If I Could Cry, I'd Be Happier by Leah Holbrook Sackett

I am Woman. For centuries upon centuries, tears and sex have been my tools, my defense, my weapons. But you browbeat, belittled, and berated me until the tears dried up. And with the exodus of tears, my libido shortly followed. I feel like crying, but I can't. Your cold cruelty shut me down. I buckle, bend, and cringe, but my eyes are dry. Without tears, the world thinks I'm strong, but they couldn't be more wrong. I am robbed of the release, the declaration of my pain. I am a husk of a woman. I'd punish you by withholding sex, a time-honored tradition, but that well has dried up. I cannot withhold what we don't have. I have no outlets for my pain and my passion, except food. I've grown considerably large, but my size doesn't concern you. You are only offended. I had thought it impossible that you could view me as more of an albatross around your neck, but my form has proven otherwise. You engage with other women. I am not jealous about the sex and affection. Instead, I wonder if you allow their tears. Do you break them as you've broken me? Don't mistake me; you didn't break my heart. You never had my heart. Someone beat you to that, but he left me with my tears, at least. You instead methodically pulled at the threads that held me together. Lifting each stitch like a spiteful seamstress. Before I knew what was happening, I was unraveling, falling apart. I tried to sew me back together, but it was sloppy and scarred. I look like a poorly cared-for ragdoll, easy to abuse. 

I am discarded. I wait in the shadows for your punch. Every day another undoing. I have no hope for something else. I have nowhere to go. I only know that if I could cry, I'd be happier. Upon your return, you lectured. You raised your voice just a bit, not enough to make me flinch, just enough to make me listen. Your sardonic laugh broke the threshold. I sat on the floor with the dog, brewing toward the apex of my anger to spew forth my bottled comments sitting at a simmer, but I tamp them down. Without my tears, I am too dry and brittle to make a countermove. I notice the dust bunnies under the coffee table, so fragile and undesirable, so dry, a collection of nothing, just like me. 

Another day in the shadows, in the corners, I notice something has been sown. It has germinated deep within me, a sorrow over my dwindling demise. It wells up. It remembers me before your heavy foot. A victory tear beads up in the corner of my eye, a trickle unleashed in a steady stream. I feel clean again. You will not defeat me. Your words have molted. They've become flimsy, backed only with your own insecurities and lies. My tears are a hot dripping restoration of me, an inner beauty of absolution. I will not stay. I will not share my tears with you. They are my own. I pack my things in that worn-out duffle graying under the bed. I pack my things and weep. I hiccup with deep liberating sobs. My step is lighter as I leave; my tears belong to me. My words have returned. You caused me pain. You took from me an essential element of being, but I took it back. You have no power over me. My face is wet and glorious.

Published in Issue #15

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