Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pink

It stings.  It burns.  I don't want to take a bath but my mother says that I have to.  Soap makes it worse.

He is home so I need to hurry.  He likes to walk in on accident.  I don't understand how it is an accident when the water is running loudly or why he sits down on the toilet lid and stays to rub his pants.  That is not an accident.  An accident is when I spill my milk and get my face slapped.  I don't get to slap him for this accident.

I wish I could.

I turn the water on.  Really hot.  I am a dirty girl and the hot makes my filthy skin red instead of bad.  I turn the light off and peel my clothes into a pile on the floor.  In the dark I can't see my bruises, my scars, or my filth.

The tub begins to fill and I jump in.  I am standing and I can feel the scalding water turn my feet a mottled red.  The doorknob turns and I pray it's my little sister... or even my mother.

It's him.  His obligatory and surprised "OH" is exclaimed as he slides through the door an presses it shut with his back.  He is not surprised and neither am I.

He flips on the light as he is sneering about me bathing in the dark... how weird it is.  He smiles his toothy grin and rubs his hands together in anticipation of his pleasure.  I feel my stomach drop into my privates and I loathe that all too common feeling.

The water continues to run and the tub is nearly full.  I reach to turn it off as he silently shakes his head "NO".  Instead he reaches down and pulls the drain stopper to drain the water simultaneously as it pours from the faucet.

He is not going to sit on the toilet lid this time as he unbuckles his belt.  He motions for me to step out of the tub and silently I obey.  His clothes are peeled off into a pile next to mine and I do nothing. 

I do not scream.

I do not run.

I do not cry.

I slowly turn around the way he likes.

He is heavy as he works to be inside me.  In disgust he mumbles about me being dry.  My stomach is pressed and pounded over and over into the vanity.  The drawer pull rubs me raw. 

I open my smashed shut eyes and there I am.  In the mirror, face to face with the dirty girl.  I focus on her eyes and then I look away to avoid drowning in her dead eyes.  I see her freckles and her stubby nose.  I look a little closer and then I see it.  I see her smile. 

She is his happy girl and her name is Sara.  She is five and she says she is a princess.  Her eyes come alive and sparkle under her blonde eyelashes.  I love her hair because it is not like my own dark and curly hair.  She smiles again as he groans with pleasure.

She is not happy, I know this.  But she is his happy girl.

I am lost in that mirror looking for a way out of those drowning eyes.  Quickly I am rescued as I am pulled away and dropped into the still scalding water.  Ribbons of burning red stream from where I am sitting.  I wince with pain as he rolls his eyes in disgust. 

He takes my towel, the only towel, and cleans himself.  He dresses quickly.  As he buckles his belt he tells me to wash good because I am filthy.  I know this already. He returns the drain stopper shut and then the door opens and shuts and he is gone. 

I sit there until the water is cold.

My skin is no longer red but my bathwater is pink with shame.

35 comments:

Ruth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth said...

Delete that if you wish. As for me, I had nothing else to say. Sorry.

Andrea said...

I am sooo very sorry.

svasti said...

I've never seen child abuse written about as candidly as this. And I think it is both brave and very necessary. Because there are people out there who find it hard to believe that a father could do this sort of thing to his own child. And yet here it is - the truth in all its disturbing unshrinking reality.

Thank you for your bravery and your skill in writing about these horrors. I'm sure there must be a cost for you to do so. But I'm glad you are willing, all the same.

Debbie said...

I wish there was something more to say than, "I'm so sorry he did this to you." You're so amazing to have survived. Your story will help others. But that doesn't make it worth the harm to you. I ... I'm so sorry.

shadyrae said...

you made me cry.

It took me back to my own abuse.

I am SO sorry for this treatment. YOu are SO brave to write about it openly. I should do the same one day. Maybe it could help!

You are a beautiful writer and SO strong!

Deborah said...

I can only echo what Svasti has said. I have no words of my own to respond to such horror. Then when I say that, I wonder if you take in the word 'horror' and apply it to yourself? Please don't. I second what Ruth had to say in her first comment.

The Pliers said...

As an individual who has not experienced childhood sexual abuse, with the exception of having had my genitals probed at the age of 10 in a darkened TV-room by the teenage son of a friend of my mother's within a span of probably 20 minutes and never having told anyone, it is gut-wrenchingly painful to read about the experiences that you describe as having happened to you at the hands of your father.

The question that occurs to me tonight as I follow the progress of your reclamation project is, What is the singularly most important thing that any given reader of your blog can do for you, with you, or on your behalf as s/he or reads your words?

I ask the question because I suspect that you are going to have to tell your readers that, if they are to be of service, since the written material here, in and of itself, is so searing and emotionally disturbing for anyone who has a choice about confronting it, has not had, nor worked with someone who has had, similar experiences (more so for anyone who has had, obviously), that for the average individual reader there is a risk of simply becoming "stuck" in outrage or horror on your behalf, cursing your father, rather than being of some substantial aid to you, or someone else.

