My twelve birthday was spent alone, candles flickering on a cake baked for 10.
My mom said it was because she forgot to send out the invitations but I knew it was because of the vicious rumors that my best friend started.
On my sixteenth birthday, I found myself underneath a boy pretending to be a man who refused to look me in the eye.
Who taught me that kissing was dirty, and that sex was to be endured. Not enjoyed.
On my twenty-first birthday, my partner at the time got off high off mushrooms and spent the night playing video games while I cried silently in the bedroom.
I did not rage. I did not show my hurt. Like all the other times, I packed up my grief and stowed it away high on a shelf.
Resentment formed a shell around my heart. Do not expect much. You’ll be disappointed.
A year of therapy, of seeking answers outside myself did not change the vicious voice in my head.
Happiness wasn’t for me. It was a bullshit construct that other people made up.
Stay small. It’s best that way. Safer.
Until one night, I was frantically dialing my ex’s phone number, once, twice, ten times. It was 1 am and he was nowhere to be found.
Images of his dead body on the side of the road floated in my head.
Finally, he stumbled home as the sun rose on the horizon, reeking of whiskey.
He claimed that a woman propositioned him, for which he did not partake in.
As if I should be thankful that he did not cheat on me.
That it didn’t matter that I spent the hours he was drinking, beyond myself with grief.
All that mattered was that he was home now. Don’t be such a drama queen.
This time I did not bottle up my emotions and add it to the shelf.
I knocked the whole fucking shelf down and burn it in a fit of rage so powerful I was afraid I would be consumed by the flames.
I wish I could tell you that I left that night.
I did and I did not.
I did indeed throw my clothes into a bag, and storm out of the house in a fit of sobs, claiming this was it.
And yet my shadow self lured me back a month later because the prospect of being alone scared me more than settling for a life I did not want.
Although it was not the same. Nothing ever was after that night.
My eyes were open as was my heart.
No longer was I blind to the power I’d been giving away.
No longer was I living on auto-pilot.
A new journey had begin.
A journey confronting my shadow self and diving to the deepest confines of my soul.
A journey that I’m still on today.