Comfort Food

By: Kitty Thomas

I'm dead to you, and you were right to bury me. At first I was angry about it, but now I understand. I understand the need to erase me, and that's okay.

My only regret is that I came home. I don't think there is any way I can explain this to make it easier on you, but I'll try. You see, I've never been free. Not one day of my life. I've always given in to the wants and needs of those around me. My confidence has always been a social mask and my success as a motivational speaker was because my mask was just so damn convincing. At times, even to me.

But I've never followed my own will. What I wanted. It was always what you guys wanted. Or what society wanted. Or what college wanted. Or what anyone else who wasn't me and came into my life wanted. I had almost fallen for it again. I almost did what you all wanted.

I almost took my pills like a good little girl, had my cathartic trauma moment, and put the pieces of my world back together so everyone could say how brave and good I was. Almost. But I couldn't.

As I write this letter I can't decide whether I'm acting from strength or weakness, but I know that I'm acting for the first time from my own will. Yes, I know that's hard to accept. It wouldn't be my will if that monster hadn't taken me like he had, right?

You likely believe he's bent and twisted me to his liking, and now I can't get out of that mold. Perhaps. But I've been free for a month, and it sure as fuck doesn't feel like freedom, just a larger cage.

I don't see how pretending I'm free solves anything. I didn't want to leave him. I know. Stockholm Syndrome. Blah blah blah. I know. I know it's true, but I wasn't prepared for what it would mean for me. You see, I don't feel crazy. So I wonder who came up with these arbitrary labels. Who gets to decide?

Am I to be sane and miserable in a world of somebody else's creation or am I to be crazy, and in my own strange way, free?

He made me leave him. I cried and begged not to go, but ultimately I went because it was what he wanted. But this is the one order from him I just can't obey.

I suppose I could have done what I plan to do now, stayed and waited however long it took until he accepted me back. Until whatever guilt complex he may have developed abated. Or until I passed whatever test he was giving.

But I was weak and came home to say my goodbyes. I know that probably didn't feel like goodbye. I was in denial for awhile that it was. And I'm sure that seeing the ghost of your daughter one more time wasn't as satisfying as anyone thought it might have been. But that's all that's left. A ghost of your daughter.

Even if you somehow miraculously found me, that hollowed-out empty shell would be all that would be left. I can't be that girl anymore. Still, I don't want you to worry, and at the same time I know it's ridiculous to expect you not to.

As for the man who has me, he's never put me in any physical harm. He's never done anything in all the months I've been with him that made me feel like my life was about to end or that I'd need hospitalization. It's never been like that between us.

I know it's impossible to comprehend or believe, but I feel safe with him. By the end of the second month, I think I was happy. I understand it's not love, and that's the part of me that thinks maybe I'm not crazy, if I can know that much.

But I know I need him. And I hope he needs me. What we have is fucked up and twisted, but it serves a need. I know I've always been wired differently. He only brought to the surface what was already there.

I'm not saying I'm glad it happened the way it did or that I believe it's somehow morally okay. But he's not cruel as you might imagine, and he's never lost control with me in all the time he's had me.

I'm sorry I couldn't play the role you needed me to play. I'm sorry I couldn't go to therapy and have the approved victim response and recover. I know you'll never be able to understand me making this choice. I know you'll all believe it was a sick mind that led me to it, that no person in their right mind would do what I've done. Maybe that's the truth of it.

Or maybe I'm just stronger than you.