When We Were Young

Didn’t I glow? Not in the way most young girls glow. But the way I glowed. With my own peculiar kind of beauty. Dark hair and porcelain skin and pale eyes and black clothes and cleavage that belied how saggy those boobs were underneath. All those corseted goth clothes kept it tight. I was beautiful.

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Long before you stole all my roses you got my glow. And not just that, you got my hopes. Dark red lips and big green eyes and eyeliner, that, okay, I’ll admit, was a little shaky, but I look at this young woman and I wonder how she was ever self-conscious. I wonder how you saw the flaws in her. How you couldn’t just fall at her feet when we were young. I look at pictures of you and it’s not how I remember. I see the dopey haircut, the acne, the smile that shows too many gums. I don’t see the things you saw, like how you thought you were fat, but I don’t see the things I saw, either. I don’t see the kind face. I don’t see the loving eyes.

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I was funny, too, doing the Kliq point in my goth gear. You never gave me credit for being so goddamn funny. I’m still funny, you know. I make my friends laugh all the time. I didn’t have friends when I was with you, and I was never allowed to be the funny one. In this picture, you thought I could stand to lose some weight, and I did, too, which is why I’m covered head to toe in clothes, but god, look at that body? Kim Kardashian wishes she came by that booty and hips naturally. No silicon injections there, baby! If you’re young, I promise you, someday you’ll be twenty years older and you’ll look at pictures of yourself and you’ll wonder why you hated your body. Or why you were young during Heroin Chic instead of when Big Butts were popular. But this was an insufficient body for you. I called you by nickname for you, “Muffin.” when we were at the gym you dragged me to and you got mad. I had no idea all the working our in the world wouldn’t work. I had a progressive fat disorder called lipedema. You should have appreciated this. This was as good as it gets, Muffin.

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This is wrestler El Dandy, at one of the many wrestling shows we went to. He’d just finished groping me in this picture. You convinced me it was funny. This was the night we’d gone to Hooters with you and your friends before the show and you treated her like such garbage, like a sex doll, that I had to sneak in after pretending I had to pee and apologize to her and slip her an extra tip. You made me think it was funny and cool to be groped by a wrestler. How many women have you groped as a joke?

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This is me and my puppy Charley, maybe a day or two after my father died. The best thing you ever did for me was suggest I get a dog after my father died. He spent fourteen years with me. For three of those years I could not figure out why he stubbornly refused to be house trained. When we broke up, he was magically house trained, overnight. Then I put the pieces together in my head. When I’d come home from work and you were still there, he’d spend so much time outside when I’d take him out. Pooping two or three times. Peeing five or six. Charley was a pee and poop and go back inside dog but every time I came home from work and you were in the house, he acted like he’d been holding it all goddamn day. You can’t even take care of fucking dog, let alone a relationship.

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Here I am, just a couple years after you. thriving. With a friend. The glow is back! I have a lot of them now. Because I no longer have to choose between friends and you anymore. Or between family and you anymore. I no longer have to wonder if I make a female friend if you’ll ask “Is she cute?” because you wanted to pressure me into a threesome I didn’t want. I no longer have to brace myself for every physical flaw you detect in me. I don’t look at beautiful as I do in any of these pictures anymore. Illness has ravaged me, my immune system is slowly eating my brain and spinal cord, lipedema keeps catching up to me, I am going through early menopause and I’ve had the same migraine for like nine months.

But when I lived in Portland, the first place I lived that was away from you, I was as happy as that woman in that picture. And now I’ve learned how many women you’ve hurt and it breaks my heart that I knew things about you and I let it happen, even though I know it’s not my fault and there was literally nothing I could have done. You had this big booming voice and I had nothing. No one would have listened. No one listens to women, no one believes them. You emotionally abused me. You isolated me so all I had was you.

I don’t just have you anymore. I have me. I have my friends. I have my family. I have my dogs. I have a Bachelor’s degree. I have a Master’s degree. I have Multiple Sclerosis, yes, but I also have a good reputation and people trust me to be a good person. People love me for who I am, not whether I shave my legs or whether I have a fat ass or whether I’m “hotter than the last girlfriend.”

I’m sitting here tonight in excruciating pain because pain is all I live with, and I still feel luckier than you. Even though I went into a fit two months ago and shaved my head because the migraines made my hair too heave, even though I wear pink glasses now to fend off the light for migraines, even though I’m not the beautiful girl in any of the above pics on the inside, as Taylor Swift said, when it comes to men, “I’m doing better than I ever was.”

PS: GET OUT OF MY FUCKING CITY. YOU HAD THE WHOLE UNITED STATES AND YOU MOVED TO PORTLAND? GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY FUCKING CITY. I DON’T CARE IF I DON’T LIVE THERE. IT’S MINE.

Published by alisonhebert

BA Social Sciences, Portland State University, 2013, Magna Cum Laude MA Sociology, University of Miami, 2016, with a focus on Race/Ethnicity and Medical Sociology Professional Patient with Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Angry Feminist

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