The Girl I Used to Be

Wednesday Journal Entry – Week 16

Karina Lafayette – August 10th 2022

I miss her. She was naïve and carefree. She’d make bad decisions without thinking twice and somehow always got her way. Before the tattoos, before the heartbreak, there was a girl who believed everything was possible.

She had never been in a relationship, and neither was she looking for one. Rather it was love that found her, or so she thought. Everywhere she went, people would stare at her. She would manage to get work on film sets even with little background experience, just her charms were enough. She wore crop tops and mini dresses and didn’t care who noticed, and made new friends every other week. He seemingly fell out of the sky, but most likely from the pits of hell. He was charming, bright, ambitious, and loved money. So much that he was willing to take care of her. He promised that as long as she was with him, she would always be provided for, and could focus on her dreams instead. Day and night, if they weren’t in each other’s arms, they were at least texting, and none of it was ever enough.

They started to build a tiny world together, but it was on shaky ground. It was all a lie. There was no comfort, only possessiveness and a need for control. He went from adoring her, to wanting nothing to do with their love. Still, she stayed in hopes that it was only a phase, that soon the man she first fell in love with would reappear. He didn’t. It only got worse. Suddenly she was rarely wearing makeup or her favorite outfits. She started to gain weight. She let go of her determination to succeed and slowly became a shell of who she was before him, before the pomegranate seeds.

Most people would romanticize their story, but that’s only because they never lost themselves in a relationship. They never had to deal with someone who checks their phone anytime they leave the room, or who needs their whereabouts 24/7. Most people think they want someone who’s obsessed with them, but that’s only because they don’t love themselves enough to know better.

One day after getting married, she decided to go out wearing a crop top, in attempt to reconnect with the girl she was before. Instead of compliments, she was met with disgust. A random driver yelled at her from his car, “Have some pride!” It hurt her feelings, wondering what was so wrong with her body no longer being a certain shape, but deep down, she just wanted to hide. Barely taking pictures anymore, at night while in bed, this supposed husband would knock on her belly, asking as a joke whether something was in there. Nothing she did made him happy, and anytime she wanted something, it was either too much, impossible, or just her being “selfish”. He didn’t even call her “Miss Beautiful” anymore, and knowing now what she didn’t known then, he was proud of himself for taking away one thing he’d never have.

After all, even he admitted to being insecure, claiming he wasn’t masculine enough due to being skinny, and longed for the bulging, veiny muscles seen on movie stars. He wanted to have the best car, the best of it all, because deep down, he felt like nothing, and since he felt like nothing, he wanted her trapped in the Underworld with him. She tried to leave a few times, but when that happened, for a moment she would be lucky enough to get a glimpse of the person he pretended to be at the beginning. But it was all a lie, just to keep her in her place. Even once she left for good, he insisted she owed him a sponsorship for his work permit. After all, he wasn’t from around here. She knew in her heart that was also a lie, because she married for love, and he only married out of convenience. She didn’t owe him sh|t.

And so she went back to her world, slowly gathering flowers of herself that were lost along the way. Some flowers didn’t grow anymore, and I still mourn them. It’s not that I’d ever want to be that girl again, I just miss the feeling of anticipation toward the world. I miss the butterflies whenever I meet someone new. Now I just feel the desire to look for a mask that may or may not be there, because treating everyone like a potential threat feels better than dealing with another like him.

I miss being the one who makes mistakes and shrugs innocently like it’s no big deal. I miss taking those risks. I know it isn’t right, and maybe I should lighten up, but unless you’ve been there, it’s hard to explain the feeling of realizing that the one you loved never existed in the first place.

Till this day, just because I write about him sometimes doesn’t mean I miss him. It’s the opposite. With everything he almost took from me, it’s only fair I get something out of it. Matter of fact, a few years ago, I even wrote a memoir called Persephone Rises (see here).

The amount of emotional abuse, turmoil, and trauma, isn’t enough to write in an essay, and that book barely even scratches the surface. Emotional abuse doesn’t leave physical scars, so there’s no real way to explain it. It’s enough to influence timelines. I spent several years getting back what I lost, and it still doesn’t feel the same. For awhile, I didn’t feel comfortable on camera- from the girl who loved it. Instead of creating memories, I was concerned about the angle or looking as small as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I already know that I’m beautiful, but that isn’t the same as feeling beautiful. Some days are easier than others.

Don’t get me wrong, I do want a profound love, and comparing him to Hades would be laughable- he only wishes, but there’s no doubt Persephone and I share so many parallels, it’s impossible to not be inspired by the myth. A real life Hades would be more akin to Gomez Addams, than whatever that was. However, some myths need to stay myths, because Persephone will always selfishly choose her flowers. The same way Lilith chose freedom over the garden.

Even if I could, there are parts of me from that time I’d never want back, especially the part that thought I needed him to survive, when he was the one who needed me. I might have almost drowned on my escape, but he didn’t teach me to swim, I did. The one part I am slowly reintegrating is the part of me that believes in taking risks, because it’s not like anything great can happen unless we try. I’m also reconnecting with the part of me that believes in love, and that loves myself, and my body. Not the fairytale kind; The kind that gives you hope and comfort while still holding you accountable. I wouldn’t want someone who thinks I’m perfect, I want someone who’s there despite me not being even close to it, and who I can love in the same way.

Karina


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