Trauma seems to snake its way into your life at every turn. Kids at school pick on you because you don’t dress like everyone else. Your family can’t afford ADIDAS or Nike. So your shell toes have four stripes instead of three. And your Grandmother always gets your clothes a size too big so you don’t outgrow them as fast. But they’re just clothes. You have bigger things to worry about. Are your Grandparents taking their meds? Are they eating enough? Is the door locked? Is there enough food in the house? These are things a child should never have to worry about. But you do. And I’m so sorry that you spent so much of your childhood learning how to be an adult when you should have been worry free. There was no time for you to be a child. You had to grow up fast. I’m sorry that you couldn’t afford to make the same seemingly reckless mistakes that others kids got to make. It just didn’t seem worth the trouble. Because your Grandparents had bad hearts and you couldn’t risk paying for your freedom with their lives.
I’m sorry that no one ever made you feel like it was okay to keep things for yourself, to not have to share every part of you. Because truthfully, sharing is exhausting. It can be frustrating to share your time, your space, and your belongings with other people and have nothing to show for it except emptiness. And when the darkness became too much, you felt like you couldn’t share anything else so instead you discovered poetry and the freedom it provided for you. You hide behind metaphors and similes. You mask your anger and pain between the images you create on each page and allow others to read it when it’s convenient for them.
But they still can’t see you. They can’t see how badly you handled moving to a new state only to have your Grandfather pass away two weeks into the move. They don’t know how angry you are at him for leaving you the way he did. Alone in an unfamiliar place, in a new house, with a sick and handicapped Grandmother. All you ever want to do is scream because you are so overwhelmed with unresolved feelings about your Granddad’s death. So you decided to look for you birth father in earnest thinking that he could fill the void that your Grandfather left. You search and search–but no luck.
Middle school is borderline unbearable for you between the bullying and the sexual assault that just keeps happening in the middle of art class every other day. Because someone’s son thinks its okay to grab your breasts or comment on how puberty has done your body right. You keep it all to yourself because at home your Grandmother and her recovery is the first priority and you don’t want to cause her anymore stress. So you bottle it up and distract yourself with volleyball, church, and television. But when it gets bad enough, you finally get the courage to tell the principal what’s been going on in art class only because one of your friends was more brave than you and disclosed on your behalf.
Breezy, I want you to know that you shouldn’t feel ashamed about what’s been happening to you.. It is not your fault. You don’t have to feel bad about blossoming overnight. You are beautiful. Your clothes are fine. Your hair is beautiful–with or without a relaxer. It’s okay to use your voice–it doesn’t just have to be on paper. Don’t be afraid to speak your peace.
You don’t have to feel abandoned by your Grandfather. As cliche as it sounds, everything happens for a reason. You are not alone. Your Grandmother is there for you in so many more ways than your young mind can even begin to comprehend. Don’t take her for granted. Not for a second. I know that you hate being cooped up in the house with her all the time but she is grieving, too. She lost her Soul Mate–I’m not sure there’s any healing from that.
Hang in there, kiddo. It gets better. I promise. Don’t let your Fire burn out by suffocating your own Flame.