I tried jumping out of a window when I was five. Ask me why. I don’t know. I was probably sad or angry or just curious what it would be like to fly. I cant answer why that little girl wanted to jump, but she did.
Soon after getting my ass beat by my mother, I was sent to a therapist. I went regularly through the following years. Instead of opening up about the things that made me drawn to a dark place at such a young age, I learned how to lie. How to put up a show…how to wear the mask. You see, before every session, my mother would tell my sister and I that we could talk to the therapist but we couldn’t divulge anything that happened in our home. It makes no sense. I know.
I was obsessed with keeping journals from a really young age. It was the only place I could be honest and even then, I sugar coated things in case anyone read my words. I wrote in codes, using Anne Franks symbols and other forms I’d made up in my little head.
When I was eleven, my therapist asked me to bring in my journal. For several sessions, I read her the pages of my tweety bird adorned secret keeper. She just let me read. She didn’t ask questions, she didn’t make assumptions. But I was reading all of the surface stuff. And then, out of nowhere, she asked me to read one of the pages I’d skipped. I was hesitant, but I felt like I could finally trust her.
I read the darkest pages of my journal. The pages that told of my hatred for my skin, my body, my face. My fears of not being smart enough, not being perfect, not making my mother happy. My wonders of why my father left despite the fact that I had a loving step-father. My confusion about my race since my mother made it abundantly clear she hates blacks, puerto ricans, whites, mexicans…everyone really. My curiosity over why I had no family. Why my mother drank so much. Why she abused my father. Why my body was not my own. I shared a lot and even then, I kept certain skeletons at bay. I read about how much I wanted to die. How I wanted to join my uncle in the grave so I could see if people would care when I was gone. The true testament whether I was loved. Would anyone cry at my funeral?
The therapist recommended I go away to this place, this magical place for the summer. A place upstate with other kids like me. A camp, where I could explore the outdoors, express myself and feel free. Yeah, it was probably a nut house. But at the time, I wanted to go so badly. I wanted to be free of the games, the pain and the confusion. I wanted to run from the darkness in my home, in my heart. I wanted a chance.
My father was supportive. But he was only my step-father and so he couldn’t sign for me to go. My mother had to do the honors. We talked the whole way back to the apartment. I asked my father if he thought I was crazy. If I was a bad seed. He said no. I just needed help. To love myself. And if it meant me going away, he would support that.
I had the paper in hand, ready to have my mother sign and pack my bags. This was my chance. This was going to set me free. I wouldn’t have to deal with my mothers voodoo practices, the secrets, the pressure, or questioning myself anymore. I would be free to be a young girl.
I handed my mother the paper in her bedroom while my nephew received physical therapy in the living room. The door was closed to the bedroom so no one could hear what I was preparing to tell her. I begged to go. I listed all of the reasons this would be good for me. I waited in silence while my mother eyed the paper. She stood up and that face sent my heart in full fledged race mode. She pulled her arm back and came at me full force. I asked my mother to help me. She punched me in the face. Period. The conversation was over just like that.
Sending me away was not an option. Because then people would know there was something wrong with me. Instead, I was pulled from my sessions with that therapist and told to shut my mouth. The feelings would go away.
I’m 27. They haven’t. I question my worth every day. I don’t know what will ever make me feel whole. Maybe I was born with something missing. I used to be ashamed for my depression. For this cloud that has chased me. I used to. I battle the darkness. I fight to believe that I am worthy of good things. I struggle with my reflection, my thoughts, my emotions.
I sat on a ledge when I was five. I don’t know why. But I hold that little girl every night and try to convince her that she made it for a reason. That she has a purpose. My mother wanted appearances to be kept. But I didn’t want to fake being happy. I don’t want to fake it now. I want to be happy in my skin. In my thoughts. In my emotions.
I cannot put it on my son to make me happy in these ways. That is a burden he should not and will not carry. I struggle with the darkness every day. I can’t say whether I will win or not. But I will try.