Madison Kendall* | contributor
I began dating her when I was 18. She was my first kiss, my first relationship, my first love. She was outgoing, funny, hardworking, and had felt more than her fair share of pain. Being in her aura was pure bliss; my body felt like it was floating, and I couldn’t tell if my heart was beating rapidly or if it had simply stopped.
After the first few months, she started becoming upset. She didn’t understand why I wasn’t out of the closet yet, despite me being from a southern, very religious community. She’d spend hours yelling threats over the phone, that she would leave my life, that she’d hurt herself, that she’d drink until she couldn’t remember my name, if I didn’t comply to her demands. She complained about my lack of wanting anything physical in a relationship. I took half a week to visit her over the summer, when she punched through a mirror because I refused to sleep with her. The glass shards sticking out of her bloody hand will forever be ingrained in my mind.
Her outbursts progressively worsened. She slammed my elbow in and smashed my key fob when I tried to leave the house. She would become furious if I spent time with friends outside of class and practice. She threw my phone into a wall because she thought I was deleting her number. I hid bruises on my neck with scarves when I went to class, and blamed the bruises on my latest sports practice when anyone saw. One night, she locked me in her car and threatened to stab us both with her six-inch hunting knife because I stayed a little longer at school to complete a project.
The easiest way to get through this person she had become was to simply agree — to her schedule, to her demands, to sex, to everything. She was broken, perhaps by me, and I needed to fix her. I was willing to break myself in this process, feeling unidentifiable shades and piercing shards of emptiness. I would close my eyes, remembering all the happiness that used to radiate between us, and this blinded me from the present. I didn’t see my friends. My grades fell tremendously to the point of putting me on academic probation. I did not know who I was anymore; her life had swallowed my own. But if it was a necessary price to pay to see the person I loved come back, I would take it.
*The artist’s name has been changed for privacy reasons.