There is so much I want to say, you know this, but I am terrified. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the courage to tell you my story in person, but I said I would try… Here’s for practice I guess…
Age 8. I’m teased about having hairy arms. A uni-brow. Mustache. “You’re so ugly, only stupid people could like you.” So I shave my arms and face for the first time. I’m teased for being quiet, so I try to fit in. I get in trouble for whistling a song while boys ahead of me get away with rough housing. Boys pick on me at the playground, “they’re just being boys, ignore them, that means they like you ”
Age 10. “You’re too skinny, don’t you eat food?” I over eat to try and gain weight, end up pre-diabetic. Still skinny. I grow boobs, get called a slut and am suggested to wear training bras. “They’re just being boys.” Girl friends say that I’m flat chested, there’s no way any boy would like me, “except maybe that retarded kid.” Sexually harassed for the first time. “That didn’t happen, even if it did, no one would believe you. That’s so embarrassing if you let that happen.”
Age 12. Start to develop social anxiety. I moniter every move I make so as to not encourage bullying. Do everything perfect. Read clearly. Don’t have wrinkly clothes. Pluck my eyebrows. Say nothing. Whispers in the hall, behind me in class, “I know you want it, I’ll find you after school, let me grab those titties, I bet your pussy is so tight.” Girlfriends, “Oh, don’t feel special, he does that to everyone. It’s normal. So funny, he did that to so and so last week and she cried!” “What’s wrong with you, why did you let him say that?” “You’re going home to read? Loser. Weirdo.”
Age 14. I find a friend; I like a boy, we go to prom, I feel normal. Boy must not have liked me. Doesn’t call. Too busy. Girlfriends say I wasn’t cool enough, he was flirting with blondes. “You’re just a loser, so whatever. Maybe you should play sports or not sit at home so much. You’re bad at being a girl.” I try to buy new clothes, look nice. Get called Barbie, trying too hard, “who the fuck do you think you are?”
Age 15. I start talking to a friend of a friend, we like eachother, we want to meet after about 6 months. Goes great. Wants to see me again, in my town. Kisses me. Comes back a 3rd time. Forces himself on me. I fight silently, my dad was home. He throws me down. I fight, don’t make a noise dad can’t know. His hands are everywhere. I give up, trying not to cry, no one can know, I’m so ashamed, I’m so stupid, my parents will disown me, I asked for this. I should’ve known. He stops, pushes me back down on the bed, tells me he loves me, leaves.
Age 16: I try to branch out, make friends. Play DnD, video games, watch movies, excel in band. “Fucking loser.” My artwork is meticulous, I win awards. “You’re so bad at everything, you just suck.” Someone shows interest in me. I’m still struggling with my experience, so I physically cannot kiss him. “Kiss me or I’m leaving you.” I cried. I told him what happened. “This is too heavy for me, I can’t handle this. I don’t know if I can still be with you.” He stayed. I contemplated suicide. It almost happened once, but a friend unknowingly stopped it. No body really knows about that.
Age 18. “You’re not hurt I barely touched you, hahahaha you wimp, you’re such a girl.” “You’re friends are worthless. You can’t hang out with them anymore.” “Don’t wear your hair like that, you look stupid.” “What is that, a vagina sweater (cowl neck)? Don’t ever wear that again.” “I’m talking with my friends right now, go paint your nails.” “If you weren’t with me you’d be a whore.” “It’s your fault we didn’t have sex, you ruined it for me, you weren’t good enough to get it up.” “You can’t talk to him anymore, he likes you, and he’s a loser.” I left him when he left for basic training. I was terrified. But I got my life back for a little bit. Dated a friend who refused to acknowledge “us” publicly. Went to college. A close uncle died, my only close friend at the time attempted suicide, another friend dropped out of school. My anxieties came back, but negatively. I chopped my hair. “Lesbian.” “Dyke, wtf are you on drugs?” I skipped class. I drank. Anything to feel numb. I dated a friend’s friend. I funded his booze, pizza, art supplies. He rolled over from a hot moment and broke up with me. I felt worthless.
Age 19. A classmate asked me on a date. After 5 months I told him everything. I sobbed. He sobbed and held me. I gain confidence. Get cat called on the street. Ass grabbed in elevators. Lewd comments to my face. He’s furious, “Why?” “It’s just what boys do.” I eventually left him after a few years, I was too damaged and he deserved someone who wanted a family. My mom told me I’d never find someone to love me as much as him.
