When you tell your friends about him,
You will leave out all the fine print.
You will take their comforting hands and trace around the bold outskirts of a censored situation.
And they mean well—but know not to pry,
Because you are still a bird with a recently heartbroken wing,
And it was “probably a good thing you were getting out there again.”
When you tell your friends about that night,
you will flirt with the idea that this kind of thing must be shared,
because there is no room to shelter another weed in the damp, dark corners of your mind.
But when their questions shift from tipsy to drunk with concern, you may find yourself frantically hitting the panic button, diving for an escape.
Because lately this world has been dressing up sympathy in shades of shame, and you can’t un-see headlines poisoned by victim blame.
After all, girls are left beaten in dark alleyways or wake up dazed in dive bar bathroom stalls, whereas you- you used your own legs and walked into his bedroom prison.
Because you- you probably gave him the wrong impression.
So, when you tell your friends about him,
You will skim over the facts the way you used to study for tests.
You won’t tell them how his Cheshire cat grin reminded you of an outdated history textbook, the one you were forced to read.
You won’t talk about how his breath smelt of a whisky much stronger than his willpower,
Or how the flicker in his eyes pierced like friendly fire- reminding you all too late how many soldiers’ lives were cut short by men they trusted.
You won’t tell your friends about how suddenly hands can morph from tools of comfort to weapons of control, shifting uncharted skin into warzones.
You won’t talk about how quickly borders become blurry and boundaries obsolete- like how a kiss can be read as an invitation or hesitation dismissed as shyness.
You will speak nothing of how pathetic two letter defenses seemed when spit up against a man consumed by liquored lust, how they melted from your panicked mouth more like a question than a demand, your inflection and his hands both lost in all the wrong places.
You won’t explain the lessons you learned that night,
How one’s own body can grow unrecognizable in an instant,
How the nooks and creases become foreign when contaminated by unwelcomed advances.
You won’t tell them about how your cheeks burned because you were too busy pushing back wandering hands to push back acid tears- how when your words finally grew tired of being hushed like they were a secret he did not wish to hear, a force that felt unlike your own took over.
You won’t go on about how irreparably fragile confidence becomes without its shield of independence.
You will not tell them about how many meters your heart plummeted when he had the audacity to send you a friend request the next day, or how you turned your fingertips into prunes trying desperately to wash off the cocooning scent of him.
No matter how many nights you spend trying to re-frame the situation, it will never feel like an honest mistake.
You will not call them when you wake up at 3AM shivering out of bones that no longer feel like home.
You will not make poetry out of his memory, like you do with most things that hurt you. You will not talk to them about the man who showed you that not all pain can be reshaped into art.
You won’t tell your friends that you can’t remember his name anymore, because they know you’re the kind of girl who remembers the birthdays of every boy she’s ever kissed, and it would be no mystery why the vowels and consonants of his name have been burned out from your alphabet.
You do not tell them these things because you are too busy trying to forget.
Instead, when you tell your friends about him– you will laugh.
You will laugh because you think it is something you can downplay, diminish, outrun.
You will laugh because you are terrified of the tsunami you will otherwise become.
You will laugh because you are worried that this universe will never see your smile again.
You will laugh because you have used up all your breakdowns, all your lifeboats, and because you no longer know how to swim in your own waters.
You will laugh because you know the only other option is drowning,
And for that, I am just so deeply sorry.
I am sorry that this happened to you.
I’m sorry for all the days you will spend suffocating in the inability to trust even the worthiest of men, and for how you’ve started seeing words like carefree and irresponsible as synonyms.
I am sorry if you have been made to believe that experiences must fit a certain criterion to be worthy of pain.
I’m sorry that when you do finally tell someone the truth about that night, the tears they shed will likely be out of their ability to relate all too well, and you will realize that your story is one grain in a malicious sandstorm.
I am sorry that you had to learn that there are some stolen things that can never be returned.
Believe me when I say your body is not and never was a Sunday morning garage sale, it is not a pile of old CDs or cracked china. Your value has never been worth less than it was at the start of your days. Your self-worth was never something to be bargained, your consent was never up for debate.
So someday, a friend might come up to you, with their reluctant hands guiding yours into the shape of a story that sounds all too familiar. When they try to laugh it off, promise me this–
Promise me you will hold their hand so tightly that they lose track of where you end and where they begin. Promise me you will let your pulse match the beat of theirs and look them in the eye when you tell them this was not their fault. Share your stories until you are a pool of fading black and blue, healing together in synchronicity
Whisper to them the words they do not even realize they are looking for, do it for all the times you wish someone had told you;
You are not alone and you are not at fault. You never were.