Then I met him. And he changed my life.
He snuck glances at me before we ever spoke. It took 3 months of us hanging out for him to kiss me for the first time. And when we did finally show our affection for one another, I felt as if I was being reborn. I had dreamed of having a boyfriend for so long, and I was finally feeling a type of happiness that I had never felt before. I felt safe. I felt wanted. I felt complete.
The night we consummated our attraction was the beginning of the end. We went from zero to a hundred in a double bed race car. He pulled off my tights and undies, briefly joking about how my tights clung to my legs as if screaming “don't let me go!”
His fingers began massaging my clitoris, but it wasn't the usual bliss I got from my own hand. I asked him to be gentler, he barely complied. When I cried out, once or twice more, he stopped and looked at me with a smugness in his smile. In an instant, his tongue began tracing the alphabet where his hand once was. But I was too anxious to feel any pleasure. I let him continue, not because I wanted him to but because I felt like I had to let him. I was taught that I should be grateful. Who knows if he'll ever do it again, I better “enjoy” it while it lasts.
Eventually, the stubble on his face felt like sandpaper between my thighs and I asked him to stop. He sat next to me on the bed, drinking a glass of water, when I confessed that no one had ever done that to me before. He replied with a scoff and a single word. “Selfish”. Reinforcing the idea that he was a selfless hero for tasting my disgusting pussy. Before departing for the bathroom, he spat words filled with venom that poisoned my once optimistic view on sex. “You looked like you were dead.”
Seasons came and went as he slowly chipped away at my cheery disposition. He would offer insight into my personality as if I hadn't known myself my whole life. “Did you know that you're actually really negative?” I had to agree with him as I hadn't seen the sun in months. He called me a burden, but one he still wanted to be with. He took his anger out on me constantly, as if his misfortunes were my fault. He silenced me once and for all when he told me his friends didn't like me. I had failed being the perfect girl. I had held back so much of myself, that I wasn't anyone any more. I started interacting with people with a smile painted on my face and a cry for help hidden in my eyes. The few times I tried to call him out on his behaviour, he retorted with an explanation and a tone to suggest that I was an insecure mess. I was a lamp being gaslit before I knew the meaning of the word.
Then, he dealt the final blow. “We should probably break up, hey?” Any strength I had left instantly dissolved. I had been trying to find my old self again, hoping that his old self would sweep me up and we would live happily ever after. But this was far from a fairytale.
I asked him what had gone wrong with us. I never expected his callous response. “I stopped being attracted to you because I couldn't do anything for you and you couldn't do anything for me.” To translate the boy talk, “I stopped being attracted to you because I couldn't give you an orgasm and you wouldn't let me get my dick wet.” Out of all the hurtful things he had said to me, that was the line that cut the deepest. I had spent so much time and had shed so many tears trying to become the best person I could be, only to be told by my first love that my attractiveness solely depended on how wide I spread my legs.
I played our story on repeat in my mind for longer than I want to admit. Analysing every moment, trying to work out what I did wrong. Replaying every touch, kiss and smile to remind myself of what I lost. Insistently telling myself that maybe if I put out then there would be a different ending. But then I started to come around to the idea that maybe, I never did anything wrong. Maybe because I was his girlfriend, he felt entitled to my body; and he resented me for not letting him have it. Once he realised that I wasn't going to do anything that made me feel uncomfortable, it was all over. And because it was no longer in his interest to be nice to me, he could abuse me all he liked.
Abusive. It took me months to say that word out loud. Saying that word meant consequences. That he wasn't just a dickhead. That he had intent. I became obsessed with having an explanation for every moment we were together so that I could be prepared. Prepared for people telling me that I was overreacting or that I had made it all up to play the victim. Deep down, I can still feel the scars he left. I feel them when I talk to my female friends about boys they're dating. I feel them when I talk to mutual friends of ours. I feel them every time I say no.
Slowly, I am healing. And while I won't carry his memory with me to the next man, I will now be more vigilant. I won't let my natural compassion make me stay with someone if it turns toxic. I will know that I can count on my sisterhood for support. But most importantly, I will know that I am strong enough to get through anything.
This piece was written in 2016