Opening Up?

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I am 23 years old.

What is dating?

When I was 15, my first boyfriend asserted a relationship upon me and I reluctantly obliged.

We dated for a year and a half. He was manipulative, aggressive, and abusive.

My second boyfriend was not my boyfriend. I was 18, he was 21.

I wouldn’t let him too close; we saw eachother for about a month.

He stopped speaking to me abruptly, leaving me in utter confusion.

He left me for a 16 year old girl.

These guys did not get much of a taste of who I am.

They got no deeper than the surface.

Then there was Danny, who was good to me.

He was easy. He was kind. He was shallow.

He didn’t care about the intricasies of my mind and my soul.

He didn’t care about the pain in my past.

He cared about nice dinners and gifts.

He cared about formalities.

He treated me like a princess without ever trying to learn who I truly am.

He lasted 3 years.

I left him in an attempt to free myself of the burden that was keeping him happy.

I couldn’t be myself with him. He expected me to be someone I have never wanted to be.

He could never understand the darkness inside of me.

After leaving him, I was sure I was done looking for companionship, and thats when companionship found me.

I met a boy who seemed fascinated by who and what I am.

He was easy to get along with and we had so much in common.

I was excited by the things he found interesting and I was excited that I was one of them.

Over time, I would reveal things to him that would explain different aspects of me and my life.

I would tell him about the tragedy so he would understand the trauma.

He could never understand, though. At least not without wanting to.

I couldn’t make him care the way I cared about him.

His stories all revealed him to be greater than I ever could have imagined and I think my stories did just the opposite.

It was a secret how truly wonderful he was

It was a secret how truly terrible I am.

The more he knew, the more distant he became.

Finally, I had a breakdown.

He saw the parts of me I never intended to show him.

He was afraid of who I was.

He left.

How, now, might you suggest I go about opening up in the future?

When so many have been satisfied with nothing.

And the few who got any bit of me have thrown it back as they fast as they could.

Now that it seems there is another willing soul

Waiting to hear the stories that unravel my knotted way of being

Should I even bother?

How do you know when its worth it?

To reveal yourself as vulnerable and weak

To let down your defenses

and trust that someone wants a piece of you

for any reason other than

to crush you.

Years Pass, But Some Things Never Change

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I suppose I could take the memory of you and lock it up in a black box and toss it into the darkness.
I can pretend you never reached through the sharp, rugged exterior of my walls and touched the deepest, warmest, most sincere parts of my soul.
I can move forward without looking back at what we lost so soon after we found it.
I can find someone who will hold my hand and whisper secrets into my ear.
I can find someone who wants to wrap me in silver and diamonds and show me off.
I can do anything I want, really, but I can’t go back.
I can’t have your sweet scent or your soft touch ever again.
I’m not ready to say goodbye to my dear friends, the sweet sensations that made my days feel more worthwhile.
I’m afraid to let go of the only hands that held me when I cried, and opened the door to my future only to back out behind me.
I will never have you again, but I’ll be scarred by your memory and I’ll wear it proudly like all the rest.
I only wish I could leave my mark on you as you have on me.
I can only hope that you’ll think of me from time to time and miss me, like I miss you.
I can only hope one day you realize that you loved me, as I loved you, as I still do
and probably always will.

An Unexpected Visit

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I sat, slouching in my chair. English class was the bane of my existence. My teacher, Mr. Andrews, was really cool, however, my fellow classmates were not. I had a real issue with one kid, in particular. I did my best to ignore him but sometimes I had to leave the room to keep from getting angry at his stupid comments and wisenheimer attitude. I couldn’t wait for class to be over so I could book it to the art building.

My next class would be Ceramics, my favorite. It took a lot of energy that I didn’t have to move so quickly, dodging between oblivious teenagers straggling at their own pace. I had to get from the top floor of the main building across the street to the Unified Arts building. By the time I arrived at my seat along the studio bench, I was completely wiped out. I took a moment to catch my breath with my head down in my hands. My concerned teacher approached me, requesting confirmation of my current state of well being.

“I’m fine, just tired; need to catch my breath.” I let out between gasps of air.

“Alright, dear, just relax.” He said, soothingly. His genuine concern for students was endearing, but I was eager to brush him off — lest he should figure out what’s been going on.

