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When I was 19, I thought I was invincible. After enduring a seemingly never-ending train of heartache, I figured I was done having to hurt. I had, I thought, reached the greatest capacity for love that I could possess. Despite everything, I still believe people are good and have a capacity to do more good than they might know they’re capable of. I now understand how important it is to remember that in all of my relationships. However, the Summer of 2013, I learned that people don’t always know that about themselves.

It was a nice day on the beach with my best friend. We decided to spend the Fourth of July at the beach an hour from our house. We were both recently out of relationships and wanted the getaway, so we went.

Two handsome gentlemen approached us while we were wading in the water, asking our names and about what we were doing this weekend. I am fairly shy initially, but my best friend never lacked the courage to continue a conversation. Once I started to feel comfortable, we got to talking and ended up talking for hours. They introduced us to all of their friends staying with them and we introduced them to our family we were staying with. Once we were burnt to a crisp, we all decided it would be best to turn in, but we were invited to come over to our new friend’s house that night. My friend and I were through the roof at the fact these handsome, older, military men wanted us to come around.

We spent a while getting ready and walked the few blocks over to their house. The music was loud and everyone was alive in the night. I felt beautiful and appreciated as I was surrounded by funny and genuine people. Everyone decided to hop out to the bars that night, but my best friend and I were too young and not into drinking so we decided to stay back with a few of the other people. 

As the bars started closing down, everyone started returning home little by little. I felt safe. I felt like I was fun to be around, which was a feeling I had rarely felt before. 

One of the boys I had met earlier that night sat down next to me and just started asking me questions. I rarely ever felt that people cared to know about me, so I was taken aback by his interest in my passions, qualities of my heart, and my history. We sat there talking for a long time before he invited me to step out, so we could actually hear without yelling. I followed him to the stairs, but he made a quick left to the bathroom. He needed to take care of some things and told me to wait. So I did. The shower turned on. Then the tub. I hear hysterical sobs and manic pounds on the counter and mirror. I stepped into the bathroom to check on him, and I found him in the bath tub with water up to his nose. I asked him what was going on, and he let loose. He said the only way out of his life was to kill himself. To do it right then. And he wasn’t going to back down like had before. He said he wasn’t cut out for the military. He wasn’t cut out to fall in love. And he sure wasn’t cut out to be a father. He talked about how the world would be better off without him in it. Knowing those feelings all too well, I sat there on the floor and talked him down. I told him he needed to get out and go to bed.

He finally agreed, and he got out and walked to bed. 

I walked behind him, as if to ensure that he would do as I had advised. He grabbed me. He held me. He wouldn’t let me go. I tried to fight him, but he would whisper, "You said you cared. If you cared, you’d do this for me," and, "Just relax, I’m sure it’s nothing you haven’t done before." These words triggered memories. Memories of doing things in fear of not being cared about in return. Doing things in the lack of confidence that I deserved anything more. Fearing for my life and fearing the opinions of others. 

A friend of his walked in, thinking this was a routine consensual incidence, and left to grab my best friend to brag about me. Being my best friend, she saw right through that and as she was breaking into the room, I was breaking free to run. She and the stranger who saved me sat with me, and we cried together. I figured that was it. I was going to continue to be nothing more than this. This object people used and threw away. In this godless moment, I craved the presence of Him who created me, but didn’t have the capacity to love me anymore.

As I looked back on that night, I thought about what I might have done differently. I blamed myself even in knowing that it was not my fault. I thought about the things this boy was going through inside. I thought about if I hadn’t have gone at all and avoided the situation. I felt dumb for feeling so compelled to help this boy. This boy had endured things indescribable and hurt in ways nobody could see. I will never excuse him for his disrespect and destruction because of his situation, but I have been softened to understand him a little better. In the end, I can’t change it and with time I have learned that this particular night was needed to happen to teach me things, if I choose to learn from it.

I’m 22 now. It’s been three years filled with hard times that have only increased my capacity to love. I realize now, however, I had to be refined. As much as I wish I didn’t need to be, I had to be. In this big messed up world, I have always felt that I was to become someone and these experiences have only helped in trying to create whoever that may be. In the eyes of many, I have always had it all together, but I’m still figuring this whole thing out. I’m just a girl struggling with intimacy who believes that love is going to win in the end. Struggling to believe in the worth that I have, knowing I deserve something greater. A paradoxical travesty looking to feel understood at best. But that takes time. It takes more love, for myself and from others. It takes the faith that things do work out, ultimately. The conscious decision to fight my conscience saying I won’t get that because I don’t deserve it. Because everyone deserves love, kindness, and happiness. No matter their truth.

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