the caged bird sings.

written, designed, and edited by Bee Butler

January 22nd.

Bee ButlerComment

On this day two year ago, I sat down with my laptop and wrote a note on facebook. One I'd been holding in and crying over, one that had been bubbling to the top till it boiled over and spilled out all over what had become of my life.

I am in bed right now next to a man who loves me and a dog who thinks I'm her mother. He and I have weathered 13 crazy months, and a lifetime of storms, and many of them are because of things I felt way back when, four years ago, when it all happened.

This is that note, for all the world to see.
I live in California now, I've been back to Hollywood, and my new boyfriend loves to hear me sing.
I got over you.

January 22, 2014 at 6:49pm

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I left my school. I was a senior. I'd started the transfer process to Pepperdine behind everyone's backs. I was planning on breaking my lease without even telling my parents or roommate and I was going to move into your parents house until I got my funding and we got an apartment. You begged me every single night on the phone to get out there, to hurry up, you hated being so far away... So I did.


Then when I realized that wasn't going to be enough, I signed up for eating disorder treatment. I went online and instead of doing the research I should've, I looked up places in Southern California. ONLY Southern California. I wasn't going anywhere far from you. And I planned on moving out there long before I could get into treatment just so I could move in with you and we could be together. I dropped out of ACU unofficially. Tried to collect financial aid for that semester that was my "living off of" money by telling them I was in treatment or that I'd be back, I was down in SoCal for an evaluation... I lied my ass off to everyone on the school's campus and to my parents and friends.


I got a phone call that I wouldn't get that refund and that I was being withdrawn from school. I got a call that my broken lease had been reported to the credit bureau and then all the debt I'd accrued from flights, buying you things, paying for everything (did your lazy ass ever once have a job while we were together? Did you buy one single meal for us? Did you pay for any of my plane tickets or even your own? What about gas when I drove you around? NONE OF IT, but I digress) hit me at once. My bills were due. All of them. I was suddenly looking at about 15k that I owed across the board to my school, my apartment, my credit card company, and my own bank, because when billpay autodrafted it wiped me out and put me in the red. I lost everything. 


Then I got us our dream. I got us a show. We were going to perform side by side onstage in Hollywood at the most famous and historic venue in the state. We started rehearsals... and then it happened.


You ended it. You got fed up with me, angry that I wanted you to play the guitar I bought for you instead of the cheap fake piece of shit you'd somehow managed to buy years before. I'm sorry, but an authentic Gibson Firebird sounds a hell of a lot better than your stupid Epiphone mess and we both knew it. You were upset. I'd changed. I wasn't being fair. I was the only one at fault. I ruined your whole life. I'd destroyed you. I was the worst thing that had ever happened to you.


I got you through the first and only death you'd ever had to experience. I struggled with you and held you and loved you through the thought of losing your parent to cancer, even sending flowers to her from JUST ME because I fell in love with your whole family when I fell in love with you. I bought you everything you ever wanted. I encouraged you to be better. I told you that you deserved the world. I encouraged you to get back in school or to start working somewhere that made you happy, and I paid for things while you "looked for that job" (you lying bastard). I gave up my life in Texas, my relationships with my best friend, some of my family members, my school credits, my credit score, my WORLD. I gave you every single part of me and took all of your messes and cleaned them up for you.


By the time the show was over (during which you STOPPED PLAYING IN THE MIDDLE OF A SONG, ONSTAGE, AND SAT DOWN WITH YOUR GUITAR LIKE A TWO YEAR OLD HAVING A TANTRUM WHILE I FINISHED THE ENTIRE SET ON MY OWN) you were done. I flew back to Dallas the next day. It was too late, though, because I had to come back for treatment. I'd already registered with the facility and the paperwork was started. Two months later came back to California. During that time I apologized for everything I had done wrong and for millions of things I hadn't done at all just so that you'd take me back. I did everything in my power to fix what you'd broken. I spent more time crying then than I ever have in my life. You started to talk about it possibly being okay, maybe this could work, maybe another try. Then you stopped. You even refused to let me stay with you (and from here on out we'll be clear, you still lived with your parents. In fact, you do right now. I don't honestly think you'll ever move out. They won't make you and you're a lazy brat). Your mother, however, stepped in and told you to shut up and that I was welcome in that house until the day that I died, ESPECIALLY now when I needed you the most and that treatment was something wonderful. 


