the truth is not cowardice

CW for trauma and suicidal ideation. Go gently, good hearts.

I remember almost everything about the day I met the first person I ever loved.

It was my second or third rehearsal with the Georgia Renaissance Festival and I was sixteen and excited out of my mind to be PROFESSIONALLY ACTING and I was only just beginning to know everyone. I hadn’t met him yet when he walked into that upstairs room of the Little 5 Points Community Center. Everyone was so happy to see him. He commanded everyone’s joy and wonder so effortlessly and I remember being intrigued right away. I remember, that same night, doing an exercise wherein we gave each other long, flowery Shakespearean compliments and he was my partner. He went on and on about me– this strange child- and no one had ever spoken to me like that and I think all I’d ever wanted was for someone to speak to me like that and he ended his monologue with, “And thy lip is twitching. It is so adorable.” And his face fucking lit up over how cute I supposedly was. And, again, I don’t think I’d ever made someone’s face light up before. I can picture every nook and cranny of this man’s smiling face, almost sixteen years later.

(My lip does twitch when I am shy and nervous and in love. It makes performing Shakespeare super awkward, but I persist.)

I remember the shirt he was wearing and I remember how tall he was and I remember how, on the eve of my eighteenth birthday, he asked if he could hold me and I said “yes” and I felt beautiful and treasured and finally like someone out of a storybook. 

I still think about him a lot. I think about him because I loved him sincerely and deeply. I think about him because I still feel guilty for the way I behaved when he did actually call himself my boyfriend. I was greedy and jealous and immature. I think about how, now, I am the one in my 30s and how I teach children who are 16, 17, 18 years old and how I see that they are fucking children. How, no matter how adorable they might be, I would never steal their sunshine.

Perhaps this is giving him too much power, but my sunshine feels stolen. I am nearly 32 years old, nearly twice the age I was when we met, and I still think of him. I still think it was my fault. I still have nightmares. I still feel as though he was my one chance at a True Romantic Love Story and how I was too stupid to be good enough to see it through. 

I think about how sex has come to feel like something I have to do in order to convince someone to stay with me. I think about how sex makes me cry, because it makes me sad, because you taught it to me. I think about how I touch myself at night in a way that is not tender or sweet, but in a way that makes me think of punishment because I think perhaps I am supposed to be punished. Sex is supposed to hurt and therefore love is supposed to hurt. 

I don’t blame you for everything. That would be cowardly of me and I have been accused of cowardice enough. But you taught me a lot. You taught me how to be funny. You taught me how to drive a car. You taught me how to wield my sexuality like a weapon to eke out just another night, another hour. You made me tea the first time I wanted to die and you called me your best friend and I believed you. 

I think about you. I think about how you made me feel like love is something that is supposed to hurt. And that is a hard belief to overcome and I hate you for it. 

(I think I will always love you too and I hate myself for it.)

Telling your truth doesn’t make you a coward. Being honest about your pain doesn’t make you weak. This is how people know to help you. You deserve to be helped.

Fuck anyone who tells you otherwise.

Published by Dani

I like breakfast, marine mammals, Star Wars, comedy, the song "Dead Man's Party," and Halloween musical revues at theme parks. Let's be friends!

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