I am nineteen
I am a girl
I have brown hair and green eyes
I have two older sisters that drive me crazy most of the time
I live with my boyfriend, who is a wanna-be nerd, who actually just wants to spend his time making pancakes and trying to make me watch quirky french films…it works sometimes…
I love my mom
I admire my dad
I have a best friend who writes text messages that I have to use a cipher to decode. When she isn’t picking up the phone I know she just caught up watching Beirut videos or hiding out from her wonderful, but slightly shrill voiced mother, “mother-india,” as she calls her, hoping the famous Indian phrase “Raj go do the dishes!” doesn’t come screeching into her private/not so private room. “How dare you say that this is YOUR room! WE made you!” Mother-India always says. and yes, Raj is old enough to understand human biology.
I’m a writer and an imaginer
As for taste…
I love Jane Austen for beauty, but I’d rather be Gertrude Stein. Even though most the times I feel a lot more like Virginia Woolf.
When I was little the only place I could imagine I’d be happy was Africa, or England where every element of my imagination would somehow come to life and save me from everything that was happening around me. Since I was ten I have had weeks where I’ve felt I could never be happier, and other weeks where I’ve felt I’ll never be happy anywhere.
I’m only fear. fear in the night. and fear in the day.
I can’t escape the fears.
I’m a child. Five years old who doesn’t know what her uncle means when he says that we’ll keep it a secret.
A young girl, hiding in her bed, scared it’ll happen again.
Fourteen and wishing I hadn’t been so stupid. I was nothing to him. Just something ugly he could touch. Something young and worthless. Worthless cause I’d been touched before. But now I had a voice. I said “Stop!” he didn’t.
I’m weak. Small. My arms are thin. I didn’t have a voice to tell anyone. I didn’t have a voice to say “mom, I don’t understand.”
Mom, i still remember it
Mom, i am still frightened in the night time
I still have times I can’t go outside in the day. I’m too afraid someone will find me. Someone will hurt me. I am weak. I am ugly.
I still hear my parents yelling down the hall. My father saying “fuck!” fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. That’s the word I remember most. fuck.
fuck. To my sister who had to be taken to the hospital. Her arm was cut open. All our knives were locked away. How had she found the knife?
fuck. She had thoughts she might kill one of us. She was fourteen. I was ten. So my dad yelled fuck at her. And I cowered in my room.
In panic my breath catches in my throat. My lungs grow tight and heavy. I choke. I hold my neck. I can no longer see clearly. All I see are the visions. Him hurting me again and again. My mother being killed by my sister again and again. My father with a rope around his neck. again and again. again and again. The images come. The lies! Body shakes. Nails come out, but they won’t protect me. “I want to die,” I moan. But the room is dark. No one hears me.
Death must be better than this.
I want to die! I want to…
Anything but feel the fear.
I’m losing my mind. I’ve lost it so many times.
When I reached fifteen I couldn’t keep the pain bottled up all the time. Sometimes I’d explode. I’d scream into the face of my mother and my sisters would laugh and say “What is wrong with her? She’s a monster!” and they’d take my hair and kick me until I retreated back into my room. They weren’t trying to be mean–they just didn’t understand.
I didn’t understand.
A monster. I was a monster. I still am.
For four years I tried my best to keep it inside. I suffered depression after depression and spent months confined in my bed, pretending I was sick with something rather than come to see the truth. I couldn’t imagine getting out of bed. I would cry at the thought. Start hyperventilating. panic. Everything I had loved meant nothing to me, and at night I would cut a large scrape into my hand and arms, wondering when I would be strong enough to kill myself. I lost my friends. Most of them. They didn’t understand. I was alone. Completely alone.
Last year I started at a University and I was going through a time of positive spirits. I was packing and writing and decorating my dorm and never sleeping, staying out all night, playing my ukulele, listening to the music i love. I made so many cool friends, and loved my school work. I was so passionate about the literature courses. I was the person people usually said I was. The person I wanted people to think I was. bright! huge smile! charismatic optimistic! fun! and fearless!
