My Birthday

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Today is my 23rd birthday. Twenty three years have passed and I still have to whisper to myself, “You are worth it.”

When I was a child I used to bounce in excitement when March arrived. My mother’s birthday is March 2nd, my father’s is the 17th and mine is the 31st.I used to think that I was special. We had this one thing thay connected us forever. Funny, isn’t it?

With each year, that special feeling became a burden. My father’s abuse and my mother’s ignorance washed away everything. Every year after that, my birthday became a question.

Why was I born?

My birthday was a burden, a blasphomey, a mistake. I belittled my self worth and purpose. How could I think highly of myself if I had convinced myself that I was nothing?

Time became my safe haven. 

Time is still my safe haven. 

I am now 23 years old and I am sorrounded by infinite love, yet, I still woke up and uttered the silent words, “You are worth it.”

Thus, I bathed, dressed myself, and drove to a nearby Starbucks. I ordered a Tall Green Tea Latte and guided myself to the nearest seat in the patio. 

I am sitting down, listening to Promise by Ben Howard and drinking my Green Tea while trying to read my book, but the urge to share my thoughts has won. 

The weather is one of a kind. The sun is shinning bright and the heat is…warm. The wind is constantly blowing towards my direction as if it is telling me, “Let me help you breath.” 

You are worth it. 

It is not much, but it is my repeated beginning. This is part of my healing process. 

The Fifth Piece: My Room (Trigger Warning)

After my first night I couldn’t look at that house the same anymore. I felt  trapped. I didn’t know how to escape and my father’s continuous actions didn’t make things easier. 

It almost became a daily routine when he called me into his room after school. I always walked in and followed his instructions; I would sit down on the bed. He would remove my pants. He would examine me from head to toe; his stare always sent shivers down my spine. He would touch me everywhere; kiss me everywhere. He would, then put it in. I became used to dissociating myself. I would, endleslly, stare at the ceiling. The sound instantly stopped; silence. The colors were gone; darkness, the hope that I once clinged to was also gone; hopeless. When he finished, he would clean me up with some toilet paper and repeat the same words, “This is a secret between you and me. Okay?” He smiled while holding my hands. I hated secrets, but who could I tell?

Everyday, after he was done, I would go to my room. I would walk in quickly, close the door and make sure it was locked. My bed was next to the window and my little sister’s bed was closer to the door. I stood there, starring at everything; my bed, my dresser, my clothes scattered all over the tan colored carpet, my collection of teddy bears…everything. I felt safe there. That room protected me. That was the one place the monster could not reach me. 

 Why was everything good taken from me?

My mother always said, “I have to work. ” She would wake up at 6 am and clean houses then she would drive to Wal Mart to clock in for the second half of her day. Everyday was the same routine. Everyday we rarely saw her. That night was no different. 

My father’s drinking was no stranger to our family. He would drink everyday, anytime and anywhere. That night was no different. I was sleeping, face down, on my bed when I heard my door creak open. I turned my head towards my window and realized it was dark. I turned my head again and closed my eyes. I thought he was just checking if we were okay (ironic, isn’t?) and would quickly leave, but he proved me wrong when he walked to the foot of my bed and removed all his clothes. I stayed quiet. 

Maybe he will leave if I pretend that I’m sleeping…

He pulled the bed sheet from my feet and threw it over his head as he crawled towards me. In seconds, his naked body was laying on top of mine. I could smell the alcohol on him . His drops of sweat landed on my cheek. He quickly pulled my pajama pants down. I tried to jerk him off quietly. I didn’t want to wake my little sister who was sound asleep on her bed next to mine. He grabbed my hands, locking them into his. He forcefully, inserted his penis. I held my breath and stayed quiet. 

Stop. Stop. 

I had to find my focus, so i stared at my headboard; the textures and lines connected in a rhythmic dance, hypnotizing me. My left eye let a tear loose, but I quickly pulled myself together.

Crying won’t stop him. I will not cry. I cannot cry. 

His breath quickened. He thrusted. He touched me. I realized he was finished when he released my arms and let out a silent groan. He leaned over and mumbled in my ear, “Our…secret.” I clenched my hands; the anger that was released in a second was quickly withheld as soon as I glanced over my little sister. 

 It has to be me. 

My father quickly got up and started to put on his clothes. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to move. He left the room but came back with toilet paper to wipe away the evidence. I layed there, motionless, as he cleaned away. He carressed my hair and left the room, closing the door behind him. I stayed in the same position and kept starring at my head board. 

 I don’t remember falling asleep. 

The next thing I realize, morning was quickly summoned. I stood up and looked at my bed sheets, my walls, my clothes, and, lastly, my door. The feeling of being safe was overturned with fear. My one safe place was ripped out of my grasp. My room was no longer my room. The tranquility that once consumed me felt like it was suffocating me.

My mother opened my door and sat on my bed. 

Maybe she knows. I should tell her. She needs to know. She’ll believe me, right?

“Good morning sweetie. Let’s get ready. We’re going to the park with everyone.” She twisted my curls and kissed my forehead. I wanted to tell her, but why couldn’t the words come out?

She walked to my sister’s bed and woke her up as well. I starred at her, “M-Mom…why were you home late last night?”

“I got out of work late. Don’t worry. If im not here, daddy is. He’ll take good care of you.” She smiled.

My courage disappeared. I couldn’t tell her. My sister smiled, “Let’s get ready.” She quickly jumped off and opened the door. Our room was across our parent’s room. I could see my father changing. He walked out of his room and stood infront of my door. He smiled and winked at me. 

Why? Why?

My body felt heavy and goosebumps appeared, one by one, my hair follicles stood up. I felt like screaming. Screaming for someone or something to take me away from this place I could no longer call home. Take me away from this room. This room…

“What are you doing? Hurry up.” My big brother called out to me. I recovered my senses and jumped off the bed. 

“Go away. I dont have to listen to you.” I pushed him and smiled. I grabbed a towel and headed towards the bathroom. I closed the door behind me. I turned on the shower. I could hear my brothers and sister screaming and laughing. I opened the shower curtain and stepped inside, the steaming hot water turner my skin red as I stood there. I grabbed my loofah and rubbed it with soap until bubbles formed. I scrubbed my body. I scrubbed everywhere. Once. Twice. Three times; I scrubbed as many times as I could, but why did I still feel dirty? My breathing was becoming heavy. I fell to my knees and I kept scrubbing. It wasnt until my mother knocked on the door, “Hurry up. We’re about to leave” that I realized that I was no longer scrubbing, instead, I was scratching my legs and arms. I looked at my legs and saw the long, red marks on my body. I quickly turned off the shower and dried off my body. I sneaked in to my room and closed the door behind me. My body trembled, not because of the cold chill you get after coming out from a hot shower, but the fear I felt stepping inside that room.  I wanted to run away as far I could. Why didn’t I?

I quickly put on  blue pants, a colored tee shirt, white shoes and ran outside. Everyone was waiting for me in the truck. I erased every thought I had from last night and every emotion. I stepped in, my father smiled at me and I smiled back. 

We drove away. The sun was still shining. The wind was still traveling. The sky was still clear. The flowers were still blooming. Everything and everyone was moving forward except me.