All help All

My mother used to tell me that I was so shy when I was a little girl that I would cry if a stranger would look at me. I really can't imagine living a life where I felt like that, but lucky for me, I have no conscious memories of being that way or feeling that way. I eventually blossomed when I started school. I discovered I had a mouth. The gift of gab was magically bestowed upon me and I transformed into a storyteller and the class clown all rolled into one lanky-legged little girl. 

My safe place growing up was never at "home."  My safe place was in an imaginary world I had created in my bedroom where I could transport myself to other realms and be other people or things. It was easy! I'd just open the door to my pink wooden closet on wheels, carefully push the buttons I had drawn on the inside of the wooden door, climb inside the closet, shut the door and transport myself somewhere else. Then, instantly off I'd go on my merry way. It was like reading a book, but only better until my mother would holler for me or at me...and out of the pink closet on wheels I would come. Blasted back to reality with a thud, I would jump out of the closet with a half-glazed look on my face. Undoubtedly, I had done something wrong...yet again! I would sigh and trudge my way downstairs to find out what I had done wrong this time and suffer the consequences.

I can't say I really know what love is because it's not something I've ever received in abundance. That's not being said from a place of self-pity, but it's a statement of fact pure and simple. My childhood was no better or worse than many girls or boys who grow up in alcoholic families. I struggled from having a distorted self-image that continually convinced me how ugly I was coupled with the negativity that was always shouting at me telling me I wasn't worthy of being loved. I was awkward. I felt stupid and I just wanted to be one of those pretty girls. My self-image was reinforced by how I was treated by my family. My mother never took me under her wing and molded me into a "girlie girl."  Isn't that what a mother should do with her only daughter? For Christ sake, my daughter is a princess. She's beautiful in every way and has always been since the day she was born. When I was growing up, my mother wouldn't dream of leaving the house unless she was dressed to the nines. Me? Not so much! I was the rebel. Go figure! I became a hippie. No make-up. No frills. I was tall and skinny. A pair of jeans and bare feet were great in my eyes. I always told people I had natural beauty and didn't need anything to enhance myself. Some people actually bought that bullshit! Now, I jokingly tell them it's a handicap to be beautiful. I think perhaps, that may be the truth.

I've always wondered what it would feel like to be able to look in the mirror and like what you see or at least be okay with what you see. I've never been okay with what I see. Don't get me wrong...I'm not saying I'm completely fugly, but what I see and what other people see are two entirely different things. AND then there's the matter of what's on the inside. OMG! That shit is scary! That's the kind of shit that makes people nutty. "We" have to keep that shit in a locked drawer NEVER to see the light of day. 

One of the worst things my mother ever did to me was when she got it in her head how darling I would look with a Twiggy haircut and she made me get my hair cut like that. I was 11. Puberty hadn't quite hit yet.  I already was shaped like a boy.  What she did gave me the kiss of death. It was horrible and I had absolutely no say in the matter. I was so traumatized. It was truly awful. I know! I know! Suck it up! Right? But when you're young stuff like that matters. Stuff like not being listened to matters. Not having anyone to talk to matters. Looking like a boy when you're a girl MATTERS. I wanted to be cute and I wasn't. If my mother had been kind, she would have featured her tall daughter as a model and made her feel beautiful instead of awkward and homely. She should have slapped some make-up on me and enhanced some of my features and then turned my face towards the mirror and told me that I'm beautiful. That never happened and I often wonder why she never attempted to let me know I wasn't ugly. Did she not know how I felt? Couldn't she see it?  All the while this minor bullshit and pre-teen angst was happening, I was struggling dealing with sexual abuse. So I suffered in silence. The ugly duckling waiting to become a swan suffered in silence. It was my self-imposed prison for which the sentence was indefinite.

This was in a time when NO ONE talked about stuff like that. Yes, sexual abuse happened back then. It's always happened and unfortunately, will continue to happen. On some level, I instinctively knew I needed to just keep it to myself and "protect" the person. So, I sacrificed myself to protect someone else who didn't deserve protection or my loyalty. But why did I do that? If this makes any sense...although I feared and hated what the person was doing to me and yes, I also hated that person, but on the other hand, I also loved that person. I was just a child and I was torn.  My loyalties were torn. I was so confused.  I didn't have anyone to talk to and even if I did, what exactly do you say? How do you slip something like that into a conversation when you don't really understand what's happening or why it's happening. OMG! That child inside me still cries at times! Sometimes, I lay awake at night and I get flashes of old memories and feelings. That little girl still lives and she has lived a war-torn life. The battle scars may not be visible to the naked eye, but they do exist. When I look in the mirror I see the scars. When I look in the mirror I feel the scars and when I close my eyes I feel the fear.

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