The Thirteenth Piece: The Three Year Storm (Part Two)

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My first day as a seventh grader in middle school was the complete opposite of the previous year. I used to want to converse with others and try to make more friends out of my own free will.

That year was different.

Truthfully, I didn’t care about anything anymore. I didn’t care if I had friends or if I kept them. I didn’t care about lectures, so I chose to avoid them instead of attending. I kept to myself. I avoided personal conversations or just made up lies about my life to prevent any future curiosities. Love was foreign to me. I didn’t know how to love or what it meant to be loved. You could say, I was going through the ‘adolescence phase’ where I hate the world and complain about how shitty life was.

Sometimes I wonder. Would I still be in the same state of mind as I was in if I the word abusers never introduced itself int my life? Would I be happier? More sociable? Less anxious? Less numb?

**

Seventh grade was a time where I experimented a lot with the word love with both genders. With guys, I still felt numb. I wouldn’t last more than two weeks dating my exes. I would go out with them for pity or, honestly, just for the hell of it. I can’t say I ever felt ‘love’for any of them. The were just figures within my life.

I prohibited any physical contact besides kissing and holding hand. I strictly verbalized that my butt and breasts were off limits. Yes, at times, when we would make out for perpetual minutes, my insides would twist and turn with a fiery burn, desiring more, but the images of my abusers shocked me back into reality and my insides twisted and turned in agony and disgust.

Teenage females were different though. Our make out sessions would last for the longest and they were filled with intensity and I didn’t feel an ounce of disgust. Instead, I felt normal. I would fire up and the glimpses of my past would not try to sneak in. They remained hidden with them.

Is it because my abusers were male that my amygdala automatically put on a defensive shield with them? I wonder.

**

The first guy I went out with in middle school was kind and loving really. I had a binder that had ‘I love nerds’ written on the front. He wrote me a letter and gave it to me towards the end of the day in the classroom.

“Do you want to go out with me? Yes or No.

Some girls teased me over it and pointed at him, daring me to go out with him. He was staring at me, smiling.

I circled yes. After school, we walked around the football field and I could see how nice he was, yet, I felt nothing. He kissed me. We kissed for a few minutes. I stopped and told him, “This isn’t going to work.” I stood up and walked away.

Why did I break up with him? Honestly, I don’t know.

I glanced over my shoulder and saw him, still sitting on the bench. I continued to walk.

The next day, rumors clouded the school. He no longer looked at me with a smile. Instead, his eyes translated hate.

I continued my day. I didn’t care.

That was my shortest relationship.

**

There was one relationship where the idea of love came to mind. His name was H. I loved the way he smiled. Genuine. We started out like my previous relationships, but the it elevated quickly. He invited me to his house to meet his mom. I was nervous, but I accepted. We scheduled a day to go to his house and we did. I met his mom. We talked.

That was the first time I’ve ever done anything like that and I felt good.

He invited me to his room where we immediately exchanged an intense kiss. We climbed onto his bed and his body was closely pressed to mine. I could feel the fire inside me burn. I loved that burn. I wanted more. The images were hiding. I could do it, but I quickly pushed him away. I rapidly collected my emotions and stabilized myself. I smiled at him and giggled asking him to show me the rest of his house. He guided me to a small room covered by light bulbs. The lights were dimmed.

He turned on the stereo and a slow tempo music played. He grabbed my hand and we slowly danced the floor away. Perfect I thought to myself. I felt my heart ache, but not because I was in pain, but for a different reason. A reason unknown to me then. I layed my chin on his shoulder and smiled.

Our night ended with a kiss goodbye and calming walk back to my apartment.

I quickly learned that happiness does not last long, at least, not for me. About a week later we were in the schoo’s hallway, holding hands, while he was walking me back to class and without my knowing, he grabbed my butt. As soon as I felt his hand on my ass, my hand pushed him away.

“It’s over. I’m breaking up with you.”

I had rules.

I turned around and walked away. I thought I would feel remorse or guilt for ending it like that, but I felt nothing, like, the first guy I went out with in middle school. Like him, H just stood there and, like him, my emotions did not waver.

My feet kept pulling me forward. My mind kept asking Why?

That was my longest relationship during middle school.

