I’m laying on the couch in my nighty, watching the Christmas lights twinkle, and crying into my empty wineglass.
And I’m wishing I wasn’t the girl that I am.
And I’m wishing I could call up mom and dad and yell at them; that I could berate them for all their mistakes in raising me; for being responsible for the person I am.
And husband has just left me on the couch to wallow in my self-pity alone. Our conversation took an unexpected turn and I’m left here with the echo of his worries: I’m too fat and I need to get healthier, lose weight before he’ll have another baby with me.
As soon as he mentions health I feel myself shut down. My eyes become unfocused on the present and I watch the lights on the Christmas tree blur into pretty baubles, illuminating the shadows with the holiday cheer I distract myself with.
I am no longer here.
And he asks me what do you think and do you have anything to say and in my head I have a litany of things that go something like this: I hate you for wanting me to change. I hate you because of what I imagine you feel about me. I hate you because I’m embarrassed of myself and I think you must be embarrassed of me, too. But I’ll do whatever you want, you know I will. Because I’m that girl, who will do whatever the boy wants, who wants to make the boy happy, even if it doesn’t make me happy. Because how can we both be happy at the same time. So I’ll get skinny for you, and I’ll be sexy for you, and I’ll look like I’m enjoying it, but on the inside I’m screaming in rage and agony and you can’t hear me bcause I refuse to share it with you.
And I want to blame you because you’re saying things that hurt me, but you’re not wrong and that hurts even worse. And I wish I trusted you enough to tell you the truth, but I’m a bit afraid of you and I don’t believe in your goodness enough to let you see how sad I feel. I don’t think you’ll understand; I think you’ll make it worse.
I’m sad I married you.
So I just say no, I don’t have anything to say and you leave me to go bed, too frustrated at my inability, my unwillingness, to share feelings with you.
And I lay on the couch, thinking about how angry and sad I am, getting even angrier and sadder at the pathetic picture I have created out of skin and bone and feeling, and I wish –once again- that somehow, things had been different; that I had been loved differently, raised differently, wanted differently.
And that I’d been better at being all sorts of things I feel I should have been. I don’t know. I’m just sad, I guess; though that word doesn’t really put the texture, the sensation, the full experience of how I’m feeling into the context I’m looking for.
I want to change, but I don’t necessarily want anyone else to want me to change.
And while I’m lying here, burrowing deeper into my anger, I’m remembering the first time I was touched, and my tears are coming faster now and I’m trying to be quiet so husband can’t hear me, and wishing I had a cigarette.
I was 13, spending the night at a girlfriend’s house; her family went to my church and I’m sure that’s why my parents felt comfortable leaving my siblings and me with them for a couple days; so that they could enjoy a small trip for their anniversary.
Much of that time is blurry. I don’t remember what I did that day; what I wore or what I ate for dinner. I don’t remember what games we played or what time we went to bed.
What I do remember is the way I felt about my friend’s little brother. She was older than me, so her brother was near my age, taller than me, and thin, bony even. He was goofy-looking, and other kids made fun of him often, even at church. I remember feeling sad for him, and thinking he must feel lonely with all those kids picking on him just for being different. Big teeth and ears ran in his family, but somehow they looked funnier on him than on the rest of his siblings. I was determined to peel him out of his shell, to show him that not all kids were the same, that some people wanted to be his friend.
There was a lightening storm that night; they lived on top of a mountain, and their parents allowed us to hang out in the balcony and watch the electricity lighting trees on fire.
It went on all night, but we had school the next day, so we piled our sleeping bags in a long line, in front of the bay window in the playroom, and tried to fall asleep. Eventually we were just a caterpillar of children, scrunched up next to each other, dreaming our own secret things.
I don’t remember falling asleep.
But I do remember waking up.
The lightening was still crackling, illuminating the pile of sleeping children, the bookshelves lining the walls, the gargantuan television set nestled in between all the books.
I saw all of this through my eyelashes, because I was too much of a coward to open my eyes, to say stop.
I’d never felt fear like that before; and I wasn’t a stranger to fear, at this point.
What woke me -more so than the crackle of lightening, or the drumbeat of thunder- were the long, thin fingers sliding under the waistband of my pajama pants, pulling aside the elastic band of my underwear, slithering into me like an unwelcome snake. Those hands are burned into my memory, just as deep as the filthy feeling they produced. Long, thin, with knobby knuckles that protruded from under his pale skin like tumors.
I was frozen; at first in fear, then in shame for being afraid. And as I lay there, trying to decide what to do, his other hand worked its way under the hem of my shirt, greedily grasping at my chest, fingernails pulling at my skin as it puckered under the assault.
I knew how to cry in silence already, and my cheeks welcomed my tears while the rest of me suffered from inaction; my own inability to do something.
I remember feeling confused; I had been kind to him, befriended him when others teased him, showed him that there were kind children who wanted to know him.
And he waited for me to fall asleep so that he could rape my kindness and my body with his hands. And I laid there for it, already drowning in shame, my sisters and brothers asleep only a scream away.
I don’t remember how it ended. I think I feigned sleep and rolled over, squeezing my legs together as tight as I could. I do remember his hand running over my backside, seeking a way in, but I was sealed up tight and I think he gave up.
I’ve never told anyone this story before; I don’t even know why it popped up just now.
But it did, so I wrote it down. And I’m not really sure about how I feel about it, so I’m going to post it before I grow weak and try to hide it.
I’m so tired now. All of a sudden i can’t keep my eyes open…