You fell in love with the word long ago. You watched the movies and figured out that was something you wanted. You didn't realize that you had, early on, fallen into an addiction that you'd spend your life looking for.


You looked for it in the eyes of your father. Prided yourself in being daddy's little girl.

You lived for his laugh and nod of approval like an addict.

The mere acknowledgment of your presence and masquerade of acceptance was enough of a hit to keep you pushing until the next time. You didn't know you were the daughter of a drug addict, because he hid it so well that you didn't realize when you visited his friends and he left you in the car, you were at a crack house.

You were the daughter of a narcissistic abuser who you watched beat your mother so often that you thought it was normal behavior and that everyone's parents did that.

You were the daughter of a man who hated women. Who wanted your fear and compliance - and wasn't afraid to tell you so.

You wore your hair the way he did it. You wore what he picked out. You were a good girl and yet...he'd take everything from you - your will, your money, your credit, the love for your mother, the baby from your stomach...and would give nothing in return.

Love never lived there and now you know it.

You looked for it in the eyes of every boyfriend you ever had. In their arms. Inevitably in the backseats of their cars and in their beds. You always did take pride in belonging to someone. You had been trained to be a possession and not a person. You would carry that into a marriage to who you thought was a savior.

You'd put him on a pedestal and pray to him as a god.

You'd worship him at the altar of love that you built, no matter how many times he kicked it down. You'd just rebuild it.

You'd hold on to the idea that love would conquer all, even though you watched it die on the battlefield over and over. You would still rally the troops. You'd give the Independence Day speech. The Braveheart speech. You'd find every reason that you complicated this. You blamed yourself for his indiscretions.

And you stayed.

You thought you would endure every storm because sacrificing yourself in the name of this idea of love was more important than act of actually being loved. You would lift your face in prayer to God with a tear strewn face and say that you knew this wasn't what love was supposed to be like...and you would stay.

You'd work yourself to death so you wouldn't feel the pain. But still it filled within you until you were filled with so much pain, you overflowed.

You had a nervous breakdown and your sisters and your mothers would tell you they were scared you'd kill him when in all actuality, you thought that you'd be the one to die.

Then one day, you stop looking for love.

You looked for strength. And you find it. And it's more than enough to empower you to snatch your life from the jaws of defeat. You see yourself as a person, not a possession. You no longer want to belong to anyone because you belong to yourself. And then you move forward. Everyday is a victory.

You acknowledge the darkness of the past not to live there, but to learn that every stop along the way were stops on the journey back to the ultimate destination.

You.

You are the love you have been looking for.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissons@xonecole.com.

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