The school bell rang and students shot out of every exit of the old brick building as if the fire alarm had been pulled. Jenna trudged along, head down low. Peering through black heavy bangs that hung over her left eye, she focused on the toes of her black canvas Converse shoes.
Just a few more blocks. Quickening her steps, Jenna almost ran the remainder of her way home. Anxiety rose in her and she hungered for the safety of her room.
Slamming the door to her room, she cranked up her music.
“Jenna, turn down your music! Why do you have to listen to such horrible stuff?”
Frustration seeped out as she turned the music down and abruptly opened her door to address the parental figure standing at the end of the hallway.
“I’m sixteen, Mom. This is what sixteen year olds do.” The words spat out of Jenna’s mouth with such venom and anger it caused her mother to step back in shock.
Jenna locked her door and cranked the music back up. In Jenna’s view, music could never be too loud. The more screaming and hateful the lyrics, the better she liked it. Sliding her hand under her mattress, she pulled out a razor blade. Tears were already beginning to form as she threw herself on the floor in her favorite spot in the far corner of the room. The furthest away from everything in her life she hated.
She sat for a moment, letting the hate and anger of the music numb her brain. She let her finger trace the single black tear shaped tattoo between her thumb and forefinger. Pushing her left sleeve up, she held the razor blade in her right hand and proceeded to draw it across her forearm. Watching the blood seep from the cut, Jenna could finally cry.
After an hour of feeling numb, Jenna went to the bathroom, cleaned up her cut and reapplied dark thick eye liner. Pulling her black hoodie over her head and stuffing her fists in her pockets she headed downstairs.
“Where are you going, Jenna? Dinner’s almost ready.”
Jenna began this self-destructive hateful process at fourteen. Who did she hate? Men. Every man that ever looked at her, she hated. Before Jenna reached adolescence, men were attracted to her. Not boys, men.
Jenna couldn’t put her finger on when the sexual abuse begun, she must have blocked it from her memory. She did, however, remember when it stopped. The day she decided to not care about her appearance anymore. Gradually, she slipped into a fashion statement of utter darkness. If it was black, she liked it.
Her mom was shocked when she came home from work one day to find Jenna sitting at the counter eating milk and cookies with jet black hair. The downward spiral of self-abuse continued through her teen years and followed her into her early adult years. Originally she wanted to make herself unattractive to men, and was quite successful. The depression that followed this destructive behavior became a bigger issue for Jenna.
After six painful years Jenna longed to be free. Free from the pain, hatred and depression. With no where else to turn, Jenna began to slip into the back row of a little mission church in the heart of downtown. Slowly, she allowed herself to let go of the pain and embrace the hope and peace God had to offer.
Then she met Bryce.
Never in her wildest imagination did Jenna ever think she would fall in love. Bryce walked side by side with her as she journeyed out of those dark days and into the light. After several months, Jenna began to trust Bryce. Eventually she shared her story and showed him the many scars on her arms. Scars that marked the days when she needed to feel something more painful than her memories.
Bryce gazed wide eyed at Jenna’s arms. Tenderly he began to touch the scars with his fingers. Gently bending his head, Bryce kissed her arms.
Jenna could not stifle the gasp as she trembled under such tender scrutiny. She closed her eyes, and tears streamed down her face. Bryce wrapped his arms around her and let her weep healing tears. For the first time in her life, Jenna longed to be in the arms of a man.
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