Freedom with Chains: Part Two (Trigger Warning)

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Silence devoured my surroundings during the car ride. It took me a moment to realize that my little sister was sitting next to me. I was still processing everything that happened. She was quiet. We were avoiding eye contact. We couldn’t speak to each other.

My mother did not look at us. She kept both hands on the steering wheels and eyes locked on the road until we arrived at our house. We each opened our doors and walked inside, my mother pointed us to the kitchen. She called my brothers and we gathered. My sister and I stood next to each other, in front of the breakfast table. My mother approached us, “What happened? Why are they saying things about your father and everyone else? It’s not true. What did they force you to say?” She kept asking, until she paused and waited for an answer. My sister stood her ground, “He did touch me.” My mother’s eyes filled with fury, “Why are you telling the teachers? Don’t you see what you have done? They will take you from me.” She looked at all of us. My brothers were supporting her, but they can’t be blamed for doing so. They were oblivious to what was happening to us and even more so, now that everything is coming out of the blue. My breathing deepened. I have to admit that I was scared of what was happening. I was so afraid of what I have done. I was sad that I made everyone feel that way, so I denied and I betrayed.

“I-I never said anything. They’re lying.” The words came out and a feeling of nausea formed. It didn’t feel right denying what I had just admitted. I looked towards my sister and she did not flinch, but a sad look formed in her eyes. She remained quiet. My mother looked relieved as if she was happy to know that her ‘perfect’ daughter remained perfect.

“It must of been your aunts spreading the rumors. They always had…” My mother’s voice subdued, and my mind took me to a vivid memory.

**

I was standing what I think was my room. One of my aunt asked me if HE touched me. I remember repeating the same answer, “No.” She gave me a melancholy expression. She knew that word was filled with lies. My mother barged in and they began to argue. My aunt continued to tell her that HE is a bad person, but my mother did not flinch in her defense towards him. I stood in the background, but I assume my mind blocked out the rest fo the conversation.

The memory is vague. As much as I try to find the missing pieces and bring color to the images, in the end it is futile.

**

I continued to nod throughout her Who is To Blame speech. I dissociated after a certain period of time

During that time, I didn’t know what dissociation meant. I just thought I was crazy. What person in their right mind would just block daily events without even noticing or remembering?

I knew a long time passed when I glanced at my window and the sky was engulfed in darkness. A small flicker stood out; a single star. I stared for a few seconds and a familiar feeling overwhelmed me; loneliness. I glanced over towards my sister’s bed and she was fast asleep. Maybe she was able to sleep because she felt like a huge burden was lifted. I, on the other hand, felt an immense amount of guilt, disappointment, and betrayal. I looked back at the star and began to cry. The overpowering feeling of loneliness grabbed a hold of me and I did not let go. I embraced it, because IT was the only thing that comforted me.

Like the star in the sky, I was alone. Even though I was surrounded by a plethora of other people, aid, and love, I singled myself out. I was afraid. I was guilty. I was dirty. I was unforgiving. I was a taboo.

I could not bring myself to shine. Instead, I took my shimmer and introduced it to a world of solitude.

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Freedom with chains: Part One (Trigger Warning)

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The day our secrets came to the open was a day like any other. The Texas heat was scorching hot without a cloud in the sky to aid us. I walked from class to class, the minutes seemed to travel slower than usual. I walked into my classroom and was, about to sit down until my name was summoned by the assistant principal. I was an outcast within my class, so there were no “Ohhh, she’s in trouble” comments. I just felt heavy eyes around me as I walked towards the office. My assistant principal guided me to her office and gestured me to sit down. She sat across from me, behind her desk and a stern but gentle expression formed on her face. My vision was becoming blurry, I could feel my anxiety trying to crawl out. I hated being put in a position where I was (am) the attention.

