To the women who loved me before he did

Behind every love story, there’s one like ours.

The kind where we’ve tried everything together.

Haircuts, Indian food, Irish car bombs.

Ideologies, birth controls, road trips.

Face masks, protests, jobs and drugs.

You are the foundation for my future. That foundation is so ridiculously, life-makingly, goosebump-inducingly fun.

But I know I was not always easy. You were often better friends than I was. I squirrel myself away when I hurt. Bury myself in the caverns of my mind, throwing you off the scent of my wound. Isolated but not alone.

I know I would never just let you have it, take my pain for me, no matter how many ways you asked for it. Some ancient manifestation of pride would make me keep you at a distance, would not let you see an open fit of tears whenever something spoiled.

Only my mom got to hold me through something like that. Once. When my college boyfriend broke my heart.

You remember.

I know you do.

Because you carry my scars as if they were your own. Trapped securely under bell jars in the recesses of your own hidden caves, the trails to which are lined with lavender and guarded by fearsome wolves with fur the color of your hair. Blonde and black and brown and pink and red. You’ve all sacrificed parts of yourselves to be my protectors.

Whenever I ran, I knew you weren’t far behind. The peace that gave me, even when I pushed you away, always lured me back to the light.

You’ve shown me how to love and to forgive. You were the guides and the guard rails. You saved me from the nights, my shining armor.

I want to say thank you. For loving me first. Ceaselessly. Sisterly.

Behind every great woman are 20 like you.


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