My mother has been teaching me since the moment I was born.
As an infant, she taught me that my cries would be answered with comfort.
As a child, she taught me how to ask questions, how to use manners, how to read.
As a teenager, my mother taught me how to act like a lady:
To always sit with your legs closed, even while wearing pants.
And that while wearing a skirt, how to bend down, not over, to pick something up off the ground.
And to always wear panty hose with dresses and skirts. And never let your navel show. And never wear dark eye liner on my lower eye lids. To shave your legs the day before going to the beach, or the salt water will sting the open wounds.
But, there was a lot that she could never teach me. Lessons I had to learn on my own.
She taught me to never let a lover hit me, to never let him speak badly to me. But when the abuse was unintentional, when it was "I love you, but I don't care," she couldn’t teach me how to say, “that’s not enough.”
She told me to never make myself too available, to always keep a little something for myself. But she couldn’t make me stay away from those who didn't deserve my time. She couldn't teach me that I didn't have to do all the heavy lifting.
My mother wanted to protect me. She taught me that sex was dangerous - that given the opportunity, a man would use me for his own gain. She taught me to judge everyone who touched me with suspicion. But she couldn’t teach me that sex happens without ulterior motives. She couldn't teach me that someone could love me without violating me.
She could never teach me that it is okay to love myself. That I should study my body to find what feels right. That I am allowed to expect and achieve gratification. That I have to speak up for myself. She couldn't teach me not to be resentful.
She told me to be honest in my relationships, but she couldn’t teach me how. She couldn’t teach me how to work on things if they went wrong. She couldn't tell me how to not be afraid of hurting someone I love.
And now, with all my lessons, I stare into eyes that stare back into mine and ask me a simple question, that ask me why can’t you fight for us. And I can’t say anything. I can’t fight. Because it’s not in me. She could never teach me how to fight.
She taught me how to walk away. How to pick up and start over again.
And now that I’m leaving you, I feel like I’m learning to walk on my own again. I stumble and I trip over every memory I have of you, over every part of me you’ve touched.
But this pain of us that I carry, it’s mine. It’s of my own doing. Because my mother taught me a lot of things, but she couldn’t teach me how to know when love is not enough. She couldn't teach me how to carry the pain, how to shoulder the burden. She tried her hardest to protect me. But she couldn't protect me from myself, from my own decisions.
She taught me that it’s not a lesson until it hurts.
And this f-cking hurts.
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