I'm linking up with Marvia Davidson's Real Talk Tuesday talking about truth. This is my truth.
I couldn't settle to sleep, so I stayed up all night reading Every Shattered Thing by Elora Ramirez. If you haven't read this book, you need to. It wrecked me. Because while I've never been a victim of human trafficking, I have a good friend who is. This shit is real. It happens. And the lucky ones escape.
My words are tumbling around in my brain, as I fight tears. Because this story, it reminded me of something I'd forgotten. It reminded me of how bad the abuse was. About how it really is a big deal. I forget that. I forget now that it isn't happening every day. Now that I don't live my life in terror. Now that I don't have to worry about my room being searched or being caught doing something that would dishonour the family.
I've buried my stories. The fear and terror. The shattering of my soul. I've told them, detached, clinical. Listing the details as though they were nothing. Because they were normal. But Stephanie's story, it reminds me that it's not normal. Her desperation, her tenuous grasp on hope, it reminds me of my own. I forget how far I've come. I minimize the healing that still needs to happen. It's easier that way. It's easier to shrug it off. It's easier to live my life half-connected, but that's no life at all. It's this washed out watercolour existence, that has more colour than my life ever contained so I think this is living.
I'm still surviving. In too many places and too many ways. I'm surviving. I'm still hiding. Hiding my words here, hiding my face, my passions, my dreams. I'm hiding the nightmares and sleepless nights. I'm hiding the daily pain, the constant reminders of medical treatment and care that I was denied.
I don't tell. I still don't tell. I feel like I've written this post a million times here already, and somehow I need to keep writing it. I need to keep telling myself the truth, because really that's what this is about. It's about truth. My truth. I forgot what it was like to find stolen moments of time. Time to myself, hidden away from the parents. The lies upon lies that I told praying that he wouldn't catch me in it, that he wouldn't take away the tiny pieces of freedom that I had earned.
I understand what it is to be property. My value was in the work I could do around the house, the free babysitting, the way that I bolstered his image as a good father - and when I didn't bolster his image then came the rages. The screaming words hurled at my soul - the ones that I don't have to hear ringing in my ears any more because I wear them, carry them in my bones. They weigh me down and keep me trapped.
fat, lazy, rebellious, witch, liar, bitch, slut, disappointment, demon-possessed, why can't you be better, why can't you be like so and so...on and on, his words defining me, shaping me. Demanding respect, demanding love, demanding affection, demanding unquestioning, unthinking obedience. Demanding, pushing, pulling, tearing at my skin.
And I feel the numb set back in, the fog settling back down, sinking deep into my bones. I feel myself start to float away from these memories, back into myself, back into the present because what's back there is too much, too hard, too painful.
It isn't enough though that I survived it, that I was given a place, a home to escape to. I owe it to myself to heal, to come alive, to be the person that he was desperate to destroy. I don't know how. I don't know how to unlock these stories. I still don't know how to tell. Yet I'm convinced and reminded yet again that I have to tell them, in halting words and imperfect details. I have to tell them so that maybe my soul will stop shattering with every anniversary, phone call, visit, sleepless night, flashback, memory, and trigger. I don't know how to heal from this. There isn't a manual. But I'm determined to try.