they say they understand, and
promise support. but whisper: why
would she stay with him? she
was weak, so weak.

i walk with head down, hurrying past
so many people, my friends.
who claim they'd never judge me.
pretend not to notice the pinched lips,
the conversations that end
the moment i am near.

but what they don't understand:
he was scary, he was beautiful. he was
unspeakably addictive. he begged for help,
insisted only i could be the one.
he needed me, and i was nothing without him.
i was killing him/ i was saving him/ i was killing him again,
and on purpose.
(every day it was something else.)
but god, i never knew how to leave.

and what they say they understaind,
but never will: i cared about him.
i really did.

it was crazy and stupid and utterly inexplicable,
but true. i wanted him to be okay,
and i thought i owed him my smiles, my forgiveness,
my freedom - because i cared about him.