I am terrified to share this, but the voice telling me to write is no longer at all hushed. It’s screaming. It feels like it’s knocking on the side of my brain. There are these parts of me yearning to be heard. They want their stories to join with all the other children’s stories and turn into a giant blaze. They want them to look on the outside what they feel like — hot, burning, strong, all-consuming, but then turn to cool dust. In our head, they remain hot, burning, strong, and all-consuming. So I reluctantly share their story.
Once upon a time, a little girl was born that no one wanted. The mom wanted some kind of little girl, but not this one. The mom says that this one cried too much. This one wasn’t good when her hair was brushed so the mom had to cut off all of the hair. This little girl was way too scared all the time. She was a “worrywart” and a “princess and the pea.” It made the mom very, very angry. Apparently, the little girl did not want to give up her pacifier. This also made the mom extremely mad. Pretty much everything about the little girl enraged the mom.
The dad wasn’t really mad at that little girl. He was sort of nice to her, but also made her feel weird. We don’t know how or why, but somehow daddy had all of the pacifiers. The little girl could sometimes have one if she sat on the daddy’s lap and that’s when he made her feel weird.
The daddy’s daddy taught him all the weird, yucky things. We think the daddy’s sisters had to do the same things we did, and I bet they felt weird, too.
So many weird, yucky, painful things happened to this little girl that she shattered into a bunch of different parts. That’s why I accidently say “we.” We are still “we.” Anyway, the weird, yucky, painful things that happened until we were 8 years old made us sick a lot, hurt a lot, and hiding a lot. We had hiding clothes for school so no grown-ups would see the hurts. One day, the 6-year-old part got really, really warm in the hiding clothes at school. Our really nice 1st grade teacher showed us a film strip that day. The 6-year-old part fell asleep in the dark, warm, safe classroom. The teacher, unaware she should not, told the mom and dad, and very many bad things happened. We missed a lot of school in 1st grade.
When the little girl was 8, the daddy did a thing with a knife so he could do regular sex with her. This makes us feel really ashamed and guilty, but regular sex wasn’t as weird or yucky or painful as the other stuff. We could go away during it way easier. So daddy wasn’t a problem for a while.
Mommy still hated us. We were not skinny enough. Our hair was a rat’s nest. We worried too much. We were scared about nothing for no reason. One time, the 6-year-old part snuck a Christmas cookie shaped like a little ball covered in powdered sugar. It was in a coffee can covered with mostly green and a little red felt to look like an elf. The mommy found out and there was so much screaming. She made the little girl eat all of the cookies even though her tummy hurt. Then the little girl threw up. We don’t eat those kind of cookies anymore.
The 10-year-old part heard the mommy say she was proud one time we accidently got skinnier. For our whole life after that there were times the 10-year-old part would take over the food and the eating so maybe we could be skinny again. She did some diets with mommy. She made lots of rules about food and learned how many calories each food contained. She prohibited eating altogether sometimes. She tried laxatives for a while. None of us other parts ever let her make us throw up because there was already enough throwing up and pain in those weird, yucky, and painful games. We hated those games. No more throwing up. She kept on trying, but even when we got a little skinnier, the mommy was never proud again. We loved the mommy, but she never loved us.
The 15-year-old part had to take over after a bad thing. That was the next time the daddy was a problem again. We didn’t get our period until we were 14. And it was never a normal, predictable thing. But one time, the 15-year-old part got a feeling it should have come. She thought something felt different and kind of….hard… down there. And a little more sticky-outy than usual. It became her mission to make us bleed. It was urgent that we bleed. It felt like an emergency. She punched our stomach whenever we were alone for three days. Hard. On the third night, she tried punching and smooshing and using a straightened hanger to make the blood come out. Like you do with a needle when there’s a splinter in your finger. Finally, blood came out. A lot. With a little….guy? that kind of looked like a tiny mouse or hamster. This is the very very worst part of me, but she wrapped him in toilet paper, looked at him for a while, but knew she had to flush him away. Then she cleaned up. We bled so much for so long, but luckily, no one noticed. I never really thought about this until a miscarriage in 2011. It was the same.
It’s hard to accept that all these memories happened to only one body. When I picture them in my head, I see the above view. But now, every once in a while, I am in the body during a memory. It feels exactly as terrible as if it were happening again. So obviously, I don’t stay there too long.
