by Alexa Gris
Thinking about you happens often, without my permission, but it happens.
I don’t want to miss you, but sometimes I do. I don’t want to hate you, but most of the time, I do. Ten years later, why do you still take up so much space in my mind after taking what you could from my body?
I didn’t forget the countless times we discussed “mutual respect.” Was it just bait?
I didn’t forget about how you first tried to touch me in a parking lot even though I had told you, multiple times, that I wasn’t ready. I still remember the dejected look on your face and how you ignored me for days after, as though hanging out with you was an honor that I didn’t take seriously. Did you notice how you crushed the soul of a 15 year old child on her first “date”?
I didn’t forget about the time you convinced me we were going on a picnic, only to be laid out on a thin blanket on a hiking trail. I remember the taste of the wine you gave me, the itchy feeling of the ugly blanket, the sound of the trees moving, and the dead grass crushing underneath me. I was told I was there willingly. Inside, I felt like the dying grass. Were you trying to set me on fire?
I didn’t forget being harassed before/after ______ practice, when you drove me, parked in a residential area and pressured me. I didn’t forget how you exposed yourself and poked and prodded me to get to work. “You know you want to.” I didn’t.
I didn’t forget your 18th birthday, the same way I didn’t forget my 16th birthday just two months later. I remember you calling me jailbait. I remember thinking it was okay. I remember feeling like I was in control. I was not. How could you have done this to a kid?
I didn’t forget the time when my favorite teacher asked me, “Are you okay? You don’t seem like yourself.” I remember replying, “I’m fine.”
I didn’t forget the moment I realized you were also using one of my closest friends. I threw up in a Starbucks parking lot, because you are the reason I stopped talking to her. You infected my relationship with her with jealousy, ambiguity, hatred and terrible sadness. You took her from me. Had you not already taken enough?
Remember that day we ran into each other at ____? How you hid out of shame and fear knowing my father was there, knowing that the consequences would be dire?
I didn’t forget the day you told me, “Have you heard of running?” To you, I ask, “Have you ever heard of running?”
You are the reason I spent almost a decade hating myself, mutilating myself, hating my teachers. You are the reason my friends feel such immense guilt for having associated with you. You shattered me. It felt like you took my frail and fragile heart, and chucked it full force at the nearest wall.
But I picked up the pieces. I carefully placed them back together, like a puzzle. I glued the pieces, one by one, to recreate my heart. I stitched the parts that the glue couldn’t hold. Without noticing, I had sewn, “Me too,” on my heart.
It took a long time for me to understand what happened to me. I was in denial for years. It took what felt like ages to be able to speak. The silence is no longer deafening. My voice is.
May you find peace and understanding of your mistakes. May you change them. The truth is that this can’t be erased from my mind. No matter how many apologies you give, I will never be able to forget what happened. But, after all this time, I can firmly and honestly say, “It’s fine,” because I can live this life to the fullest regardless of what happened. I am no longer broken.