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.