A Timeline Of A Woman’s Mistrust In Men

John Mark Arnold

The first man to call me ‘sweetie’ made me cry over and over. I welcomed him back into my life and got used to the taste of his betrayal. There was a love so deep inside of me that I couldn’t deny him. I was a part of him and he was a part of me. Being bonded by blood excuses human behavior and that’s exactly what it was. To err is human and you were/are the picture perfect definition of that.

The first boy to kiss me did it so innocently. I was 10. The grass tickled our legs as we sat on the hill and let the summer sun toast our skin. You leaned over but I didn’t even notice. I felt your lips against my cheek and smiled. That was it. Your hand gently covered mine, we looked at each other and that was it. There was no shrinking away at your touch. I was able to breathe and enjoy the moment. I was not worried about what would come next or what would happen the next day. There were no expectations.

The first guy who wanted to have sex with me said so when I was 15. He told me his parents weren’t home and said he wanted me to come over, including a winky face emoticon in his request. He was older than me by a few years and I wondered if he somehow forgot that. It had to be a mistake, because I was only 15 and sex wasn’t a thing 15-year-olds were supposed to do. But as I stared back at that winky face I felt something change. In his eyes I was not a 15-year-old girl experiencing her first “relationship.” I didn’t want to be alone with him after that. I was so scared that the topic was going to come up again. It didn’t because I broke things off with him. This started a pattern that warped my mind and my purpose.

The first guy to make me think I could be in a relationship wasn’t “ready” for one. He oozed with a confidence that made me jealous. He was so open to talk about anything and everything, which pulled the uncertainty out of me. I tossed it aside because I knew he was different. His stare did not make me feel uncomfortable; it made me want to open up. The conversation between us flowed like wine and I got wasted on it. It made me dizzy and giddy. It made me think the pattern had been broken. I told him how I felt not knowing what to expect but hoping for the best. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worse. I hope wherever he is, he’s happy.

The first guy to confess his love for me did it on the night the world was supposed to end. Yup, you read that right. It was a “joke” which didn’t make it any less confusing. After about a year of talking, but not seeing each other, he loved me as a joke? He invited me to the beach. He invited me to the movies. He invited me to his house. He said he was bored and that he wanted to cuddle, winky face. There was that damn winky face again. I knew what it meant so I never met up with him. I knew what he wanted and that history was repeating itself.

The pattern was getting stronger and tightening itself around my neck.

The first guy to try and stick his hand down the front of my pants did so in the dark as I confided in him. He coaxed me into staying put. He had tried other things before. He told me constantly that I needed to lose my virginity and what better way than with a friend. The fact that you called yourself my friend made it that much worse. I never gave into you and that’s why you pursued me any chance you got. Your hand slipped from a place of innocence to a place that made my body rigid. It slipped further, pushing against the zipper of my jeans. I had been there before. I had been in the dark with you before but this time I was alone and you knew it. You whispered in my ear that I liked it because of how wet I was. I was pissed at my body for betraying me like that. Headlights saved me that night. But it didn’t end there.

I pulled away just to be roped back in by a dopey grin. It wasn’t your grin though. Your grin was never dopey; it was filled with the words you whispered to me that night. Later on you asked me for help and why wouldn’t I help a friend? You showed an interest in my writing. You asked to read some of my writing. It was the part of me that was more intimate than any part of my body. You read it and reached for my hand. I told you I didn’t feel comfortable. You told me it was because I wasn’t used to it. I said it over and over but you never let up. You told me how soft my hands were. You traced the lines on my hands; your finger sliced across my lifeline and completely erased my love line. I thought of more things to get you to leave. I brought the conversation back to my story.

You leaned in and told me that my story reminded you of a rape fantasy you had. I froze. My story was made up; the characters in the story had no way of knowing what was going to happen next. You made me a part of your fantasy, put my name and body in it. I told you it was time for you to leave. You stood up and motioned for me to give you a hug. I wanted you out. I didn’t want to touch you and I didn’t want you to ever touch me again. I gave in. You pulled me against you. I couldn’t breathe. I pushed you away as you tried to assault my mouth with yours. Things were said I don’t remember what. I don’t remember when you left but I was glad that you did. I could tell that you wanted to make your fantasy a reality. I called a friend, told her what happened and then I went into the shower. I scrubbed until my skin was red and raw. It stayed that way for a long time.

The first time a boy broke my heart was not because of a relationship. It was because, like so many other people in my life, you decided I wasn’t worth it. I was too much too handle. Our friendship was threatening. It was too much for you and instead of leaving me alone, you roped me back in multiple times with that dopey grin and a heartfelt apology. Over the years your apologies became hollow but I still forgave you.

Every time I told you it was okay, it wasn’t. It wasn’t okay to call me your best friend and treat me like that. You stopped apologizing and just started assuming that I would be there. And I was. Every single god damn time you needed someone to talk to I was there and if I wasn’t it killed me. I kept all the razor sharp words in my mouth and fed you the sugary affirmations you needed to feel better. I cared for you more than I cared for myself.

I knew about toxic relationships. I had been in the middle of them for most of my childhood. But, no one ever told me that friendships could be the same way. I denied it and told myself it wouldn’t happen to us but when it did I wasn’t ready for it. There were things I couldn’t say to you because I was afraid of whose side you would take. I knew you would take his. I tested it. I told you a little of what happened and you told me that I must have instigated it. My question was answered. You weren’t allowed to know what happened.

It killed me to stay away but I hated being around him. You gave me an ultimatum; hang out as a group or not at all. Hanging out with just the two of us was a thing of the past, you told me. What you were really telling me was that if I wanted to see you I had to see him and think about all the things he tried to do to me. Being in your presence meant that I had to feel his eyes bore holes into my body and leave me feeling empty. I had to deal with the “accidental” boob and butt grabs from him while laughing off the derogatory comments about my body.

You didn’t know that’s what you were asking of me, which made me resent you. How dare you not see what was going on right in front of your eyes? How dare you not stand up for me? I was so mad and you just thought I was being emotional. You thought I was the one making things awkward. I was caught between losing you as a friend and losing my sanity. I chose you for a long time. I dealt with so much shit, for you. How ironic that you were the one to break ties. You were one who begged and pleaded friendship from me and you were the one who threw it back in my face. I never saw it ending but when it did something inside me snapped. I had to re-learn what a friendship was because you warped that word into something that left a bitter taste in my mouth. TC mark

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