Charlie comes out in the night. I wake up and it hurts. Something hurts unbearably. The grief hurts, my confusion over the grief hurts. And so I let him take over. I am thinking about sharp things (there are none) and ways to kill myself (I can’t think of any) and it seems like he might as well.

He has a long conversation with my friend. I am there, still, in the background. I know what he is saying and feeling. It all registers. But my own reaction is quiet. When it gets loud and distracting, I try to quiet it again.

Charlie needs to talk. He needs to be heard and to be understood, and I cannot.

I am surprised that he seems to be okay. The grief is there, but it is not unbearable. He is not the one hurting so badly that he is thinking about nonexistent knives. I am the one hurting so much.

He says I am hurting more because I am confused, and I realize that is true. I am confused at the romantic part of things. I cannot grasp the depths of my feelings for Natalya. I expect a giggly, schoolgirl crush and there isn’t one.

Charlie says that being with Natalya is like touching a flower, and it was like that. It is like something tender and precious and magical, and there really isn’t anything else.

Chatting with my friend—letting Charlie chat—helps me. My friend explains that little girls the age I was startled by the newness of their feelings—she says they are looking at their friends and thinking about sex for the first time.

I grew up saturated with sex. It wasn’t new to me. It was new to feel the desire for it, but I wasn’t new to see what that desire was. I recognized that feeling from what I saw all the time. My feeling and the feeling the pedophiles had for me in that regard was not different: it was different in what gave me that feeling—not power, not someone who could not have that feeling back—and in what I would do about it.

Feeling it in myself for the first time was a different struggle to come to terms. It was, for me, a struggle of becoming one of Them. It was becoming someone who could hurt someone else in that way. I did not hurt anyone, but I had to come to terms with being someone who could and had to remember not to. I had to become someone who could want something very badly and be overwhelmed by the desire for it and still consider the feelings of someone else.

I am not sure what other 11 and 12-year-old girls are thinking about when they start to have their first real crushes, but it is not that. Because of what was done to me, growing up was not the same process.

And I think this means that feelings that maybe normally develop gradually came to me all at once. I already had sexual feelings worked out. I just had to not be a predator.

I think this worried me a lot, but it was not actually difficult to do. It was easy.

That does not really explain what I am trying to explain. There is a piece missing in it. But that seems to be the closest I can come today.

The feeling I had for Natalya is different because I was her lover than it had been before. I don’t know how to describe it. I am not sure how to say what the difference was exactly. But without it, when it is locked up in Charlie, my experience of grief does not make any sense. And he is right. Because of that, it does hurt me more.