Dear Girl who Loves that Boy,
I won’t tell you that you don’t love him and I won’t tell you that he doesn’t love you. No one sane falls in love with a monster hidden under a bed or behind a closet. Girls dream of falling in love with tall drinks of water, with mouths that quirk and smile, with hands wide of palm, and fingers that hang from belt loops. He took you to the movies or to a school dance and when your hands touched, butterflies took off in your stomach like geese headed south for the winter and you knew, you knew you were made to feel this feeling, his hand on the small of your back, your face pressed to the softness of his shirt. He smells like everything good you’ve ever known.
You love him.
A tumble and a fall, and before you know it, his eyes are the first you think of in the morning. The tip of your tongue is always ready for his name. You still believe you can be anything, do anything; you read Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” and you applaud in your mind, your dad hugs you and your mom kisses you, and you are the farthest thing from a statistic. They still tuck you in at night. You are no ordinary girl and he is no ordinary boy.
You love him.
Maybe it goes like this. Maybe these are the words to you song. It starts with pinches beneath the table on your thigh, telling you to be quiet. Once there is an argument and he raises his voice. The next time he’s in your face and for the first time you don’t recognize him and later, when you tell yourself the story, you don’t recognize yourself. “What?” your friends say but their voices come through water, as if they are lost beneath the sea. “What? What did he do?” But they don’t understand, do they? They don’t know the way he can cry into the curve of your shoulder, the way his sorrow splits you wide open.
You love him.
And he loves you, even when he is yelling, when he takes you by the arms and slams you against the door, and even though your fingers skitter away from the lump on the back of your head, you know he loves you. His sorries are lullabies; he’s the cowboy tipping his hat, murmuring, “I’m sorry, miss,” from the side of his mouth; somewhere a coyote croons to the moon and you realize it’s you.
Still, you love him.
There is nothing I can say to keep you from loving him. You cannot corral those feelings. They are strong. They will fight to live. If you walk away, because no one should feel this way, I can’t promise that your love for him evaporates like ice water on a hot day. It will hurt, like pulling glue from your skin. Because you love him. Anyone who tells you that loving him isn’t real doesn’t understand. You love him.
But it’s time to love yourself more. Leaving will hurt like your skin is being torn from muscle and bone. But that pain is the beginning of something better.
The pain that comes with his rage and his slaps breeds nothing but sadness, a bottomless pit of it, to wallow in. If you are lucky, he will leave you and you will cry until one day, you wake up and you realize, this is a beginning for you, an escape hatch. Or maybe you will have to be the one to walk away. Maybe you will feel the ache and pain but you won’t be headed for a dead end anymore. You were born for more.
You know that. Deep down, you know that even more intensely than you love him.
You were made to be cherished and loved. No one should be pinched beneath the table. No one should feel a lump on the back of her head. And I know you love him fiercely and walking away might be the hardest thing you ever do, but you have to do it. You have to. Don’t let anyone tell you it will be easy; it won’t be. But in six months, one year, two, you will be healing. You will be a new girl, stronger, built for things you cannot imagine. Good things. Happy things.
You won’t love him anymore. You will pity him. That’s all he gets from you now.
Instead, you’ll love yourself.
The story you live now is not for you. Exit stage left.
You were meant for more.
Disclaimer: I am fully aware that there are all types of Domestic Violence situations that cross boundaries of gender, age, and class. This issue is close to my heart and this was the letter I chose to write, to the girl who loves that boy. There are millions of other letters that could be written. If you or someone you know, needs help please go here. If you want to give, please go here. And I promise this blog won’t be highlighting every cause in the entire world but Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence happen to be the two closest to my heart.