Late night conversations I hate

I’m laying on my stomach biting the skin around my thumb as I listen to you ask me nicely whether maybe I could be the type of person that puts myself in bad situations and maybe it’s a pattern in my life. There is blood in my mouth. The taste of rust and thick white spit that sticks against the back of my throat as I feel the poison slowly drain through my limbs. On paper, these are the things that never sound so bad. Victim blaming. Distrust. Shaming. I know these words now, and I can label them as they fall from your mouth like marbles down a spiral staircase, but I still feel each hollow clink on the way down and I’m still at the bottom collecting them from you and holding them all as if they were my responsibility to polish, as if it was my job to explain it out for you. Surviving. The walk along the edge of death with just a thread to hold on to, attached to the hope of a future that falls in and out of view. And you want to know, how can you be happy now? A question that only means to tell me that if I have been through what I say I have, there’s no way I could be. Why should I have to take your hand and walk you there? See this? This here is where I sat and screamed. This old step outside my college dorm is where I’d come to on those nights I couldn’t sleep. It’s where I’d curse and shake and rock slowly...

13 Things I Would Tell My 15-Year-Old-Self About Dating

If I could magically go back in time and have a conversation with my 15-year-old-self, these are the 13 things I would make sure that she knew: 1. It’s not forever. People will tell you that you’re too young to be in love. They are wrong. You will fall in love. Hard. So hard that you will believe you are supposed to stay together forever. Some people stay with their high school sweethearts and get married and have babies and everything’s wonderful, but the truth is that the first person you fall in love with is most likely not the person you want to spend your whole, entire life with. And unless you are part of a very small percent of the population, you will be incredibly thankful for this. Give yourself time to date lots of people. Figure out what you want in a partner and save the “through sickness and health, till death do us part” until you’re older. 2. Be your own person, not part of a couple. Figure out who you are. Listen to the kinds of music that you like. Read the books you want to read. Try new things and keep discovering what makes you the wonderfully weird person that you are. Don’t create your identity on a foundation of someone else. Relationships do not define you. They can be a great way to connect with another person and share similar interests, but make up your own mind and be your own person. 3. Don’t give up things for relationships.  If you want to play a sport, join the band, be in a club, go to the movies, hang...

Letter to my abuser

You can call me stupid. Call me wrong. Call me incapable. Call me names I cannot even repeat. You can spread your lies. Convince others. Build a whole army of puppet followers who all agree with you. You can convince a friend of mine. Turn someone I love against me. You can find the evidence that you need. Point out my flaws. Cast a spotlight on each insecurity. You can get inside my head. You can even break me down. Bring me to my knees, alone on a cold, hard floor, and you might think then, that you’ve won… but tomorrow, I will stand up. I will take another step forward, no matter how small or how shaky. And I will know that you will never get the best of me, because even as I stumble through this fucked up world, it is love I hold inside my heart, and you can never make...

My message to anyone who is in love with an abuser

I know it’s hard. I’ve been there. In love with someone who hurt me. I’ve tried telling myself that everything is fine and it’s all going to work out somehow.  Convinced myself that I could make things better. I’ve taken on the mission to bring back the perfect relationship so that I didn’t have to leave. Stayed on my best behavior. I’ve been brave and forgiving and promised that I would always be there. I’ve tried to rationalize away the feelings. Ripped up pictures. Given myself pep talks about why I deserve more. Reached out to other people for help. Tried drinking until I was numb. Pretended like I didn’t care. I’ve practiced the conversation in my head over and over of exactly how I would say each word “I can’t be with you anymore. You’re not good for me. I’m leaving you.” Only to feel the terror pull back the words before they make it through my lips. Back and forth I’ve gone. Back and forth. Losing pieces of myself. Slowly. Like grains of sand falling through an hourglass.  Counting down until I was completely empty and numb. And then I’ve thought, “Maybe I’m the crazy one. Maybe I’m just lucky that anyone loves me. Maybe this is as good as it gets.” I know what it’s like to be in a place where the only thing worse than staying is leaving. And the only things worse than leaving is to stay. I know what it’s like to feel loneliest when you are with laying right next to someone. I know how hard those nights are. The ones...

Abuse Is Not The Victim’s Fault

The fact that someone abused me was not my fault. This is a reality that even on a good day I have to talk myself into; a reality that has taken me years to begin to accept. Years of fighting with myself and repeating the words over and over and over again.  It was not my fault. It was not my fault. Years of listening to a string of therapists remind me again and again. Years of going over each event in my mind, analyzing it from every angle, replaying the hands gripping my wrists and wondering if maybe I could have twisted my body differently, could have screamed louder or tried a different collection of words that might have prevented it all from happening the way that it did. Why didn’t you fight back harder? Why didn’t you yell? Why did you let him hurt you? Why did you stay? Why did you date someone like that? Why did you get yourself into that situation? Maybe you have a bad judge of character? Maybe you deserved what happened to you. Maybe he wouldn’t have acted like that if you weren’t for the way that you are. Maybe you made him crazy. Maybe you are over exaggerating. Over reacting. Overly picky. Too weak. Too quiet. Too soft. Too hard to please. Maybe it was your fault. In the circumstance of domestic violence, self-blame is, in many ways, a natural response for a victim—the product of being hurt by someone you trust and love, and then being told that it is your fault again and again. For me personally, taking responsibility for...

7 Things To Remember While Recovering From Abuse

During a soccer game when I was thirteen years old, I stole the ball from a defender on the other team and found myself on a fast break toward the goal. I can still remember the rush of excitement through my entire body, my legs pounding down the field as I told myself that no one could stop me, I was going to score. Then suddenly, a defender slid into me from behind, completely missing the ball but sweeping my legs out from under me. I fell backwards, landing directly on my back as the wind was knocked out of me. The defender was given a red card, dismissing her from the game. After a moment I caught my breath, stood up, and took the penalty kick, scoring a goal for my team. I played the rest of the game, somehow uninjured by the nasty tackle. The next morning, however, as I picked up my backpack and took a step up to climb on my school bus, I felt a pop in my back followed by a pain so sharp it was like someone had literally stabbed me with a knife. The pain was so severe that I couldn’t go to school that day. My mother took me to the doctor, where I found out that two of my vertebrae had been knocked out-of-place, causing my hips to fall out of line and the muscles surrounding the trauma to spasm and tighten, locking my left leg two inches lower than my right and leaving my body in a crooked mess. I didn’t understand. I had gotten up and played...