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explaining ptsd to my boyfriend
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explaining ptsd to my boyfriend

you exaggerate
every single part of your life
is what he likes to say to me
when we fight
and he knows that he’s wrong

hurting me intentionally is easier
than admitting he hurts me
with his words
every single day

you ruin everything
is what he likes to say to me
when i stand up for myself
when i use my voice to say he’s hurt me

why do you like to cause fights he says
i don’t want to fight i yell
my body is already
a museum of trauma and
each piece is dedicated to
the fights i’ve had to fight
to stay alive

i just want to be respected
by the person i love
but my mind says
that’s asking for too much
or else he wouldn’t be so mad about this
he wouldn’t accuse me of ruining everything
he wouldn’t call my feelings
so i just say okay
i’m sorry

when i was little my mom told me a story about la llorona
a woman who lost her kids
and now walks around
in the woods at night
crying for eternity
looking for them
but never finding them
because they died

this is how i picture my trauma
an ominous, ghostly figure
walking around my mind
walking around my body

looking for someone that doesn’t exist anymore
and reminding me of everything that i’ve lost
and everything i fear
and everything that could ever go wrong

trauma is a silent witness
she doesn’t talk
she listens
she watches
and then she makes me do the ruining
the breaking
the shattering
the hurting
so that she won’t have to

you exaggerate
every single part of your life
is what he likes to say to me
when we fight
not remembering that i am a survivor
that i am used to people
not believing me
that some days
i don’t even believe myself

because that’s what trauma does
that’s what ptsd does
that’s what dissociation does

i don’t exaggerate things that matter
my heart wants me to scream
i don’t exaggerate my feelings
my heart wants me to scream
i don’t exaggerate my pain
my heart wants me to scream

but my trauma sits down and says
maybe you are dramatic
maybe you are ruining everything
maybe that’s what you’re good at

it’s almost impossible to walk away from her lies

but i look at him and say
i don’t know if you mean to do this
but when you tell a survivor
of sexual assault

who has shared their trauma with you
like me
that i exaggerate
every single part of my life
the first thing
that comes into my mind is
my trauma
and how it’s clear
that you don’t believe me
just like the rest of the world

he gets silent and says
he didn’t mean that
and in that moment i realize
that he really doesn’t understand
because he is a man
who has never had to fight
to be believed

he once told me he’s so glad
he’s a man because being a woman
just seems so difficult
i nodded and said
you’re really lucky

being a woman in this world
in this day
in this age
is a stadium filled
with every single thing
that you’re afraid of
or have ever been afraid of
looking at you
telling you lies
throwing things at you
like every failure
or every sadness
every single day of your life

and there’s no way for you to leave
because the stadium is locked
by a lot of things
i. the patriarchy
ii. misogyny
iii. men
iv. my trauma

and the one who holds the key
v. me

Cristina Flores-Gil is a writer and student originally from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature with a focus on anthropology and Latin American Studies from the University of Florida. She also has a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Prevention Science with the hopes of preventing sexual assault on college campuses. She can usually be found watching reality tv or a true crime show on Netflix. She currently resides in Orlando, Florida, with her 7-year-old dog, Fenway.

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