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The more you know, the more you hurt

by Ada O. Rose 6 months ago in Short Story
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How it all started

The more you know, the more you hurt
Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Used or rejected.

That's how she always felt.

There was always something, or someone, to be honest, to remind her how broken she was. It was tricky though. Almost like a sarcastic play. And everytime, there were the same steps, the same triggers, the same strokes. Hurtful, mischievous, nasty, but also somehow luscious, sour but sweet.

There was always something, powerful, bewitching, that was making all her life look like a scheme. A science experiment. A clinical trial with psychologists from everywhere, waiting to see if she was going to ever lose her mind.

Was it the point? Craziness? We will come back to it in due time. For now, she was deeply concerning. Before, she had always been able to stand back up, somehow, building a shell and using it as new assets quite fast, for that matter. It was the first time she couldn't seem to be able to get back up on her feet, or out of her bed. She used to be pretty persistent, she was impressive. What she had gone through in now 23 years could have seemed unattainable, given how she started, but again, we will come back to it.

First, it was her dad. Loving, attentive, considerate. He was her hero. Her mom was also caring, kind, thoughtful. It was a great start. What was the trick? She was smart. Really smart. We're not talking about the "genie-smart" kind of person, nor the gifted kid who was excellent in science. We had there a specimen of hyper developed emotional intelligent soul. What did that mean ? She could feel more. She was definitely bright: she learned how to read around a year and a half, she was perfectly understanding religious concepts and was able to teach them around 4 years old; she was indeed smart. But the emotions, the subliminal side of every human being, the unsaid, she was absorbing a lot more of it than most people. As a child it was a lot of information to process, but just like any other kid learning life, she would take everything in and classify it later as useful knowledge.

There is an age, that varies for every child, when anything and everything that has been absorbed since birth forms into different principles. See that moment when you finally flip the switch of your christmas decorations and everything lights up at once? That's what she felt. It is impossible to determine exactly when it happened, as we only realize most life-changing milestones of our existence occurred a while after they did, almost like our own BC and AD eras.

Her parents had realized how smart she was, and they were giving her material to expand that knowledge, according to their abilities. But they had not seen her emotional knowledge. In that area, because of how much she was able to feel, what would seem a lot to them or to anyone, really, was only a humble stream trying to feed an ocean. She couldn't grasp it yet but she was starving. Worse still, the unfilled void she had inside was hoovering all the other negative emotions she was not meant to take in, as the good would have outdone the bad if only she had been a regular child.

"After all we've done for you", "ungrateful child", "who do you think you are"... So early in life it had been made clear to her that she had, or was, a problem. She was appearing as someone that was never satisfied instead of simply someone with greater needs. She had understood quickly that her relatives could not fulfill her needs totally. An interesting thing is that she perceived that, and decided to accept and work with anything she felt they could give, already using her emotional sagacity and her big heart, because she had a great one. But trying to help them love her, she got hurt, deeply. While she was willing to walk more than half of the way to meet their capacity to love her, they were proving every day that they were not willing to go a step further in her direction.

It was the small things. "Play with me!", "Let's go to the beach together!". At such a young age she was already more touched by the little thoughtful expressions of love rather than the big gestures her parents were proud of. They could not see it but her heart was crying out. "Spend time with me! I love you, I want to get to know you, I want to spend time with you!", "I want you to be my friends too". There always was an excuse. Work, mostly. Last minute things. Other people's needs. So early, her soul had been broken by rejection from the same people she had put at the top of her heart. And the excuses. Always excuses, promises meant to be broken, time after time, until the word of her parents didn't mean anything to her, except if it was to punish her. Those promises were never broken. The hurtful words, the mistakes she could make, those were remembered.

She was still a loving child but was growing up quickly. She had learned the hard way not to trust people, and the few she could open her heart to did not even have access to everything she was keeping inside. Writing mental notes to her future self was her coping mechanism. As if she knew, or hoped, that someone, later, would finally take care of her properly. People would later admire how she connected to younger kids, or her views on education and familial relationships. How did she learn that much? By being hurt.

