I spent four years in a relationship trying to save someone who didn’t want to be saved.
In the end, I had to leave in order to save myself. It was the hardest thing in the world to admit that I failed. That I was never going to be enough.
I couldn’t get him to let go of the pain and the rage. I couldn’t get him to put down the bottle. I couldn’t get him to forgive himself for not doing enough when his brother had cancer. I told him over and over again, he was just a boy. There was nothing he could have done.
I had to realize, eventually, that I was just a girl who loved him.
Sometimes, loving someone isn’t enough. There was nothing I could have done.
The Drink Up
‘”Will we get out of this little hell?”
a voice entreats deafeningly,
as I sit here in my favorite place,
sipping coffee, allowing the warmth
to fill up my emptiest spaces,
feeling for once, complete in my skin.
I remember the night I lay close,
the heat off of your body soothing
my soul’s needy insecurity.
I curled my fingers against your chest,
as it now curls around this coffee cup.
I watched the drop of your eye lashes,
the angry snarl marring your full mouth.
I met the young boy hiding inside,
scared to watch your older brother die.
“He had zero chance of surviving
and I did nothing to help,” you said,
self-loathing curdled your bare words,
turning them into nuclear weapons.
“I’m cold and selfish, I don’t give a f*ck,
and I am never going to change.”
I watched the silent tears that trickled
from the corner of your light green eyes.
I watched you get out of bed and leave
me alone, wearing only the scent of your pain.
I followed you, doggedly, for years
watching you systematically
unearth every discarded glass bottle,
collecting the forgotten remnants
of alcohol into your body
like medicine, like deadly poison.
I thought I’d be the one to save you
to drag us out of this little hell,
but god…forgive me, I was not strong
enough to be your radiation.
I was barely strong enough to hold
your hand, as the other reached for death,
the sweetest oblivion, a peace
you craved and were terrified to find.
It didn’t matter that he was cured.
It didn’t matter that he loved you.
It didn’t matter that I loved you.
You weren’t the one to save him, to bring
him back from the reaper’s cold embrace.
And I wasn’t the one to save you.
And I’m not sure if it means anything
in this place, where we both need something
good to drink to chase away regrets
carving homes inside of our bodies.
Author: Chelsea Griffin
Image: Movie still
Editor: Travis May