In the book Daughter of the Blood, in a trilogy that has a really stupid name but is nonetheless scary relevant for our times, Janelle is carted off to the psychiatric facility her father runs. Before she goes, she tells the man who will become the love of her life, what should I believe. The fairy stories come to life, or the idea I am crazy?
I grew up listening to G-D and singing and hoping. I grew up crazy and broken in the basement where nothing grows. I am used to people looking at me searching for the crazy. There is crazy in each of us but only girls are ever analyzed for its appearance. It is easier to call us crazy than call us broken. Broken might call attention to the man who broke us, can’t have that.
The difference between trauma and illness is you can’t cure trauma. Men tend to blame women for internalized oppression, tend to tell us we should fight, run, scream. Men say why didn’t you fight back. Men say if you don’t fight back it’s your fault. Men say what’s wrong with you.
I have learned to go limp. I have learned not to fight back. I have learned it is never my fault but any guy I talk to will think that it is. I have learned to trust no one. I have learned I am safe alone. I have learned every place is like my father’s house. I have learned there is no way out of patriarchy. I have learned rape culture does not exist inside my body but it follows me everywhere. I have learned every man thinks he is the exception. He never is.
Men seem women trustworthy only if other men also deem us trustworthy. Men believe women only if other men tell them to.
Women’s lives sound like fairy stories, to men. Sexism more comprehensible in the abstract than the personal. Surely not that man, my friend. Surely not me, my own beliefs, my own contempt and cruelty. Surely?
The woman I might have been stands and waves from a far shore. The life I might have had passed me by.
I live in my head a lot and I buck up soldier against the humiliation and I breathe and I breathe but men are killing me. And I was taught to hate myself, so I smiled and I let them and I did not protest. I was always such a good girl. Good enough to make your teeth hurt.
I tried to make them love me no matter how evil they were. I never asked them why they were evil and they never asked me why I was sad, and. What was there to say?