Age 21. I move home, failed at college. Failed at life. Drunk. All the time. Older men commented how hot I was, grabbed at me. I was worthless, I’d been taught that my whole life. Who cares what they say or do. I wear dark make up, people at work, customers, co-workers say I look great, mom says I look like a sleeze. I am nothing. I drink any anxiety away. I meet someone who makes me feel better, who treats me kindly. Eventually he says he loves me and begins to treat me like property. I’m just garbage, my body has been desecrated and I deserve no better. He calls me a whore when I wear sweatpants to the bar. I tell him my story, pleading for him not to say these things, but he’s pissed, says that he didn’t know I was one of -those- girls, how could I lie to him about what I was, how could I let all these things happen to me. “Fucking slut, you’re disgusting.””You didn’t tell me and that’s the same as lying.” I stayed with him for almost a year because I deserved no better.
Age 23. I move out of my mom’s house. Paying my bills, doing great, but still drowning under the surface. A man “saves” me from a sticky situation and buys me a drink. Then another. Then offers me more at his place. My friends leave me alone with him. Not completely consensual things happen. I’m horrified and sneak away. I contemplate suicide again. I get home and my roommate is having an emotional, drunk breakdown, she needs me, one person that needs me, I hang on to that. I try to date, I refuse to sleep with them, get called a prude, snob, old fashioned, or just silence. One person is okay with it, we get serious, he compliments me that I’m not like the rest of the girls in our town, not loose. I ask if we’re officially a thing, he says “I thought we were just sleeping together.” I call him a piece of shit hypocrite, he slanders me to his friends who continually make moves on me afterwards. My roommate gets raped by my ex. She doesn’t tell me for weeks because she’s ashamed. She let it happen. She shouldn’t have been so drunk. It was her fault. I want to die. I brought him into our circle. At heart, I feel like it was my fault.
Age 24. I meet someone who makes me think of marriage and kids for the first time. We suffer in the same way, but his need of support distracts me from my own pain. He brings up past baggage, women he’s cheated on, fights he’s caused, moments of defeat. I bring up mine, suddenly everything is bad, I’m spoilt in his eyes, ruined, how could I let men do this shit to me? “You had sex with someone like that?” “You lied to me, you kept this from me, I can’t believe you, you’re dishonest.” Two years of trying to get over that, two years of being afraid to be in public because if we ran into anyone, went to a certain place from my past, he was painfully reminded of my deceit and would turn mean, snarl, say passive aggressive things toward me. I tried to ask friends for advice, they said “real love is work, half the time you hate eachother, but love is worth it.” So I stayed. I left my job at the bar, I got sober, I got healthy, I reconnect with my family. I had to set an example for him and my roommate. My roommate nearly burnt our house down, and made some other drunken decisions that affected my family, so I moved out. I was seen as unsupportive in her time of need. Cruel. Selfish. My mom moves away to take care of my failing grandparents. I take on some of her responsibilities, bill management, my brother, her pets.
Age 25. My boyfriend goes through a black hole of depression, we fight more, I stand up for myself. I make the best friends of my life, they show me the values of friends that I thought were myth, they offer support and love without prying and asking for details, we exist and acknowledge that we are all suffering. They give me the courage to make my life better. I leave my toxic relationship and throw myself into being who I am, who people had tried to extinguish. I start being able to show affection and give hugs, my anxiety decreases, I make myself trust and my friends show nothing but support for who I am, without knowing how scary it was for me to open up. I feel genuinely loved for the first time in my life. I feel safe, comfortable, accepted.
Enter you. We had been acquaintances for a year, close friends for another. Suddenly something clicked, I had noticed the way you looked at me over the years, I always thought you were hilarious, intelligent and handsome, but I had my bad relationship and was so caught up in it… Something clicked and I wanted every bit of you. We ended up alone one night and then “we” began. You understood and accepted that I was emotionally scarred. “Day by day, it’s okay, we’ll just take it slow and see where things go. It’s okay.” We’ve been together for almost 8 months, you’ve offered me everything, support, care, understanding, patience, acceptance, rationality, tenderness, passion… I’ve done my best to reciprocate. There’s do much gratitude in my heart that it makes me cry. I have been terrified of messing this up, saying the wrong thing, mentioning anything from my past. I told you my history is depressing, fucked up, and too dark for me to be ready to discuss, but I felt dishonest not telling you, and you replied with, “whenever you’re ready.” I want to tell you how much you mean to me, I know how precious time is, I’m just so scared. I almost lost you last weekend, how you walked away from the wreckage of your car amazes me, I wanted to throw up at the thought of losing you. I’ve known my feelings for a while, tasting the words press at my lips but quaking nerves shutting them in. I’ve said them before, but never like this, not with my heart shaking behind just the thought. I need you to understand how scary this is, how distrust and skepticism have become second nature for me, even when it’s unwarranted. I have no reason to think you would react negatively, but every fiber of me has learnt to prepare and expect the worst. Your rejection would shatter me into numbness. But don’t feel guilty if it’s too much, or you don’t have the equivalent amount of care, I honestly understand. I would survive, because that’s what I do.