You created me. You knitted me from scratch. You had no wool nor needles. You created me from a web of nothing, but from nothing, I grew to be something. I can hear you say, “Stop being arrogant,” when I say I am something, but guess what? I’m created of star dust and beauty. I am crafted of your dreams and failures. I am a mess of insecurity and hope. Dichotomy heralds supreme. I remember you telling me I was fractured, split in half. Bisexual, bipolar, just dissected right down the middle. It never felt very fair, never knowing what side of the bed I would wake from. It was exhausting, picking up the pieces only to have them shatter and rattle around again. But this is my life. Constantly picking up the pieces.
If I have energy, I’m manic. If I am quiet, I’m depressed. But we could never talk about the elephant in the room, could we? The abuse never started with him. It started with putting me in a crib by myself to hash out my tantrums. It started with hitting me with crucifixes and hissing at me in hallways. Telling me I needed the demons exorcised from me. Mailing me articles telling me God loves even the worst among us.
I am imperfect, true. I am flawed, naturally. But I am good. I am tired of feeling less than. I am tired of being told someone else has it worse. Or that anytime I have something to be proud of, that I’m being arrogant. When I told you he called me family, you said in that disgustingly sing-songy voice, “Not yet.”
You told me I’d be raped by eighteen when I was twelve. Who tells a twelve-year-old girl that? You told me I’d be raped and left in a ditch for dead. Because I had developed early? It wasn’t my fault. When I was raped at nineteen, it was almost a moment of “I told you so” when you murmured, “You shouldn’t have gone to his apartment alone. Don’t you know all men are monsters?”
You never ask to know what the pain feels like. You never want to know what triggers are or how it feels to live with PTSD. You never ask me how it felt to live in fear of his moods switching from light to dark, but maybe because you know I lived in your light-switch world for years before I met him.
You never ask how I cope or tell me how strong I am. You never remind me I am beautiful or brave. You rarely tell me you’re proud of me. I’ve come so far.
With you, my history is just a glance backwards. For me, it’s hurtles I have conquered. For you, it’s the sins I have committed. The memories you can’t let go of. I try to forgive you. I try to forget how you have hurt me. I bottle it up, swallow it, and take it. You regurgitate it against me any time I act in a way you disapprove of. You spit it back upon me like you’ve never forgotten.
Because chances are, you have never forgotten.
I used to make a list of all the nasty things you said to me when I lived at home. How you wished I was an abortion. How you would rather have five sons instead of one of me. How you cried over his suicide, but when I threatened suicide or felt suicidal, you didn’t bat an eyelash before saying, “You should commit suicide? I wish I could for having a daughter like you.” You used to call me a bitch and hateful. You used to whisper in the movie theater that I was a mean girl. You used to deny all blame. You used to tell me your life was perfect before you gave birth to me. That I was trouble since the moment I was conceived. You used to tell my father lies about me and use my mental illness against me.
You still do.
Behind my back, you texted my future husband telling him how I flew off the handle. How I lost my cool over a dress. It wasn’t over a dress. It was never over a dress. You implied I was fat. You always used to squeeze my fat and say, “Oh, looks like you’re putting on a few extra pounds.” If I offer any criticism of you, I get silenced. The day you left me at the mall, I told you you hurt me. You couldn’t stand to admit you hurt another child. You can’t stand to admit your faults. You can’t admit you’re imperfect.
I’m not perfect. I can readily admit that. I know I’m imperfect, but I’m wonderful because of my imperfections. You are the reason I sought so much approval from others. You are the reason I used to sneak boys into my bedroom. You are the reason I ask other people if they like me, if they forgive me. You are the reason my notebooks were scrawled with questions, begging God to forgive me for my sins, to not send me to Hell.
You hurt me. No, beyond hurt, you damaged me.
I was damaged goods from the start. Even before the rape. Even before the domestic violence. Even before the boys who called me names. I let them call me names because you as my mother probably called me worse.