So she spent her young life walking on her toes. Made a few mistakes. Big ones. She knew she had messed up, but was hoping so much her parents could love her beyond it, or read in between the lines of the act and see the desperate call for love, for listening, for forgiveness, for help.

They read the signals all wrong. Her dad tried to interpret everything and went into a direction that was total nonsense. Even worse, he broke her. His look, the expression of his face, his eyes, his touch. Around 8 years old he had already broken her once, when he had put her at a distance and she could not sit on his lap anymore. He did not say it but she could see. He was not comfortable with her changing body. Why would it be a problem? He was her dad. He was the only man she was supposed to trust and be so close to, at such a young age. But he rejected her. In the most hurtful way, trying to be subtle, to conceal the real talk. She wanted the real talk. She could handle it. She was smart, smart enough to understand him but also to win her case. She wanted honesty. At least. But she got pushed away, "gently", with her dad looking away and avoiding her wondering eyes. She insisted, another day, maybe once or twice. Got pushed away. Of all the people, he had broken her heart. He broke her a second time. She knew he had problems at work, but it had never interfered with their home life. Until one day she came to talk to him and he had this disgusted look on his face. She was triggered the first time. What had she done? No, it must not be personal. He was absorbed by his thoughts. She had tried to convince herself. Once, twice, ten times. But there was always this look, this expression, this face that once had been kind, welcoming, reassuring. It could still be. But for other people. She observed him. And it broke her. More hurtful than the act were the trials between her heart and her mind. She was smart. Hyper developed emotionally. Her observations were as right as Shakira's hips didn't lie, and even knowing that, she would still agree to hear the defense her heart was giving in her parents' favor. They could have won. She had a big heart. But each time, each time they were proving her heart wrong and her head right, until one day even her heart was not able to defend them anymore. "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me... because I still love you". She was the embodiment of that saying because, well, she still loved them.

And when this rejection and hurt had produced mistakes, while she was hoping to get heard, she got pushed away even further. She tried to say it, she tried to explain, with abundant tears, because she was teared up, destroyed, broken. But then she had been told that she was dirty, manipulating people, a liar, trying to get away with tears. She warned her dad once, crying and shouting: "You're breaking me! You're breaking me!". He looked at her with those hurtful eyes: "I am breaking you?!" shaking his head and looking offended while leaving the room. Her heart was ripped but she had no tears. He was insensitive to her. She could never let him close to her heart again.

It had been the same with her mom. Supposed to be her reference, her accomplice, she was rejecting her marks of affections, her kisses, her hugs. She could not express herself freely next to her mom, sing, talk. "Calm down!", everytime she sang, "YOU'RE HURTING ME!!" at every hug. "Aaah! don't touch me!", "You're talking too loud! Lower your voice!", everytime she was excited to tell a story, which her mom was barely paying attention to. Her mom had long, beautiful hair, hair her daughter had always wanted. She could never do her mom's hair without asking a thousand times, almost having to earn the right of wanting to care for her. One day she discovered a note destined for a boy at school. It was daring, and she was way too young for this, she was six. But instead of a serious talk, stepping back to understand where this was coming from, and a chance to explain, she got a secret and strong beating, with the threat of being told on to her dad if she wouldn't stop crying. She would never open about love to her mom, ever again. There it was, once more. At six she had felt she couldn't open up to her parents about having feelings of love or friendship for boys. She had tried to convince herself otherwise, well, there it was. Also, there was this thing her mom was doing... Getting angry at her husband's behaviour and complaining to her daughter. Telling to her ears the hurtful things she couldn't dare to say in his face. It was bad for her. It was ruining her respect. For both of them. She didn't want to know those things. But then she was blamed, hurt with those same words, those same knives, shaped for her own self because she was refusing to hear. And when she tried listening, she was threatened if ever she would dare to talk; her loyalty was questioned and she was labelled as someone who couldn't be trusted: "You know how you like to go open your mouth to people! I can't say anything in front of you!". Why tell her then?

She grew up taking love where it was offered, spending time with people who would give her some, and prioritizing them when she could choose where to go because it was agreeable. But her parents were jealous, angered, bitter. She tried to explain to them how it was the natural result of their neglect, but then she was blamed, shouted at, treated like an insubordinate.

