One in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime; and I’m sitting sandwiched between two of my best friends, wondering, which one of us? Which one of us will be the next news headline, the next international scandal, the next fresh-faced daisy to be plucked, trodden on and forgotten? Which one, which one of us will show off the necklace made of bruises, the invisible hand pulling at our hair, the scent of wolves licking at our ready burning skin hot poker flesh, screams curdling in our dreams and the reason we can’t sleep at night? But I don’t have to wonder; it is already always me.
I am seven and in his room on his bed playing a game of pretend but it stops when Mama sees and she says to never let anyone touch you down there again, you temptress child you. I spend the next decade fearing my own vulnerability and locking myself away. This event, like the distant flapping of a butterfly wing, triggers a hurricane inside my skin. I’ll write to let it out.
Mama don’t find me beautiful anymore, and I never want to be touched so gently again. The chasteness of my body smashes into a thousand glass pieces the second a foreign substance has polluted it. His grimy fingerprints lace my skin like dirt on new snow. I am seven, I am sinful, I am not going to be saved.
Do you know what writing feels like? It feels dizzy like up and down and up and down until I am faint with delirium and I can’t stop the flashbacks and I know this is just a game, just a piece of art, but that’s what he said and Mama stopped loving me because of it. But I can’t say anything and it is supposed to be a secret, so I bite my tongue so hard that my cheeks flow with blood to reassure myself of my own existence and I let the pen bounce – up and down and up and down until it is tired and gets bored of what I have to say. How can I explain that I lost my innocence years ago? A type of innocence that can’t be broken by drinking or drugs, but something far more insidious, by words like, ‘trust me’ and ‘I love you’, said by the wrong person at the right time.
Do you know what writing feels like? It feels like cleansing and it feels like dirt. It feels like just another close encounter and false memories. It feels like I don’t know if that was rape or just a childhood fantasy; it feels like am I making this up but it still feels so real; it feels like loss and anger and hurt and shame – oh yes the shame, the shame, that was the worst of it – because you liked it and you kept it hidden. Words don’t keep this hidden. Words bring everything to the light.
There’s a seven-year-old girl locked in the basement of my heart. She’s saying, let me out. She’s saying, why won’t you let me grow up? She’s saying, it’s time to tell my story. That’s the trauma. The trauma won’t speak. The trauma must speak. The trauma is knocking on the door screaming. The trauma has her mouth sewn shut.
I am trying to be clear and it is failing. I am trying to explain what has happened to me but I can’t. Do I even remember it anymore? Can I ever forget? Tell me, when does the hurt end? Pen ink trailing like thigh blood sticky and sweet; blood of survival and experience, blood on fingers smeared – yes, I’ll write with it.