I Can Forgive (All of It)

After she died I spun off into a whirlwind of self-hatred and -pity.

I started smoking, yes, the thing that killed her. I don’t know if I wanted to join her or just wanted the self-prescribed anti-anxiety dousing that really just made that whole mess worse.

I started sleeping with an older man — the kind that every father wishes never existed so their precious daughters couldn’t be sucked into their poisonous webs.

I dated his brother first. He’s the one I really wanted. I became disgusted with quickly, although if he looked at me longingly instead of like a used toy I would’ve dove back in without a second thought.

They were living together in a rundown, pay-by-the-week hotel in the roughest part of Downtown.

I must’ve really hated myself then. I was easy.

I went to see him in this roach-infested hellhole.

What I thought was talking to another person was really just me laying on the lumpy full-size bed they shared while he played video games on an old Dell desktop.

Real winners. All of us.

He got me pregnant when I was nineteen.

I remember the doctor asking who the father was and I told her, as you’d describe any terrible person distorted through rose-colored glasses to a stranger.

She suggested an abortion.

I remember going to him, crying, scared. His face, like it was my fault.

I had the abortion. An abortion I paid for because my boyfriend didn’t have any money.

To work would mean child support would be taken out of your paychecks. God forbid you provide monetary help to the children you left behind.

I could blame my father for never showing me love the way I needed it or never listening, but then that’d be a cop-out.

You’re an adult now. It’s all your fault from here on out.

Anytime anything got a little serious, he’d stare me down and say, “Go talk to your mother.”

But it’s in the past. All of it.

The only time it’s plagued me is when I’m off my meds. Now, I’m off forever. (At least that’s what I tell myself.)

I can handle life without a chemical lift. I can do this.

I can forgive myself for the stupid choices, too.

I can forgive the abortion that haunts me, tethered carefully to my other children who wouldn’t be here if the first one was.

I can forgive myself for hurting so many people, for so many young men who never had a chance yet thought they did.

I can forgive myself for stepping on and over friends if the result would benefit me.

And I can forgive all of them, too.

I can forgive the men who raped me.

I can forgive the doctor who took healthy organs she promised she wouldn’t touch.

I can forgive my mother for choosing cigarettes over her family, then dying for them.

I can forgive my father for being there but never actually being present.

I can forgive my extended family for being the self-involved people I’ve tried to avoid becoming.

I can forgive. All of it.