So what do you put on to protect yourself? To tell yourself that it doesn’t hurt? To deflect all the pain, everything that’s happened to you over the years? Is it a tough exterior? An “I don’t care attitude?” Do some people call you a bitch? Do you put up walls, keep people away, not let people touch you?
Does your back clench up anytime someone sneaks up behind you? Coiled with the pain of decades, all the times that one person touched you, caressed you, sickening your stomach and twisting your life?
My body armor was strong. It was deflective, off-putting, full of biting humor that kept people at a distance or shoved them away with intense force if they stepped too close. Like fire I scorched the people who surrounded me, singeing them with my harsh words. Words. Like a sword I learned to wield them well. Maybe if I said the right thing, was persuasive enough, convincing enough, he wouldn’t hurt me anymore. For years I perfected this armor. Sharpened the steel and added on layers. It was indefensible, indestructive, like Captain America’s shield, it was a metal that nothing could penetrate.
There was only one flaw in this armor, in this, my brilliant plan. One day, I realized that I no longer wanted the armor, that I no longer needed the armor, now that my attackers were nothing but shapes of the past. So I threw the armor off, stripped the chainmail down.
And oh the pain. The pain when it came off. The rust stains and scrapes that it left on my skin. My vulnerable, squishy, soft, pale skin. Like a wounded slug I lay exposed, my heart wide open to the elements. The pain was so harsh at first that I thought I’d never make it through, never be able to stand it. I longed to hide back inside the dark, cool depths of my armor.
But it was time to face the world as I was. Vulnerable and with honesty. Time to cast off the coping mechanisms I’d used for so long to survive.
Sans armor, it was time to be me.