Looking for me in 1982 or Tempera Cakes

I liked being “a girl” a little more then.
I thought that I’d be a teacher when I grew up or a traveling missionary nun who sang to kids and read them stories at night. I liked my handwriting, I was so precise. I loved school and books and showing off how smart I thought that I was by reading out loud to people or teaching people songs. I loved secret hiding places. And my own hair. And that all changed one day and for a long time. The yelling and fussing wasn’t so hard to handle it was the smacking sounds and the sobbing that were difficult to ignore. And the first time I saw him slap her across the face so hard that she fell to the floor I couldn’t have been more than six or seven and I was instantly someone else. Instantly I knew I had to protect myself from danger and that she would not help me. I knew then that I had to perform for people who could hurt me so that they wouldn’t or at least perform long enough for me to figure out a weakness in them and exploit it in order to protect myself. No god would allow this to be real life if there was a god so I just pretended to believe in god for my grandmother’s sake. I was not a girl anymore after that and its been a rough go, always feeling like when I “play” I’m in danger. Everything since has been serious no matter how much revelry I seemed to impart. That girl has wanted to die so many times and I have tried to help her. I’ve tried to love people but I don’t really have a reference for anything other than violence against them. I’m working on it and I remember her. I remember she wasn’t ashamed to smile. And I remember that she wasn’t afraid to share. I was even proud of my ghetto ass government name and laughing. She needs me to stop hurting me through other people. I liked word searches and I liked choir music. She needs me to remember how much I loved painting and mystery books. I abandoned her just like my parents did. And although they can’t come back and they can’t undo, who knows how much longer me and this little girl might be here? Who knows who else forgot the things that they loved from before they were hurt and might read this and remember? I remember. I’ve survived that. I’m safer than I have ever been and all I want is a hug from that little girl who thought everybody loved answering teacher’s questions by confidently raising their hand. She thought everybody hugged because everybody loved everybody. She had never even been alone. I was forever changed after seeing those fights up close and often. I have been struggling and suffering and alone ever since no matter who I have surrounded myself with, where I have gone or what cool and interesting things I’ve done. I wasn’t doing them, my avatar was doing them- whatever fake person I had to be to not get hurt, was doing all of those things, not me. Not her. Well, my son is raised now, I don’t really owe anybody anything now my grandmother who raised me and my father are both gone now. There is nothing stopping me from reaching inside myself and hugging that little girl who has actually stayed quiet as I have tried to end my life several times. She’s just tired, I imagine. I loved cartoons and comics and puppets and mornings and pancakes.  And now the she inside me really just wants someone, anyone, someone big and strong and older to say its gonna be okay. And I didn’t want it to have to be this way but as it turns out, the person who is going to have to get on their knees and face her eye to eye and wipe her tears and explain that it’s all gonna be fine now, is gonna have to be me.

I’m ready and I’m sorry and if you still want to paint… I will paint with you.

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