Give me one reason to stay here…

…and I’ll turn right back around. So goes the Tracy Chapman song. She’s been jilted, maybe cheated on, walked on, treated badly by her lover. We don’t know exactly what happened, but we do know that she’s tired of going through the same motions of feeling loved, then pushed aside. She wants a reason to stay — needs a reason to stay — or she’ll leave forever.

What are the reasons we stay? What does someone say, may it be a friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, neglectful family member, whomever, that make us stay and give them another chance? When do we reach our limit? What if one reason isn’t enough anymore and we need more?

Over the years I’ve thought about what makes me give in to relationships (be they romantic, platonic, or genetic) and give it one more shot. What words have been spoken, promises made, gestures shown, to make me turn around and come back and see if things get better? Perhaps it was an apology, perhaps it was the “but they’re such a good person” feeling, or the guilt creeping in, making me feel like I’m the bad person for wanting out. Sometimes I don’t know the reason, but I go back anyway…only to be disappointed again.

But none of the reasons have been worth it. That’s the whole point of the song, right? “I told you that I love you, and there ain’t no more to say.” If only it were that simple — we could just say I love you and things would get better. That the people hurting us, whether they realize it or not, intend to or not, would just magically fix things and we go skipping off into the sunset together. But the reality is that the reasons often don’t come through, and we’re left shaking our heads, turning away in disappointment, and wondering what could have been.

And for me…it’s often still not enough. I still want to fix it. I still want to be the one that makes it better, to figure out what’s wrong, why things aren’t working. It could be the meanest person in the world, and I’m the one wanting to make them nicer, wanting to know how I can be better for them.

I’ve worked hard in the last few years to realize that it can’t always be me, and it often shouldn’t be. That sometimes, there’s nothing I can fix, nothing I can make better, and hardest of all to hear — no reason for me to stay. Because staying will only make it worse, and staying won’t make me happier. So sometimes, it’s stopping and saying, hey, you asked for a reason to stay, and you didn’t get one…so it’s time to turn around — and not come back.

How do you know when that time is? We often don’t know, at least not right away. I’m famous for trying one more time, waiting a bit longer, and hoping someone will realize they’re messing up. It’s tiring, yet I’m that person still. Maybe because I have hope. Maybe because I’m a fool. In the end though, it’s as simple as remembering that I deserve better. And because I deserve better, and you deserve better, I ask for one reason I should stay — and if there is no answer, then I turn around. Because someone else down the road will have a reason, perhaps many reasons, that I should stay, and love them and be loved.


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