“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” It doesn’t get much more cliché than that, but our love affair would follow a similar journey, banalities in the form of edicts.
“One nation, under God,” I proclaimed to you, hand over heart. “Indivisible, with liberty and justice.” And justice? Our whole relationship was built on a lie and it seemed like everyone was in on the joke except me. But I couldn’t see that side of you, I wouldn’t allow myself to see the ugly side of you. You were my America too and I didn’t care who didn’t want me in your life. What was understood didn’t need to be explained, right? Over the years, life would supply us more clichés as we grew together. And it was no mistake that all of my plans revolved around you. See, before we even got together back in ‘87, you had already groomed my destiny. Predetermined what spaces I could occupy in your world. Looking back at things, I should’ve known you were incapable of loving me. But I was blinded by your bright lights, your seemingly endless possibilities. You were far more experienced than me so I trusted your advice, I believed that you would steer me, steer us in the right direction. After all, I was your future. We were in this together, that’s what I thought.
I thought wrong. Or maybe I wasn’t thinking at all because I was warned about how conniving you could be. I loved you for decades, wanting nothing in return but your validation. I just wanted to finally be enough for you. Was I crazy for wanting your approval? Imagine, growing and hearing stories about how far my father traveled to meet you. Over 6,000 miles in search of something he’d never even seen, can you believe that? As many times as I wanted to give up on you, I couldn’t. I was convinced that we had to make this work America, we had people who believed in us. And why couldn’t we make it work when I did everything you asked. You said you liked smart girls, I ignored the hefty price tags and busted my ass in school. I knew I didn’t stand a chance with you if I didn’t stick it out and so I did. All the way across that stage only to see you sitting there unimpressed. You could be so damn cold sometimes, I wondered if you realized that. You said you liked pretty girls, I drowned in tutorials trying to master sculpting a more socially acceptable nose. You said you liked thin girls, I hit the gym 5 times a week. You told me not to be weak and now I’ve grown so strong that it’s killing me. You told me to help myself, I bootstrapped my way through my 20’s eating ramen and working dead end jobs. All the while, you sat there and watched me struggle, looking completely unbothered. Didn’t you see what I was going through to prove myself to you, America? Did you care?
Don’t get me wrong, I heard you were a bit of a monster to the others before me. I heard about you beating some of them and I said well, America’s past that now. I heard about you wrongly accusing some of them and I said America’s moved on from that. I heard about you turning your back to people who you promised to help and I swore you’d do it differently if you could do it again. I defended you! I rejected sentiments that you hadn’t changed at all, I chose to believe that with me in your life you’d be different. We would be different. But I have to be honest America, it doesn’t look like you’re the slight bit interested in changing. You are who you are.
You are exactly who my great great grandmother said you were. Sure, you’ve cleaned yourself up a little, but inside you’re just as wicked as you’ve always been. You of all people, Mr. Holier than thou, protector of the free world, you are a succubus of the worst kind. I’ve watched you lie on my brothers, forcing them into servitude for decades at a time. I’ve watched you lie on me, telling your friends that I was unloveable, bitter, and unhinged. I’ve watched you change the terms and regulations of our relationship as you saw fit, with zero regard for my needs, feelings and desires. I’ve watched you relish in the deaths of my loved ones, welcoming their killers back into your fold without hesitation. You’ve silently watched me suffer, only opening your mouth to silence my cries. Barking that if I didn’t like how you did things, I could always leave. Leave and go where? You were all that I knew and you knew that! Still you taunted me with separation, taking full advantage of my psychological dependency on you. You even turned some of my friends against me, blinding them with your charm. Forcing me to endure their warped relationship advice, “America wouldn’t have said sorry if it wasn’t sincere, everything isn’t America’s fault. At some point you gotta take accountability for your part, Arah.” I had to give it to you, you were good. And if my friends wanted you, they could have you because I was done. Forever.
America, this is me breaking up with you. And no, it’s most certainly not me, this is all on you. You executioner of souls, incapable of feeling remorse for the damage you caused, you are no good to anyone but yourself. I can no longer make excuses for your abuse and it’s time that everyone knew the truth about you. I told my friends that I was thinking about leaving you and to my surprise they all had similar horror stories. Stories about the psychological and financial abuse you subjected them to. Stories about the emotional manipulation you delighted in. Constantly reminding us that we could never do any better than you and it could always be worse. That was your favorite threat. How could we have been so blind, so optimistic? You didn’t deserve us. You didn’t deserve this kind of loyalty. You were nothing without us, literally, nothing, a self destructive cancer to its own host. You would crumble without us and we were going to let you crumble. I am going to let you crumble, America. I will no longer help you hide behind your postcard persona, I will tell everyone the truth about who you really are. Not because I’m bitter, but because you deserve to sit in your ugly truth like everyone else. People are leaving everything they know, grabbing what little they can carry and forging towards a dream that you and I both know isn’t real. America, your dream has turned out to be nothing but a night terror that far too many of us never wake up from. Not me. I can do better than you and I will do better than you. One day, you’ll mourn the loss of our withered potential and realize we could have actually been great. But that ship, just like all the others in your past, has sailed. Goodbye America. If that is your real name.
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