It was a waste of time. She wanted peace, love, compromise, acceptance, but it was denied at the very place where it should have been offered and sacredly kept.

She was smart, perspicacious, and could already see how her broken relationships were transforming her. She tried to fight all she could and composed with everything she couldn't overcome.

Until she found them.

Well, she found him first. She was underaged and he had just turned eighteen. But they could connect better than his agemates. She was smart, she was clear-sighted, she was funny, never short of a comeback, she was certainly pretty but was attracting him with her mind. She was indeed gifted, and it showed. It was impressive, and she wasn't even trying. She didn't want to realize it at first, but in the few days she got to know him, she had fallen in love. For the first time, she was feeling something different from anything she had ever felt toward boys before. She had felt attraction, or sometimes was daring herself to get this boy or another one, but her mind had never been swept off her feet, literally. She could see him, feel him, and he could follow and embrace her emotional intelligence. But she was too young. He was a good guy, didn't try anything. They stayed friends, and for some time she pursued him. Only respectfully, when circumstances were allowing it, in between two girlfriends. She met him around thirteen years old, so years had to go before she could hope to ever have him. But she never lost hope and waited for him. She was always there, not overbearing but there, as a friendly presence. After his last breakup she had turned eighteen. At the time she was far, already studying abroad, but she had faith that their love could bloom. She had kept it so preciously all those years, while getting to know him deeper and learning how to care for him, respect him, love him, that she was sure she could make him happy. There was the distance, but a leap of faith was all she was asking for, after those five years spent patiently waiting. Even without dating her, he was the closest friend and love she'd ever had. He had access to everything, except maybe some love declarations towards him, but she wasn't trying to scare him off. He knew, though. He knew she loved him, he knew her stories, her wounds, her joys, her doubts, her hopes, her fears. He knew everything. She was trusting him as much as she could feel or love. That is a lot of trust. She was sure he would never hurt her. They would never get there. They could communicate: she knew how to speak the language of his heart and he knew how to listen and understand the language of hers. Those were the only things she needed. Trust, communication. She also wanted his love but was ready to wait a little more to win it. She had already waited five years; if she could have his heart, at last, she would gladly wait for it to open, even slowly. She could understand those things, because she could feel them, she had lived them, she knew.

But... But, and even with the years, her heart is always breaking whenever she gets to that "but". He chose otherwise. He knew the odds were turning in her favor, he knew how much she loved him, he knew how long she had waited. But. But he gave himself to another girl. The sad thing was that even if he was attracted to her, he would finally dump the girl because he couldn't fall in love. The worst thing was that while he knew so much of her, the one who loved him already, he used the most destructive and hurtful way to deal with her. He pushed her aside while looking away, passing his behaviour as "being busy", trying to put it on her, as if she was overreacting, while she knew. He knew she could feel those things, at least he was supposed to. Once again there was this trial inside of her. Heart against mind, again. Her heart had pleaded so hard he would never hurt her, because he could, but why would he? And then, once again, it had to deal with the immense hurt done by its protégé. Why? Even greater than the hurt was the torturing question, why? First her dad, well, maybe he had never loved her unconditionally, maybe she had done something that repulsed him more than what his love could bear... There were no good answers for her dad's behavior but there was baggage, so it was different. But him, why him, how him, how? She was wise, comprehending, rational, reasonable but she couldn't grasp why? how! Why had it happen?

But again, she was in love with him. She loved him with all she had. All she had that had been rejected once, all she had that had been pushed away. Her trust was her purest expression of love. She would tell him anything, she would care about everything that could hurt him or refrain him from opening, the slightest things, because he had a hard time opening up too, but she could understand that and act accordingly, to win his trust how she wished hers would have been won. But he had won hers. So why? Why not be honest? It was hurtful, it had been before, but it was way less aching, way less tormenting, because it was a simple truth. He could fall for other people. He wasn't hers, at least not yet, and she would rather keep the friend than to lose everything to an irrational jealousy. And yet, he had failed her. Not only had he created a big wound, he had opened the old ones up.

So there she was again. Destroyed. Broken. Rejected.

