Love Starts Here

Trigger warning: extensive discussion of abuse and food issues and a mention of self harm, sexual assault and suicidal ideation. 


“I hate you,” she said, clenching her fists in a vain attempt to stop her hands from shaking. “I hate both of you.”

Her parents looked at her, simultaneously looking hurt and angry.

“How could you say something like that?” her mother asked.

She turned and ran to her room before she could give an answer.


“I hate you,” she whispers, face pinched in anger. “I hate everything about you.”

Her reflection stares back at her, and she watches her own heart break as she stares into the reflection of her eyes.


“I need help,” she told her parents. Her anger was out of control. She wanted to hurt her dad. She wanted to hurt herself.

“No. We don’t talk about this with anyone,” they said. “No one needs to know.”


“I need help,” she whispers to herself as she watches blood flow down her arms. She shakes her head. “No. We don’t talk about this.”


“Why are you like this?!” her dad yelled, shoving her against the wall. “What’s wrong with you?!”

She shrieked in terror. “Let me go!”

“You need to let her go,” her mother said, a note of panic in her voice. “You can’t do this.”

Soon all of his weight was on her and she was on the floor. “You have to stop being like this!” he yelled in her face. “You have to be better. What’s wrong with you?”


“Yeah. He pinned me to the ground and yelled in my face,” she tells the guidance counselor, her voice a monotone. “It’s fine though. He made a mistake. I don’t want him to be in trouble for it.”

Her mother scoffs. “That didn’t happen. You need to stop lying.”


In a fit of rage she smacked her dad. It didn’t hurt him.

He stepped on her toes, holding her into place. “You don’t hurt people when you’re mad.”

“But you’re hurting me now,” she said, trying to keep her bottom lip from quivering.

“Yeah. I’m the dad.”


“Are you okay?” a guy asks her in class.

She nods.

“Talk to me.”

“I’m fine.”

“Talk to me.” He digs his finger into her leg.

She doesn’t say anything, because he’s the guy. She’s just a girl.


“Do you always feel like you need to eat?” he asked the active, growing girl.

“Lately, yeah,” she said, not thinking much of it. She was hungry so she snacked.

“Then there’s something wrong with you.”


“Why don’t you eat?” her friend asks her at school. “Like I don’t think I’ve ever seen you eat lunch. You aren’t starving yourself, are you?”

“Of course not,” she says with a laugh. “I just don’t get hungry until after school.”


“Wow, you ate a lot,” her dad says, noticing the missing food after a sleepover.

“No, it was my friend. She had like four times the amount that I did. I just had dinner and some popcorn later while we watched the movie,” she said. “I might have had a bite of chocolate too, but she had a lot more,” she says nervously.  

Her dad scoffs. “Yeah, right.”


“Do you want a snack?” they ask.

“No, thanks.”

“Are you sure? I don’t think I’ve seen you eat yet today.”

“I’m fine.”


She ran across the house, knowing that her father was behind her.

“If you don’t get out to the car I’m going to carry you out,” he bellowed.

She locked herself in the bathroom, promptly throwing up. “I’m sick,” she sobbed, knowing he was right outside the bathroom door.

“You’re not sick, you’re anxious. You have to push through the day.”

“I don’t know how.”


“Are you okay?” they ask.

She tries to even out her breathing. “I’m fine.” Her voice shakes. “I’m sorry.”

“What do you have to be sorry for?”

“I’m just sorry.”


“Why am I in trouble?” she asked.

“Stop back-talking. You know why.”

“I don’t,” she said, taking a step away from him. “I don’t understand. I’m sorry.”


A police officer shows up at her house. “I’m tired of getting calls about you.”

She looks at him. “I-I’m sorry. I don’t know who called. I don’t know what’s going on.”

“You need to stop lying about your situation to people. You’re worrying everyone. Is there a problem here? It doesn’t look like there’s a problem here.”

She shook her head no. “I’m sorry,” she apologized although for what she did not know. “It won’t happen again.”


“You’re always looking for attention. You need to just let things go and not talk about them.”


A guy feels her up in class, and she keeps her mouth shut.

“You need to report him,” someone tells her.

She shakes her head no. “I need to let it go.”


She collapses in a bathroom and curls up on the floor, shaking. “I need to go home,” she whimpers.

The whole way home she sobs. “I want to be dead. I want to be dead because I can’t deal with dad.”

Later her father yells at her, “You didn’t even apologize! Apologize for being an inconvenience.”

“Okay! I’m sorry.”

“You didn’t mean it!”


After months of being hurt by the same person she sends them a text: I’m sorry for everything. This is all my fault.


Her dad orders everyone a medium ice cream and hands her a small. “Don’t take this personally.”


“Have you eaten yet today?”

“I’m not hungry, I’m fine.”


“I hate you,” she whispered, face pinched in anger. “I hate everything about you.”

Her reflection stared back at her, and she watched her own heart break as she stared into the reflection of her eyes.

“I’ve hated you since you were a kid.”


“I didn’t deserve that,” she thinks to herself. “I deserved better. Love has to start here.”

She can still hear her dad whispering, “You don’t need more food,” but this isn’t for her. This is for the ten-year-old child who deserved better.

She drinks a smoothie and pushes away the guilt that threatens to crush her. This isn’t for her. It’s for the ten-year-old child who liked food but was shamed for it.

“You deserved better,” she thinks to herself. “I don’t hate you anymore.”


Love starts here.

You are not alone.


The Vagabond Dreamer







2 thoughts on “Love Starts Here

Add yours

  1. Oh my dear, I want to cry for you. You shouldn’t have had to suffer this. All the things he did, all the things he said, all the pain he made you feel–it was not right. He was not right. The silence forced upon you was wrong. I hope, one day, you are able to see yourself without the lies even so much as whispering in your ear.


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