My Body

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From the day I was born my beauty was forced on me

My beauty was to be shared by those around me

My beauty was never mine

From my legs to my hair, my beauty was cherished

My curvy body

My small waist

My long curls

My long lashes

My soft lips

My body was beauty

Beauty forced on me

Appearance was a priority forced on me

Why? I don’t know

By the age of seven, my body was no longer mine, instead, it was taken from the men who turned it into a sex toy

By the age if eight, my body was recycleable; passed from one to another and used up as many times they wished

By the age of nine, my body was a collage of new needs and forgotten futures

By the age of eleven, my body was introduced to new artifacts:

Full breasts and a Nice ass

During my teens, my body was unbearable

My body became a temple where I could walk in and worship all my hate to it

**

At age fourteen my body found true love, but not from me

My body received uncontidional love, but not from me

My body was foreigned to me

I only saw it as a dirty dish rag and it didn’t matter how many times I tried to wash it or change it

It was still a rag

My beauty was forced on me and used against me

My beauty introduced me to hell

Before the age of 22, I couldn’t bare to look at my body naked

I felt the filthy hands of my abusers

I heard the echoes of perverted men and prideful women

I smelled the breaths of those who forced my body on them

I felt the hundreds of eyes starring down at me

I couldn’t breathe, so I didn’t look.

At age twenty two, I remember standing naked in my bathroom. I looked at my body from head to toe and whispered You are beautiful

Not an ounce of belief, but I said it

Now, at age 24, I am laying on my bed

Shirtless

Braless

You are beautiful

This is my beauty. This is my body. This is me.

The Thirteenth Piece: The Three Year Storm (Part One)

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My first day of middle school was nerve wrecking. I woke up at 6 a.m. and walked to the bathroom only to realise that a huge zit grew overnight on my chin.

This is a disaster.

Kill me.

The first day of sixth grade and I had a zit. I tried to make it disappear. I dabbed a bit of toothpaste on it (my mother once told me it worked) but quickly washed it away when the burning sensationbecame unbearable. Next, I tried to pop it, but only failed and made it worse, so I decided to cover it. I was not expert in make up so I decided to take the low risk choice and just hide it with a small bandage.

Just kill yourself already.

My day was already fucking me over.

I was mentally preparing myself for the first day of middle. I decided that I should continue as I was in fourth and fifth grade, socialize and fit it. I wanted school to be a distraction from the reality that haunted me at the house. I wanted to be normal, but there is so much one can do to prepare. In the end, LIFE loves to punch and kick you around.

Our house wasn’t far from my middle school. It was located in front of my former elementary school and about an eight minute walk from our house. On that day, eight minutes felt like hours. The closer I got to school, the more anxious I would become. I had to constantly stop to balance my beathing and take momens to relax. Surprisingly, I arrived in one piece and headed to the gymnasium. I walked in and saw the crowds of kids.

Breathe.

Don’t stare so much.

I clenched my hand infront of me, avoided eye and physical contact and headed to the wall mat. I leaned on the wall and released a long, silent exhale. I didn’t realise I wasn’t breathing until I leaned on that wall. I stared and floor and listened to the laughters, screams, and talking around me.

I need to leave already.

My first day was already heading downhill.

I didn’t recognise how much time passed until the gymnasium was half empty. Everyone was heading to their homerooms. I quickly picked up my backpack from the floor and searched for my homeroom. It took me longer than usual to find it. By the time I arrived most of the seats were filled. I looked around nervously and found a desk in the middle of the room and quickly sat down. I placed my bag infront of me and sat in silence until the teacher came in. Nearly everyone in the classroom had made a friend, except for myself and another kid. I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone. I was anxious. I was afraid.

What if they stare ar your bandage?

What if they don’t want to talk to you?

What if I talk too much?

What if they ask too many questions?

The CONS were endless, so I just gave up.

The months that followed had it’s nice outcomes; I was able to make a few friends, go to a couple school dances, exhange friendly letters, etc. As much as I tried, I still felt distance between me and everyone else. I think it was just the fact that I always had my mask on even when I was with friends. I felt safe. If they tried to ask questions, I avoided them or just gave vague answers. Friends were temporary for me, because I was too afraid to put down my mask and just say This is me.

My personality took a darker turn after my visit to the assistant principal’s office.

My need to fill the aching void that dwelled within me increased and transitioned to my second year of middle school.

The Twelfth Piece: School

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As long as I can remember I was never good at making friends or being able to socially connect with others. I didn’t know how to start a conversation without concluding with a pregnant pause or without panicking to the point where my palms would be drenched in sweat. I never wanted anyone to get to know me, but I didn’t want it to make it obvious that there was something wrong with me, so I tried to find a middle ground.

Elementary was easy. Kids. Kids just talk and make friends, right? Well, I don’t remember making much friends. None, actually. I was moved to three different elementary schools in total.

The memories of my first elementary school are vivid. The only memory that really stands out is when my mother decided to celebrate my birthday during lunch time. My face was red with embarrassment. I wondered why she sent me to school in a red puffy dress. I wasn’t embarrassed because of the cake, the balloons, or even the Happy Birthday songs. I was embarrassed because I didn’t have friends to celebrate it with. My mother brought cakes and cupcakes for a over a dozen kids and I didn’t talk to any of them. The rest of the day seemed eternal. I just wanted to leave. Get away.

