Trigger Warning: This post is a story about childhood sexual abuse which may be triggering to survivors.
Blue-green plush carpet sliding through my hands. Chirps coming from crickets we hid in grandma's closet. The sweet aroma of batter morphing into scrumptious cakes. Seemingly sweet imagery of a great memory, but instead it's the scene of my introduction to fear, bitter bravery, and hope.
I'd sit there on that blue-green carpet awaiting commands. "Simon Says" was the game of choice - you know if Simon Says, then you must. "Be a good girl," he'd say, "Simon says take off your clothes." I'd hesitate and begin to whimper. Touching me gently, "Now, now Simon says be a big girl and do it happily. Simon Says smile." Adjusting my face to seem a bit cheerful he'd praise me, "Yea that's beautiful. You like being beautiful? All girls want to be beautiful, but you really are. Come closer." The closer I got, the bigger he'd grow. He'd take his stiff growth and slide it over my immature body. I had no features, just the fear that if I stopped him he'd venture off to command my siblings. I had to be brave. "Simon says lick it." He'd tickle me with a feather for me to mimic how gentle to be. Licks turned in to shoves of himself into my mouth. "Don't you dare bite," he'd snare while gripping my neck.
The Simon Says commands progressed beyond licks, and always with the presence of feathers. "I'll be gentle," he promised...After two years, at the age of 6, I was emancipated from his "games," but still enslaved by fear, bitterness, and false hope.
School became my friend. I buried myself in organizations and activities, sports (cheerleading is a sport), arts, and books. I hid all of my anguish in activities, busying myself so no one would question my worth because I was an asset. I was valuable to everything I touched, because I poured my heart into it. Still to come, however, were the days where I would be punished for any old reason and forbidden to engage in the school activities that provided me an escape. (Those days when your momma wakes up and makes it her duty for you to not do a thing she thinks you like.) I'd sit in my room in the agony of my memory of how no one saw the signs. I'd think of how I silenced myself for years and was now feeling shameful for the desire to scream (years later).
One Wednesday, some friends chased me around the school with feathers after seeing my reaction to them falling from someone's stupid First Down bubble coat and into my personal space. That day I went home and swallowed a pack of Benadryl tablets...and nothing freaking happened! I woke up to being poked and yelled at by my mom who assumed that I had been ignoring her, asking me why I didn't clean the base of the toilet. Disappointed I didn't die, and that I was still here on this green earth, I had a decision to make. I had to decide not to hope for liberty through death. I had to decide to have a new perspective and actually deal with my pain.
So I decided to break up with my childhood.
The next day, I approached my cheerleading coach before my first block class and completely UNLOADED! She didn't judge me. She didn't criticize me. She just asked me, "Are you ready to heal?" We prayed together and she recommended counseling services. After multiple sessions, I was finally able to break up with my childhood. I said hello to my true worth, not associated with organizations or how busy I kept myself. I said hello to real bravery, speaking out and living in my truth unashamed. I reintroduced myself to fear in a positive manner, to be fearful of limitations and to never box myself in.
Years, degrees, careers, and businesses later, I'm still a work in progress. But I survived my childhood, and I know that I can do ANYTHING!