From my reading of your blog, beginning at the beginning, you are writing here, in a very focused, personal way, about something that started several decades ago, actively continued into the very recent present, and concerns the entire shared future of you and your daughter, not to mention your husband.

When I read your material my mind goes to Maya Angelou's rape at the age of 7, that of the American photographer Lee Miller at the age of 7, Oprah at the age of 9 (to name only the first ones who come to mind); moves on through the memoir, "The Kiss", of Kathryn Harrison who had a sexual relationship, as an adult, with her father and the most recent revelation by Mackenzie Phillips of the long-term sexual relationship that she had with hers; passing by my memories of the revelations of the experiences of Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard, and Elisabeth F, the woman imprisoned in the basement for 24 years by her father in Austria; and hovering around the efforts of Andrew Vachss, and his foundation of The National Association to Protect Children, who has dedicated an entire adult lifetime to raising awareness and acting as legal counsel to children and adolescents exclusively.

As a thinking, feeling, non-child abusing adult, I will have to have a place to put my outrage and horror or the sharing of your stories will be for naught, not for you, and not for your reclamation project, but for me.

So, What is the singularly most important thing that any given reader of your blog can do for you, with you, or on your behalf as s/he or reads your words?

Ruth said...

My comment haunted me all night. I resisted coming back and deleting it. I hear Pliers, I feel that, felt it after writing. There has to be some way to respond that is more helpful than spewing the rage I felt. Yet . . . I left it because in some way that was the emotional connection I needed to acknowledge, in that moment. I have learned not to respond in rage in my personal life, after hurting my loved ones. Here, the comment was different. It may not have been useful or helpful, but it was a human response - and sometimes I just don't want to be balanced and cerebral. Maybe that was weak and self indulgent. I hope it didn't hurt you, Shattered. And if I offended any of your readers, for that I apologize.

lots of love

sarah said...

I want him to pay... I want him to suffer the shame, the filth of his actions. I want him to know the reality of his brutality on a child, on the innocent....I want him to get what he did. I hurt for you. I hate that this happened to you. Sarah

sarah said...

Hey Shattered, I just read you last comment here and want you to know you have the right to say what you need. You couldn't talk when you were a kid....you have the right to say whatever you need to say. In your corner always. Sarah

Ruth said...

I'm sorry, but now I'm going to delete my first comment. Maybe I just needed to get it out. Now I just don't want it to stay.

Shattered said...

Ruth... you offended me in no way! Feelings are tough for me but I do know that they are what they are; neither good or bad. I speak my mind here and everyone else is free to do so as well. If your comment bothered you, then you have every right to remove it, no hard feelings and no questions asked. I know where you are coming from; I've seen this with my own husband in regards to my past. If anything your comment helped me see that my husband is normal because others share his same reactions. Thank you.

Shattered said...

Andrea, thank you for reading and listening.

Shattered said...

Svasti, I just write what is bothering me as I experience the feelings, the circumstances, and the pain. In a way, I am glad that this writing is unique because you are right, not everyone believes that this shit really happens.

There is a small cost but it is mostly in my head. I really do benefit from getting this poison out even if the immediate feelings are worse. Even better, if this helps one person feel less alone then I will count this writing as a success.

Thank you for reading and sharing your wisdom.

Shattered said...

Shadyrae, I am so sorry that you have been through this as well. No one deserves this. If writing helps you then do it... don't edit, don't censor, don't clarify... just get it out. Hang in there and take care of yourself.

Shattered said...

Deborah, I don't take it personally because horror really is what this is. Thank you for listening.

Shattered said...

The Pliers, I am still thinking about my response to you. Thank you for bringing this up because I do need to make some definitions. I think my response to you will be a post of it's own... :)

Shattered said...

Sarah, some days I feel like you wrote here and other days I just exist hoping that I never see him again. Thank you for reading and sharing; I have enjoyed visiting your blog as well.

Shattered said...

Sarah, oops... I didn't realize the next comment was from you too. It is a struggle for me deciding what to share here but you are right, I wasn't able to talk when I was a kid but now I can. Thank you for the encouragement.

Bruce Coltin said...

I was not prepared for either the pain or elegance of this post. I am blown away by both.

Shattered said...

Bruce, thank you for visiting and reading today. I hope that in some way, what I wrote makes an impact in your life.

Mariah said...

Your writing has touched me today. xoxo

Shattered said...

Thank you for reading, Mariah.

botheyesshut said...

Good to see you again, Shattered!

I read here because your prose poetry doesn't annoy me. Do you think modern poetry is often irritating, ugly, or pointlessly obscure? Man, I can't abide that stuff at all.

Favorite poets: Tennyson; Auden; Rossetti. Who was that poet laureate of the USA a couple years ago? Louise Gluck? Good God! And Billy Collins before her -- I suppose he was sometimes funny, at least. Your prose is evocative, surgical, and brutal, though. The best thing about it, in fact, is that it's so violent I can read it and feel loathing more than sadness and pity. If I felt much pity, I'd be unable to respect the author. That'd be detrimental to my appreciation of your work more than somewhat.

