We all start out pretty innocent, right? A tiny baby born into a crazy world. At first though, it doesn’t seem too bad to most of us, I’m sure. When I was little, I grew up in the countryside on a small island, playing in small dunes by the sea, climbing trees and building secret hideouts outside.
Everything wasn’t perfect because life rarely is. In fact, I experienced a lot of bad things growing up, but somehow, I kept my childhood innocence through all of it. I know we all loose it at some point, but I think most people leave their childhood behind step by step over time.
Sure, sometimes something happens that takes it away in an instant, but most of the time it seems to happen on its own. We become teenagers, fall in love and start to experience life in different ways – not just climbing trees or building hideouts behind the big walnut tree in the garden.
I never really realised how long I managed to hold on to my childhood innocence, because when I was a teenager I assumed I had left behind my childhood and was becoming an adult – I had no idea how innocent and naïve I still was at 18.
Now, what I am going to tell you now is not a fun story, but I feel it is important to tell. You see, it about loss of innocence in both the physical sense of the word, but also in terms of my childhood innocence.
I never chose my first and I didn’t choose my second partner either. I am just going to tell you as it was as briefly as I can, because this is not actually the main focus of my post today. I attended a high school that had a dormitory for some of the students and I lived there, because my high school was on a different island from the island my mother lived on. While I was there, I dated a boy from the dorm a couple of months.
Back then, I had no idea what dating or love really was, but I didn’t have a computer and the guy I dated let me play on his computer or allowed me to watch him play. When I realised dating was a lot more demanding and he wanted things I had no intention of giving – I was even horrified at the idea of kissing someone – I broke up with him.
A couple of months later he asked me to come to his room to talk, and even though I thought it was strange, I went to his room alone to listen to what he had to say. Turns out, he didn’t want to talk at all.
I cannot explain how I felt after what he did to me, because it would be a post in itself to explain the many ambivalent feelings I felt during those months after it happened. I started smoking and drinking, yeah, before that I hardly drank at all even though the legal age is 16 in my country. I started hanging out with different – bad – people, people who did drugs and all kinds of bad things. I felt really bad and thought maybe I could drink so much I’d forget all that had happened. I moved out from the dorm because I was terrified, he’d do it again and I couldn’t even bare to look in the direction of his room.
One day I went to a party, this was a few months after what had happened, and a lot of people were doing drugs or smoking weed and drinking. I had never been to that kind of party and I have never done drugs myself. I went there with a friend, who wasn’t really a friend at all, and while I was there someone gave me a drink. Usually I give people fake names on my blog, but for this guy I’ll give you the first letter of his name: J. J gave me a drink and I drank it. When I realised something was wrong, it was already too late. I could feel something was terribly wrong, so I left the party to walk home. I didn’t know that J followed me, not at first. Even today, even if the sun is shining bright, if I close my eyes I am right back in the darkness of that night and I can hear his footsteps matching mine.
I couldn’t always see him when I looked back, only when he was in the cone of light from the streetlamps. He stopped when I stopped and walked faster when I did. When I got to my place, a small studio apartment close to school, I thought I was safe. I struggled to open the door, fumbled with my keys, but I got it open. You have to understand, the drug he had given me was affecting me quite badly and I was struggling just standing up and staying awake.
When I got inside, I turned to close the door, and I remember it was almost closed when he stopped it and forced his way into my home. I tried to fight, but that is the last thing I really remember. Everything after that is only flashes until I wake up much, much later and by then it was too late.
J bragged about having had me to everyone and I was too afraid to say anything against him, but since then I have hated all kinds of drugs and weed as well. I’ll never forget how the smell of weed clung to J as he pushed the door open and forced me back.
I felt terrible after that, but I told myself I was fine. I lied to myself every day and at some point, I started believing my own lie that I was fine.
I didn’t have a cute first love, I never knew how to flirt or even how to judge if someone was interested in me or not – I didn’t even know how to figure out if I liked someone. I closed myself off from feeling romantic love, because in my heart I felt I didn’t deserve it. I felt ruined and dirty and guilty.
I was always envious when I heard people talking about their first love. I wanted that too. I wanted that innocent, sweet first love they all had had. Sure, first love is generally the kind of thing that doesn’t end well. If all first loves were happy ever after stories then it wouldn’t be called FIRST love, would it?
I didn’t care that it would probably end badly, I still desperately searched for it. Every time someone liked me, I would jump in and give myself as much as I could, but quickly I would lose interest and leave the person behind. I didn’t feel loved or accepted. It was always one of the two…. and then I would get bored.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t loved enough, though, it was me who didn’t love enough. When I was younger and wasn’t accepted by a partner, it wasn’t just their fault. I hid my true self and never gave them a chance to accept me and love me as I am. Instead, I ended up hurting both myself and my partners.
