When I was a little girl, love was a relative thing. One moment, someone would praise me, and the next, I would be beaten to the floor. We often look to our parents as providers, not just of food & shelter, but for the knowledge to navigate our way around this life. Love was given and taken just as quickly; it was used as punishment and reward; it was said without thought, and removed without warning. I had failed, at 3, to earn my fathers affection; I had failed, at 5, to be enough for my mother. I learned that love was only pain.
The men that abused me all said they l oved me. In a breath, or in repetitive phrases, those three words were uttered in some way. Love was pain; love was anguish; love meant that soon, punishment was coming to collect.
Relationships always ended badly. I walked with a deep shuffle at first, giving my entire self to the man I loved. It was toxic. My blood poisoned quickly, and I spread the virus to my mate. Every second of every day, I questioned it. I fought him endlessly. I pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed, until he stood at the edge. Even still, he did not leave me. I both hated and loved him for it. He tried with every fiber of his being to prove to me how undying and unwavering his bond to me was, but I could never accept it. I couldn’t. There was no way that I could believe in someone loving me. An impossible game.
I knew how our relationship would end from day one, and years later, it became a self-fulfilled prophecy. After the next abuse on my assembly line (I feel like I was born to be a toy), I finally let the poison envelop me completely. I walked out of the house half naked and slept with an old friend from middle school. There was no air in my lungs at that point. I stopped trying to equate sex with love. And I gave up completely the idea that I would ever be taken and cherished.
I destroyed him. I remember leaving him for a Marine; a man that would wake up in the middle of the night strangling me & then pleading with me on bended knee that he loved me. I was a little girl looking for her protector. My ex called me one night, telling me he had one bullet in the chamber and that he was about to pull the trigger. I veered off of the road and ended up in a ditch. I heard a click. He lived. “I loved you, you know,” he said, and then hung up.
Even still, even at that moment that he had almost killed himself, I could not accept the notion of his love for me.
I would date, saying the L word because it sounded good. Because I wanted to be normal. Some of them would try so fucking hard to cut into my shell; to prove that their words were true. Some were good men, a few were great men. I got the kneeling knee offering a ring, I got a promise of a future with someone that adored me.
But I walked away. Each time, I walked away. I wanted to save them from the torment of me. I wanted to spare them the heart ache. Because I knew that one day, they would see the truth. And one day, they would regret me. And I did not want to be there when that day came.
So I quit relationships and just fucked my way through euphoria, craving the physical intimacy that had no strings attached. I longed for the moment when they would throw my clothes at me, demanding me to leave. I thirsted for the moment after the ecstasy, the moment I was put in my place. I was sex. I was sex. Nothing more.
The last man I hurt was one of the good ones. He was endearing and adorable and kind, and we spent nights lying underneath the stars talking about a future I knew would never come. I had been honest with him about my issues; about the fact that I did not ever want to hear him tell me he loved me. But one night, he said it. We made love slowly, him staring me in the eyes with the starry innocence of a boy loving a girl. He fell asleep, and I walked out of the door. I cared for him, and there were moments that I could see myself so happy with him, but my mind overpowered my heart once again. I ran and ran and ran, knowing that I was so irreversibly fucked up beyond any hope. I will never be loved. Not me. They love a part of me, an image of me. And this is how I live my life.
I am tired of hurting people. I do not try to; nowadays I am open and honest about my (lack of) intentions, about how I do not seek those three little words. But inevitably, pain finds its way in somehow.
I can love, I am not a heartless bitch. I can love so deeply that it torments my soul, and continue to allow it … but the moment someone responds with equal feelings, I collapse into myself. The razor sharpness of their words cuts deep into my soul, tearing apart the safe place I have built for myself. This is no life. This is no way to live. I want to be loved. I want to be wrapped up in arms that cherish and protect me, arms that will accept my flaws and mistakes, arms that will not let me go even if I hurt them.
I am stuck in this mindset
of protecting myself
protecting that little girl
protecting so much that I am left with nothing
fufilling my own lonely prophecy.
I want to be loved,
But I cannot allow it.
Because I do not know how.