[TRIGGER WARNING: Please be aware that the following contains some graphic material. By all means though, don’t let this deter you from reading. Instead of avoidance, find some support, a friend to hug or a shoulder to lean on.]
Over and over I keep trying to write my story and all I can think of is “Fuck! They got to it first.”
I can’t tell you how crushing my disappointment has been since this story-telling game has gone viral. Yes I call it a game. A game because I’m a self-righteous martyr who secretly wanted to win.
I’ve always felt odd, ever since I can remember.
I was that weird kid with the stick-on earrings and big poofy hair, held back at my forehead with the aid of some ribbon I’d scavenged, puttering around my tulip patch, muttering to the fairies and my dolls. Yep. That was me. The old cat lady minus a few cats, pounds and years, yet still brewing my potions and spells into madness no one understood.
Where did that leave me?
Boy oh boy where did that leave me. I was left with a deep and burning desire for my trademark otherness to one day FINALLY come to use and serve me. For once. After feeling enslaved, separated, alone for so many years… oh yes. I needed this.
And so I sat back, fantasizing, calculating, counting, waiting in the shadows for my moment to shine. I would shine. My story would go viral, I’d inspire millions, I’d be a star. I would give hope and courage and love to the world. And in return? I’d no longer be alone. I’d be accepted, understood, looked up to even. My story would no longer cage and detrimentally separate me; it would be used to my service like never before.
And then bam!
Suddenly everyone’s talking. Videos, articles, the news, social media- everything is buzzing! But it ain’t me they’re yapping about. It’s this survivor or that and their stories… well their stories are all different versions of the same thing really in one way or another. And it just so happens that it’s my story too! What the heck? I’m done. My ticket out, out to normal, out to connection, to finding a voice and peace inside- sold out. Poof. Gone for good.
But wait. WAIT JUST A SECOND now.
I’m realizing something here. Now tell me if I’m wrong, but if my precious saga, my separating force, the thing that always made me feel so different- if it’s just plain common… well… well. That makes me common too then, doesn’t it?
Indeed. Indeed it does.
Which means I was never any different to start with.
I think I get it now;
This story: It isn’t just mine to exclusively hold at all! It’s yours, it’s his, it’s hers, doesn’t-wish-to-identify’s, and all of ours. It’s the telling over of the human experience. An experience which, while the details may vary, stays uniformly the same across the human race and spectrum.
And with that the case.. then this story never really could redeem me. Finding a voice, inner peace, smashing my chains, breaking free- only God and my own inner strength could help with that.
So when I tell you about the confusion I felt when I was two, crying to be picked up and instead getting my head smashed against the bars of my crib to shut me up, I no longer wish to share these words for the shock value and pat on the back for surviving so many years of the same, no. I tell you because I understand now that I’m not alone. And that sharing is empowering for both of us. I know you relate when your speech runs out because you haven’t yet learned the proper words for “WTF was that?!” or “what the hell kind of feeling is this??”
And when I tell you about the cold feeling of dread that crawled up my spine as a three year old, when my daddy came to kiss me goodnight but something felt way too terribly wrong and I knew I had nowhere to run- I know you can relate to that dreadful cornered feeling as well. And when I mention the terror that froze my little body that first time he slid a finger in to violate me where I was most vulnerable and forever steal away my innocence, I know somehow you get it. Violation does not exist in the physical realm exclusively. Terror, feeling caged or trapped, feeling helpless, afraid, angry, hurt, confused… they’re universal emotions and experiences. In your own way you’ve lived it.
And so I speak.
I speak of not getting picked for the team. (What team? I quit after getting pummeled with the full force of frustration coming from behind the rubber balls of my shut-down, sheltered, and restricted uniform-clad private school girl classmates in my first ever dodgeball game. Never again, I swore it! Never again.) You know. The theoretical team. The team everyone is getting picked for except you. Or me.
I speak of the pain of not being heard or believed. I speak of feeling invisible, of feeling worthless, of feeling unloved and unlovable. I speak of peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches because those were delicious and I know you always looked forward to that certain special lunch too. I speak of heartache and the worst mixed emotions.
I speak of the feeling unpolished wood gives when covered in a puddle of my own silent tears, pressed hard against my streaming seven year old cheek, arms latched tight around my skull, feebly trying to protect my head as I lay curled in a ball, waiting for the raging crack of his belt to end its agonizing welting and carving. I speak of wondering whether life was worth living.
I speak of my dead friend. The one kid in class who cared enough to smile and say hello, no matter how smelly I got between my weekly shower. I was cute but not that cute, and had yet to be taught what hygiene was. I speak about neglect. About being forgotten. About being an afterthought. I talk about the denial that comes with sudden death, my denial which lasted three entire years. Of not forgetting. And the grief. And the aching sadness.
I speak of the blood and bruises that always happened before any cop could make it to our doorstep. I speak of home. Of not having one. Of finally escaping the ostracization, the name-calling, the threats, the conditional love and the shaming, into the arms of the only one who would hold them open for me, who in turn tore mine apart at night. Along with my legs, my womanhood, and my anus. And how all the while I got sodomized, raped, and gagged, tongues were clucked at my insolence, my rebelliousness, my depression, never once hearing my silent pleas for help.
I speak of the irony and humor that was never lost on me. Of sitting anxiously in the waiting room of a Planned Parenthood, the clock tick-tocking away the minutes until my new pregnancy, a product of rape, nonetheless precious as anything ever was- would be taken from me without choice- and the chortling laugh I gave sitting there, remembering my imminent departure to a high holy religious finishing school abroad. What a riot.
I speak of getting cheated on, hit on, loved, hated, cursed at, praised.
I speak and I speak and I speak.
I speak because I can. I speak because I finally get it: I am not my story. I am simply experiencing life. I am not so very different than anyone else on this planet. And I can get through anything. As can you. We all go through our own hell. We all get to create our own paradise. We all have that strength inside to free ourselves from our own slavery. We do. I promise you.
And you know what else? I’m not fucking alone. You hear that?? I’M NOT ALONE! You’re not alone! None of us is. We’re all doing this life thing. We’re all breaking and building and hoping and wishing and hurting and screaming and flying… and winning.