to be a woman

to be honest i hadn’t thought about my bad experiences with men in a long time. i’d removed the really bad from my brain and left myself with the just the bad.

i remember hardly anything from my trip to Slovakia in January 2019, except for that one evening when a colleague, manipulated me into going upstairs to get his wallet with him (despite my obvious reluctance) and tried to physically take me into his room. after i resisted several times, trying to pry his hands of my arms, he let me go and we went back downstairs. i walked a step behind him, not even wanting to be next to him, wishing i could disappear into the walls around me. was it my fault? had i said something or done something which indicated i wanted this?

then only 6 months before that, when i was alone in a foreign country and an airbnb owner took advantage of me, putting his hands on me before asking for kisses whilst i stumbled and ran out of the apartment grabbing my suitcase. i was 20 years old, alone in an unfamiliar city, in broad daylight. i was surrounded by people yet so scared and distraught. i remember walking as fast as i could in any direction to get away. i started crying, whilst the people around me quietly avoided me. i’d never felt so alone. i couldn’t believe that i’d taken safety for granted.

i’d never really thought about how that affected me, i think something shifted inside of me subconsciously. was it something i was doing? is this the reason why sometimes i would sprint home from the tube station? why i would put keys between each of my knuckles in a state of hyperawareness of every single man around me?

for a while afterwards, i think that some part of my light, my spark was dimmed. I started bowing my head as i passed people in the street, determinately avoiding eye contact with the people who passed by. i shrunk within me, part of me felt that i was the problem. was it something i was doing or saying to these men to provoke these responses?

this, mixed with other various personal circumstances mean that i really feel like i’ve only recently managed to relight that spark within me.

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