Replay

My mind’s been replaying. Flashbacks of things that have happened before. Flashbacks of being sexually harassed when I was in fourth grade, and again before my junior year of college. Flashbacks of the time I almost committed suicide in high school. Flashbacks of the times my father got violent, taking his rage out on everything around him – except me. Flashbacks of the time when I had to stay with a friend for a few days because home honestly wasn’t safe anymore. Not when there was that much emotional and verbal abuse going on. Hell, with text messaging, I couldn’t even escape it by leaving.

Yeah, there have been a lot of flashbacks lately. And I think I need to process them.

So. I’ve been sexually harassed. I don’t let it define me. It’s just something that happened. I try not to let the role of “victim” consume who I am today. But I won’t deny that the experiences have left me scarred and confused – confused, because I don’t know exactly how to set boundaries without having them be all-or-nothing; confused, because I scared as hell to interact with any boy once he starts showing any remote sign of interest in me as anything beyond a friend; confused, because in relationships I still don’t know what’s okay and what’s not okay. I’m afraid to be touched, afraid to be known, afraid to be physically close to anyone who might end up mattering. I’m left with this weird contradiction where I panic when somebody – well, some boy – who means something to me starts to edge closer, yet I’m almost completely okay with making out with a random stranger (which has happened). When I don’t ever have to see you again, there are less emotional strings to get tangled. I have to deal with the repercussions less. I’m not as vulnerable. I’ll let you have the physical, because you’re not really having me. Yet I jump ten feet away the moment a good guy friend accidentally brushes my hand with his.

And yet I want closeness. Real closeness. The kind of closeness that comes with balance and want and giving and taking and understanding and being in tune with someone. Not the kind of awkward “closeness” that comes with me giving somebody else what they want because I’m afraid to say no.

At the same time, I want to know that I’m wanted. I want to know that I am desirable. I want the security – body image-wise, at least – that comes with knowing that I’m attractive. I want that relief from being self-conscious, always second-guessing myself and my worth when it comes to being taken at face value. I don’t want to be repugnant. I just want to be pretty.

But isn’t that how all the complications start, with those words. I just want to be pretty.

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One Response to Replay

  1. Liz says:

    I get the flashbacks. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and completely forget where I am and start to panic because I heard a door open and just know that it’s my mom coming up to my room to start yelling, and then it takes a longer moment to remember that I’m no longer there, she can’t get to me anymore. Or someone will say something to me that reminds me of her and all of a sudden I’m reeling, retreating back into myself like a vampire out of the light.
    i’ve been having to go home a lot lately too, that doesn’t help. i do it because it means my dad and sis can have a weekend of freedom to do what they please without worry while i babysit our mom and take care of her pets. it’s killing me, but it gives them a moment to breathe.

    people keep telling me to let it go. i want to say, sure, letting go of the past might be “easy” enough, but how am i supposed to let go of the present? the eating disorder that arose from the past and the hell that the family is still making me go through. sure, the “babysitting” weekends are a “choice.” but how can i say no to a sister that took care of me for years when our parents put us through hell? how do i let go of the present and its toils?
    but maybe that’s just an excuse i’m making for myself. Maybe the flashbacks and the present affect me so much because I’m afraid that if I don’t let them get to me instead of just taking a deep breath and moving forward then I’ll lose everything I have left? Maybe I’m afraid that it’ll take away everything there is left of “me” and leave nothing but a cold bitch.

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