As a child, I was bullied quite badly by many kids on the playground. I was kicked, called names, and generally shoved around. I learnt to simply ignore it, to stay quiet, and keep out of the line of sight.

As you get older, you are bruised less. You learn to ignore and to fight back, you learn to defend yourself and your friends, and you grow old. Sometimes though, the bruises you receive in your journey from childhood to adulthood can be all the more painful than those you used to get on the playground. You might not be able to see them, but they’re definitely there. Usually though, those are the bruises that stay with you for the longest.

There’s a reason that I’m scared of the dark, there’s a reason I’m apprehensive about drinking, and there’s a reason why my best friend doesn’t like close contact.

Those stories are not ones which I am prepared to tell just yet. As a kid, you have to let that bruise on your knee heal for a while before you can kneel down again. Being an adult is no different. Adulthood bruises, mental bruises, are not forgotten. You’ve got to let them settle before you can tell the story. The worst bit, is just as you begin to think that you’re forgetting, or when you’ve learnt to compartmentalise, it comes back around and smacks you in the face again. These bruises never really heal, and the darkest moments from your past haunt you forever.

When the alcohol comes out, I still get that same flutter of panic, and images of cars and adults pass through my brain. As I take the first sip, I still hear the screaming.

When it’s dark, and I’m alone, I’m checking every corner, waiting for someone to come out and attack me. I’m on guard, I’m ready to fight. The adrenaline is whizzing around my body, but really, I know that I’m helpless. I won’t be able to do anything if anything bad happens, and just because I’m aware it might happen, that doesn’t make it go away.

Those mental bruises stay with you forever. They smash through your dreams and flash around in the daytime. When you think it’s healing, something triggers it, and the pain returns once more.

I may not like them, but the bruises I’ve received in my life make me who I am, and really, I’m not entirely sure that I’d change them.


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