8.26.2012

phoenix.


Ages 4-14.


I was the sad little girl with the raggedy clothes and the grubby face.
At some point the majority of it all became a blur.
The parts I do remember are the good times that I clung to and the bad times that I could not escape.
At times we would have upwards of twenty people living in the same place.
Most of them were men. all were family.
I was no stranger to ill-treatment of any kind.
I couldn’t play as a normal child played.
I stayed within plain sight of as many people as possible for fear of finding myself in a position with someone who had less appropriate ideas for a girl as young as I.
Hide and seek was out of the question because they always lurked behind the house.
Or in an empty room.
The dark became my enemy as I never had enough time to get away when I couldn’t see them coming.
Even when I took precaution though, I sometimes found myself alone with someone who had no intention of treating me as a small child .
It was always strange to me that with as many people as we had living in one place no one was ever around when I needed them.
I still have nightmares of their faces.
Nightmares of ripped clothes and whispered threats.
head bashed into the ground, the crunch of leaves deafening in my ears.
A grown mans hand across my baby face, my fingers clawing it away trying to take a breath.
Desperate fear, heart beating like that of a small animal caught in the cruel clutches of its predator.
hands on young flesh, cheap beer and hot breath on my neck..
The sound of a zipper cutting through the night air.
No kind of soap can wash that kind of filth away.
Every day, over and over again.
I had too many people to run from and not enough to run to.

Define.


I was a kid. There was touching and kissing and fumbling. Guilt. Shame. Ugly. For me, there’s a difference between knowing and grasping. I couldn’t grasp any of it, but I knew what each felt like—and they all hurt. Hurt in ways all their own, in ways I have never been able to articulate. When you’ve been silent for so long it’s hard to find the words, the right words. It’s hard to find your voice.

But I’ll try…

I was a girl. He was a boy. They were boys. Different boys. Same me. Different occasions. Same consequences. Hurt. Do you understand?

When you’re a child you are blissfully ignorant of differences. You’re innocent and pure. You’re a child. But when I was a child, I became painfully aware of the differences that exist between boys and girls, men and women, males and females. I knew how devastating those differences could be. I knew those differences.

I know those differences.

I was practice for older boys. Older, but still, they were boys. I imagine they wanted to get a feel for a girl. Wanted to feel the differences between a boy and a girl. Wanted to know where their hands go. Where they go. They wanted to know what it felt like and how their bodies would react. They practiced for that day when they’d meet a girl they like and that girl would like them back. That’s what I think anyway. Maybe that’s a romantic idea. And maybe to this day I am na├»ve.

Regardless of their motivations, they did it. They explored. Me. They defined. Me. Victim. I blocked those experiences for a long time. I hurt for a long time. Some times, I still do. But I’m fine. It hasn’t been easy and it won’t always be, but I’m fine. Promise. See, some silly boys defined me as a victim, but I will define myself as a survivor as whatever I want to be. I will define myself.