“I was five. My papa always picked raspberries with me, searched for the moon with me, called me his babygirl.
I was six. My papa got diagnosed with cancer. Daddy always took me to the hospital where I’d sit on the small bed and tell my grandfather about my day.
I was seven. Daddy is struggling with his grieving. He yells more than he used to, his eyes seem to have dimmed.
I was eight. Daddy swallows bottles of liquor. I can hear mommy sobbing from my bedroom, sometimes there’s sounds of smashing or crashing, but always my dad’s booming voice slurring out angry words. Mommy says he doesn’t mean it. She says to ignore it. She says he’s just hurting.
I was nine. Dad doesn’t come home very often, when he does he says things like “don’t cry, crying is weak” and “I love you, babygirl” but that doesn’t make sense to me. When he’s here, the entire house trembles from fear, or maybe it’s his voice vibrating the walls. He breaks things, some like a vase or lamp, others like my mothers smile or my brothers ability to sleep.
I was ten. I don’t see father very much. Mom still shakes when someone comes to the door. I don’t cry anymore, I hope he’s proud of me. He left a hole in the wall, that was from the night he came home covered in blood with white powder in his beard. Mom says things like “don’t worry, it’s okay” and “he loves you” but this doesn’t make sense to me.
I was eleven. He hasn’t come home anymore, but if mother’s skin were transparent I swear you’d still see the bruises. I’ve found myself afraid of men that raise their voice or their hand. I’m trying to make it less apparent when I tense my body and cringe away from them.
I was thirteen. People keep saying things like “you apologize too much” and “I love you” and it doesn’t make sense to me. How could you love me, if the man that was supposed to didn’t bother to?
I was fifteen. I don’t like being touched, I don’t eat every day, I shower with the lights off, my friends are worried about me.
I was sixteen. I want to kill myself. People say things like “you’re so sexy” and “I love you” and I’m not sure if there’s a difference between the two.
I’m seventeen. I’m slowly realizing that I’ll be okay. One day.”