You can teach a child anything.

“Rejection teaches you how to reject,” that’s what Jeanette Winterson says. And maybe.

I was a very beautiful child. My mother liked to damage me. I don’t remember things but I remember enough not to think about it. My father liked to damage me in other ways.

I looked like a goldfish and I had no friends. I ignored my friends until they went away. I didn’t want to bother them. I didn’t want them to pity me. I didn’t want to tell them I was in too much pain to participate in their reindeer games. I didn’t want to tell them why.

Nobody ever said I was too fat, exactly. I wore a size large sweater once in fourth grade and the sticker size was still on. I don’t know if people were laughing at my tit size or my size-size. I never really have. It’s always just the same thing.

The sexuality of a Jewess is a seduction and a joke, both at the same time. Just ask Monica Lewinsky.

Self-respect, they say, is very important. This culture hates me but I am supposed to love myself. I am supposed to be strong and I am but not in the ways you might think. I carried the heavy stuff in my family, from the time I was a child. I did not have Lisa Frank stickers. The butterflies on my shirt made men stare at me and so I pulled them off. My favorite dress was full of jewels but one day I realized they were only plastic and I threw the dress away.

People insist that parental abuse is just as bad when it is emotional as when it is physical. Maybe they’re right but no child who was ever hit or raped walked away with a brain that worked properly.

I believed somebody would love me someday like believing in a magic spell. Like seduce someone into staying even when I am angry or hurting. Even when it is uncomfortable to be around me or I say socially unacceptable things. But whiteness and fitting in was always much more important to him than me. Maybe I could have been more than this but I am not more than this, now.

You can teach a child anything. I don’t remember playing games. I had no imagination, no capacity for fantasy. I imagined myself in a different life, in a different body. There is no place for you in this society when something truly bad has happened to you. No one knows what to do. Except run away.

If someone hits your dog with a baseball bat you will take your dog to the vet even if your dog snarls at you with the fever of immense pain. You will feed your dog in the days afterward even if your dog cringes every time he sees you. Not so with a friend.

People imagine someone else will fix it. Therapists are supposed to fix the stigma of being a child abuse survivor like nutritionists or diets are supposed to fix the stigma of being fat. Like maybe if the experts handle it they will know what to say. Maybe they will know how not to make the pain worse. You can come back when it’s over.

Your vet can reset your dog’s leg but you’re the one your dog really wants to see. Even when it’s hurt. Even when you can’t touch your dog who loves you without your touch scaring him, or hurting.

I abandoned my dog with my parents. I thought she was better off but she was not. I should have strangled her rather than send her back. I used to lie in bed wishing I would die in my sleep but I never did.

Those advertisements are a lie. It does not get better. It only gets worse. And all the self parenting you could ever do will never be enough. Children need parenting, and not out of a book. Children who are not loved grow up withered, shorn. Walking around without any urge to move forward. The inhabitants of the planet Miranda in Firefly after the State solved their disobedience problem. We are all glazed eyes and good intentions and childish naïveté. We will love anyone who loves us even a little bit and that makes us very easy prey. We are artless because we haven’t the energy. Suspicious men look for the trick but there is none. We are simply waiting for the next blow to come.

In high school I was a lesbian. It made the other girls tolerate me and it made the boys stay away so I did not have to explain. I told myself no one asked me to prom because I was fat and I resolved to put more energy into dieting. Maybe what I thought was even true.

I think to get what you want you must believe you deserve it. I figured if I could be loved then somebody would have done it already.

I really miss my dog.

Writes all the things. Photographs the light. Smiles at odd moments. Reads in the shower. Sings to the trees. Hopes a lot.

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