Ruby was selling the house. She was leaving me. The one person in my family who had never abandoned me was leaving me behind. That tiny kid inside of me curled into a ball and started to scream. How could she do this to me?
“What about me?” I rasped out, my voice gone. Ruby’s face crumpled and she started crying in earnest.
“My darling, Clay. I won’t leave until you decide what you’re going to do. I wouldn’t do that to you. But please, just understand that I need to do this. I just can’t…move on! If I’m going to live this life without Lisa, it just can’t be here!” My dependable aunt was f**king flaking out on me.
I stood up so abruptly that I knocked my chair onto the floor. “Well, it seems that what I have to say about it doesn’t really matter then does it?” I said coldly. Perhaps I was being unfair but I couldn’t think much past the turmoil in my head.
Ruby was leaving me. Maggie was leaving me. Everyone leaves me. Because who can love someone who is so completely screwed up?
How could I have ever thought I would be able to live a normal life? I was only destined for loneliness and pain. That’s all I deserved.
Ruby hurried to my side, her body shaking with the force of her sobs. “Clay, you can come with me to Florida if you want. I don’t ever want you to feel like I’m leaving you! I would never do that!” she implored, but I was passed hearing.
I pushed by her and grabbed my car keys. Without another word, I took off, not sure where the hell I was going. Part of me wanted to leave before anyone could leave me. I hated Ruby for doing this to me when I was already feeling vulnerable. She was supposed to be my rock. Well my rock had just crumbled.
I kept driving, not knowing where I was headed. So I was surprised when I stopped my car in a familiar field. I grabbed my cellphone and walked down the well-worn trail through the woods. Breaking through the trees, I took in the sight of the swimming hole. It was late afternoon and hot, but there was no one else there.
I sat down on one of the rocks and stared out into the water. I flipped my phone over and over again in my hands, wondering if I should call Shaemus. Or Dr. Todd. I knew I was at my breaking point. But I didn’t’ make the call. I only sat there, feeling emotional numbness filter into my body.
Abandoned, alone, unloved. The words bounced around in my head until it was all I heard. Just cut it all away. One slice and you’ll feel better. The voice in my head had grown louder and harder to ignore.
No one cares about you. You’d be better off dead.
Ugly, dishonest words that veiled themselves as truths.
My phone started to ring in my hands and I looked down to see Maggie’s name flash across the screen. I hit ignore and then turned my phone off. Coming back to Davidson had been such a colossal mistake. I had been an idiot to think it could be anything else.
If anything, it taught me that my life didn’t belong here anymore. With these people who didn’t want me. It ran like a loop through my brain. I didn’t belong. Nobody wanted me. I was cracking up.
“I thought I’d find you here,” I looked up sharply at that sound of a voice breaking through my internal tirade. Maggie stomped through the under bush and made her way toward me.
“Guess I should find a better place to be alone if I’m so easy to find,” I said sarcastically. She doesn’t want me. She would leave me. Everyone leaves me.
“I’d always be able to find you,” she promised, jumping up on the rock to sit beside me. I couldn’t look at her, not when I was feeling the way I was. I recognized the beginnings of my very real meltdown. And Maggie, being a huge trigger for me, could make it all so much worse.
She didn’t touch me, as though she could sense that would be the wrong thing to do. “Ruby called,” she said in explanation.
“Oh yeah? So that’s why you’re galloping in to the rescue?” I asked nastily. I don’t know why I was lashing out at her except that I was hurting and she was here and she had always taken my bullshit without complaint. It wasn’t fair to her, but it was a pattern we obviously hadn’t broken yet.
“Well in saying that, you just confirmed you need rescuing then,” she observed and I didn’t acknowledge it. She sighed heavily and I still refused to look at her. Because looking at her would be my undoing and I was already dangling over the edge, my fingers slipping one at a time.
“So, Ruby’s selling the house,” she said. I nodded.
“Yep, so I’ve been told,” I sounded bitter. Well who f**king cares, I was bitter.
“And you’re feeling like she’s leaving you.” What the hell was with the on the mark analysis?
“Wow, you can read me like a book, huh? Why don’t you tell me all about my f**ked up head, Dr. Young,” I spat out, feeling angry and raw and ready to take down anyone and everyone around me.
Maggie grew quiet again, clearly taken aback by my verbal attack. “You feel like cutting. Or using. Don’t you?” she asked in a hush after a few minutes.
My shoulders sagged and I just felt tired. “I don’t know. Yes. No. I’m just really messed up right now. You should probably leave. We’ve been there done that and you don’t need the front row seat,” I said angrily, wishing for once she’d leave me to my hell. Why did she insist on riding this train wreck with me?
“I’m not going anywhere. Because no one is abandoning you. People can move on and live their lives but that doesn’t mean you’re not a part of it anymore. I love you, Clay. Ruby loves you. Because you, Clay are worthy of that love. You deserve it. All of it. And Ruby and I just want you to find the place where you’ll be okay and healthy. You can get angry with me, tell me to leave. But not once have I ever turned my back on you and I won’t start now,” she told me, putting her hands on me for the first time.
Her fingers gripped my chin and pulled my face around to her. The sight of her in my confused state of mind was like striking a match. And I lost it. I just f**king lost it. I started to sob and I couldn’t stop. I don’t know exactly what I was crying for, except that everything that had been dammed up inside of me was pouring out.
I had always believed I was irredeemable. That I couldn’t expect others to love me when I didn’t even love myself. But Maggie’s words hit me at a moment when I so desperately needed to hear them. I needed to believe that she was right, that I was worthy.
Because I was so angry at myself right now. This had been my chance to make things right. Leaving Grayson had been my new lease on life and I had ruined it. I had deluded myself into thinking I was ready for all of this. Even with the therapy and the meds, I couldn’t do this.