To the next boy who loves me,
There are some things I need you to know, but mostly I am too scared to tell you. Sometimes I have moments – fleeting, magical moments – where I think of throwing caution to the wind, showing you the whole ugly, beautiful truth. I try to convince myself, with ideas like if he is the right boy, he’ll wait, or everyone has mess they’re hiding. But mostly, I find it impossible to do anything except fear judgement, worry about being left, and taste embarrassment, over and over.
I am not sure I will ever be brave enough. But if I was, this is what I would tell you.
I need time. Childhood abuse runs to a schedule that the child doesn’t have a say in. I always need my say, now. I will always need time – I need time to make decisions, time to decide how I feel, time to be listened to, time to be held, time to explore. My default setting is to rush, attack things head on, leap in feet first – I feel safer if I am on the front foot, in attack mode – but I need you to know that this is not what my heart needs and craves. I need you to give me the time, willingly, to listen to what I truly need. I need you to be willing to wait for days, or weeks, or months, whilst I find myself in our intimacy. I need you to know that I need time, and that does not mean that I am uncertain, or that I don’t like you. I need time because I am not used to listening to myself, and the delicate process of understanding my genuine needs and desires is a new, unsteady one. If pushed, I will happily jump in, be the first, be the one at the front of the queue, because this “kill or be killed” attitude has kept me safe. But now, I need time.
I am complicated. I am a medley of a million thoughts, a mess of emotion and this makes me complicated. Sometimes, I don’t know the answer, even though the question seems simple. Sometimes, I catch myself crying without any real reason, and tears pour from me even though I don’t know why. Sometimes, I need everything. I need the moon and the stars, I need promises and contracts, I need absolutes and certainties… even though I know they don’t exist in this truthful, imperfect world. Sometimes, I push everything away. I won’t know why, but suddenly I need space, air. I will have forgotten how to breathe and the only way I know how to come back to myself is to push everything away and cocoon myself. Sometimes I do all these things and more, in the blink of an eye. I am complicated, and I need somebody who will not only understand that, but allow me the space and time to be that way. Now I have found myself, now I belong to myself after so many years of being someone else’s possession or toy, I need to honour the person that I found – even if she is a complicated mess.
I love wholeheartedly. When I love, I love with everything I have to give. I exhaust myself with it, I wear myself out with the effort of containing the feelings and thoughts. I throw myself completely at the mercy of whatever higher power creates such beauty. In doing so, I expose myself. I use all my resources, and I have no reserves. You need to know this, because love is not casual for me. Love is dangerous and terrifying and so, so blindingly wonderful – but so very exposing. Please know this, and don’t hurt me.
There is a past. Everyone has one, but my past has long, swirling tentacles that still reach into my present. You need to know that there is a past, but also that sometimes my past seems to be unbelievably present. You will notice it in doctor’s appointments, therapists, old scars and new wounds, journals, nightmares. You will notice it when you try to kiss me from behind, or when you accidentally drop something and the loud noise makes me leap across the room in fear. You will notice it when you try to repeat an action which was fine yesterday, but today is not fine, even though nothing has changed – or when something I said I absolutely never wanted to do, suddenly becomes a priority. Everybody has a past, but mine still sometimes shares my headspace with me. There are things you won’t understand, that I won’t want you to understand – a stuffed Rabbit tucked in with me at night, children’s books in my room, a bracelet that I won’t take off. You won’t understand, but I need you to accept them, and cherish them for their innocence. Those oddities, the random moments that are at such a contrast to the rest of my picture, those moments are intensely beautiful snapshots of a childhood reclaimed. They are the light driving out the darkness of the past. I don’t expect you to understand it, but I do need you to accept it.
This is me. When you find this out (which you eventually will, of course), please know that I am all of these things. But please also know that I am passionate, loyal, determined. Remember that I find humour in the smallest things, that I love holding hands, that I live for moments when I can stand in awe of the landscape and feel free. Please remember the way that I laugh, that I talk to animals like they’re human, that I sometimes read a whole book in a day because I cannot bear to leave the characters in uncertainty. Remind yourself that you love it when I can’t get the strands of hair to stay put behind my ear, and the way I screw up my nose when I’m embarrassed, or playful. As Beau Taplin wrote, “Do not call me perfect, a lie is never a compliment. Call me an erratic, damaged and insecure mess. Then tell me that you love me for it.”