He Said That I Have Agency

My friend says, as cool as the cabbro something drink that’s in front of her. I thought it was a mojito but she corrected me. I moved on quickly, knowing that I didn’t care to know. Frankly if it isn’t a gin and tonic, my keenness is at a level that is zero.

“What does that mean? Does it mean that you have a principal that you are acting on behalf of?

Does it mean that you need to channel your feelings through someone or something else? What was he saying? What did he mean? Gosh! I’m so tired of your woke terms!”

I am not asking because of the double gin and tonic that went into my empty stomach.

Or the gin and cranberry juice (their tonic is horrible, it isn’t the yellow one; I’ve given up on it) that’s currently making its way in, slowly, with some trepidation but definitely surely.

Or because for the past month, I have lived in a pain-filled daze.

They call it heartbreak but it feels a lot like death. At the very least, it’s the death of my heart. My heart isn’t breaking, it’s dying.

It’s dying with each tear; each memory; each “why did I?” and every “why did I not?”

My heart is not breaking. I am dying.

My soul hurts and my spirit is in tatters.

I am dying.

But I am not asking because I am the living, functional, walking dead. I am asking because I truly do not understand.

But of course, I am envious.

“Well, Shezi, I spent an entire weekend trying to figure it out. I asked everyone who was around me; I asked everyone who would listen. And apparently it means that I was entirely involved in my decision to fall for him.”

I try to make sense of it but I remain confused.

And I am still envious.

“But you are supposed to be involved. What the hell did he mean, Sis?”

“Shezi, he meant that I chose to fall for him. I chose to want to be with him. It was my decision.”

And finally I get it: “Oh! He gave you the ‘you wanted this’ that has a master’s degree”.

I am envious.

“Exactly, he gave me the ‘you wanted this’ of educated fuckboys!”

I am envious.

And I want to tell my friend how envious I am but I am ashamed

Because there is another sentence, a longer sentence, which must come before: “I’m envious”.

It’s a tough sentence

That has been crawling around my brain.

It’s a sticky sentence

That has been stuck in my throat.

A time or two, it’s made its way onto my tongue, all the way onto the tip but it has refused to actually leave my mouth.

It’s a long, tough, sticky sentence which hasn’t made its way out because it rejects the company of my tears. It does not need the association.

But now here we are, in this beautiful sunshine of a Johannesburg winter, with my mouth full of pizza and gin and the burden of words which shame me:

“My boyfriend left me, with no reason or explanation or conversation. He just left. My boyfriend is a bread and milk dad. He’s the guy who goes to the shops; with “I’ll be back”, and never returns.

Except of course my boyfriend went to the airport and his last words were “I love you too”.

There it is. There they are. My tough, sticky, burdensome words of shame and smallness are out.

“What the hell do you mean?!”

I expected her to ask. Because it is so bizarre that I myself still cannot believe it.

“I mean that I envy you because your fuckboy boyfriend actually gave a shit enough to reshape clichés and dress them up in educated garbage. He was decent enough to give you a conversation, a reason. I mean that I am envious because your fuckboy boyfriend deems you worthy of a conversation, of an explanation.Mine simply got done and discarded me.”

My friend doesn’t respond. But I know what she is thinking. I know the words that she is working hard to swallow.

I know that she is thinking that I should have left before I was discarded.

She is thinking that I should have left when he broke up with me on Valentine’s Day. Leaving me to get up, broken, eyes filled with the retained pain of last night, postpone my cry, schedule my falling apart and get on with the business of Wednesday.

My friend is thinking that I should have left when we had a fight and he didn’t say “Baby, don’t go” but instead drove me to a hotel, singing along to Future.

My friend is thinking that I should have left when I crossed borders to see him, to be with him, and he spent the weekend not speaking to me.

My friend is thinking that I should have known then.

But he was sorry

His parents abandoned him

His mother called him a demon

His father wasn’t there

His grandmother died

He was sorry and he was alone

And I am loving and compassionate

But my friend is thinking that I should have left when I realised that his silent treatment was actually a way of control, that it was abuse. That it was a way to say a shorter sorry.

But he’d said: “Don’t leave” and I’d wanted to hear “Don’t leave” and so I’d taken it and made it enough.

And he was sorry, sort of

His parents abandoned him

His mother was unkind

His father didn’t stick around

His grandmother died

He was alone

And I am loving and compassionate

And I just needed to stick around and help him

I needed to hold on and teach him love because I am love because my parents were there because my parents told me that they loved me throughout the day in various glorious ways

And every time he showed me that he wasn’t enough that he wasn’t good enough that he wasn’t worthy that he wasn’t brave I held on tighter trying to help him prove himself wrong I held on waiting for the moment when he would be, when he would be more, maybe even whole

I should have left

My friend’s swallowed words and vibrating thoughts are correct

I should have left

But I didn’t

I stayed and consented to being disposable

All the way to me finally being discarded

All the way to my heart dying

I have agency.