The thing about child abuse is, sometimes it actually doesn’t end.
I am 29 and my father compliments my shirt, and I cry in my room for three hours.
I am 27 and my mother goes on a trip with me but she is busy taking care of everyone else on the plane and I am again a neglected 7-year-old girl with a broken arm who she is refusing to take to the doctor. I am again every time someone hurt me, and I couldn’t talk to my mother about it because she might laugh at me, or use this as an excuse to up my antidepression dosage. I am again a girl with no one to talk to, because my mother has made me ashamed of every part of me. I take a handful of pills from my bag. I don’t know what they are. I don’t care.
I am 18 and my parents just spent 20 thousand dollars to remodel a house I am moving out of. There is no money for my college education. I turn down the east coast schools I worked my entire life to get into. I accept UC Santa Cruz, the last academically demanding college on my list. I try to be good.
I am 30 and I move back in with my parents because my landlord did not inform me before I moved in that her 50-year-old son has been squatting in her living room for the past 8 years. I am 30 and I move back in with my parents because I have been sick for the past three months and now I am throwing up and I won’t stop for another month. I am 30 and I am fat and so my doctors are not particularly invested in my health. I am 30 and went to a family friend who’s a rheumatologist for treatment, and she said I was ‘somatizing’ my symptoms, basically making it up. I am 30 and I don’t know what’s real anymore, mostly because I don’t have the strength to care.
I am 31 and I am the only member of my generation of my extended family who has a graduate degree but I don’t have the first idea how to get a job.
I am 19 and I have not eaten all day. I get behind the wheel of my car and I hit the back of a cement truck. I don’t report the accident to the insurance company because I don’t know how. The car is totaled but I don’t collect a check from the insurance company because I don’t know how. I don’t take out a credit card or get a job or buy professional clothing or budget or cook because I can’t even begin to imagine how to do any of that.
I am 11 and I am the family joke. I don’t think anyone would notice if I disappeared, except then they would have no one to hit.
I am 8 and I walked through the crosswalk with my nose in a book. The crosswalk was green. It was my turn to walk. A car makes a right turn on red and almost hits me. My mother yells at me. I guess I made that car do that. I don’t know the traffic rules. But I know this was my fault.
I am 7 and I wish I was dead. My mother takes me to a psychiatrist who is supposed to fix me. I don’t think it works.
I am 26 and I get into a good college. I take the more modest college with the better scholarship. After I graduate, my father pays my student loans. He does this wish a flourish. He does this because he wants me to think he is a hero. If he had given me the money before, I might have made a different choice. But the point of this charade is not so I can make good choices. The point is so he can feel like a real man while simultaneously making me into a permanent little girl. This is one game where I do know the rules.
I am 31 and I figure I am probably crazy to think the guy I like, likes me too. Later he tells me I was making it up and that seems about right to me.
I am 32 and men I don’t know like to touch me. I say no and I say no because I thought I was waiting for something beautiful, but I guess not. Eventually I say yes and it feels like being raped all over again and that’s what I want.
I’m 32 and someone tells me the problem with me is I don’t like myself enough. He says I need more self-worth. He has so much self-worth he hit on me and ten other women while married. He has so much self-worth he interrupted my dinner to tell me I should lose weight. He has so much self-worth that he is aggressively living his best life while I am trying my best to fade away.
I’m 19 and I am fighting a war for my life. I believe my eating disorder is the enemy. Eventually I realize the enemy is so much bigger than that, and I can’t win, and nobody wants me to win anyway. I keep fighting because it’s habit.
I’m 32 and all the women like me are dead. I am supposed to be dead too. I fought back and survived but I am an alien from another planet, I am a girl who belongs to a different world. I have no place here.
I’m 5 and I’m staring out the window of the car at the hills, singing to me. I am telling myself, it is all going to be better someday. It is all going to be different.
I am 20 and I have started crying in public. I cry on planes, buses. I get money from my father to take a plane to a protest in Nashville but I can’t get on the plane. I want to start a new life but I don’t know where to start.
I am an adult and I am proof positive that Laura Palmer is only meaningful when she is cute and blonde and sexy and dead.
I am a Jewish girl who learned a long time ago that beautiful or not, a patriarchal religion is a patriarchal religion.
I am a Jewish girl who learned a long time ago that the thing to be in a patriarchal religion is white and a man and able to produce offspring, and if you are anything else, this is not going to be such a fun life.
I am an adult and I am sorry for all the children out there who believe it is going to get better, because what in the world are we doing to make it better for them?
I am a tragedy and a warning. I am the daughter out to end daughterhood, forever. I am as crazy as the people who pretended to love me have made me. I am not afraid of who and what I am.