But she was in love... And as much as she could feel, as much as she could give, as hard it was for her to cut him out of her life. He was a part of her. He had gone too far. She could cut him off, but she did not want to. She was mad at him, but cutting him off of her life would be the same as a queen sentencing her king to death or exile. She would rather put him in a dungeon for a while, let go of the ache and then allow him back, maybe not as a king, but present and alive.

She did so. She distanced herself from him for a few months but still couldn't let go of her affliction. He did not seem to regret, or to even notice nor understand, and from one who once spoke her silent language, it was new strokes, as painful as the first ones. But she was used to growing out of hurt, and she did. Although she wanted to make a scene, shout to him the suffering he made her go through, she decided to confront him calmly. Her heart did it, as a queen, wounded but dignified, with grace and solemnity, as a grieving monarch. Sometimes tears would break her voice, but she would never lose her dignity. Calmly, she exposed everything, from the beginning, as if she was writing the Genesis of her love. She granted him freedom, but not his title back at least officially. They could stay friends, if he wanted to, but the bond was broken, they would only remain friends, he could not have her heart again. He accepted. It only took a night of sleep before everything was the same between them again, as if nothing ever occured. She was naturally drawn to him, she could still feel safe. She had muted her feelings, by respect for him and his current relationship, and she honestly wanted to get over them, but little did she know, she would be lying to herself for years. Everything was there, undamaged. She sincerely thought she had gotten over him. But he had never lost his place. As a matter of fact, her heart had secretly remained loyal to him, and four years later, when she learned that this conversation had ruined her chances of ever having his heart, well, she was crushed, again. Still wondering why. Mad at herself for trying to handle things, but also mad at him, for not trying. Why hadn't he insisted, why hadn't he asked? He would have gotten real answers. She would have opened up to him. He could have won her back. But he didn't fight for her. Him neither.

In almost ten years of knowing him, she had given him everything. He always had that soft spot in her heart, that VIP card, that kind of access that was confusing sometimes because it was so easy to let him in, even though she had to move on with her life... He knew he should have chosen her. He said it, at least twice. Because she was used to rejection, she had decided to become this perfect girl for him, that would be so great, either he would fall for her, or he would have regrets. Well, he had regrets. He knew he would have been happier, or fulfilled for the first time, but he still wouldn't fall in love. There always was someone else, not treating him right, who was crushing him to the core but still had his heart.

She couldn't get it. How could he? She was the only one who knew so well how to treat him right. She knew everything about him, his secrets, his dark side, his hopes, his dreams, his most intimate fears, she saw his tears, he had been vulnerable in front of her. She could have been his everything but there was always something, someone, worthy of his choice more than she was.

And there she was, broken again, unable to forget that her dad too, had always been choosing something or someone over her, even though what she wanted to give was better, more enjoyable, more pleasant than just work and problems.

In the meantime she had had a brief but big crush on a new someone. It was interesting because it seemed different. It was out of the frame she had before and he was not as accessible. But she was a great girl, and they had great conversations. It felt as if their brains would connect and blow like impressive fireworks. They were finishing each other's sentences, seeing what the other one would mean and elaborating on everything. He could somehow light up her mind and it is one of the things she could love the most from someone. Feeling understood, having space to think, explore, wander her free spirit and study countless thoughts... It seemed that he appreciated that too. Why stay for the conversations? She could see and feel things when she was talking to him. Not butterflies, but the kind of husband and father he would be, and how she could better him, polish him, not change him but elevate everything he had inside to bring him on another level where he could shine even more. She was ready to wait for him. Wait for him to realize the potential of the young woman in front of him, wait for him to finish his preparation time, wait for him to be the one to finally see her, get her, and take that leap of faith with her. But. There was that word again. He repeated the same steps, not as subtly as all the others, though. His special touch was he had more hurtful excuses. "You're too intense, way more than the average person, way more than I am, or can take".

He wanted friendship and distance. And not even six months after rejecting her, he was pursuing another girl, a nice one, but again, who couldn't see even a tiny fraction of who he was and how he worked. Still, that girl had won him over.

She was hurt. Rejected. Broken again. And yet, there was more.

Short Story

About the author

Ada O. Rose

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