From what I recall, she was small with a bursting heart that couldn’t quite contain the colors held within it. Braided hair by her mother, her safeguard. And oh, her mother; brilliant streaks of sky in her eyes and beams of warmth from her smile. Pain crushed the girl’s inside when her mother cried; she didn’t cry a lot, though. Just on the really bad days.
Still, summer days were spent with wind over her face, dirt covering most surfaces; what any little kid should have. Time was spent with her brother, Brady, mostly (who was two years younger than her). The girl had three older sisters too, but as far back as my mind willingly takes me, she didn’t have as much of a connection with the three sisters growing up (though there are plenty of happy times with them too).
Tramping down the leaves in the woods, to make biking trails. Crafting rafts from old Styrofoam to cross the ‘pond,’ (which in retrospect was more of a swamp), feeding canned corn to the fish, and then scooping them up with a net. Her brother would pull the wagon, with her in the back, or course; her and the catch of the day in the evening. The two were inseparable, and their imaginations knew no limits.
She would lay awake at night, dreaming of all the things she would one day accomplish; nothing was out of her grasp. One day, she could hop on a plane, and move to Italy! – Maybe it’d be her own plane. She knew she’d become a pilot someday, and a nurse, or maybe join the army! She could learn to dance, swim, and surf! She’d never sit around waiting for life to find her wasting its precious seconds.
Then, the fight against sleep slowly surrendered, she’d drift off, clutching her maroon teddy bear from her daddy. Sometimes it was hard to find her breath as her five-year-old world was so full. She would go to sleep at night, and pray that tomorrow would be just like this day; she was whole, with an inner dance that was beautiful.
This is the girl I’m trying to find again. I’m on a soul-search, looking for my very own. Because once a girl is shattered, she has to find all the pieces and glue them back. With each piece, the immense fear and raw emotion that washes back makes this process more difficult than I could relay to you in words. Even when the pieces are glued back, one is never the same.
So, I would like to say this. For anyone who is out there who wonders ‘will it really matter if I hurt her/him now? She’s/he’s only six. . . she’ll/he’ll never remember this when she’s/he’s 25. Or ‘I wonder if this is taking advantage of her/him legally?’ . . . PLEASE, stop. Walk away; if you have a heart at all, if you give even one damn, WALK away.
The traumatic event at a young age WILL define a significant part of the victim/survivor’s life. It WILL leave her/him shattered beyond any desperate hope of well-being for a very long time, if not forever.
I refuse to give in. I’m going to get back to that happy, light-hearted girl who is so separated from my current self that sometimes all I can do is look at old photographs and wonder ‘who are you?’ And if I’m lucky enough, spill a few watery tears, the only time I feel human – the only time I feel okay. Because I’d rather feel pain, than nothing at all.
I’ve come a long way from where I was – I’m no longer suicidal. I don’t need mind-altering, throat-warming drinks to get through the day (and the night). I don’t look to the contents of the fridge to comfort my loneliness as much. I don’t change 26 times before I run out the door, still feeling like trash. I don’t sit in my college classes completely silently, thinking the whole time about how dirty, and ugly I am, and how best to leave without drawing attention to myself. I don’t shower three times per day just to feel a little clean, tears falling the entire time.
Now I use sleep, sometimes in excess. Sometimes I use exercise until my whole body hurts. Now, I hit my fists hard on the dashboard, sometimes until they bleed. Now I have begun to feel worthy. I catch glimpse of beauty. Sometimes, I even feel beautiful. There are times when I pray and bad thoughts don’t swarm. I don’t feel angry at God anymore.
You don’t get to control how I feel anymore. And I pray that all the other kids you hurt can find peace, too. And for those of you who need someone to talk to, I’m always here for you.