Why would you?
How could you?
What did I do?
All questions that I have yet to find an answer for.
It’s been almost 3 years and yet each time I think back all I can come up with is just that I wasn’t good enough.
I mean that’s what he said. You heard him. You heard us fight.
You aren’t worth it. You aren’t worth this. You don’t deserve to be happy.
Those are the words you heard. The words you claimed to want to protect me from. The words that you told me were lies and wrong. But what about what you did?
Was that wrong?
I can remember the first time it affected my life, only seconds after it happened.
Crying and running through that house.
Running into the driveway and dropping onto all fours.
The gravel digging into my hands and knees so hard that I would find cuts and dried blood later. My stomach turning and twisting so that my whole body heaved.
I remember curling up, hugging my knees to my chest and staring at the spot where my knee had scraped the driveway. Each time my eyes closed I saw you again.
Silent tears ran down my cheeks and onto my jeans. I drew the back of my hand across my face in an attempt to clear them away. To stop them from continuing.
Then the yellow headlight appeared and my heart jumped. I remember looking up and thinking, thank god. He came back. He will save me now.
I know now just how wrong I was. Just how stupid it was to think anyone could save me.
He gets out of the car and for a moment I can’t see his face from behind the head lights. Then he’s in front of them, a dark solute.
I reach for him as if he is a life preserver and I’m being beaten in the sea.
And he steps back.
I remember how cold and emotionless his voice was when he told me to stand up.
I saw his face as I struggled to pull myself off the ground. And the anger in his eyes felt like not only was he no longer a life preserver in a storm but a shark.
The first words that came through his mouth were an emotionless whisper, “He called me”.
I remember thinking that his anger was directed at you. That maybe he was so angry he was going to do something. I remember being scared in that moment for him. You were just so strong.
“He’s right. You’re not good enough. You’re pitiful.”
So many times over the last 3 years those words have swirled around my head.
I remember it feeling like my heart was shattering inside of me. I remember the pain of trying to breathe in and feeling like my lungs were collapsing in on themselves.
That breakup was the first thing that you put me through. Although you weren’t directly involved in the rest.
That night I went home and after pulling off my shirt and the rest of my destroyed cloths, I stood in front of the mirror in my bathroom. I saw the bruises on my shoulders and hips. The blood on my thighs and knees and hands. I saw the cuts and scrapes and the could still taste of blood from where I bit my cheek.
That image still haunts me.
I remember stepping into the shower and faintly recognizing the sting of the water flowing through my ripped up knees and hands.
I remember scrubbing at my body until it turned pink and raw, in hopes that I could wash you away.
In hopes that I could just move on, forget that you ever happened.
But those hopes were in vain.
When he called to ask if we could give us another chance I was ecstatic he decided to believe me.
The thing was he didn’t.
I let him tell me I was worthless and stupid and never good enough because what I did was horrible. Because I thought it was my fault.
The rest of the summer I shut people out. I stopped calling my friends to make plans. I hid from everyone. Afraid that if they knew they’d hate me too.
For weeks after I didn’t make it through the night without shedding tears.
If I could fall asleep I’d wake in a cold sweat and my heart beating so hard I could hear it echoing around the room.
I lived off of energy drinks for most of those 3 months. Trying to hide that I wasn’t sleeping, it wasn’t hard. The rest of the world kept moving and I was stuck in a nightmare that I couldn’t escape.
I remember getting ready for school the first day.
I remember pulling on shorts and you flash through my mind. I clench my fist to stop my hands from shaking and collapse onto my bed.
I remember thinking to myself, It’s okay. You can do this.
I walked to school. My mind a million miles away from the sidewalk I was staring at and couldn’t possibly be farther from my destination.
You can do this.
The first thing I remember walking into school that day was thinking that it would be a good distraction.
Then there was a scream, a shriek that made me turn.
Then someone was hugging me. I felt my blood run colder than ice and my heart stop.
I felt my whole body turn rigid like a board.
You flashed through my mind again and the next thing I knew I was pulling away and hugging my arms to my chest.
They didn’t even notice.
The next person that ran over I hugged quickly and pulled away.
Then the next I didn’t hug at all.
Someone comes up and hugs me from behind.
And I jump a mile high and my breath catches in my throat.
