it gets easier to talk about but it also gets harder to talk about. i have to unfold things carefully, but the map shows better. here’s the first time i got hit by a parent, here’s the first time i got hit by a partner. they’re around the corner from each other, mirror images or hands holding or two sides of a blade. the look on people’s faces always is the same when they find out. like the words hurt them in the pit of their stomach. i feel bad when it does that; i know what it’s like to be suckerpunched. often i comfort people right after: oh, no, it’s okay, i’m okay now, it’s fine, i’m all in one piece, i got out, i’m a resilience child, i learned kindness, i found inner peace, i meditate twice a day, i do yoga and drink kale shakes and eat as if nobody ever made my teeth bleed. some of these are lies, but that is fine too, because it’s better that people don’t know an ugly truth.
sometimes i forget who in the room knows. i laugh about what happened like a punchline (get it) and people stare at me with mouths open like moons. oh my god, did that really happen to you? i don’t know. sometimes it feels like it happened to someone else, out on a distant planet. sometimes it feels like it never happened at all. sometimes it feels like it’s still happening. how can you laugh at that? and is that true? how do i say “because if i don’t laugh it’s serious” because of course it’s true. for proof: raise your hand a fraction too smooth. watch the shadow pass over my face. watch me curl away. watch me change. like a chameleon girl, i shift my shape. someone who doesn’t know laughs. you’re certainly jumpy. the girl at the table who helped me cover the bruise stares at me, watching my chest, trying to figure out if i’m panicking. he’s confused when quiet are you okay questions touch my skin - only those who know, only those who are watching.
and i smile, because it’s easier to talk about but it’s harder to admit it still effects me. memories should be left in the kingdom of dreams. sometimes i feel like i should be done with it already. i stare at a picture of cartoons that says if you don’t know these, you didn’t have a childhood. i know all but two of them. some of them i watched after it happened. i really liked scooby doo. in the end, the mask comes off and the bad guy is revealed and he goes to jail. in real life, i wait for someone to come take his mask off. it just makes him mean. the blue lights of the law never show up on the green of our lawn. i had a pretty good childhood, i think. it made me interesting, at least. i picked blueberries.
i laugh about it a lot. talk about how it’s funny that if you got abused there’s just, like, a second round of partner abuse, sitting out there, waiting for you. that you’re the most likely to pick an abuser from the crowd - or worse, like beauty and the beast, watch yourself become her. see your rotten hands and think of your father. isn’t that funny! that i can take a hit and i’d rather take a lifetime of them than be the one doing the giving just once. i talk about how you walk in the eclipse of it. that it confuses you when the sun comes out. that when you find someone who won’t hurt you, you still walk on eggshells, waiting for them to hurt you. i say it through a smile, because if you bend yourself the right way, your life looks more like comedy-drama than just plain tragedy. i watch fantastic beasts and where to find them and when the abused child turns out to be beyond saving, i hear myself laugh in a bark. or it was a sob. i can’t tell. it doesn’t matter. in my world, children like me learned about magic early, and how our own actions can turn a man from a gentle person into a savage beast.
okay, i say, smiling, maybe if you put it that way, yeah, i was abused and it wasn’t funny. but come on. think of the puns! you could say my life was really a hit! now don’t be upset. it’s funny. it’s funny. it’s funny.