He says he’ll leave me if I cut my hair.
So I wear it longer on the days I see him.
When all I do is hide behind a curtain of hair to hide every scar I am feeling.
He doesn’t like it when I wear that color. It reminds him of her. So he bans me from wearing it in order to please him. I don’t hesitate. I don’t say no. I just do as I am told. To avoid an argument. To avoid the words that he holds still and strongly behind his tongue.
I am afraid to speak at times. The outcome outweighs the lasting effects of anything I could ever say. I don’t know myself at times. I was a smart girl. I was a strong girl. Now I am letting someone else dictate my thoughts and actions.
I don’t know who I am anymore, I tell myself.
I am not me without you, I say out loud.
It’s not the fists I am afraid of. It’s this unseen power a person can hold over you with the mountain of words that follow. How easy it is to say how you feel and mean what you say. How easy it is to cut down a person without giving it a second thought.
I found myself saying that I’d wish he’d hit me. Something to show the world of the vile person he was. Create the villain among the sinners. All they see is my reactions to every one of his actions. All they see is my skin burning red and my tongue lashing out at everyone that defies me. All they see is my anger and his calm demeanor. Because he was always too cool and too good of a person to hurt people. He was always the cool guy in his nice kicks. He couldn’t hurt a fly they’d tell me. How I wish he’d hit me just to prove them wrong. Just to show them that I was right and they were wrong. Then all these feelings would be real not under the surface.
People always say “That would never happen to me”. I hate that. As they see a girl cover her face or hear a story of a girl who just couldn’t take it anymore. They don’t know what it’s like. They don’t know what it’s like to hide from your friends and family. To pretend your okay when your whole world is falling apart. How it feels to cut your arm in places because the words were too big of a burden to keep to yourself. So you punish yourself for being the sad expectation of who he wanted.
I was the dead weight he refused to carry, he’d often said. If I was skin and bones he would love me more. Hold me tighter. I believed him. I was stupid and I believed him.
I used to say “It would never happen to me“. That I would be one of the lucky ones to fight until my hands were red and my throat was raw. They don’t know that sometimes when a man loves too much they just ignore you. Tell you how worthless you are. How every time they see you it makes them sick. They don’t know how sometimes it’s more than physical. That words have a way of leaving bruises and scars on every inch of your skin. But they’ll never see it. They’ll never know.
They’ll never know that the reason you stopped dating is that you hear his voice in the back of your mind. That nobody will want you after he has had you. That nobody will ever love you as much as he had loved you.
It would never happen to me, they’d say.
But it happened to me.
Tracy, CA. 2015