They notice and pull away but don’t say anything.
Soon people stop hugging me.
Soon my friend begins to ask if she can hug me when I’m upset.
When we get out seats in math I am sat with a guy.
A guy who I sit as far away from as possible.
A guy who every time he breathes I feel my body freeze.
A guy who scares me.
Then about a week of class later he talks to me. He asks if I’m okay.
And suddenly I remember you asking and I look down.
I say, “yes I’m fine.”
But this time I see his face fall. I see him recognize the lie.
But unlike everyone else, he asks again.
And I finally meet his eyes.
“Not really. But hey who is?”
With this I gain a smile. I know he doesn’t believe i’m okay. But for a moment he lets it go.
I remember the first time someone told me he liked me.
I remember being terrified of it. Of him. All over again.
I remember all the trust I felt in him being overthrown by my fear.
He asked me how I was every day.
And finally I knew. I knew he cared. And I knew that I did too.
The day I asked him if he liked me I already knew the answer.
But hearing him say yes made it feel like my heart was healing just a little. And like it was beating a little more normally again.
The first time he hugged me he asked. I remember him standing next to my locker before thanksgiving break. Asking if I would hug him. I remember being relieved he’d asked. And scared about having him touch me.
Then his arms were around me and My head was rested on his chest.
I remember my heart jumping and then it speeding up.
This time not from fear.
The next time he hugs me it’s when he walks in from break. He walks right up to me and hugs me so tight I can’t imagine how my bones didn’t break.
I remember jumping slightly at first but never feeling more safe.
He asks about him. My ex. The guy who’s breakup was caused by you.
I tell him the truth. We had major fights. We fought all the time. And when he said he loved me it was just to end a fight.
Okay I guess not all of the truth.
I didn’t tell him about the bruises the fights left. I didn’t tell him that the fights were because of you.
He soon started to ask more questions.
One day he brings it up. The unimaginable question.
“Why do you jump every time someone touches you?”
I remember my heart dropping.
I remember the images of you and that night flashing through my mind as I stared numbly into the void that was my computer screen.
He knew from that moment the answer to a question he was afraid to ask.
Who did this to you?
Where is he I’ll kill him.
I don’t know how to answer him. I never even tell him the full story. I’m just so afraid.
Afraid that he’d want nothing to do with me. Afraid that he’d blame me like I blamed myself.
When he kisses me the first time I freeze.
I can’t even push him away, my body won’t move. My brain frozen and my body turning to ice.
This is the reality you left me with.
Soon a year has passed.
Exactly 1 year.
I don’t get out of bed for that whole day.
I still woke up in the middle of the night. Shaking and cold with the ghost of your name on my lips and the fear racing through my veins like venom after a snake bite.
A whole new time for me.
Freshman year I learned that what you did wasn’t my fault.
What you did was something you did.
That was the first time I came to believe I was the victim.
Over the next year my nightmares continued. I would wake places other than my bed, scared and feeling more alone than ever.
I took to staring at the ceiling feeling like no one would ever understand.
Soon 2 years have gone by. This time I really am alone.
My friends aren’t there for me this year. They aren’t just one text away.
This time I’ve never been more alone.
I wake in a cold sweat.
I sit there alone. No longer will anyone answer my call. No longer do I have someone to distract me.
I cry, no longer a silent cry but one so heart broken I can’t believe I made that sound.
Now almost 3 years later I still flinch when someone touches me without warning. My heart still speeds up just a little when I’m around men I don’t know.
I’m still afraid.
When someone kisses me I freeze momentarily. I know they aren’t you somewhere is my mind but I still have to pull away. Just for a moment. Just to remind me that they aren’t you. They don’t look like you. They are someone I can trust. How often have I had to tell them nothing was wrong? I can’t remember.
I have told so many lies over last 3 years I have lost count.
I feel like, in a way, you have robbed me of everything that I had. My freedom to trust blindly and fall quickly. My freedom to feel free. My freedom to live in the teenage world where nothing bad ever happens.
From me you have stolen everything. My last years of childish innocence and the ability to believe I’m invincible, safe, my teenage recklessness.
That is what you did to me.
But no longer do I let myself or anyone else call me a victim.
Because that girl you knew is long gone. She was the victim. I am the Survivor.