She didn’t take long to inform me of the situation that was occurring. My sister had revealed that she was being sexually abused by a family member. CPS was immediately contacted and an investigation was taking place. The AP waited until I gave her some sort of response, but I couldn’t. I locked my hands together in front of me and started sweating and shaking. I was nervous. I was in a panic. I was confused on what to say or what not to say. I thought I was the only was being abused. The news that my sister was going through the same thing filled me with guilt and disappointment.

I couldn’t protect her.

Why didn’t I notice?

The questions rambled on.

Within minutes my voice broke free for the first time in a very long time. I told my truth to the Vice Principal. She listened and wrote things down, asked a few questions here and there. I told her about my two uncles and my father. I gave her details, but I couldn’t speak the whole truth. If it was too difficult for myself then the person in front of me would not be able to withstand such truth. I was in that room for over an hour, I think; I felt like I was there forever. CPS was contacted immediately after that. The teacher escorted me to the main entrance and a black vehicle waited for me. I hesitated. I didn’t feel comfortable getting into an unknown vehicle, but they persuaded me by saying that my mother was going to meet me at our location. So I got in and sat quietly in the back of the car. I looked around; the seat, the windows, the floor, the leather, even the odor, everything smelled clean. What was I doing contaminating such a nice car? I felt my insides twisting, turning, and rotting. I stayed quiet the entire trip until we arrived at a building.

The woman who was driving the car guided me inside to a small, enclosed room. The walls were empty except for a large, rectangular mirror that reflected half the portion of the room. There was a small, black table with four chairs and the lady asked me to sit down. They offered me a drink and snack which I accepted since I wasn’t able to eat lunch at school. She waited until I finished eating, then she began with the questions:

What do you like to do on your free time?

Do you get a long with you brother and sisters?

Do your parents fights?

Do you have friends?

So on…

I stayed quiet most of the time. I didn’t want to talk anymore. I felt this piercing feeling that I had done something wrong and I didn’t want to make things worse. We didn’t last long in that room. She helped me find the lobby where my mother was waiting for me. Her expression gave me chills. I knew she was mad. I knew I had done something wrong. I knew it. My mother grabbed my arm, giving a stern look at the woman, “You will hear from my lawyer.”

We left. The car ride back to the house was quiet. I began to flick each one of my fingers together and bite the inside of my mouth. I was nervous. I looked outside. The sun was setting, a flock of birds formed shapes in the sky, the tree dances with the wind, I knew the beauty out there was real, but I could not see it or feel it.

I spoke my truth that day and I still felt trapped. My voice broke free, but my chains were still attached.

Is this the consequence for speaking my truth or is it a punishment for allowing a taboo to become reality?

A Nightmare… A breakdown (Trigger Warning)

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It has been so long since nightmares used to scare me to the point of sleep deprivation and tears. During my teen years, sleep was something I never prioritized. Every time I closed my eyes, images of my abuse and perpetrators haunted me. If I was lucky, I could at least get a complete three hours of sleep before an anxious feeling woke me up. The sleep deprivation lasted until I met my husband. That first night was the first time I was able to sleep in tranquility. I never thought I would have nightmare like that again.

Two weeks ago, on Saturday night, I woke up at 2:48 am gasping for air and shedding tears. I was holding my breath.

Was I trying to unconsciously kill myself?

My body was shaking entirely and my clothes were soaked in sweat. The images were entering one by one. I looked to my side and saw my husband and kids sleeping. I stayed quiet. I did not want them to see me in such a state when I couldn’t even understand why my body reacted the way it did. I was scared. For the first time in a long time, I was truly scared. I lay back down and stared at the ceiling while my mind replayed the scenes back to me.

**

I had just clocked out and started to walk home. It was past sunset, so I was nearly jogging to get home as quickly as I could. A white truck approached from behind me, coming to a halt next to me. As I looked back to see who the mysterious figure was, I realised it was one of our regular client. He stepped out and greeted me with a smile. We conversed for about a minute until he offered me a ride home. A few seconds passed until I agreed. I didn’t think much of since he came to my work place nearly every day and was well known by everyone. He drove for a few minutes until I signaled my stop. He ignored me.

