Trigger warning for a brief description of rape toward the end of the piece.
It was a summer’s evening when I first met you. I was thirteen; you told me you were fifteen. I guess that’s where the lies began. We spent the day cracking jokes, telling stories. I wonder now how many of them were true. As we said goodbye you hugged me close and said “I have a girlfriend, but I would leave her for you.” That’s exactly what you did. At thirteen years old, to me that was love.
Days later, you asked me to be your girlfriend. I accepted with joy. You held my hand, showered me with gifts and kisses. I had met the love of my life; this was it. You told me your secrets and I told you mine. Three months of pure bliss passed. You were my world. Family and friends were nothing compared to you. I was thirteen.
It was a Tuesday evening in October the first time I went to your house. My mother dropped me off and told me to call her if I needed anything. She said “Are you sure his mother is home?” I was unsure but I nodded yes anyway. You showed me your bedroom; we played with your boxing bag until you asked if I would like to watch a movie. I innocently said “Sure.” You put on the horror movie Saw. We watched it for fifteen minutes before you started kissing me. You put your hands down my pants. I was thirteen and had never been touched down there but I knew that’s not how you touch a girl. After fumbling and fondling, you asked “Would you like to put it in your mouth?” I hesitated, but agreed. I went home that day with a sore throat and an empty feeling in my stomach. I was thirteen.
After that day our relationship changed. I was not allowed to talk to other boys . My friends could not call over unless you were there. You told me my best friend, my twin sister, was a sociopath. Sent me the definition and said “Doesn’t that make sense?” I agreed. After that I didn’t speak to her either. On the 22nd of each month that we were together you bought me a gift if I had been loyal. You bought me two gifts if I had agreed to put it in my mouth. I still thought this was it, this was love. I was thirteen.
In November, I told you I was going to visit some family abroad. You told me I shouldn’t go. You said, “What if you find another guy over there?” You hit me and pushed to the ground when I said I wouldn’t. I told you I loved you. You spat at me and walked away. I still look at photos from that family visit and can only see the marks you left on my skin, the dead look in my eyes, the straight line where my smile should have been. I was thirteen.
When I returned from the trip, you showered me in gifts. Kissed my bruises and told me you loved me. That was the first day you mentioned the word “sex.” That was the first time I said no. After that, you asked me weekly if I had changed my mind. I told you I was too young, I wasn’t ready. You would push me away and call me a “slut.” I was thirteen.
Soon I had no friends, and my family kept asking what was wrong. I never answered, I just went to my bedroom and waited for you. I was thirteen.
It was January. I visited your house again. My father dropped me off this time and told me to be good. I walked into your house, greeted your mother, ate a sandwich. You told me we were going for a walk. We were leaning on a gate when you asked for the final time, “Can we have sex?” Again the answer was no. We returned to your house, put on a movie, and settled down to watch it when I heard your front door close and the words “We have waited long enough.” After that it was a blur. My skirt lifted up. My face was pushed into a pillow. I didn’t move. I didn’t scream. I didn’t fight back. I was thirteen.
A week later, you texted me saying we were done. I came home from school early crying; my mother was delighted we were over. All I could think was that I lost the love of my life. That was the day I lost myself. I was thirteen.
Four years later, I spoke about what you did for the first time. I cried my eyes out in a doctor’s surgery. I was prescribed anti-depressants and told to attend counseling. I told my parents it was exam stress. That I would be fine. I couldn’t say that four years later I was still haunted by what you did to me. I couldn’t say there was a reason I hadn’t kissed a man or woman since.
Seven years later, I still wake up from nightmares about you. I still have scars on my hipbones from the mural of self-hatred you had created. Sometimes I can’t kiss my girlfriend because all I see is you, and now when I can’t kiss her all I can do is apologize. As she begs me to come back to her I bury myself under a pile of blankets, trying to escape from the tortuous mindset you have led me to. Today, because of you, I am not an easy fix. There are days where I still struggle to leave my bed or accept that I am enough. But thank you, because when my girlfriend says no I will never make her feel guilty, because now I know how to be a better person to the people I love, because love does not mean sex – love means respect.