When I was little I used to be scared of everything. I swore there were bloodstains on the coffee table. One night my grandma saw me fist fighting in my sleep. You can’t forget the traumatic things. It haunts me in my dreams. My mother did the best she could. I don’t blame her. **** happens and you roll with the punches. My father never said he loved me enough. I used to sit by the front door waiting for his headlights but once again, another no show. He loved the liquor more than me. I don’t blame him. Because now I do too. I wish I could fill the white spaces with something wholesome, something sweet. But by now the pain has become another layer of my being. I’m formed with bad habits tied into my heartstrings. Like the bittersweet taste smeared across my gums and in between my teeth. And I can’t help but look in the mirror and ask myself, “who were you before the world made you cold?” My mother says I was the empathetic one. As long as I can remember I’ve been living life on the run. Hiding from myself, stuffing, suppressing all emotions. I used to know what it was like to drown but now I steer clear of the oceans. I used to tell myself that I swallowed that water instead of drowning but my lungs just grew accustomed to breathing underwater. I lost my virginity when I was thirteen to a man who was much more stronger than me. He would press my face into the sheets, making it seemingly impossible to breathe. He’s the reason why I started drinking. I’d love to feel that burning sensation crawling down my throat into the pit of my stomach. It hurt less than the nights he’d creep into my bedroom. I used to sleep in the closet. It took years of therapy to break that habit. I won’t ever let the fear of him seep into my bone marrow again. It’s like the word UNLOVABLE is tattooed on my inner thigh. I wish people came with warning labels. I wish my mother could see the signs before he laced his body with mine. But I don’t resent her for it. It’s not her fault. And if you ever ask me if I regret anything I’ll say no. Because all of this molded me into the person I am today. Some days it’s hard to keep the bad thoughts at bay. They swim in my waters making the currents hard to stand against. But when the world is falling apart around me I refuse to crumble. Because I am strong. And I still choose to believe that most people are good. I refuse to be cynical. I refuse to let the bitterness hide in my small intestine. I won’t let the enemy win by making me cold again. I am warm sunshine, I am the feeling of sand between toes, I am celestial. And I will associate myself with the word strong. I will take that to my grave. Because I refuse to be defined by anything less than brave.