope that one day I will look inside myself and I will see something there besides a great yawning hole filled with the endless pieces of who I used to be when I thought I knew who I was.
All I wanted was a lie I could believe.