It's been five years and you still haunt me.
It's a Friday, the beginning to a hopefully enjoyable weekend. My boyfriend and I both get off work and decide to start the weekend off right. We have nowhere to be tomorrow so we begin to wander, driving around with no real destination. We stop at the mall and decide to walk around and window shop a little bit. We go to walk into this pop culture store and there you are. Standing there, flipping through CDs. It's like seeing a ghost. I immediately turn and walk out of the store and mumble something about coming back later. My boyfriend, confused, follows me and tries to make sense of the mumbles and haziness. I just keep walking like somehow increasing the distance will make me feel safer somehow.
Five Years. You would think that five years would be enough time for the bruises to fade and the aching to stop, but to this day, I still look in the mirror and see it all. You're like a ghost, haunting me. No matter how many times I move, how many jobs I change, or how many miles I put between us, you're always there. You and your bitter memories plague me.
You were my first true love. I fell for you hard and you knew that damn well. I don't know if you ever felt the same way to some degree, but now, I don't care to know. We were both young and I had come from a long, sad background of loneliness. I just wanted to be loved and feel like I wasn't alone anymore. That is where you came in.
It all started out as sweet, young, innocent love. We celebrated our milestones together and cherished our time with one another. We talked about wanting to maybe get married one day, discussing wanting a family and moving away from this little, toxic town. You gave me a high I had never felt before and I wanted to never let it go.
Three months into our relationship, on May 14 to be exact, you broke me. I was a virgin when we started dating, I wanted to hold out 'til marriage because of my personal beliefs. But you had been on this long campaign about sex and whatnot, I assumed it was just a guy thing so I didn't let it bother me. Well on that day, you pressured me into it. Telling me that it would feel good and that it would be no big deal. Granted, I consented and tried to roll with it to make you happy. But the pain of it all still hurt nonetheless. I still remember laying there, crying. Keepng my face turned away from you because I didn't want you to know that I was scared and in pain. When it was all said and done, I forgave you and because I did, it opened a doorway to the painful things you could get away with.
Everything went downhill from there. I only grew more and more attached to you and you tried your limits constantly. I let you redraw the line in the sand every day, pushing me further into a corner. You controlled my life like I was a puppet attached to strings, being tugged every which way. I felt like a child asking for permission to do anything and everything, often met with a strict "no" and a stern look. You began to say things that intentionally hurt my feelings and belittled me constantly. It often went in one ear and out the other, but every now and then you'd precisely strike a nerve and send me into a silent downward spiral.
What started out as emotional abuse, quickly turned violent. You went from yelling at me to hitting me. You went from ignoring me to pushing me into walls. You went from telling me to shut up and listen to choking me. But as always, I forgave you.
At some point, after about a year, you grew bored and broke up with me. If I could see it all as I see it now, I would've steered clear from you. I would've gathered the little bit of dignity I still had left and would've run. As far and wide as my little legs would carry me until they gave out. And still hope that I was far enough out of your grasp to be free. But I didn't and I didn't know any better, so I hung around and we stayed "friends". You manipulated me and used me as a little toy when it was convenient, throwing me away when you were done. Calling me back when you wanted something.
Occasionally, I would drift off and desire something more. Every time I tried to date someone new and move on, you would quickly intervene and drive them away from me. Making me feel isolated and swooping in like a half-assed superhero to make me feel like I could rely on you. So I forgave you. Just like every other time you did something controlling or hateful.
Somehow, I blamed myself. It had to be something wrong with me. Something to drive people away from me and leave me in this toxic waster of a life all alone. So I started to look for things to numb this feeling. I started drinking at parties. I started taking ever party drug I could get ahold of. Even doing reckless things to try and make me feel free. Almost in a sense reinventing myself into a fun person with a carefree lifestyle. This, of course, never worked. As you would always reappear and drag me back every so often.
One early summer evening, your name popped up on my phone screen. Hadn't been there in months and was almost odd seeing it. You invited me to a party to have a good time. I didn't see the harm in it, seeing as this is how you were now and how I had become. So I went and got completely plastered. From there it was all just fuzzy and grey. Loud voices, blaring music, blurs of faces, someone tugging my arm, and just falling. I remember waking up the next morning next to you in a bed, in a house I didn't recognize, completely naked. By the smell of the room and the sweat on us, I assumed the worse. I hurried up out of the bed, afraid to wake you. I gathered up my clothes and left in a hurry like no other. I swore to myself I'd never talk to you again. That this was the last straw. I blocked your number, deleted you on social media, and cut off any mutual friends that would help you find me.
It's been five years. Five long, life-changing years. So by now, you'd think that my wounds would've healed and I would've grown to a point where I could respectfully stand in the same room with you without wanting to die. But no. Because time does not heal all wounds. I'll still run at the sight of you because of the fear you have put in my heart. Time may not ever change that. But it gives me comfort that maybe at some point, my body will have never known your touch and my brain will move past the trauma. Someday.