“You are the prize.”

 

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A year ago, while back in talk therapy for the first time since the first time, she asks me if I still love him. She asks me what I think about how I feel, allows my words to roll out of me, she lets my fears crawl across the floor. I close my eyes and think back to my friends, how hard I’ve clung to them, how nice it has felt behind the wall I’ve built. Behind hot eyes, trauma, and all of the stories no one else has heard about the man I; I let it slip out, “sometimes, I worry that no one will ever love me again.”

In the 2nd session after recollections of boys and self-indulgence and the actual dreams I have for the people I’ve yet to meet, she stops me and says that she wants to tell me something she wished she heard at my age. The sound of her voice was smooth and ordinary, as though she was talking about milk or laundry.

And then a substantial pause.

“You are the prize.” She tells me, rolling her pen in between her thumb and her forefinger. And I hear her. As she explains how important I am, and how men will always want something from you, and how valuable I am, and how I should take my time. I look up at her and I am struck, finally by the significance, as though someone is telling me something riveting, like, “I love you,” or, “I’m leaving you,” or, “you should be a writer.” I’m not even sure why it is something I need to be told however, I know it is what everyone has been trying to tell me for months now; my eyes open up. Voices kick back in my brain and I want to lock all the men I have known in a room and sort through them. Women should invent a cry it out equivalent for the boys who grab and reach and friends with benefits and he’s not smart enough for you and I don’t have deal breakers and her voice, her hair, the carpet on her floor, and “YOU ARE THE PRIZE,” 25, white collar, degrees, values, the prize, yes you.

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