17 Mar 2020 KAYA VOICES
I am sorry that this comes now even though sorry is something I shouldn’t be. I’ve listened and struggled against my condition to condone what you see as a joke and as playful or as something I am innately meant to understand because we call each other friends. In this strange place of freedom from the spell and the hard choice to write this to you, I am equally relieved and afraid. Relieved because this finally feels like honour. Afraid because it means losing you. You once said to me that “I take things so seriously, you feel like you can’t joke with me.” I responded that I was serious because the world needs serious right now. I left that conversation with a hole in my chest – mostly because I’d realised I was weak again. I didn’t have the courage to say “that’s not okay – don’t talk about me like that”. Again, in the name of friendship and my compulsion to protect what is masculine in you, I let you negate and invalidate my experience. You weren’t misogynistic. I was too sensitive.
We spoke again. This time you said, all in the same conversation, that I was important to you, that you loved me-not like that-but that you couldn’t wait to hold me in your arms and nurture me. At this point, I thought I should point out to you that those are things you say to a lover and that I wasn’t yours. I didn’t want to be. My sadness was because every one of my friends knows that touch is sacred to me, and that like so many, I dream of being held by somebody when I need it for me, not when you feel I have to let you because it’s what you need. I left that conversation with a hole in my chest – because I was weak again. I could not bring myself to say “I don’t want you to touch me.” Because you are my friend, I thought maybe it’s just how you love me. I let you decide what is good for me. I let you lay claim over my body. You weren’t predatory. I was too closed. I don’t trust your words, but I believe you.
I believe you when you call and tell me about the woman you met online and “fucked.” I don’t trust that that is how she wanted to be remembered. I believe you when you say I am safe with you. I don’t trust the way you infer that I shouldn’t be. I believe you when you say you won’t hurt me. I don’t trust that your definition of hurt doesn’t include the way I feel. I believe you when you say that you respect me. I don’t trust that it’s on your terms. I believe you when you say that you don’t expect anything from me. I don’t trust that it’s only when I behave in the right way. I believe you when you say you have no ulterior motives with me. I don’t trust that you mean the ones that don’t exist in your mind. But you are my friend. The greatest lie I have ever told. I was weak again. I didn’t have the strength to say “I don’t want you in my life.” You were just being yourself. I was overthinking this.
You play your game well. I cover my breasts. My legs distract you. I tie up my hair. My lips call to you. I wear a pair of flat shoes, my sexuality alludes you. In my heels, it entices you. And… in the cold winter months, when I am hidden in a coat and completely covered up, I watch you imagine what lies beneath. My nipples disturb you. My eyes seduce you. My smile makes you a rapist. You haven’t violated me. I am overreacting. I listened to you say that women do the same things as men, that gender has nothing to do with it. But I’ve also never heard a woman say “so what” when I shared a story about men making sexual advances on women I work with. I internalised it when you said that I was projecting and it was all in my head, when you told me not to take it on and turn the other way because lots of people get treated this way. You made me believe that I made this okay. You aren’t the perpetrator. I am the antagonist.
You lie. I apologise. You criticise. I improve. You insult. I try not to make you angry. You demand. I sacrifice. I cry. You call me a victim.
You are vile. I am ashamed.
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