When I stopped hiding and wasn’t accepted again and again, I felt it was proof that not hiding wouldn’t change anything. I thought I had to change what could not be accepted in me in order to be loved. I tried to change, but I felt even more hurt and lonely than ever. I searched so many years to find that beautiful first love before I realised, I would never find it.
I had already loved and lost several times in my life, but not because I had never been loved innocently by someone. I have been loved in good ways and bad ways, but neither could give me what I really wanted. What I had always searched for, always desperately wanted wasn’t love, acceptance or a relationship. It was that innocent first love that people sometimes have. It wasn’t even a naive idea about perfect love.
What I have always craved with every fibre of my being was never something I could get. What I was searching for was my lost innocence. My childhood innocence.
I know we all lose that innocence one day and grow up knowing the world isn’t just rainbows and unicorns and candy, but I felt robbed of mine. I felt it was stolen from me. I felt it was unfair and unacceptable.
I was longing for it and searched while knowing it was impossible.
No wonder I was never happy in a relationship. A relationship, love and acceptance are not things that can ever give me back what I lost.
It’s not that I don’t want love and acceptance, it’s not that I don’t want a relationship and a family of my own. I want that very much, but it wasn’t what I needed or what I was searching for.
Sure, I know all people lose their childhood innocence one day. But, I didn’t grow out of it or anything like that. It was stolen from me and I wanted it back.
I think, when I dated people who felt like they were broken – broken like I felt – it was because I was trying to convince myself that innocence never existed in the first place. People who didn’t feel broken had that sense of innocence about them and I felt disgusted by it because it became even more obvious that I didn’t have it. When I was with bad people, I didn’t feel my own lack of innocence. I didn’t feel the need to reclaim it as much anymore.
And trust me, I dated some pretty bad guys. I’ve been abused and cheated on and yet I always felt I deserved it. Somehow, I felt that if I could only reclaim my innocence everything would be better.
One guy I dated was once arrested for the attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend, but the case was dropped or settled somehow. He was vague on the details except for his claim that she had faked it or that it was an accident and he had even tried to save her.
Every one of the bad guys I dated treated me badly and I accepted it all. I never realised that what I wanted was my lost innocence nor that every choice I was making was taking me further away from it.
Abuse doesn’t start big, you know. It starts with a little thing and you let it slide. Then, one day, it’s evolved into an entirely different kind of monster.
My lost innocence is long gone. I never understood myself clearly before, but I think I never wanted to. Because, you see, when I realised what I was searching for was my lost innocence I also realised it was impossible to find.
It is lost and gone forever.
I don’t think it means I can’t be loved innocently, because love is essentially innocent in nature. Love is pure and giving.
But, I don’t think I will find innocence by being loved. I think I can find it in loving someone innocently.
I need to give love freely and unconditionally to reclaim any kind of innocence.
My past childhood innocence was taken away from me, yes, but the only one taking away my innocence now is me. No one but me can stop myself from giving my love freely.
We can’t force love either though. I can’t forcefully give romantic love to someone. I am not in love, but I don’t feel that I need or want a relationship right now. I want to practice gratitude and altruistic love both towards myself and all those around me.
Love comes in many different shapes and sizes and no one kind of love is better than other kinds. So, I don’t feel like I need love in one form – I don’t need a relationship, family or friends, but yeah, it would be great to have all of it.
Mr. Flower told me something the other day that really rang true with me. He talked about love, because I often feel like my ability to love others is questioned and therefore, I end up questioning my own ability to love as well. He said that it doesn’t matter if you have found your first love, a love in the middle or the last person you love. It’s not about finding the right person or not, it’s about experiencing love while it’s there.
It is true that we never know when or who we fall in love with, we never know how long it’ll last. It can last a moment or a lifetime in spite of all the promises or intentions we have. We can fall in love with someone else while we are in a relationship or we can fall out of love without ever meeting anyone else.
We love family and friends in different ways, but it doesn’t make it any less valuable than romantic love. The love we feel towards ourselves is the same; different and no less valuable. It can change, because even though love in itself does not change, we do. Who we love, and how we love, can change. It fluctuates. Some days we love ourselves, some days we don’t. Some days we are in love with someone, some days we fall out of love with someone.
I think Mr. Flower is right. The most important part is to experience while it there.
It takes a lot of work before I’m ready for that. I’m trying really hard right now, working on getting better all the time and I feel better.
As I said before, I’m not okay yet and that’s fine.
I’m getting there, step by step.
If love ever happens, and yes, I am pretty sure that it won’t, but if it ever does, I will try my very best to open my heart and just enjoy the experience. Hopefully, I get to find and experience a new kind of innocence.