I am not the one who hurt you.
I am not the tow-headed boy with the sadness in his eyes belying the constellation of freckles across the bridge of his nose, his cheeks, who kissed you beneath the bleachers, mouth tasting like menthol cigarettes and Dr. Pepper and secrecy.
I’m not the one who spread the rumors the next day that drew deadly, frightened stares from the girls as they passed you in the hall or whispers and knowing gazes from the boys clutched around lockers, snickering at you as you pass through their judgment like a cloud of acrid, yet somehow sweet, pipe smoke.
I am not the mirror you cried into at night, wondering why you’re the type of person who would let someone into your confidence only to have them break it like the fingers of an unwanted stepchild.
I am not the rising bile you aimed at yourself with surgeon-like precision.
I am not the mark beginning to rise from the flesh of your heart.
I am not the nice boy with the scar on his chin and the lose, laid-back manner that made you trust him. Made you share your thoughts, your aspirations, your bed and your virginity. I am not the boy with the scar on his chin who didn’t call the next day, avoided you in the halls, like a ghost you know is there but wish with fright in your heart that would just go away.
I am not your pillow soaked with salt tears, your shame spiral, your binge-eating, your drunken stupor or your resultant bad decisions.
I am not the socially-constructed, broken, misshapen sense of self-worth, stitched together out of off-hand comments, whispered snarks, loathing for your reflection.
I am not the shame you wear around your neck, an albatross dragging you down through the murk and the silt you think is your life.
I am not the man with rough hands and soft brown eyes who piqued your interest, stirred in you something that made you overlook the flaws in you that weren’t there to begin with. The one you trusted, the one you gave your heart to for safe keeping only to discover he was reckless with it, treating it like a boot-cloth to wipe the shit from his shoes. The one who destroyed your carefully constructed castle of secret girlhood dreams with the incendiary bomb of distrust and betrayal.
I’m not the shrapnel digging into your chest, making every breath, every move a constant reminder of the pain.
I am not the bricks and mortar you used to wall up your heart.
I am not the nameless, faceless men you pushed away when they got too close to the wall. I’m not the stoic, piercing look in your eye, a glinting knife’s edge you use to rip through the gauze they’ve desperately tried to apply to your wounds.
I am not the red flags you think are there, nor the ghosts of men that haunt you.
I am not your loneliness.
I am not your hurt.
I am not your past.
I am your present.
I am the ears that hear everything that has gone before and patiently listens.
I am the one who knows the truth you, veins coursing with alcohol, whisper in the dark silent hours.
I am the one who you hurt with the words the sober you takes back, pulling them out like teeth, and, yet, I still smile.
I am the eyes that search your face and finds beauty in every line other men have put there.
I am the hands, the arms that keep you from leaving, even when everything in your heart and mind tell you to flee.
I am the fists that will break down the door between the real me and the me you think I am, between the real you and the you you’ve become.
I am the care, the salve with which to dress your wounds.
I am the mind that understands you the way you’ve always wanted to be understood.
I am the heart that will love you the way you need to be loved.
I am the caress that reassures you that I am real, I’m not going to leave and I’m not going to let you hurt yourself by hurting me.
I am the one who sees through the lies you tell yourself.
I am the one strong enough to lift the funeral veil you’ve put over your eyes, your heavy heart and I am the light to blow out the shadows you’ve painted in the corners.
I am one of your possible futures.
I am the doorway, aching for you to walk through and not close.
I am here.