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“The problem is that not everyone is always as they seem. First impressions are deceiving, and this is the tick of human connection. We see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear.” – M.J. Rose, “Starving for Change


Fiction. Based on a true codependency.

By Bry LeBerthon.

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.

You sat across from me, smiling sweetly, eyes tired. The ice cream on the table in front of you was melting slowly into a pool of sugary sludge on the dish, but you barely seemed to notice or mind. You could not stop laughing, voice breathy and soft, and I felt my heart breaking with every moment I watched you.

It was so hard to get here.

Being by your side felt like an uphill battle. I cheated and lied and double crossed to get to you, set apart hours of my time to get to you, sat there at your beck and call to get to you, and, at the end of the day, I was your dirty little secret, your champion behind closed doors. You told me and you tell me that you love me. We sit together, in my car, side by side, as the sun blazes in the horizon. It is the first time in a long time that you’ve seen my face. We both look tired. The car has its AC on full blast, as we try to ignore the impending California heat all around us.
“I wish it didn’t have to be like this,” I murmur, almost afraid of my own words.
“I know,” you reply.
That little shred of validation is what I hold onto for the next few weeks, years, months, as I fight my uphill battles, burn off hours of my day, vye to get a glimpse of you.

You string me along so temptingly.

And as I sit here, letting the both of us burn, I stare outside my window at the gleaming New York lights and wonder what life would be like without you. I would be happier, I think. More productive, I’m sure. I think of the time I would have, the clarity of mind. I am so certain that I don’t love you anymore. I know that you have never – aren’t capable of – loving me. And yet, here I am, undeniably attached to you. I can’t ignore what you have done for me. I can’t ignore all the friends you’ve brought to me, all the blissful nights, the sickly sweet pleasure you have introduced me to.

And now you’re in both of our heads.

That day, she nearly started crying. Over her ice cream, still slowly melting. She lamented how she could not rid herself of you. She apologized to me, over and over and over. I said I didn’t mind. Really, I didn’t. Until I thought about it. Until now. And now I wonder if I was just a safe haven for her. I wonder if there was really anything there to love about me aside from the fact that I was an anchor. I’m not sure of my worth now that I’ve drifted off from shore. But as she sat there, across from me, with her puddle of ube ice cream, I could not help but admire her smile. For a moment, it wasn’t about you. Or me. Maybe it wasn’t even about her. But I still treasure that photo.

I cling on to what almost was.

Others have escaped you. Others just like you. Others worse. So have I. Living their lives unclouded, simple, distraction-free. Thriving happily, full of love and loveliness and ever so much light. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live like them. Often I’m sure I’m better off as I am.

Alone, perhaps, but with so much secondhand company.

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