One of the skills I mastered as a child was silence. It’s a great skill sometimes. I can sit in a room feeling completely shattered inside and no one would have a clue.
I can act normal.
When I was a child, I used to think that if I told anyone, my parents would go to jail and I would end up lost. That’s what my parents said anyway. They’d tell me that if I ever went to care, that my brother and I would be split up, and maybe he’d be sent to somewhere not very nice and I couldn’t help him because we’d not be together. They also told me that once you go to care, you never see your family again.
My parents never actually told me not to tell. They never threatened me. They never told me I’d go to care if I told. But making me aware of what happened to others who spoke out kept me silent.
I kept silent for 33 years.
Do you know that a child who is abused from the age of five to the age of 15 … that’s 11 years. Everyday for 11 years is 4015 days. A child who is abused (I originally put the word rape here, but deleted it. It’s seems wrong.) every day between 5 and 16 will be ‘abused’ over 4000 times.
Do you know how hard that is to hold in?
Although, technicallly, I didn’t hold it in. I spent more nights than I can count crying myself to sleep. Asking why didn’t my dad love me? Talking to my bear. Asking God if he would please just not let me wake up tomorrow. I poured my words out to an empty room because I had no one to tell.
At 33 I told someone. I sat one night and told someone. I was shaking and crying and falling apart and thinking, God, what did I just do? I’d said it. I’d said that bad thing. I’d let the shadow out to show someone else.
I sometime get mad with myself. Mad because all of that … those years of stuff stick in my head. Like on repeat.
Maybe my body was taken 4000 times, but in my head it’s more than that. The worst thing about abuse isn’t the abuse. You only get that rape once, physically, but in your head you relive it hundreds of times. Suddenly 4000 incidents because an unimaginable number and then someone says
… stop thinking about it. Move on. Grow up.
It’s like a punch to my gut and the hand across my mouth again trying to silence my screams. I can’t breathe. Is that it? Just stop thinking about it? Stop talking about it?
I guess if someone stepped on our foot on purpose in school and the hurt our feelings, we’d have forgotten about it, right?
Suddenly I feel crazy. Like I don’t know who I meant to be or how I am meant to ask. I didn’t ask for that life. For this life. For these memories.
Two nights ago, I was asleep. I was dreaming. I dreamt of that man. Not my dad. The other man. He had hold of my legs. I couldn’t see him, but I could feel him. I could hear him. My body reacted before I woke up and I leapt from my bed, fighting, screaming for him to stop. I was by my window ready to jump out because falling to the gravel below is less painful than what he could do to me. Then I’m down on my knees, shaking, I can’t breathe and my other half is there. Asking what’s wrong, but suddenly I am five again. And, I’m so afraid.
Telling me to shut up makes me feel crazy. It makes me feel that when I have moments like that night that I am wrong. I makes me hate he face in he mirror.
You want me to battle my brain with my brain.
I’m so tired inside.
Sometimes I cut my skin like aversion therapy. If you could just be normal, I say. If you could just act like everyone else …
I stare in the mirror and I hate the face that stares back. I hate the man there. The one with the memories. The one with the mental health issues. If I could punch the glass and hit his face, I would.
Try to get better
These aren’t lessons you’re teaching me. They’re just another blade to cut myself because you make me feel like my dad did.
That me, who I am, is not good enough.