The Secrets We Keep

I think we all have something we feel like we cannot talk about, that one source of pain that we try to so desperately bury deep within us. You try and you try to keep it submerged in the murky depths of your pain, but it keeps rising to the surface. Maybe we are not meant to hide all of this pain. Maybe we are supposed to feel it. Maybe some things are meant to hurt so that we can learn to never let that type of hurt in again.

That was you. My forbidden thing. The hurt that I have tried to bury so deeply within myself that some days I forget that it ever even happened. Some days I forget that we ever happened. But you cannot erase something that has already happened. You cannot pretend you never began once you have already crossed the finish line. We happened. That night happened. And no matter how many times I try to will it away, it always comes back to haunt me.

I fear that you will always be there, haunting my memories. I close my eyes at night and you are there. I lay in bed with someone else beside me, but still, it’s you I cannot stop thinking about. I wish I could have seen it then, the moment when everything changed. I was in love, and I didn’t know better. I was in denial, and I could not have known better. I held on and on and on until I had nothing left to cling to. Until the night I finally gave in.

The last night of college should be a bittersweet memory for me, but because of you, I only remember the bitterness. Over a year you waited, and I said no every time. I wish I would have realized then why I was always so uncomfortable. But, after all, it was you who taught me that my discomfort was nowhere near as important as you getting what you wanted. I learned to accept it. I learned to make a home in my pain and my anxiety. I learned to like it because I knew I did not have another choice. It was do as you say or lose you. I wish I would have realized the better end of that deal would have been to lose you.

Instead, I lost myself. Day by day, it was like you were carving out every inch of my soul, and instead of letting something new blossom there, you left it empty. I thought I knew what emptiness was after so many years of depriving myself of what I knew I needed to stay alive, but this new emptiness you brought out in me was unlike any I had ever experienced before. I lost the light behind my eyes. And my god, did anyone ever notice how tired I always looked? I was falling apart, and I think everyone saw it. But I was in love, and everyone knew that they could not stop me.

Because they had tried and failed. I had tried and failed. Something about you always reeled me back in. It was like I wanted you to destroy me. I wanted to see myself become nothing, because I had always believed that was all I was anyway. Nothing. You were right when you told me I had no self-respect. I never would have stayed with you if I did.

I never would have let you take every part of me, bit by bit. Layer by layer. Until there was nothing left but me, stripped naked on a bed I knew deep down I didn’t want to be sharing with you. I didn’t want to give myself to you that night, but I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, but you decided that I did, even though your body is your body and completely outside of my control. I will never be able to truly put into words the shame you carved into my body that night. I will never understand why you wouldn’t just hold me to try to make everything better. I will never understand how a person could make someone feel so low in such a vulnerable moment and not even feel bad about it.

And I wish I could say I didn’t understand why I stayed with you for so long after that night. But I know why I did. You had me convinced that you were the one. You had me convinced that I would never find anyone else because you made me believe I was worthless. How could I move on when I couldn’t let go of the only one who had wanted me in so, so long? How could I move on when you took everything I had? Where could I even go to when you had become all I had ever known?

The human body has a way of trying to warn us when someone or something isn’t right for us, but so often we ignore these signs. We pass them off as another defect within ourselves. We take the blame for something else that is “wrong” with us when in fact they are the ones who are wrong for usMy body always knew what she wanted. I just wish I would have listened to her.

It’s because of you that I have not been able to have a normal physical relationship with anyone. It’s because of you that I wonder if I will ever finally be able to let go. And because of you, I am so afraid to let someone else in. I cannot handle the shame or the fear or the pain again. I am trying to convince myself that a life alone is not what I am after, but then I remember that night and our relationship, and I wonder, how could I ever let anyone else in again?

How would they understand what I’ve been through if I cannot even process it myself? How could they even begin to love me if I cannot love myself?

So here’s to you, my little forbidden thing.

Here’s to your first taste of the sunlight.

I can only hope it changes you.

Like if a unicorn were a person going through an emo phase.

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