to all the versions of myself that I’ve killed
by Kaylin Rivera
[CW // sexual assault]
Circa 15, 16.
Pressured by your so-called friends around you to give away the one thing that you were told was sacred. Was it worth it? An older man who sure as hell should not have been talking to someone your age. You wanted to get it over with, to not be pestered by the incessant voices. You told yourself it did not matter, it was not as special as it was regarded. You wanted to get rid of it, to tear through the sanctity of yourself, but the feeling during and after… a thick alloy, coating your skin, reaching around trying to absorb you whole. Afterward, proud of your torn stockings and soreness between your legs. Bragging rights of doing it on a roof in the autumn weather with someone who wanted to consume your essence yet they chose not to tell their parents about you despite being together for almost two years.
Good enough for the iciness of their roof, but not enough for the warmth of their home.
Showered you with gifts and romance… shadowed by the suffocation of ownership.
You remember not wanting to fall behind, but now that you reflect… you were certainly not falling behind with the rest of the people your age, just within that vicious cesspool you clung to for validation. Attention… weighing your body down, putting a heavy feeling in the pit of your stomach and needles in your chest. You were told to be a leader growing up, to not be a follower, but did you listen? No.
Ugly, ugly, ugly emotions clouded judgment, despite having the awareness to know this was not what you wanted.
Circa 16, 17.
The previous part of you died; you did not recognize who you once were. A new hair color for every new era, right? Wrong. You thought choosing a new color to don around your crown would be another part of you, that you could wash away the pain and the memories with overprocessed bleach and dead ends.
Yet another one, also older than you. It’s because you’re super mature for your age right? You let him say words to you that you would never let a stranger utter. So why did you let him taint your aura? Day in and day out you ingested the verbal abuse, telling yourself it was banter, it was jokes, and it did not bother you.
Words swathed with poison stacked upon each other like plates piled atop one another with the smaller ones on the bottom and the larger ones on top. Even his parents saw how he treated you and yet day in and day out you slept on his bed with a smile on your face. You took his remarks and his flesh into your mouth without thought. You and he desired entirely different things and you deluded yourself into believing that it would be okay. You and I both knew that it would not last. He was acceptable for that era.
Acceptable for the masochist in you.
Remember that one time when you told him that you could turn it all off? That no matter how many times he positioned himself inside you, you would not flinch, would not feel a goddamn thing other than disgust? He teared up that night and you smiled inside. For the first in a long time, you felt something.
Acceptable for the sadist in you.
Remember when you cut your hair and he uttered ‘lesbian’ immediately after? The smile dropped from your face and you yearned for the lost locks falling past your shoulders.
It was okay though.
You obtained the sweetest taste of secret revenge and ‘till this day the only person that needed to know was you and her. You brought her around him, kissing her and sliding your flesh against hers while heading to his place right after in a drug-induced stupor. It was the only way you could press your lips against his snake-like tongue. It was the only way you could endure his presence, his voice, him. Thinking about her while being with him made it bearable—almost. Did you ever think about her feelings? You were so wrapped up in your pain that you never thought about how she would feel, yet you thought it was fine as she had never been with anyone else but you.
The arrangement was mutual, right?
What you did not recognize was the toxicity of him rubbing off. You harbored his essence like a devil on both shoulders. She shared something sacred with you and you viciously seized it without taking into account her feelings, her wants, her desires. You did the same thing in turn that was done to you. Did you deem yourself worthy of her or above her?
You do not have to answer that… we know the result of it.
We were so terrified of being alone that we stood together, telling each other that we loved each other despite deeply hating each other under all that desperation. You overshadowed her, let her put you on her pedestal. You devoured her just as others have consumed you and were surprised when she clawed her way out on her own. You liked to control her, to have her worship you like a false god. You say that it was her fault for idolizing you, but you knew better. She may have only been younger than you by a year, but she was mentally and emotionally underdeveloped. She looked to you for guidance and you took advantage of that just as others have done to you.
You sucked the soul out of each other and barely remembered anything.
You do not want to talk about him. But you have to. Distance was always a component of him and you. You could only get so close being miles away. The fucked up part is the foolishness he and you had. You convinced yourself you would see each other one day, be in each other’s arms whilst ignoring the distance that had nothing to do with where you lived. You loved the idea of him and wove him in your life. He was the in-between of it all, and you thought that was okay because it was not like he was here in person. How much harm could it really be? You hurt and tore each other apart with your dreams, the dreams that never quite aligned with each other. You repeatedly called each other the right person at the wrong time, but how many more wrong times were there going to be? But that is okay. You did the hardest thing, which was letting each other go despite having so much love for each other’s souls.
If only he was a woman, then maybe it would not have ended as it did, right? Perhaps the thought of being with him physically terrified you so much that you lied to yourself once the love for him was blown out, like a battery forgotten in the back of a Wii remote.
Romantically, emotionally, physically.
You killed those past versions of yourself, reached into yourself and yanked them out one by one. You have been broken and in turn broken others without realizing until it’s too late. But that is okay because you are a work in progress. You’re learning yourself, knowing who you are.
This time you’ve planted a new seed, with compost and everything, taking the time to cultivate this newer version of yourself with the scraps of your past self. Continuously under construction because with every era that passes, you kill that past version of yourself to create space for something new. Never feel as if your life should end, only the era you’re living in.
the version of me who I have not killed yet
Kay Rivera (they/she) is a queer writer currently studying at Queens College who graduated from LaGuardia Community College. They have a special interest in writing fantasy works in order to provide the representation they were looking for as a reader. They’ve been writing since their early adolescence and would like to pursue a career in writing and seek to inspire others to become writers.
Image credit: “Seedling,” Kevin Doncaster. Flickr CC BY 2.0.