“You used to be so fierce.”

He said that to me. Used to be. That implies that I’m not anymore. That may be true, but it hurts to hear it.

A few years later, as tears fell down my cheeks, he held my face in his hands and said, “You’re fierce, you’re beautiful and I love you.”

I couldn’t move my head. Only my eyes looked down. He lightly jerked my head and made me look at him. “You are fierce. You are beautiful and I love you. Please, get help. If you kill yourself, I swear, I will bring you back and kill you myself.” He put his big paw over my heart and it started beating a little faster.

I got help. I started taking little white pills every day. I didn’t notice a difference other than my missing sex drive and a frantic need to pee every half an hour, but they said there was a change. I thought about it and I no longer heard the voice screaming “stop it” in my head. I could go entire days without crying. I didn’t have to think about getting out of bed in the morning; I just did it.

I’m medicated, but I’m still not fierce. I’m beginning to think that’s not such a bad thing.

I used to be so fierce. I walked into a room and commanded attention. All the heterosexual male eyes came right at me. I had a look that could stop a train just by thinking it. I was something to behold.

When I first met him, I was a bitch. I treated him like dirt. I treated him in the same way I had treated every other man who wanted to get into my pants and there were a lot of them. There had always been a lot of them. I was pretty enough that my disease could be fed with ease.

I treated them all like a spoiled child treats an overabundance of toys. I used them and threw them away or left them in the rain or tore off an arm and left them in some dark room all alone. They meant nothing.

I was not a good person. I was a black widow, a praying mantis who procreates and eats their mate. They all had to pay for what two of them had done to me. I didn’t consciously know that was what I was doing. I was so broken that I didn’t even know I was broken.

My fierceness was all smoke and mirrors. It was a defense concocted to make me seem invincible, untouchable, unattainable so that maybe they wouldn’t even try and a lot of them didn’t. I never allowed any of them to scale their way to the top of my castle walls. I knocked them down. I was the one who chose who got to come in, not them. Or so I thought anyway, but it was all a sham. No one got in, not even the ones I allowed.

It all had to stop and it did. Somehow, gradually, so slowly that I didn’t even notice it, I stopped being so fierce. I didn’t let down my guard; I just changed the faΓ§ade. I put my metaphorical whips and chains away. Now, when you look at me, you probably don’t see fierce. You don’t see bitch. You don’t see Ice Queen. You see someone who doesn’t look like they want to talk to strangers, but in a normal, I won’t stab-you-for-talking-to-me sort of way. I still knock them down if they try too hard, if they push too hard, if they won’t let go and take no for an answer, and I will continue to do that forever because that is the right thing to do.

I still won’t let anyone in, but I am aware of it now. I know exactly where my boundaries are. I know what’s going on. I know he lives right outside in a castle of his own.

I am still so very broken, but I am no longer fierce. I am not a lioness but a house cat. I am letting the smoke and mirrors fade away while I strengthen not the walls, but the foundation. I am becoming me, whoever that is.

This post was written in stream of consciousness and unedited because it just felt like I shouldn’t touch it. I apologize for all the metaphors.