I never slept. I spoke a mile a minute. I was enthusiastic about everything! Everything was hilarious! I stayed up painting, creating, writing, thinking of ways to stop animal cruelty, trying to adopt a pet sloth from Costa Rica! Singing along to my favorite Jacques Brel record or just being with friends. Doing whatever I could, anything that was possible!
After Christmas that year, I went back to school for my second semester, and about two weeks in, I was no longer that person all my new friends had come to know. I barely went to class. I avoided seeing anyone. I was afraid to go anywhere, even to use the washroom in our building, either because I would see someone and have to talk to them and account for why I was never around anymore, or my real nightmare, that a man would be in there waiting for me–wanting to hurt me. I had always recognized that my fear of a man raping me was unlikely, but nonetheless looking back, I can see my entire life has been based and controlled by that fear, and other obsessional fears that have always clouded my mind and paralyzed me during depressive episodes.
It wasn’t until one day, I was sitting in philosophy class and suddenly everything went blank. All around me I saw my classmates leaving the room but I was paralyzed in my seat. I couldn’t breath. I felt the symptoms of panic finding me again. but this time, I couldn’t hide it from anyone. I was hyperventilating, and knew somehow this was the end for me. I was going to die.
I cant remember much more about that day except that my professor sat and talked with me for a while. some of the nurses on campus then came over to take me to the medical facility. I remember sitting in a big room and trying to answer their questions, but I just kept shaking.
They looked at my arms and saw the scars and the cuts. For two hours they sat recording everything I said. I hated to be honest and have them looking at me, and I hated to remember the professor looking at me, and the kids looking at me, and my friends looking at me. But I had nothing left. I could hide anymore. I had been found out. The doctor I spoke to was a nice man with a big mustache. He seemed alright, but I’ve never been comfortable talking to men. We talked for a long time and he diagnosed me with anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Since then I have been seeing a psychiatrist who is watching closely for symptoms of manic depressive disorder, which apparently I have a lot of. I am on medication for this and am just beginning to work through a book on cognitive behavior therapy for people with anxiety disorders. I have been able to be open with my mom about my struggle, and she is very supportive of me. It’s my boyfriend who has really been there though, and taught me a lot about personal value and love.
That’s really why I’m writing this. To tell people my story. A story of a girl, like so many others, who has never had a voice, and who has never thought of herself as worth of anything.
Through patience and a lot of long nights he has showed me, I don’t have to be ashamed of who I am. All my life I have thought the things that happened to me and the fears that I built around them had to be hidden from everyone, because anytime I opened up, I was judged or ended up being used again. I want to tell other girls who have had similar things happen to them, that they are not what has happened to them. They’re not ugly, disgusting, weak, unworthy, hated, or something to be used by others. I want to tell them that they’re beautiful. That there is more inside of them than fear and pain. Depression passes. I know that. It has come and gone in my life so many times. It isn’t something to be ashamed of. Like the scars on a wrist or hand, or face. The feelings, the fears, the sadness, the thoughts, don’t make you a bad person. They’re something worth fighting against. Something worth talking back to. Because your not a sad story, and hopelessness is a lie. Everyone deserves to be loved, unconditionally, not because they’re perfect, and always put makeup on, and are skinny, and are always fun and exciting, and always the life of the party. But rather, people should be loved, girls should be loved, women should be loved, because each person is unique and special, and has a beauty that the people who judge can’t see.
I used to think that since before I could talk my life had been set up as one big terrible mistake that I was responsible to either stay quiet about or dispose of…
I now know this has been the biggest lie of all. I’m loved, not for what I look like, or what I do with my day–whether I get up and compose a symphony, or stay in my bed tired and depleted all day.
I’m loved because I am me.
I’m nineteen. I’m a girl…