We don’t mean to be scared. We’ve allowed ourselves the courage to open up to people time and time again; however, when we do, we always end up hurt. Whether our scares are physical, mental, or emotional, they play a large part in who we have become and how we react to situations.

I find myself cringing anytime someone raises their voice at me, even just slightly. Tears start welling up in the corners of my eyes as I wait for a barrage of insults, curse words, and sharp comments to be spat in my face.

I stop breathing when a man is running his hand down my side; I brace for the slap that I became to know all too well, a handprint left permanently on my skin. What began as an intimate caress, very quickly became a reminder of who was in control. Even when there was no control needed, it still had to be there.

We know we don’t have to ask permission…but we really do. We become accustomed to not being allowed to feel like we can be independent. So, when we ask if you mind if we go out with our girls, go to the store alone, or just exist by ourselves for a little bit, remember that we weren’t allowed that option before.

Each time I go to the store, I always ask “do you need anything?” because I know you won’t go with me. “Just smokes and beer,” is always the general response. So, I make my list and head out. I’ve been gone an hour and I’m on my way back when my phone rings. My heart stops, I debate on looking to see who it is, decide not answering is the worst option, and grab my phone. It’s you.

“Where are you?”

“I’m on my way back,” I answer timidly. “The lines were really long.”

“It’s been an hour. Why are you cheating on me? I’ve been through this before; I know what you’re doing.”

I come home and apologize for how long I’ve been gone, remind you of how much I love you, and cook you dinner and hand you a beer. I promise myself it’s the last time I let you talk to me like that.

And then I realize I have to go to the store again tomorrow.

We will love you so much it hurts. We know how to either give you all of our heart or none of it; it’s hard to find an in-between. We believe we have to give it all to you in order to try to feel like you want us. We deal with people who need constant reassurance of our affection and will more than give you what you want. If you actually return the affection, we wouldn’t know what to do with it. Feeling wanted and cared for continuously is not something that we’re used to. We’ll tiptoe around you when you’re being kind and be paranoid, waiting for a blowup. We’ll ask what you need from us after you make a kind gesture, we’ll cook something super special in return, buy new lingerie, rub your feet, or anything else that you may enjoy.

“I just don’t love you yet,” he whispered to me.

After almost a year being together, he still didn’t know if he wanted me.

I throw myself at him, physically, emotionally, fiscally…trying to make him understand that he SHOULD love me.

Loving someone who has dealt with so much pain requires a special type of person, someone who truly loves the survivor. Be patient with us, remind us that you care, and don’t take advantage of our sensitive hearts. We’ll be more than willing to love you as hard as anyone can but just prove to us that you’re worth it. We need that.