No one can save you from your story line. It was crafted to be told only by you, a personal journey for your soul to endure. Here’s my story.
I was born into a world where mothers leave their daughters on workplace stoops for fathers and grandmothers to care for. Birthed by teenage parents, my arrival was inopportune to say the least. But my father embraced his responsibility and Daddy’s Girl fully blossomed only to wither later.
I was ten when I became the stepchild, similar to the lackluster not-so-shiny toy cast to the bottom of the chest box after having too many days of play. Abandoned, I watched as my father unwrapped his new gifts: a new family. She had a daughter of my age and a child of whom my father assumed fabricated paternity. Being in competition emphasizes your flaws. I was fat, my hair was not as long, and I didn’t dress as nice. When she braided my hair, she’d instruct me not to look in the mirror. I don’t know if she was hiding me from my beauty or my ugly. The uncertainty is what tortures me most.
During those seven years, my stepmother blamed me for her marital blunders. Somehow I expected my father to be the superhero and save the defenseless child but all the while anticipating that the biting truth of disappointment would prevail.
I was forbidden from contacting my mother. But I don’t remember her calling me on my birthdays, either. Her visits were seldom. I reasoned that seven years of marital abuse can make you forget your first born. I remember him running toward my mother with a knife and she using me as her shield. I still don’t know if I were the sacrifice worth dying, or she worth saving.
I was just a lonely kid. I needed a mother. I needed a father. Both of my parents started anew. My grandmother was my saving grace. I felt like my parents died and I was the orphan who had to move in with family. Grandma’s house was a place of refuge. It was an offering of stability. I moved back with her and my relationship with my father ceased. Then I began visiting my mother on the weekends.
At 13, I moved in with my mother. We shared adult conversations. I asked her why she had stayed for so long. I remember her saying, “Have you ever seen the movie, ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It?’ It’s like that.”
What’s Love Got To Do With It. I would sit cross-legged on the floor and watch it all the time. It was my sentiment, my only attachment to my mother that I had time to try to understand. I had time to rewind, pause, fast forward and stop this life whenever I wanted to. I was drowning in rage and resentment at everyone. And then I met love.
Peer pressure introduced me to him. Initially I had no interest. Then I found love to be a messy distraction and I was hooked. We began dating when I was 14. He was 17. Maybe a sudden fall makes a fertile girl.
He rejected my pregnancy and a ninth grade abortion later, we were inseparable for four years to come. Looking back, I knew that I was willing to die at the hands of him. He never hit any of his past girlfriends. I was the first. Only I could get him to that point and I secretly prided myself in that feat. We made love, even after the cruelty.
It started off with pressure points. The first time he hit me was a smack and a bite. Punches. Choking. He pulled my hair. I never used to fight him back. I was a rag doll in front of my friends. It hurt, but whatever. My mother said I got tricked. She didn’t like him but she couldn’t save me. No one saved her. I was going to do what I wanted. Whether it be sneaking out to see him, skipping school to see him, or inviting him over when she wasn’t home, I loved him. And in my storyline, love had everything to do with it.
I started fighting back at 17. At 18 and 19, I instigated the fights. When he was incarcerated for robbery, I got a taste of escape. I was doing well. But when he was released, I retreated.
I broke up with him at 19. I had fallen out of love. He wouldn’t let me go. He contacts me every once in a while. I’ve seen him. I’ve been around him. I’ve felt no temptation to slip back. Now I receive threatening text messages from an unknown number telling me that he should’ve taken my life when he had the chance.
Some say talking to your child does the trick. Telling her that she deserves better is the buffer she’ll use in a time like mine. I say far gone is a destination. There is nothing anyone could have done to deter me
from this path. This is my story. The only person I resent is me.
Childhood seemed like a dissociative memory. They tell me to move on. I’m damaged. But I’m moving on just like they told me to. – end –
Originally published in OUT40 Magazine, LLC.