“You be a good girl Angie,” her eyes fixed on mine. “You be a good girl for Granny or else Granny won’t let you see Mommy ever again. And you know Granny can do that don’t you?”
I am five years old. She is sitting on the edge of my bed, it’s nighttime and I’m in trouble again. I did everything she asked me too. I put my pajamas on like a good girl and brushed my teeth when she asked. I crawled into bed without a fuss, and did my best to finish all the food on my plate at dinner time. But, she’ s angry with me, like she is most of the time.
She grabs my jaw roughly, it’s invasive and controlling, my little heart beating so fast. She’s digging her fingers into the sides of my cheeks and it hurts. I want to move under the weight of her grip, to pull on her forearms, and twist out from under, but I know better. Yanking on my chin, she pulls her face up close to mine. I am frozen. Her eyes locked onto my eyes, the sharp sting of her nails pressing down on the soft skin.
“You remember what Granny said.” The heat of her breath, mixed with cigarettes and coffee and she just lingers there for moment, her gaze tearing into me, before she whips her hand away in disgust. It is harsh and unrelenting. And with that, the room goes dark and I am left to stare at the crack of light beaming in through the hallway. I had forgotten to breathe and my exhale is shaky and strained. I’m terrified to make a sound, pushing my face into the cotton pillow, the warmth rushing to my cheeks with the release and I can hear my Mom downstairs. I want to tell her what happened, but I’m scared. The fear ran through my body like a current and I wouldn’t, couldn’t move.
I had to stop, and reach out to my God, two paragraph’s into writing this post.
“Jesus, give me the strength I need to see myself through this evil maze of sickness. This torment, Lord.” Repeating verses from the bible, that have held me up during my most fearful of days, through the deepest of shameful nights, those powerful words striking through the fear and lifting me with His golden staph. I am so grateful God is real, and alive and with me. The residue, of these moments in my life, can be crippling. I often find myself, staring off into the ground, my thoughts overlapping each other in a frenzy of anxious shock, and I can’t find my way out. I get lost in this unbelievable reality of my past, and when the child inside me can’t make sense of it anymore, and my adult self is raging with a hate that frightens me, all I have left is God.
I have a husband, and a son, who think the world of me and this isn’t lost to me most days. I bask in that light with them, and pour as much love into them as I possibly can. But every survivor knows, each in their own way, the loneliness that comes with the mark of abuse. It’s a solitary experience. One that traps you within the confines of your own painful existence, tearing you away from being able to share it with anyone, a place set aside just for you and no amount of explaining or clawing away will ignite an understanding between you and the world. Because the thing is just too evil, and you know that if you were to really expose the truth of it, your comrades would turn away in disgust, tummy’s churning and your tears would turn to dust with the reaction, the regret pushing around in your gut, and so many of us stay silent. As I have for the last two years. Until I chose not too anymore. I believe, that by staying silent, I am allowing her to still have that hold on me. That I am welcoming the harsh grasp of her hand. Letting the fingers dig into my cheeks, her nails gripping my face and falling weak under her weight.
I can’t let her do this to me anymore. I refuse to lay in that bed any longer, the fear running through me like a current. I think of my five-year old son, the pureness of his heart, the innocence of his soul and I have to stand up for that little girl.
“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.