All of the good ones are gone. All of the good ones somehow found a way out. We who are broken act battle tested and strong, but inside we are decaying. How much more can I give to a different lover? How do I make the next one stay? Giving over and over again. At this point, it’s the same dance, but with a different partner. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. My stories feel recycled, even though I lived them firsthand. The first time I shared them with another, they felt authentic and bold, but at this point they are shackled weights strung up on my body. At some point these stories must be told again, especially if I want to open up and try to shine my light. But the light grows dimmer once you’ve shared it 3 times, and then 4 times, and 5 times, and soon to be 6, and so on. How can I share true emotions, when my story on how I got here is now just one long recital?

Smile. Laugh. Tell that one joke that made the first girl laugh. The girl in front of you has the same reaction. Deliver the witty follow up line you used for the first time on the last girl you dated. Damn, weren’t you proud of your cleverness at the time? It didn’t feel as good this time, but she thought it was great, so okay, I guess it’s cool. Smile. Listen to her story. Stare her in the eyes. Pick a key word out and mention it to show you’re engaged. You’re not engaged. You can see yourself in third person; sitting in this shitty pizza shop, listening to another woman tell another story about how her best friend is crazzzyyyy for the life choices she is making. Her friend is not original. The girl in front of you is not original. You can see your fake ass smirk run across your face and almost fall onto the floor. You’re interactiveness is charming her and she plays with her hair. It’s subtle, but intentional.

Next, you share a story. And it isn’t an easy story to share. It’s the story about how your dad died a few years ago, and you hate telling it because it makes you feel cheap. People listen when you tell it, and understandably, because it’s a powerful story. They feel empathy and a sense of urgency. But also hope, because you can still smile and tell the story. What they do not know is that the story is planned. You use 90% of the same words, no matter if you’re telling a stranger or a friend. They have the same reactions, so you give them the same responses. It always works. You always grow closer. You always feel lower. On one hand, you understand because it masks the pain. It helps explain why you always talk about your mom and sister, but never about dad anymore. It also clears up that they’re not divorced, or that he skipped out on your life. No, he was there. He was always there. Every goddamn second, he was there in your life and in your heart, and he slowly, and painfully died from cancer while you went away to college and worked for two years by the coast. That’s why you hide the story with a mask and tell them all the Disney version. It makes them feel good. It makes you almost feel good. You nearly forget that you hid the truth from yourself by not returning home when you should have. Each sentence is scripted, in order to prevent the wound from reopening. They do not see you when you are driving home from work, in downtown traffic, screaming the lyrics to Touche Amore’s song ‘Rapture’ and you’re missing him more than a being can bear. They don’t see you awake in your bed at night, trying to talk to him about how confused you are in life, and how you wish you could just have one more discussion about where your life is going. In fact, prayer even hurts now, since it’s never sounded so silent. When it was only God listening, it was understandable, but now all of those pleas fall on pitch black silence, and you keep hoping to hear that old, familiar voice respond back. Instead it’s just a void, and that hurts more than others could understand.

No. Instead, they see a porcelain doll who talks about faith and purpose and how the community came together to help your mom and family heal through loss. Fuck that. Fuck all of that. You buried a hole and tried to move on, but the foundation has never quite returned. Everything you build crumbles, because you keep trying to build a house on a sinkhole. You recognize this, but you can’t break the cycle. You’re not sure you want to.

So here you sit. Another recycled night. Another attempt at finding authenticity. If true love exists, maybe it could save you. Saved might not be the right word, but maybe true love will have the ability to break this spell. Because you are spent.


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