I’ll never forget the first night we met. A salmon summer dress, cheap strappy sandals. He, plaid shorts and and collared Ralph Lauren polo.
Clear vodka in a clear Poland Springs bottle. Sticky fraternity floors and strobe lights against the graffiti-filled basement wall.
An early September night, sweat dripping down my neck. A promise that you were the luckiest man in the room.
A promise I held onto for the rest of the night, for the rest of the semester, for the rest of the 7 months we were together.
Study dates that turned into late nights back in your dorm room. Love notes that turned any fight into a minuscule thing of the past.
“I love you.” It was a love that was intoxicating, something that I had never felt before. A love that made me so high that I’d always want another hit to avoid withdrawal. A withdrawal that left me alone on the cold tile of my dorm room floor crying, wondering how I could fix what I had broken.
How I could pick up the broken pieces that cut my fingers open every time I tried. “Don’t do that,” I told myself. Stop mending something that makes you bleed.
I love you, Beth.
I love you too.
A face in the mirror became someone I didn’t recognize. The only mirror that mattered was you. Tell me I’m pretty. Tell me I’m losing weight. Tell me that you always want me.
“Only eat a half cup of ice cream tonight at dinner tonight, you’ll thank me later.”
Tell me that I’m good enough. Because if I’m not good enough for you, then I can’t be good enough for anyone. You told me that, and you were right. You were always right.
I love you, Beth.
I love you too.
Dinner dates. Love notes. Teddy bears. “You look beautiful today”s.
A love that was promised for forever. A forever that had no light at the end. Instead, replaced with darkness, incontestable holes and sharp edges.
A darkness that was once thrilling, now destructive.
Although not taller, you were stronger than me. Pinned wrists to the pillow. A demand for an apology, one that I refused to give. My eyes swollen shut from the tears, although I couldn’t look you in the eye. Looking you in the eye was my weakness. Your eyes were the promise you made me the very first night we met.
Your eyes were the “you’re good enough.”
Minor bruises, but never major physical ailments. But, you were the shards of glass that scraped my skin. Over and over. Leaving scars that will never be erased, despite the years that have passed.
I want to blame you for things about myself that I am not particularly proud of. Questionable decisions I make, people I waste too much time dwelling on. Pathetic drunk texts to non-interested men. Perhaps it’s my self-esteem to blame, much of it that was destroyed by you.
I want to hate you. I wish I could live my life free of you, free of your memory, free of your entire existence. You make me sick. You make me bleed even 5 years later. You are still shards of glass sitting in my memory. Although, I know longer want you piece you back together.
Fool me once, fool me twice. Fool me three times, I am not a fool.
You, are a fool.
A fool who I want to forget, but I cannot. A fool who I can only hope is no longer a fool.
A fool who I hope is a man. A man free of empty promises. A man who is gentle, kind, and who makes every woman feel the way you made me did on my first night out with you.
Beautiful and wanted, all of the time.
I want to bring light to relationship violence in colleges. I want to be a voice, be someone who knows what it’s like for your friends to roll their eyes at your desperate attempt that “it will be different this time.”
You are not a fool. You are not desperate, pathetic, or needy of self-recognition. It’s important to educate people on emotional abuse, what it’s really like to be addicted to an intoxicating kind of love with potential withdrawal effects.
I went to a 4 year university. I was not a math or science major, I took classes on social constructs, communication patterns, rhetoric theories. Although, my freshman year revolved around fulfilling general education requirements, none of which prepared me for the social scene outside of the classroom.
Watching Hozier’s music video to Cherry Wine, a song that I had always felt attached to, inspired me to write this. You can outsmart people. People will believe you when you tell them “he’s different.” That “he changed for you.”
Maybe they won’t, but they grow tired of telling you otherwise.
I don’t have the solution to stop this problem. I can only hope this reaches the right people. That this gives a voice to the voiceless, that it makes you feel something. Makes you feel enough to speak, and perhaps even reach out.
Just know, you are not a fool. He or she does not make you foolish. He or she makes you high.
A high that always makes you want to take another hit.
You are not a fool.