When I was a little girl, I'd always make my father check under my bed for monsters out of fear that there was something lurking in the dark.
He always told me there was nothing to be afraid of because monsters weren't real. He was so adamant in his belief that they did not exist. He was wrong.
What my father didn't know was that monsters are real. They just don't always appear how one would expect them to.
When I was 18 years old I fell in love with a monster. His voice was disguised as smooth sweet honey and his hands had never touched anything more sacred than me.
He spoke in a way that could move mountains, loved in a way that moved me. He was gentle and caring and knew how to worship all the parts of me that I could not yet worship myself.
He breathed a forgiving type of love into my soul. One that allowed me to fall willingly and without limits.
That was until the day his words became laced with poison and the hand that once tightened in mine as a sign of reassurance was now tightening its grip around my throat,
leaving me gasping for a love that I knew was no longer there. The monster had finally revealed himself from behind that mask he had so carefully hidden behind.
He was used to this routine you see. Pick a target, feed her sweet nothings, make her fall and do not catch her. It was a game he liked to play. I was his ever so willing victim.
He dominated and belittled me. Shackled and subdued me under his violent power.
Shredded every single ounce of self-worth and preservation I had taken years to build and made me come undone at the thought of him.
I could not stand nor recognize the person who gazed back at me from the mirror.
My self-worth was diminished and the self-loathing had crept into my heart and dug itself a home.
I let a man make me feel inconsequential and I grieved at that thought for a long time to come. Today, that little girl who feared the world in hopes of avoiding getting hurt no longer exists.
In her place stands a tall and unforgiving woman who will not spend her life on her knees apologizing for not being the woman he wanted her to be at the expense of the woman she had worked hard to become.
I was enough. You are enough. We are enough. If he or she or anyone ever makes you feel otherwise then it is them who are lacking.
Now at 20 years old, I have fallen in love with a monster once again. Only this time around, that monster is me.