There you go. How’s that for a title? The Battle Royale has been raging inside. The shame tape played for over a week.
The first time your mother spits in your face, screaming, “get out of my sight, you disgust me! You disgusting creature. In fact, I’m going to fix you, little girl.” In between this monologue, which seems endless, everything is punctuated by blows to the head. At some point, her hand located a wire hanger, and she beat me with that. “Do you think anyone wants you?” She screeched the sentence, wildly throwing a bag at me. It was the bag from Acapulco, hand woven mat-like, and it delighted and amazed me that my Grandmother thought of me at all while she was there. At this point, the room looks like a hurricane hit it. The thing that set her off was her putting clean laundry on the bed and i had made an accident and messed up a shirt. And i quickly bit myself to stop the fear. Tried to fix it but couldn’t. She saw it mussed up a bit in the drawer and that brought down the fires of Hell. And spit. Heh.
She sent me outside, crying, with various stuff crammed into the bag and my stupid hair stuck to my face. i was to sit on the bag and wait and see if anyone wanted me. At four, i thought that cars that went by knew what was going on, and that no one wanted me.
Besides that, my mother had already gone down the short list.
Do you think your father wants you?
Do you think your grandmother wants you?
That’s right. No one wants you. Say it. Say, “No one wants me, Mommy. Thank you for keeping me.”
i got the line right.
i always get the line right.
My grandmother, a frightening and imposing woman, coming down the hallway in the dark. i was half way to the phone, wanting to call my mother and pray with her and make sure she was okay, when the Monster from the Dark Lagoon in a hair net created phone call interruptust. She wanted to know what i was doing and she replied by hitting me back down the hall way with a yard stick while yelling that i was “driving my poor mother crazy.” And i believed her. i was five. It was what my grandmother would say over and over, for many years, pointing out how i had “ruined her life.” Made her “damaged goods” who had to have “loser men” because of me. “I suppose she has to take whatever she can get because of you damn kids.”
Eventually, i had a gigantic button that lived over me, called the “I Don’t Care” button.
So, there are literally times i have felt an emotion one time. Jealousy. Homicidal Rage.
i spent a lot of time with that button the size of a shield over me and had to work it down to the size of a penny. i can live with that. It’s a good compromise between acknowledgement of my lives journey and it not blocking my heart.
But if you hit that button-damn.
i feel like i stepped on a trip wire that i didn’t know where there because i had no guard up for that spot. i know when my back is up against the wall, i want to do the thing that is opposite of what is wanted. People want me to cave. i come out fighting, wanting to cut my nose off despite my face. That’s a damn hard thing to fight, but i’ve won over and over again. It took therapy and work. Slavery gives you tons of practice.
i want to run when that button is hit. And that is really hard. i wind up thinking about that little girl, sitting on her bag, feeling humiliated to be in public crying, hoping someone was coming. She was still screaming inside. Updating me from the house. Your grandmother doesn’t want you. Don’t you have some godamn teacher you are always talking you? If she thinks you are so great, go stay with her. Who thinks you are great? Who? Nobody that wants you. Thats who. You looked like a retard as a baby.
And so i sat, until i felt a steel rod down my spine, the same thing i feel today when i must steel myself. Sit up straight. Get on with it. There was nothing else to do but go back inside.
When i got older, a year older, i knew how to make men feel good. My mother constantly said i didn’t have to worry about strangers, i had to worry about the people that came in the house.
Somewhere inside i’ve got to feel something for that kid on the sidewalk. Something besides disgust. The steel rod is the same thought i have today, and it was a pretty good idea for a five year old. i have very few memories from those years. They are just—there.
Lately, i remember this teacher. She was always saying something nice to me, and it was painful. i thought she was mocking me. i can remember her eyes. As an adult, i realize for the first time, this woman knew i was being abused. Lots of people knew. Relatives. Therapists. The Guidance Counselor.
HRS came. i mopped the kitchen floor and put on tea. We were sitting there, laughing, trying to look normal. My mother turned my brother’s hat around backwards, hit little baseball hat. He was five and being investigated for animal cruelty. My mother was perfectly at ease. i kept my eye on the tea, offering her tea and cookies, because how could we all be monsters and serve tea and cookies?
It was our first live performance of what i like to call, “We are a normal family.” It was how you proved loyalty.
As an adult, I think it’s a lot more important to show loyalty by showing up. Being honest. Being aware. These things feel natural over time. i try and find the mark between being too honest and shoving all of the responsibility onto me. It’s not easy and i’m learning. The thing i need to understand the most is how to find a balance. And i’m fumbling around, needing both to explain how raw of an area this is, but it’s also a small place. It doesn’t need to take over everything else, just be acknowledged, i guess.
i grapple hard with the whole vulnerability thing. i know it’s where my honesty and greatness can come from. It seems like i should be so much better at this.