He told me he thinks I'm scared of being alone.
And the truth is, I used to be. I didn't know who I was unless it was in relation to someone else -- a perpetual band girlfriend despite that I stopped dating boys in bands quite a long time ago. Nonetheless, I defined myself by the accomplishments of my romantic interest, interweaving the stories in a way that I thought would make me important, make me unforgettable.
I thought that would give me value and worth and therefore deserving of attention and love.
And then I had the painstaking task of pulling myself back together, piece by infinitesimal piece, when he destroyed my world the first time. Through that, I realized a lot of things, but I found that the only person to determine my worth was me, and that the actions of my partner were not actually a reflection of me at all.
Aside from the label of mother -- wherein a far more implicit co-dependent and defining relationship lie -- I learned to shed the labels given to me by others and filling in the gaps with the things I believed myself to be. A writer. A friend. Kind. Forgiving. Magical. Beautiful.
And I found myself, for the most part.
His words lingered in the air between us and I inhaled, tasting the bitterness on my tongue of the familiarity of their former truth, yet I reached to understand how that could still be true for the woman I've become.
Well, I am afraid.
I am afraid of not being enough for my children, for never being all the things they need and want in their lives. I am afraid of what their lives will be like when I'm not around them, as I have always been around them. I am afraid of playing favorites and an un-united front when it comes to things like routine and discipline and therapies and education and the lessons they will learn about what it means to be a person in this world, the examples they will and won't be provided to show what living a life really means.
I am afraid of always struggling, always fighting, never quite being or having enough and being spread so thin that there is nothing but a waxy film to catch anything that falls through the cracks.
I am afraid of meddlers and opportunists, of negative influences and non-truths spread upon such trusting ears that will take decades to unhear, if ever they are unheard at all.
I am afraid of the darkness of nights, alone with my thoughts. I am afraid that in those pitch black and silent moments that all of the strength I have so carefully built up and relied upon for years now will falter and crumble and that I, I will get lost under all of the debris ...
... and this time, there will be no one to reach out a hand, to help me unbury myself.
I am afraid, if that happens, I will be irreparable.
I know myself and I trust myself but how I have learned to cope in this world with this brain and this life is to always have a fail-safe, someone who will, without question, be there for me when I am not capable. But the burden is a heavy one to bear and I have used up so much of the good graces of my friends and family that I am afraid that a time will come when I cannot shoulder all of these weights any longer and they will crush me and there will be no one left who will shift them just the smallest bit, so that I may breathe and regroup and try, try again.
I am not afraid of being alone. I have been alone for a very long time.
I'm just afraid of walking this tightrope without a net -- just the cold, rough, bare ground of failure and defeat being the only thing between me and oblivion.