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Have you ever been “that girl?”
Tell me more, please, because I swore I’d never be that girl.
That girl who would be called “those” kind of names—neither sweet as honey nor beautiful—only to look in the mirror and believe every one of them. Ugly. Weak. Stupid. Crazy.
That girl who would plead with him to just stop yelling, only to beg him four days later to break his silence.
That girl who would surrender to his every request—only until he found a more suitably f*ckable replacement at a house party you hosted.
That girl who would surrender her faith and trust, only to have them violated and as broken as the dishes he threw across a room—smashed to pieces, dripping with memories of engagement gifts and spaghetti.
That girl who once determined to stand gracefully like a ballerina on hard toes, only to turn in her pointe shoes to line dance next to a lover who felt like a stranger—one who ended up reflecting the “stranger danger” she was warned about as a child. Now, she robotically tries to follow the right steps to avoid f*cking up the choreography of the routine.
That girl who thought her life would be one of well-played and brilliant games of strategic chess, only to move to a space just far enough on the board to not get “kinged.”
That girl who would settle for table scraps left for a wild animal, unable to see that she has a whole buffet of other options.
That girl who would say, “I would never” to her friends, only to seldom if ever—never say never.
I despised that girl—that pathetic excuse of a women who stayed in dark places out of fear of the unknown while knowing she should have known all this sooner.
I despised that girl, who would cower to a coward in a laundry hamper like a small child, praying to God to “please help me.”
I despised that girl who would sit on the side of a bathtub, dripping blood, watching her delicate pink nail polish turn shades of brown, and then telling the first person on the scene, “It’s not what it looks like, he didn’t mean it. It was my fault, I think, because I started it.”
I swore on my life that I would never be that girl—until I was.
I’m not sure if I’m angrier because I was that girl, or because I spent so many years denying, deflecting, and pretending I was not.
I don’t know, in retrospect, which exactly was worse: that I became that girl or that I was so foolish and naive to believe I would never be that girl.
It’s not what one plans.
And yet, relationship classes do not exist in high school, but cooking classes do. Mental health is not included in physical education.
All the while too many girls stroll the hallways in baggy clothing—withered away to the bone by starvation and deprivation, their bruises covered. Baggy clothes help her look “sporty,” less feminine and in turn, avert the gazes of the wrong boy.
They still do—30 years later.
My dear, if you ever find yourself like that girl, please listen when I tell you:
You are not weak.
You are not broken.
You are not damaged.
You are not crazy.
He is weak.
He is broken.
He is damaged.
He made a choice.
And it is not you.
It is not your shame.
It is not your blame
It is not your name.
You are the flame in your heart that kept burning.
The light in your soul that could not be extinguished.
The strength of your mind to remain sane and still dare to love.
You are what survived the ferocious attacks of the beast who got right down to your core.
And you were able to get off of the floor.
You decided to say no more.
You, girl, stood up in all of your glorious wonder to risk it all, to be honest and be seen.
You, girl! Yes you.
You are a freaking queen.