My second elementary school was the same. I was only there for a year and pretty much acted as if I didn’t exist. I wouldn’t play with anyone or talk to them unless it was school related. For being almost invisible many things occurred in third grade. For one, I had my first french kiss from a boy my age. He was labeled as the trouble kid. He was always getting in trouble with the teachers and just didn’t care for the world. For some reason, I was attracted to that side of him. My memories of how we started that relationship are hazy. All I remember is the kisses and the day I last saw him. We moved shortly after. I was ready to press the reset button.

My third and last school for my elementary years was different. I started fourth grade the same as any other year. I didn’t really talk to anyone. I was getting good at becoming invisible (almost). Until one day, two girls approached me while I was sitting down at my table in the classroom. They said Hi. I looked up and stuttered the same word. That was the beginning of something I never had before; friendship. Before I met B and M, my days were gray. I didn’t have anything to look forward to in school. I just went because I had to. Being invisible was calming because I didn’t have to waste my energy in trying to be something that I was not. After meeting them, school seemed brighter and filled with colors. When I was with them it was as if all the abuse that was occurring at home was nonexistent; being with them made me forget and I genuinely wanted to get closer to them. They were pure in my eyes and I wanted to cherish that. Even though I still had a shield in front of me, I tried my best in our relationship. My demeanor completely changed for those two years of elementary school.

Until the next phase; middle school.

That’s when my storm truly unraveled.

The Eleventh Piece Self Harm Part Two (Trigger Warning)

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My mother rarely worried about me, she didn’t have a reason to. I always portrayed as the ‘good girl’ when I was with her, mainly, because her hands were already full with my brothers’ rebellious phase and her two jobs. Truthfully, she didn’t have the energy for anyone else; I don’t blame her. After my father was deported, she was now a single mother raising four children; it wasn’t easy.

The days that followed after my mother found out about my cutting were normal. She didn’t check on me. She didn’t worry. Yes, she asked questions, but that was about it. My guilt belittled my own existence and compassion understood her situation. The blade was my only escape, so I continued to slash away; I expanded my museum on my arm all the way down to my thigh. Every time I closed myself in the bathroom I would make some sort of incision; it didn’t matter if it was deep enough that the blood would pour out continuously or small enough for just a small drop to escape. The blade was my stimulus; I had to have it.

My cutting lasted for about another year.

I stopped when I turned 14 years old.

I was 14 years old when I met him.

I was 14 years old when my struggle and acceptance for love commenced.

The blade was my friend.

Love was my enemy.

Yet, I stopped unaware of the unknown that waited for me.

The Eleventh Piece Self Harm: Part One (Trigger Warning)

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“Do you want to try it?” she asked

We were hiding in a hallway that linked two doorways; one led outside and the other led to the main hallway of our school.

I could not detach myself from the razor that she had in her hand. They were all creating a small incision on their wrist. I was curious. I grabbed the razor and created a cut on my left wrist. I felt a small sting, but it felt so good.

This wasn’t the first time I used pain as an escape. I would constantly pinch my body or burn myself in certain parts to just make certain emotions go away. The pain that rushed through my body was exhilarating. It took me to a place where I could only feel pain and nothing else, so when I made that cut on my wrist, my addiction commenced.

Every time I felt like I was emotionally collapsing from my insomnia nights, flashbacks, or life in general, I would close myself in my bathroom and break a shaving razor using the blade to lightly slice my wrist. After I was finished ,I threw the evidence away and became friendly with long sleeve shirts and sweaters.

One particular evening stands out though.

I was about 13 years old and I remember having a bad day. My bad days before were worse than today. Memories of my past would come back to me and drop me to my knees.

Luckily, I was alone in my room when a sudden flash back made me tremble. I can’t remember what the memory was, I can only remember what it did to me. I couldn’t breathe. My sight was blurry. I was shaking and sweating. I screamed a silent screamed and rushed to the bathroom. I looked for a shaving razor, but couldn’t find one. I saw a loose razor blade and picked it up. I slashed my wrist without stopping until my wrist was covered in a blanket of crimson red. My tears were like rain showers washing away dirt from the street. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried until my throat was dry. I cried until my eyes were red and swollen. I cried until my stomach ached. I cried until I had nothing else left. I was in there for a long time and no one suspected anything, just how I liked it.

It wasn’t until late that night that my addiction was discovered by my mother. She saw the blood from my sleeve and pulled it up. Tears fled from her and she asked Why?

I said, “Because of him…dad.” I wanted her to know the truth, but her ignorance overcame.

“I know you miss him. He will be with us soon. Don’t cry. Don’t do this anymore.” She caressed my hair.