He walked away and I did my best to heed his instructions and breathe. Air came out, but getting the air to go in was proving more difficult. Eventually my breathing steadied and I was able to join the class in creating masterpieces from within our souls, as Dr. S would have described it.

I was smoothing over a form that was intended to resemble a giraffe, but I just couldn’t get the feet right. The legs were too skinny to hold up the heavy body. I imagined real giraffes might experience similar issues due to gravity. I was getting lost in my thoughts when the room fell silent. I hadn’t noticed the scenery change, but the busy bodies around me slowed down and the sounds of their chatter drowned out.

I looked up from my half-giraffe and peered around the room, unsure if what I was experiencing was really happening. In a flash, almost like the blink of an eye, everything returned to its normal state. Sound returned to the vocal chords of the many students around me and all movement appeared in real time. I was confused but reassured myself that I was just tired. With that in mind, I began to relax a little bit. I looked away from everyone, towards the storage shelves. No one was usually over there. I often found myself gazing out the window on that side of the room.

I noticed something moving in the corner. I adjusted my position to see around the ceramic sculptures blocking my view to reveal a bizarre sight. In the corner of the room, beyond anyone else’s recognition, there was a young girl, drenched, wearing a soggy sundress, rocking back and forth in the corner of the room. She sat in the fetal position with a bewildered look on her face.

I stared onward with a stone face. I knew that what was happening was not real. I knew that I was the only one who was seeing this girl and I knew she wasn’t really there. I swallowed every ounce of fear I had and I looked the girl straight in the eye.

I was shocked to see her lift her gaze to meet mine. She locked eyes with me, not saying a word, just rocking back and forth. Her eyes were sad, icy and glazed over. Strands of her wet, dark hair fell alongside them. She was afraid or angry, or both. She stared at me until I couldn’t take it anymore and I looked away.

Staring back down at my hands, fiddling with the giraffe-like form, I assured myself that I was not insane. While I may be seeing things that are not happening in reality, this does not indicate insanity. In the back of my head, though, I felt like I was lying to myself. I didn’t dare look around to see if anyone else noticed how out of it I was.

I glanced back toward the corner, where the little girl had been sitting, to find her standing by the window. She stood with her back to me, peering out at the world that hurried by. It seemed that her presence evoked a stillness. When our eyes locked the first time, moments turned to days.

She stood, frozen in time while I sat, frozen by fear. The girl turned once more to face me and I braced myself. I don’t know what it was I expected her to do, but she simply reached out her left hand towards me. I looked from side to side; surely someone else was seeing this…

No one else saw. The little girl’s gaze never strayed from my eyes while she waited patiently for me to take her hand. Instead, I quickly reached for my backpack under the bench and turned my back to the little girl. I ran out of that room as fast as I could and out into the fresh air.

Deep breaths, I tried to shorten the panicked huffs of air into long, drawn out breaths. Pacing up and down the road, I eventually regained composure. When my breathing was steady once again, I checked my cell phone for the time. I had spent the entirety of class starring in the corner. I returned to the classroom to clean up after myself.

Without making any progress on my giraffe, I spritzed him with water, wrapped him in plastic to be stored until next class. I turned to face the storage shelves, afraid of who I might find. When the coast appeared to be clear, I made my way over towards that window, next to which was a shelf with my name printed on masking tape.

My shelf was adorned with half-finished works of art. I would begin each project as it was assigned, but somehow fail to finish them in the set time frame. Dr. S didn’t really mind how much time we spent on each piece, he just wanted us to do our best work.

Without saying a word to anyone, I placed my giraffe on my shelf and made a quick exit. I never told anyone about the little girl. I never confessed to feeling guilty for leaving her behind. I never even took the time to think about why she was there or what she was symbolizing, if anything.

In a therapy session, several years later, I was prompted to consider this experience and its possible implications.

I thought about how the little girl looked a lot like me. She was in a physical state that somehow mirrored my mental state. She was an external projection of how I was feeling internally. She was the vital message that I needed to recognize my suffering. If I never noticed how bad things were getting, I never would have taken the steps to make things better for myself.

If that little girl never came to me for help, I would still be that little girl.