I now have a loving husband and three amazing kids. I am married to the only person I ever dated. We waited until marriage to have sex. We got reeeeeeeeeally close, and said, “Won’t it be great when we’re married and we don’t have to worry about it?” It was not great. It was a terrifying, inescapable black hole that I hated. I dreaded. I hate. I dread. I have never been able to go back and find that college girl who was so eager to go all the way. She is gone.
I still see my mom and dad. I cannot let go of the idea that maybe one day they will believe me and say they are sorry. The last time I tried to start a conversation with my mom about this (several years ago), she stopped me and said, “I talked to your dad. He says nothing happened. I believe him.”
I’m lucky, though, because my today life is full of messy, lovey people. It’s just that my yesterday life still pokes in at the worst times reminding me to stay alert and terrified. But I’m working on it.
10 Comments Add yours
You survived SO much. All of those parts of you that you talk about are just different pieces of survival. Know that there is a huge community of people who believe you, love you, and consistently – over and over – choose YOU.
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Oh my… my heart is breaking for each one of you. You are the bravest of the brave; I honour your courage, and I bear witness to your story. I believe you. You are a survivor and you inspire me.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Oh, sweet Mama, precious girls, your bravery is astonishing to me. You are a marvel. You are a gift. You are a survivor. You are a thriver. I have born witness to these things because you decided to claim your story. I believe you, and I stand with you.
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Sweet, Amazing girl. I want to reach out to you as a mother and an early childhood teacher. And just as a human. I so appreciate that you speak tour story as we/us. Those many “you’s” were somehow your inner tribe until your voice was ready to be loud and strong and unsilenceable. And unquestioned. And believed. And loved for your strength and perseverance. Continue to share your truth, believing your light brightens that of others who draw fortitude from your strength. How blessed are your children to have a mama who is hard wired with this unceasing capacity to love and grow. Much love, Sweet girl. All the best to you and yours.
I really don’t know what to say tonight. I keep staring at the computer screen unsure of how to begin. I’m grateful you have love in your life. And I’m grateful that you are able to tell this story. I hope you know that your words have power and someone will come along this blog and feel less shame because of you. That’s no small thing. Thank you for being beautifully broken…for allowing your pain to help others.
As others have said: Seen? Yes. Heard? Yes. Believed? Absolutely.
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Friend, each and every one of you is brave and beautiful and LOVED. Six year old you is BRAVE and beautiful and loved. Eight year old you is brave and BEAUTIFUL and loved. Ten year old you is brave and beautiful and LOVED. Fifteen year old you is brave and beautiful and oh so loved. We see you, we love you, we believe you, and we believe IN you, all of you. Thank you so much for sharing your story and allowing us to bear witness.
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Wow!!!!! You are a warrior. Thank you so much for sharing. Words are inadequate to tell you how powerful this story is.
That part of you that wrapped the little guy in toilet paper is not what you think. She is stronger than most people will ever have to be. She did the terrible hard thing that most people would never have the courage to do. She was trying to protect the little child inside you, the you, that had never been allowed to live because of the things your parents did. And she was protecting the little guy from the terrible things that would happen to him if he stayed inside you. Please believe that you did not harm him. Your parents killed the child in you, both the you in you and the whatever that little guy would have been. You saved him.
Nobody should ever be so friendless and alone as you were forced to be. Nobody deserves to be treated as you were. Nobody should ever have to be as brave as you were. But you were. You are. Inexpressibly brave. You incredible warrior you.
Your mother may never know how to feel pride, but please know that we your sisters do. We are so proud of you, honey. You made it. You’re here. And you’re safe with us.
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Amazing warrior. I sat here physically curling into a ball reading this. As a mom. A woman. A human. Thank you for letting us bear witness for all of those sweet girls– who I would scoop up and carry away if I could– but you are here. You survived and you get to love on your babies and your people with the fierceness you so embody. You wrote it DOWN and you TOLD THIS STORY. Your story is now tucked under my heart for good; it’s safe and loved there.
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Words are not strong enough to express the way my heart both breaks and swells with pride for you. You said it. Your story is real and I believe you. I choose you. You matter. You are so enough. I know I am a stranger, but I am a child welfare worker who is trained to listen and believe the six, ten, fifteen year old parts and every other age too. I hear you. I believe you.
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