I stared blankly and didn’t know what to think. No matter what, my truth was meant to stay buried.

“I just miss him.” I responded in a monotone voice.

I lied through my teeth. I lied.

Once again, my truth dwelled in the dark.

My addiction continued and

My wrist became a museum of my bad days.

The Tenth Piece Missing (Trigger Warning)

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During our time of secret visitation to my father, my mind kept haunting me with questions:

Why is he not touching me?

Why is he not acting normal?

Does he not love me anymore?

In the back of my head I was aware that his actions were not right. They were not love from a true father, but after you become use to being treated a certain way; in my case, sexually abused every time my father and I were together alone; your own sense of reality becomes warped and everything within you follows. I needed my father’s “love.” His lack of “affection” made me think that I was no longer loved and I felt completely useless.

I know this may sound…disturbing, and pardon my way of expressing my thoughts, but the only way to understand is through the truth.

I felt like something was missing; I was incomplete, so I replace his lack of love with masturbation at the age of 11.

The first time I experimented with masturbation was probably around the middle of third grade during the time that my grandfather began sexually abusing me.

Our class went to the computer lab. The seats next to me were empty (I was a loner.) The computer lab was freezing and my hand were trembling so I decided to put my right hand between my thighs. It wasn’t instant. I just felt a sensation like I had to pull my hand higher towards my vagina. I tapped my finger and I felt like I had to keep going. I was scared because I did not know why I was doing it and why I had this twitch to keep going, until the teacher approached my computer and I stopped. That was the beginning and the temporary end of my semi masturbation.

So, when I turned 11, my first response for satisfaction to this void was inserting the end of a razor inside my vagina. It did not hurt for I have gone through this process many times. I responded to the lack of affection; masturbation. The first time, I quietly cried on my bathroom floor; disgusted with what I have done. Disgusted.

Masturbation was a baffling escape. At first I knew why I did it, then I lost track on why I continued when every time I inserted an object in my vagina, it resulted in disgust, shame, and overwhelming tears.

I thought I was missing something, but in truth, my reality was warped into something false. I was used many times by many men, so, for me, that was “love.” When everything stopped, that urge to become useful continued. I was desperate to feel needed.

So, I turned to the only thing I knew…

The Ninth Piece Freedon with Chains: Part Three (Trigger Warning)

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Time and I never had the best relationship and after our confession, an opportunity for a mutual agreement was long gone. Our days were engulfed with courtrooms, family breakdowns, interviews, and psychologists. It seemed as if life was punishing my sister and I for…trying. Our efforts were looked down on, not praised. Our truth were lies cultivated and shielded by our mother’s pride.

The days when we were summoned in the courtrooms were the most difficult. Our mother made sure our lines were rehearsed and memorised. I hated the feeling of guilt that pierced my stomach sitting in that podium and repeating the same phrases:

Nothing happened.

It’s all lies.

We love our daddy and we want him to come back home.

All I can say is that my mother is a master manipulator and we, unwillingly, followed her steps. Before we knew it, rehearsal was unnecessary; the words glided out of our mouths, but the pain did not vanish. Besides the courtrooms and frequent visits to a psychologist, our family was quickly breaking apart. My older brother found comfort in drugs and his group of friends, so my mother used the rest of her free time watching out for him, bailing him out of jail and guiding him to thr correct path which he found little understanding in. On the other hand, my little brother conserved himself to the fullest; he enclosed himself from us, both emotionally and mentally. My little sister was in the middle of the storm; she was trying to find her place in an environment consisted of chaos. The one thing we had in common is the fact that we were all drifting apart; whether it was an inevitable path of life or just the mere fact of not being able to face each other with the truth, we continued to create a gap between us.

The one day we all came together as a ‘family’ was when we made our secret visits to our father. These specific days made me realize how quickly I lost the battle for justice. My mother found some way to visit him when there were strict prohibition of our contact. The days that we visited and slept over at his place created the illusion of the perfect family. We all laughed and bonded as though the world around us did not change a bit. I never knew if my siblings feeling were sincere when were all enclosed in that small room. The echoes of laughter, the uniform smiles, the hugs… The truth is, I was numb to everything that occurred around me. I wondered why my father wss acting like the perfect father. I wondered why he did not try to lay one hand on me during the nights that we stayed with him or why he did not dare to look at me once. Overall, I didn’t know how to feel about the whole situation, so in the end I gave up.

After about two years, the courtrooms stopped and my father and two uncles were sent back to their country. Even though I had the luxury of not seeing my perpetrators anymore, my mind and body did not correlatw. While my body moved forward, my mind continuously jumped from different time spans; the past being a top favorite.

Now that I think about it…we all mastered the skill of manipulation.

The Ninth Piece 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.

The Ninth Piece 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?