He Won

I was wide-eyed and sixteen, entering a brand new world that I was reluctant to see. When I met you, I held on to every word you spoke. You weren’t the first boy to notice me, but you were the first boy to notice me and fall in love.

You said you were broken, that life had treated you unfairly. I knew you were hurt, but not beyond repair. I wanted to love you until you became the beautiful person I saw living inside.

Why did you let me?

Because in making you feel whole, you had to take my good parts away. My blind optimism quickly became bitterness.

Suddenly, I wasn’t sixteen anymore. I learned how to fight back like it was second nature. It didn’t hurt to hurt you because it had never mattered if you did the same to me. I fought until you couldn’t take it anymore. You didn’t plan on the quiet girl becoming a girl with a growing fire in her.

You left quietly while I was a screaming mess. I should’ve never let you have the satisfaction of seeing how much you broke me.

But you did. And I’m so grateful.

See, there was a boy who came right after you. I thought he was everything you were not; not a permanent boy by any means, but he was someone to take my mind off of you for at least a moment. I was both desperately clinging to the old parts of me I couldn’t find, and trying to get as far away from you as I could.

It was irrational. I was no longer me, but a lost girl trying to pick up the pieces.

His unexpected hands tried to take what yours always did on that night in his car. The memory is still fresh in my mind even though I can’t remember how long ago it was that they found their way to me.

For the record, I would have said no. He never asked, and neither did you.

But you made me a fighter.

I pushed his deceitful hands away with all the force I had buried in me; all the force I had wanted to use on you countless times just like that.

I was finally getting my revenge and I didn’t even care that I’d never believed in such worthless things. Right then, I did. I was angry. Seething.

So was he. So were you. But this time, I wasn’t going to cower in fear. I could be just as loud as either of you tried to be. I could be louder. I could be stronger than I ever got the chance to be.

I’m not angry anymore; I am afraid. I just can’t be the girl with a fire in her for too long. I end up being the only one who gets burned.

I used to throw caution to the wind for the sake of love, but love and respect were two different concepts to me back then. I didn’t yet realize how much I had to lose.

I didn’t realize that I would be left feeling washed up, vile, used, and so bitter. I forgave you the moment you left, but I haven’t forgiven myself for all the things I could have done differently.

I didn’t realize that I would start to believe in the notion that maybe love doesn’t exist after all. Maybe everyone was right when I was young and falling fearlessly as they kept warning, “men only want one thing.”

I don’t want to be cynical. I want to believe that there’s so much more to love than one thing. It can’t be that simple.

I promise I want to be that girl who sees the best in everyone like I used to. I want to fall in love and truly believe that love is more than lust to him, but my judgement knows better than to assume.

You can’t think like that and be safe too.





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