Through the Eyes of the Past

Emma’s story as told by Madison Savage


There are days when I look in the mirror and begin to see the reflections of who I once was.

I feel myself shrinking. Losing friends, losing control, losing my mind. I go back to a time when I felt so alone, and I start to grow smaller with each layer I shed. I was a puppet, bound by the hands of a perfectly tailored boy, wearing me alongside his class ring.

Sometimes if I close my eyes I can see it in my mind, playing back like a recording.

The air was hot and sticky, almost begging for a breeze. The noises of carnival rides and small talk surrounded me. It was summertime at the fair, and I met a boy.

Sixteen and smitten.

He was from a family of church goers; a routine I learned to adopt as my own. As I fell into my role in his Sundays, I started losing my place in my own life. My time began to belong to him as I lost touch with friends, and spent less time with my parents than I did his.  We did everything together. No longer just me. We. And our Sundays.

First it was my time. Then my choices.

“Don’t wear shorts; they don’t look good on you.” So I didn’t wear shorts.

“You look a lot better in makeup.” So naturally, I saw through glitter-lined eyes and smiled with lips glossed to his fancy.

I should have seen these things as red flags, but I was young and naïve. “It just means he cares,” I assured my mother, as I requested more money for the dress he picked out for me for the school dance.

My mom and that damn dress watched me cry that night.

I could handle it.

But then it was my body.

He stole pieces of me, bit by bit. He took my words, hearing a “no” as a “yes”, and a “stop” as a “go”. He made me put up walls. The same kind he tried to hold me against.

It hurt. It hurt then; looking back it sometimes still hurts now.

There are days when I look in the mirror and see my true reflection. A strong woman, who has been belittled, but still stands.

I spent a lot of time thinking I was damaged because of the situations I had faced. I was torn. ripped apart, emotionally, physically, sexually. But I was not, and will not be, broken.

I’ve learned to rebuild myself after I was knocked down. Starting at the foundation, I remembered to love myself, brick by brick, piece by piece, and glance by glance.

Through the times of pain, hurt, and sadness, I pushed myself to take back the voice I had once lost.

I encourage those who find themselves in difficult situations to remember who they are. Stay true to yourself, and never, ever, give up.