You played if off and told everyone we knew that you had "graciously" agreed to let me live there again even though I was the worst thing that ever happened to you and that you honestly couldn't stand the sight of me. I let you do that. I got there and you got angry because you wanted to sleep in the guest room (you thought that bed was more comfortable and it was YOUR house so why couldn't I sleep wherever you put me?) and when you were again told by your mother that no, I was the guest, be an adult, you sulked. I tried to talk to you. We watched a few movies. Your friends came over, and they really, really liked me. All but one, but she'd hated me from the beginning because she'd wanted to be with you forever and we both knew it. I hid from her when she came over (and you invited her over A LOT even though you didn't like hanging out with her, which you made clear when she wasn't around, just so that I'd lock myself in another room. Everybody else, though? They didn't get why we couldn't reconcile. I hung out with them and eventually it got to a point where you were furious that nobody else could hate me like you did, so you told me to stay away from you. Do what you want, just stay out of my way. 


Looking back, I was in love with a child, and boy did you ever prove that with the pathetic and embarrassing way you acted once you'd ended things... especially since your own mother told you to grow up, and she has only told you "no" maybe a handful of times in your life.


Fast forward.


I got out of treatment. You never called or came to visit once, but your mom sent me cards. I moved to Long Beach (over an hour from where your parents lived), but once I found out that you were okay with me visiting and hanging out because I was out of treatment (and maybe, just maybe, you felt a little guilt for the bullshit you'd pulled all year), I skipped sessions, ignored curfew, put over a thousand miles on my car in just two months to visit you on every chance I got. We went on a date. You didn't want to talk on the phone anymore or text, so I only heard from you to set up times for me to make the drive (you never drove anywhere, that would've cost gas money for YOU). Then it happened. I got there and you wanted to sleep with me. Being me, that vulnerable little girl who was still so madly in love with this person who didn't care and maybe never did... I said okay. You promptly kicked me out afterwards. Every time. Because every time I saw you, we'd watch a movie, we'd do that, and then you'd make me leave. I sabotaged my time at the step-down treatment center for you. And just like that, after being eating-disorder-behavior free for over 45 days, I started right back up again. I couldn't handle the pain and you weren't giving me any promises or real hope, so I coped the only way I'd learned how. 


That summer on those long drives, I listened to a song that perfectly described our relationship and what it had become. I heard it in my head at night when I tried to go to sleep. I played it on my car stereo and my iPod. I hummed it, sang it, choreographed to it in my room in Long Beach, and prayed that maybe the outcome would change.



At the end, I left the treatment center. I'd been diagnosed with cancer, I had been a terrible patient because I'd chosen you over rehab, and suddenly I was in big trouble. I had nowhere to live for the month of August. My dad was flying down on September 1st to drive back with me (my parents agreed that I wasn't allowed to drive 1300 miles alone in my condition). Your mom immediately offered the house (she had no idea I'd relapsed and neither did you, and I was NOT about to tell you guys) and so I moved back in with you, one. last. time. 


The first day I was there, you helped me unpack. You kissed me. We slept together and watched a movie. I thought, "hey, maybe... this could work, I can do this" and I tried my hardest. 


That was the last time you ever kissed me and the last time we ever slept together. I lived with you for 29 more days in solitude. You made it clear pretty fast that you'd only done that to appease my sad little broken heart and that you were finished. You were ready for me to leave. I cried myself to sleep every single night and I couldn't bear it, but I had to stay there. Honestly, I didn't want to leave, because that would mean that it was really and truly over, forever. I couldn't take that. I drank wine with your mom, watched TV shows with your dad, and occasionally said hi when you friends came over, then politely declined when they asked me to come hang out in your room because I knew you didn't want me there.


My last night I didn't sleep. You begrudgingly let me curl up in bed with you and I watched TV from 1AM until I left in the morning at 7 to pick my dad up from the airport and start the drive back. I kissed you on the forehead when I left and told you I'd miss you. I tried not to cry, but I couldn't help it. I didn't lose it until I got in my car, because seeing me sob would've just annoyed you. You said goodbye, and that was it.



Here we are, years later. 
I'm back in school and I miss living in California immensely, but I can't imagine it without you. I haven't been back since. When I do go back, I'll be in Agoura and Venice Beach and Marina Del Ray. I won't get anywhere near your hometown. I'll even be avoiding Hollywood, because that place haunts me sometimes, too. 


I don't know how you are. We don't talk. You don't care. When I got sick again I let your mother know and she wanted me to come visit, but I declined. I couldn't do it. 


I'm officially in remission now. 
That doesn't mean anything to you.


Despite all that I did, gave, let go of, became... I was never enough and somehow too much. I made stupid choices and destroyed my life for you, and I'm still rebuilding. I'm still in debt. I'm graduating YEARS later than I should have, and my singing career, at least in Hollywood, is over. I still haven't forgiven myself for any of it (though I'm trying), and over time I somehow came to believe that your words were true; it was all my fault. I've carried that burden into every relationship since, and it's poisoned them. A guilt that isn't mine turned into a disparaging self-doubt that has kept me from loving myself after all this time. 


I'm working on it. On all of it. But you can hear the song now, and I hope it echoes in your mind for the rest of your life as you realize what you did and who you are.


You have to live with that.