Red Dress

Two summers ago, my ex-boyfriend that I was still in love with told me that he loved me back, but didn’t think we would be able to be together since I was away at college. He had me go to coffee with him and the girl that he was hoping to eventually date instead of me.

Afterwards, I went out and bought myself a red dress to help myself feel better.

I wore my red dress to a high school get-together where the same ex kissed me and told me he hoped to never lose my friendship, but he never apologized for shattering my trust in the words “I love you”. I wore my red dress to a party with a guy I had always found cute, but he ended up leaving me alone in a house with complete strangers while he threw up in the bathroom and gave his best friend permission to touch me. At the same party, a man told me that since he was in the military and didn’t get to see women much, I should take my red dress off for him. A week later, the guy I went to the party with laughed when I told him that the man had put his hands up my red dress even though I kept telling him no.

I wore my red dress to dinner with my family and my mom hugged me and said that she was proud of me. I wore my red dress to coffee with my best friend and we laughed so hard that we had to leave in order to stop bothering other customers. I wore my red dress on my 20th birthday and my boyfriend asked me permission to hold my hand. I wore my red dress on a one-year anniversary date with the man I hope to spend the rest of my life with and he wrapped his arms around me and my dress and helped me once again trust the words “I love you”.

I keep my red dress not as a reminder of what I’ve been through, but what I’ve lived through. I keep my red dress as a reminder of the healthy relationships that I hold dear to my heart, and the unhealthy relationships that I was able to leave. I keep my red dress as a reminder that I am strong and I can help others who are not lucky enough to easily leave abusive relationships, whether it be with “friends,” family members or significant others. I keep my red dress because I look damn good in red.

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