Did he not see me?

I tapped his shoulder and told him that he had missed my stop. Instead, he glared at me and yelled, “Shut the fuck up! Don’t you understand that I am not taking you home.” He placed his focus back on the lane. I could feel the fear consuming every inch of body; I couldn’t move or respond, so I stayed quiet. It wasn’t too long when we arrived to his town house. I quickly un buckled my seatbelt and tried to run free, but he grabbed a hold of my hair and pulled me back. Tears ran down as I pleaded for my freedom. He pushed aside my pleads and took me inside his house. The inside was filled with mountains of trash, clothes, food, sex toys, mannequins, and furniture. The appearance of his house did not resemble the character I thought I knew. With each push, he guided me to his living room and ordered me to remove my clothes. I tried to escape, but was unsuccessful once again. He beat me until I gave in.

As I lay on my bed, staring at my ceiling the tears were rushing down. I couldn’t find an end to this horrific story. I was terrified.

The whole night, he beat me and raped me numerous times until sunrise. He threw my clothes to me and said, “Get out. I’m done with you. GET OUT.” I did what I was told.

After that, the images of the nightmare were vivid.

I wandered the streets naked and aimlessly until my husband found me.

I can’t remember much of what happened after that. I only remember how it ended.

I ran away from my husband. The thought of having him see me in such a state was unbearable, so I ran away.

I couldn’t go to sleep. By the time I realised how much time has passed, my kids were asking for breakfast and my husband was washing his face. I was numb. I didn’t know what to make out of what just happened to me. I was having difficulty controlling the fear that was trying to pushing itself out. After a few hours, I decided to tell my husband. He was very comforting. He didn’t say much, but he said the right things, yet, I felt anxious and scared. That Saturday went by so fast and I wasn’t able to enjoy it to the fullest. That night when my husband decided to go to sleep at 10:00pm, I stayed in the living room and distracted myself with anything: food, Netflix, reading, and YouTube. I didn’t want to go to sleep. When I knew the yawning was becoming unbearable around 1:30 am I knew that I had to at least try to get some sleep. I quadrupled check that everything was secure and locked before heading to my room. Before I crawled into my sheets I doubled checked that my kids and husband were okay. I even got to the point where I checked if they were breathing. Even after crawling into my sheets, I couldn’t close my eyes. I stared at my ceiling, while glimpses of images unwillingly haunted my every thought. My legs were cramping, my body was shaking, I was sweating, and a tight-like feeling overwhelmed my chest making it hard to breathe; I was afraid. The emotions that I felt when I was younger and the memories of my abuse flooded my mind. I was drowning. I cried, uncontrollably. I woke up my husband and told him, “I’m scared. I’m scared…” He didn’t question my behavior. He grabbed a hold of me and held me tight and reassured me, “I’m here to protect you. Relax.” Thanks to his care and love I was able to get some sleep that night.

**

That nightmare brought back so many unwanted feelings and memories all at once that it shredded me. I felt like I was that same eight year old girl who was abused all those years. The fear, the guilt, the disgust, the betrayal, the ignorance…everything became alive again. I was broken again.

To tell you the truth, I felt like shit days before, the day of, and the days after that nightmare. I felt like shit and I still do. I am mad because I allowed myself to be swallowed by my negative thoughts. I am scared because of how I reacted. I haven’t had a breakdown like that in a while and it’s upsetting. Due to that experience, some old habits have successfully broken through the cage while other are still trying to find another escape.

I know things will get better, but I have to constantly remind myself that I will be okay, so I can continue my day without falling into my abyss.

The Unknown

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When I was around 8 years old, my mother told me of a spooky story from her country called La Carreta Loca (The crazy wagon). My siblings and I crowded around her, our ears ready to listen and our blankets pulled to the tip of our nose like a shield. 

