Dad died and chaos ruled.

One night I woke in the dark, scared. A shadow at the end of the bed moved towards me. Breathing halted. I had night terrors before, but Daddy wasn’t there anymore to carry me around in his warm arms, calming me as I slept. Was I dreaming or awake? The specter slunk around the bed, creeping closer silently. It was black, quiet, crouched and coming for me. Iced with fear and still half-asleep, I couldn’t even scream for my mother.

When it slipped gently onto the edge of the bed, my terror immediately abated; air once again filled my lungs. I knew who it was: not a phantom but Danny, a brother I loved and trusted. He sat lightly next to me, his face hidden in the dark. I had known his voice for my entire young life: familiar, soothing, very kind, and the last thing I remember.

Softly, so tenderly, the words dripped out of his mouth like warm syrup and melted butter, “We’re going to play house,” he whispered. “You’re the mommy, I’m the daddy.”

During my next bath I began screaming as if stabbed and dying; that’s how much it hurt. The soap seared my vagina as if a sharp hot blade pierced me, though I didn’t know the name of that part of me yet. Danny’s twin Don, the ‘good one,’ came running, his eyes wild with fright for what he might find. When I told him through my tears that the soap hurt, he seemed disgusted and left the bathroom as quickly as he had arrived.

Though the pain ebbed along with the suds trailing down the drain, the terror of living in that house did not. The next day, Seth walked by my bedroom.

“Danny fucked me,” I said.

Seth said nothing, but his eyes glazed through me as if I were stabbed with an arrow. His nonchalance quickly disappeared, immediately replaced by a laser of revulsion. My bravado and confidence in telling big brother, who I knew would save me from the nighttime monster, vanished in an instant.

The look in his eyes became etched on the slate of who I was to become. Those eyes emptied me, devastated me. That moment shaped my core, shame the bedrock I grew from. I don’t know how I knew the word “fuck.” I don’t remember Danny saying it, but I know that he did. The memory of the attack still hasn’t surfaced. I am not ready for it, and may never be.

Once I had been a child who spoke the truth; it was part of the canvas that was me. I was born with it. I am not that woman today, though I look for her. Seth told Mom what I said. That was the first time she became aware of my vulnerability, but not the last. I didn’t go to a doctor. I was left on my own after attacks to my body, like a dinghy cut loose from the main ship. I have felt alone ever since.

The fat that accumulated immediately after Danny’s attack became a permanent addition to my skinny kid frame. Mom loved to cook. She fed me, I ate. She didn’t keep him off me, nor her other sons, but she loved me with food. Once a slim child who ate only when hungry, I transformed into an eating machine who devoured food for other reasons. Waking in the night, sick from the day’s eating, I went to Mommy for help.

As she lay there sleeping, I laid my hand tentatively on the cool sheet over her shoulder. “Mommy,” I whispered. I’m going to throw up.”

Half-asleep, she rasped, “What do you want me to do, spit straw?”

I went to the toilet and threw up. I kept eating and throwing up, my little tummy unable to contain all the food needed to numb out the nightly attacks, to feel loved, to survive. Some part of me believed a fat body was an ugly body, so safer, anything that would keep him away. It didn’t work. And maybe, as who I was slipped away, growing a bigger body kept me from disappearing altogether.


42 thoughts on “CHAPTER 2: EIGHT

  1. I read this before but rereading it, it’s just as fresh and painful as the first time. I feel SO MAD on behalf of that little girl and the many ways she was not protected. I just want to reach out to her now, and say, sweetheart, you deserve better than this. You are strong and beautiful; don’t ever see yourself through the confused eyes of others.

    I think you have come to that place now, where you are a friend to yourself and do what you need to take care of yourself. I’m just sorry that you ever went through this and had to suffer so much to get back to a place of trusting yourself.

    Sending you a big hug, Q.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I am seething with anger inside…the sheer terror of it all and how it makes one retreat into the very depth of one’s being and then there we sit…alone…You did NOT deserve any of it…no little girl does. You are a woman of such incredible strength. I read your words and the pain wells inside of me for you…for the little girl who had to endure such horrendous pain and such aloneness. Yet your Spirit of Life was and is so strong–that now you share your grief with us and give all of us courage to face whatever lies within us so that we can LIVE. I just want to wrap that little child with a warm,safe hug. So many girls and women are so violated—-my tears are falling…

    Liked by 3 people

  3. You came into my mind this weekend. I was reading the book “Kitchen Table Wisdom,” which talks about how important our individual, unique stories are for healing ourselves and others. I wanted to tell you, simply, “I honour your story.”
    I decided to visit your blog and write you a message. I landed on this post. It is beautifully written, and poignant. It crushes me that you had to endure and survive so much on your own as a child. I am so sorry you had to go through that, Patricia.
    Your post is painful for me to read, because of the ugliness of the abuse and neglect. I, too, have experienced “ugly” and I shy away from writing about it sometimes because of the pain and because I doubt myself. But reading your writing has helped me. It is powerful writing, as another commenter has noted. By writing about the ugly — beautifully, truthfully — it seems to me that you have reclaimed yourself or at least part of yourself. And I don’t know if anything is more important than that.
    Thank you for sharing this possibility with me.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I take it that this is your true story. I know the emotional toll that goes into writing your story. But the strength and courage you portray in writing it is strong. You shouldered so much alone when so tiny. A tough little girl inside.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your words make my eyes tear up. Thank you. Thank you so much.
      Yes, all true. As each chapter arose, so did the repressed tears; tears of loss, pain, grief and sadness, but also the joys in-between.
      You help me look at her, that little girl I’ve tried so hard throughout my life not to be…you help me see her in a different light…a kinder one. Thank you for that.
      Because why would I want to be her? A little girl no one seemed to love.
      I want to be her now. You help me gather her into my arms and love her.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so glad. I am finding my little girl right now, and have written a lot if poetry about her. It’s really helped me to appreciate all she shouldered and got through. With your beautiful writing, I bet you could write to yours and get to know her.

    Liked by 2 people

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