We all have bullets beneath our skin we pray our lovers won’t flinch at when they find.
The fact is, a 14-year-old girl may be capable of agreeing to sex with a 49-year-old man, but she doesn’t have the emotional and mental maturity to consent. I was 25 before I realized that every man I’d slept with as a teenager was a pedophile. It seemed to me that since I’d courted the attention, that I was fully culpable. What teenager believes she is not mentally or emotionally capable of full consent? I thought I was an adult, although when I look at the picture of myself from the time period above, I see a child.
I thought I was the exception for these men, the girl so precocious and advanced that it superseded social norms. I thought that I was “older than my chronological age.”
It never occurred to me as a young sexually active teen that the adult men I had relationships with may have been manipulating me, that they had designs and motives I couldn’t see from my limited child’s perspective.
these are bruises i cannot hide
1. the bruises are gone, but i still flinch as if my skin’s memory is as fresh as my own. when i shut my eyes, i do not see you. i see the way your fingers curled up into your jeans when you were angry, i see the way a vein on the back of your right hand bulged when you raised your fist, i see the split second before you left your fingerprints on my rib cage, but i do not see you.
2. you speak to me as if you can take it all back. as if you can snatch the jagged words out of the air, out of my ears, and cram them back into your throat. i can see you grasping around in the dark in desperate search for a rewind button, but you have propelled so far forward that there is no way back. i will not let you forget, i will not let you normalize, i will not let you justify.
3. there is a part of me that still thinks my body is yours. that the next person who touches me will be trespassing on a property that you have marked as your own. sometimes i wonder whether anyone will want to contest your ownership. sometimes i wonder whether i want someone to.
4. i still apologize for you. i take everything you did and bury it under the words, “he wasn’t always like that.”
5. i don’t know if i’m more angry or sad at this exact moment. i don’t know what i was yesterday either. i don’t know which i would rather be. i am exhausted. i am angry. i am sad. i am bruised.