The story tells of a crazy wagon that haunted a road near my father’s house. Every night at midnight a wagon perpetually rounds the same road. People in my mother’s small village said that any person who walked the same road as the wagon at midnight, would go mad. One glance, one sound, and your being will transport into a never ending, painful delusion followed by physical illness. My father claimed to be a victim of such horror. 

As we cuddled next to my mother, my mother smiled as if enjoying our fear. She continued with her story:

My father came back from and eventful, drunken night at his friends house. It was close to midnight and he decided to walk back to his house, even after his friends insisted on a sleep over. He walked the road, stumbling here and there. When the arrows hit 12, the wagon began its journey. My father came to a stanstill when he heard the crunch of wheels on gravel. He looked back, but the mysterious fog did not allow any image intake. He quickened his pace. The graveling sound became louder. The fog begun to disappear. He dare not look back.  He continued his usual pace. The rumbling sound synced with his footsteps. Step. Step. Step Step. He glanced to the side and saw the wagon. He stumbled down with fear and the wagon came to a halt. There was nothing pulling it; no animal or human. He described the wagon to be antique, rusted, and covered in debris and webs. After seconds of silence, the wagon continued the path. My father did not remember anything after that. His mother claimed that when he arrived home: his body fell into a deep fever, he mumbled his words, sweat drenched his clothes, and his eyes bulged and red. His mother layed him down on the bed and tried to calm him, but it was futile. My father dwelled in an unreachable dimension. His mother said he was on the verge of death. After a long night of ritualistic cleansing, his fever subsided and his cognitive responses reached a normal state. The next morning he awoke, bewildered and with no memory of his bewitchment.

My mother said that my father never walked that same road at night again. He was a changed man; he was never the same. 

 As my mother concluded the story, the sound of the wheels crunching the gravel haunted my head

  • What if the wagon is a weird alien?
  • Why didn’t the wagon choose a different road?
  • Is the wagon trapped?
  • Does it like being there? Alone?

 During that time in my childhood I didn’t think much of the story, but I have to admit that it did scare the shit out of me. Out of all the spooky stories my mother told us, this one stood out the most. Now, as I think back, I think the reason it stood out was because I found similiarities between the wagon and the men who abused me. 

Like the wagon…

  • They harmed others with reasons unknown.
  •  They chose a path and never steered away from it. 
  • A predators’ mind is puzzling. 
  • Solitude was their advantage. 

 Throughout the story, my mother kept repeating

The wagon without a rider

Is the reason behind the wagon’s insanity void? If it had its rider, would it still have chosen the same path?

Did my abusers choose a path because they lacked something in their life? 

The feeling of void is powerful. It drives humans to a depth of desperation, but does that justify a predator’s actions?

NO, IT DOES NOT.

Focus

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  I was walking underneath the pier with my family whe I glanced at this magnificent spot. For some odd reason I was overwhelmed with anxiety; it felt as though the raging waters would swallow me any second, and yet, I felt strong. I stood there. I did not move, not because I could not move, but because I CHOSE not to move. 

I found a hidden strength. 

Where is your focus?

The Eighth Piece: Uncle #2 (Trigger Warning)

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Charismatic, confident, friendly, and any other word or phrase that will describe a person in the most postitive sense; all three of my predator blended in, without a hint of suspicion, and my fourth predator was no different. 

 My uncle L immigrated from his home country to the USA and was introduced into the family when I was around 10 years old. My aunt thought he would flourish if he lived with us since my father had a successful small business and our economical status was better than the poverty line. My mother, without hesitation, agreed to take him in. I was surprised how my mother loved to take opportunities that would increase her reputation as being a “good woman” which she was by the way. The conundrum was figuring out whether she did it out of good will or advertisement. My mother was a strange one, but through the years I was able to turn this puzzle into an exciting game, very similar to I Spy. 

