Sticks and Stones

Words have power... if you let them.

I’ll never forget the look on his face. The noise I made when I felt his hands on my shoulders and my feet give out from under me. The rug burn I got as I tried to pull myself away from him, but the pressure of his body on top of mine was too much. I was terrified. How did it get this bad? How did I possibly let myself into a situation like this? I’m a smart girl… Dammit, I know how I let this happen.

I was so excited to find someone who just seemed to like me for me. I was seventeen and insecure. I joined a dance team and boom there he was. Moving to the music the way people would in YouTube videos I watched late at night. With curly hair hanging in front of his face, I had a strange feeling. I want to know more about him, and I planned on finding out. His name is Kwe and he was 20 at the time. Oh God, an older guy. I still took a chance. Flirting turned into texting all the time and then dinner dates. Late nights were spent with him and everything was so perfect it made my head spin. We began dating and the sense of loneliness within me vanished and I remember thinking how amazing it felt to be wanted by another person. I've never really been a shy girl but when it came to boys I definitely jumped aboard the awkward train. Now the feeling was lifted on my shoulders, and I knew I would do anything to try and keep him by myside. Almost immediately I begin to understand how insecure he was, and he came from a dark past. I wanted to help him. No, I wanted to be the one that saved him from this darkness. Silly me for trying to play the part of hero.

It wasn’t until a year and a half later that things took a turn. He began requiring my attention 24/7, and I gave it to him. He stopped paying for things, and I took on that role. He would say the rudest things to me and expect a simple sorry to make up for the damage. During one of these fights I remembered what I used to say when I was bullied as a child, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." His words hurt me. His words would come at me like shared of glass. I'm covered in small wounds and a simple sorry, another word, cannot help me. The mental abusive I felt was real, and I still gave him the benefit of the doubt. He still meant well, and he didn't hit me...Was he a good boyfriend just because he didn't hit me? Shaking at thoughts like this I began to grow scared of him. Each fight we got into he took it a step farther, throwing any objects he could get his hands on. God forbid, he broke anything in his house because of fits like this, it would come out of my pocket with the simple reasoning of "you ruined my day." He would blame me for the damage, and there was no discussing anything with him. At the end of the night, he would still expect me to give myself to him or even just want to lay down next to him. Anxiety would fill me and I wouldn’t be able to stop shaking at the end of some days and worst of all, the only thing that seemed to calm me down was being in his arms. This isn’t how love is supposed to be.

I would wake up in the morning and look at him while he sleeps. It wasn’t a peaceful, loving moment. I felt sick. I would wipe my sweaty palms on the side of the mattress and brace myself for what might happen today. I wouldn’t get hungry anymore, if I did it was rare. We were fighting almost every day now and God it was so much. He told me one day that I just cry too much and I am too much to handle, but then he goes and tells me how he loves me the next day. What am I supposed to do with that? How do I get away from this guy?

When I finally built up the courage to break up with him, I wasn’t prepared for how he was going to react. I knew it was going to be one of the worst fights we would get into, but I mean after that I would be relieved that it was over. We got into one of our daily fights and I balled my hands into fists at my sides. I could feel my nails dig into my palm. I let the words, "I just don’t see this working out anymore" split out of my mouth. That's when he gave me that look. That's when he ran at me full force and tackled me to the ground. He shook me and instead of screaming the foul things that hardened me, he begged. He told me all the things I just wanted to hear. That was the most backwards day of my life. Why did it have to come to the bitter end for me to get the sweet words someone who loved me was supposed to say? I cried all night.

I ended up staying with him for a year longer after that. Stuck in this loop that sucked the happiness right out of me. I came to my senses a few months before my 20th birthday. He agreed with me that things were not how they should be, but it was never his fault. He never fully apologized to me, but I forgive him. I no longer speak to him, and I honestly would like to keep it that way. Leaving him was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It felt like I had to walk across burning coal to get away from him, but I did it. I bit my lip and prepared for the worst. I kept my eyes on the other side of the flames and here I am today. I am 20 and it's been almost year now. I know now that abusive relationships are not always in the physical sense, words can do so much damage if you let them—so don’t let them. Pick your battles and don't let people walk all over you, especially not those who claim to love you. I recently started dating a new guy and he shared his story of his abusive relationship. It saddens me that this happens to so many of us who wear our hearts on our sleeves. The relationship I had with Kwe hardened me, but not enough to be scared to love and be loved again. 

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Sticks and Stones
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