He said that you didn’t listen. That you chose not to hear him when he spoke. That you would respond, but never really receive his message. He points to the cotton balls and wads of toilet paper stained with your mascara outside of the tiny plastic trashcan for proof. He bought that trashcan to motivate you because simply just having a bag next to the toilet wasn’t enough.
But he didn’t listen either. The first time, he didn’t even have to hear your voice. All he needed to do was look at you. Your body was burnt, every last bit of it. He was the one who had lathered you in Aloe and comforted you as you cried. But he still insisted that he get on top of you. Your body radiated, not out of passion but because your skin actually felt like it was on fire. You could feel your skin cells dying underneath him. You wonder how he could even want you like this, but still he does. You hear his breath in your ear. Somehow he doesn’t hear yours.
Before you two became official, he tells you he thinks he knows whats wrong. He’s been listening to what you say, he’s noticed the things that you do. He asks you if you have a personality disorder. He asks you if you’re a survivor of sexual assault. Before you can answer he assures you it doesn’t matter. You’ve never felt more heard.
You try and reassure him, it has nothing to do with him. Your body isn’t rejecting him. It just doesn’t work the way other people’s do. You grab the bottle out from the bedroom drawer, your fingers sticky with liquid. You keep insisting it’s okay to need help sometimes. It’s okay that you cannot reach it with him. You repeat, I want you. I want you. I want you. Eventually, the two of you will come to the conclusion that your birth control must be the cause of it. It’s a special kind that helps keep away suicidal and dissociative thoughts. You agree to go off it, with the promise that he will be there in case of an episode. As it happens, he insists he cannot leave his friends. He doesn’t know why you’re acting this way. He asks, how could he have known that this is what you were talking about.
He tells you, he believes that you tried your best. But he feels that you will never respect him as much as he respected you. He says maybe it’s because you’re younger and more immature, but he cannot excuse it any longer. You pushed the q-tip in too deep when he told you enough. You insisted on squeezing everything you could find out of his back. You picked at him. He kept trying to tell you, he was using the moisturizer you had bought him.
You told him that you’re fragile, and not just in the “hey-I-have-a-personality-disorder” kind of way. You tear often and almost always. He told you he and his last girlfriend had sex every time they saw each other. And in the beginning you were able to give him that too, but over time you couldn’t. Every morning before work. Every day after work. Every night before bed. So when he would only whine once a day instead of three, you thought he was trying his best too. You send him a photograph of your two-inch wound, hoping that it’ll be better proof than words. He sends back a laughing emoji, and asks, “what am I doing to you?”
He blames you when his air conditioner breaks. If you had just stopped using the oven when he asked, the fuse never would have blown. This wouldn’t have happened. His television flickers, you stare at it when he yells at you. Trying to hide your shame.
You argue with him for five minutes before he agrees to buy you ointment for your hemorrhoids. You’re meeting his father for the first time, and you were already anxious about traveling to China by yourself. He’s been gone on business and went directly there from his flight. You step off of the ferry, and ten minutes after arriving at his father’s apartment he has his hands all over you. He suggests fucking you on his father’s bathroom sink. You joke, I could be diagnosed with cancer and your response would be, “let’s fuck!”. But you wonder to yourself, what would it take for him to let you heal?
He says it’s your hatred of men that made him leave. That he doesn’t trust you, and he never will. He is unable to separate himself from the men that have abused you. But insists your mental illness and your lasting trauma surrounding sex had nothing to do with this outcome.
The last time you two have sex, you tell him you love him. You don’t see him for ten days, and when you finally do, he tells you it’s over.
The next time you see him you acknowledge what he has said. You could have done better, you should have done better. You tell him that maybe there were times he didn’t listen too. He stares at you for a long time before finally asking, are you saying that you had sex with me when you didn’t want to? After you respond, he thanks you. He tells you you’ve confirmed his decision. He doesn’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with him. You think about asking him to repeat himself, but you know you heard him correctly.
You realize then, maybe you didn’t always listen, but he never really cared.