My uncle was a tall, very good looking, young man. He was polite, friendly, and conservative, but what stood the most was his smile. A similarity that I found with all my predators was the power they had behind their smile. To me, everytime they smiled, a shield formed because I knew who they really were on the inside. To others, their shield disintergrate and an automatic illusion begin to play. They were swept by the innocence of their smile and they lacked the vision of truth. 

I rarely talked to my uncle. The truth is I tried to keep my distance from him like I did with other men. I did not want to give him the wrong signal since I was convinced that something was wrong with me to cause the men in my family to act as they did. So, I kept my distance. I continued basic, everyday, conversations. Even though, my father continued with his routines, I was proud of myself, because i felt like I had control of at least a small part of my life…

Sadly, after everything that has occurred, I couldn’t learn my lesson: happiness is non existent. 

My small episode of self empowerment ended one night when my uncle opened the door to my room. 

“Psst. Psst. J. Pssssttt.” A very silent, but growling whisper awoke me. I scratched my eyes and looked towards my door and saw my uncle. He smiled a wicked smile and gestured a condom, swinging it back and forth. He jerked his head, telling me ‘it was time.’

My body quickly picked it self up and I began to walk behind him. 

Feet. Stop moving. Why are you walking? 

Go back. Go back. 

We walked to the living room and I quickly layed on the couch. I did not question the situation. I did what I knew best. To please. 

I layed down and he slowly pulled down my pajamas pants and panties, ripping the condom wrapper with his teeth. 

My body and mind were not intact. As he was preparing himself, something clicked within me.

NO.

  I jumped off the couch, pulling my pants up and ran to me room. I quickly closed the door and locked it, slowly walking backwards to my bed. My breathing was deep and silent; I couldn’t wake up my sister. I layed down on my bed and pulled the covers over my head. The tears rushed down. I couldn’t stop them. I was overwhelmed with disgust.

Why did you walk over there?

You’re disgusting. 

What is wrong with you?

 I continued the thoughts of self neglect through the whole night. I didn’t sleep. The following morning I found my composure and walked to the kitchen as if last night never occured. My uncle sat on the table and did the same. He glanced over to me, smiled, and looked away.

 My uncle didn’t last long with us after that. About a month later he decided to go live with his mother, my aunt. He said, “I don’t want to be a burden to you all. Thank you for everything.” As quickly as he was welcomed into our home, he left it. 

My life continued as it did after that. My father continued his daily routines. My mother was oblivious. My siblings were saved from the harsh truth. Everyday was the same. 

 The only new question that arose was Why did he do what he did? It’s as if he knew I would walk to him, no questions asked and do what he wanted. This new question brought back an unpleasant memory of my childhood. 

 Our family had one of their common family gathering parties. Everything was cheery, joyful, and alive. My father, uncles, family friends were obviously intoxicated. I was about 8 years old. My father made his way towards me and grabbed my hand. He walked me where my uncles and family friends were gathered and sat me on his lap. He began to pridefully, compliment on my beauty. He sat me in the middle where I was sorrouded by all the men. I did not like it. I felt trapped. I felt exposed. I could only focused on all the men smiling down at me. One by one; each one smiling at me. 

It was feeding time and I was the main dish. 

I was able to sneak past everyone and hide in a corner. Hide from the perverted eyes. Hide. 

That new question. That lost memory. That new incident with my uncle. 

I was convinced that my goal in reaching the status of being a normal girl would never arrive.

 I was a sex toy. 

 I was a puppet.

 I was nothing. 

                                                                 Alone I stand.

Trace

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I watch him sleep. 

Eyes closed.

His breathing pattern, the sound of a lullaby.

I lift my finger and slowly trace his lips.

 The hair follicles on his chin, slightly twisting them around my finger. 

I trace the curves of his broad chest.

I bring my hand to his hair, his waves identifying to the waves of the ocean. 

He twitches. 

I smile. Happiness. 

I wake up and turn my head. 

He’s not there. 

I look up and watch the popcorn textures dance around my ceiling.

What is this feeling?

Come back my sweet love.

I am in the mist. 

I am waiting for my light.