Of course, you have demons that you want to exorcise, but frankly, I don't know you well enough to feel comfortable pretending I can console you or that I understand. I don't understand - or at least, I think I don't - but I'm damned certain that I shouldn't think I do, ha ha. Etiquette is a many-splendored thing, don't you think?

You seem surrounded by caring, understanding people here. That's a rare and precious thing to be sure, particularly in the secular world where our neighbors are not obligated to care (and though I've read that you're "religiously confused," this is still the outside of the church, right?) so I'm glad you have friends and acquaintances to stand by and with you. Nobody's an island, as was once said.

I don't come here to help you, though. I'm a selfish, cynical man perhaps thousands of miles away from you and your demons, and I need to read in order to remind myself how improbable life is, to remind myself that none of this is going on exactly the way the world purports it is. You know -- to amuse myself.

And that's where you come in. I like your turns of phrase, your obvious wordsmithing, your seemingly obsessive attention to tone and diction. I often get halfway through one of your lines and say inwardly, "Don't use that cliche, please," and so far you never have. Not once! You can't know how refreshing that is.

This is long, so nevermind the rest. Your writing is more than simply talented and I shock my acquaintances with your stuff from time to time, like keeping a gory photograph in my wallet to flash at people when they're eating. I'd be proud of my ink if I were you.

Anyhow.

I wanted to speak out as a representative of the people who come here for the art, rather than for the emotional support. And also to implore: don't let anyone typecast you, woman! You're capable of writing as forcibly on all sorts of topics, yes? And who knows? One day you may slay the last of your demons. On that day, please do not write about nature. It's very unfashionable at present.

Thanks for all the English,


-BothEyes

Friko said...

Oh Shattered, I read all the comments and have nothing of my own to add. Anger, disgust, compassion, pain, but above all helplessness in the face of such evil and impotent rage that it exists in this tidy and neat little world of ours, are the feelings I have.
Stay alive girl, stay fighting, don't let the bastard have the last word.
May he rot in hell.

Cassandra Frear said...

God bless you, dear friend.

Shattered said...

BothEyes, it's a funny thing; I have never thought of what I write as any sort of poetry. And yes, you are definitely right about modern poetry...

I have had to read your comment several times to really contain everything you wrote. At first glance, someone might find me offended at the reasons that you read here. I am not. I want you to take from here exactly what you need, not what I want you to need. That's the great thing about a blog; readers come from all different places and all have something unique to contribute. I happen to enjoy writing and if you happen to enjoy reading my words then I am pleased.

I am appreciative of the reader who comes here to help, to learn, to grow, feel, or take in the art of painful words. So thank you for reading and sharing your own unique perspective; you still have helped me.

Who knows where this all leads... but I can assure you that I won't be writing about nature. Thanks for the tip.

Shattered said...

Friko, thank you for the encouragement. Helplessness is such an awful feeling isn't it? Every day is a fight but I am certainly determined to not let him win.

Shattered said...

Cassandra, thank you for reading and for your kind words.

botheyesshut said...

You've never considered your work poetry? I'm dumbfounded. Really? I mean. . . What did you think it was, a really well-groomed journal entry?

This is clean, Miss. Real clean.

I guess your impetus isn't parallel with those of poets, so that's why you don't consider yourself one, but the words are more than well-chosen. I know mediocre writers who would kill to be able to work lines like these.

However, however, however. . . I completely understand that it's incidental as far as you're concerned.

But man, that's really funny from my perspective.

Gary Heller said...

I can't begin to imagine what you must have went through and still go through in your mind and soul, but your experiences are not left to waste and by you getting them out there can help others that may benefit from only knowing they were and are not alone.
Your writing is amazing and brought tears to my eyes. I think there must be a place for you in every bookstore.
Your great. Looking forward to visiting again.

Shattered said...

BothEyes, I'm glad I could amuse you. :) I've been thinking some about how my writing style come across and I think the best answer is that I write the way I think.

I have spent a tremendous amount of time in my life alone and silenced by fear, lies, pain, and a God-awful stutter when I spoke. As a child, it was too dangerous to put my feelings down on paper because if those words had been found I would have been fucked. When I spoke, it was, well, just irritating to listen to...

So I wrote in my head. Words and phrases that I could remember and repeat to myself. I no longer stutter and I am finding my voice in writing. But some habits die hard I suppose. But hey, if those habits make for unique prose that is interesting to read, memorable, and captivating, then I guess I'm OK with keeping a few old habits around.

Shattered said...

Gary, thank you for reading. I am glad that you were moved by something that you read. I think that your photography is fabulous; you don't always have to write in words to express something profound and deep. Keep up the good work.

VICKI IN AZ said...

I don't feel alone when I read here. And you are a fantastic writer. What is it "they" say, write what you know. Truth abounds here.
Namaste