Note, this post may be a trigger to some people and simply a really cold harsh shock to other. These are the moments I remember with a crystal clear clarity…
I remember the first time I was fingered. Down the back of the yard in the cubby house. He was in his final year of highschool. I was 6 years old. 1st grade of school. I never told my parents, I would have got in trouble for letting him.
I remember the first time I was told ‘it’s because he likes you’ about the boy who would beat me and scream in my ears while I read a book in recess. I was in grade 3, I was 8 years old. I learnt to love the librarians at that school.
I was 9 when my ‘friends’ would take my lunch, hit me, blame me for anything they did. I had already learnt to sit quietly and take the punishment.
I was 10, in a new school, when I began to get breasts and curves. I was tall, and skinny, with red hair, and glasses and new to the school. I was bruised and insulted and friendless.
The librarian suggested I needed to spend less time alone in the library that year.
I was 11 when she and I played out on the flats – now a housing development – and talked about fairies. I was 11 when believing in fairies became another thing I had to hold close to my chest and never admit out of fear of what others would do to me.
I was 11 when Hayley moved to my school late in the year. She would be my first friend. As odd as I was, and utterly unashamed by her own intelligence.
I was 11 the first time I was accused of chasing someone else’s boyfriend. A boy who I hated for grabbing at my breasts and ass, and calling me names. She was popular, and if I was simply a nobody before then now I was hated.
I was 12 when I noticed older boys straring at my chest.
I remember the first time I was catcalled from a car. I was 13. He almost caused a car accident. It would be years before I stopped hiding myself under baggy shirts.
The year after a blue eyed boy started visiting my house. Only when he and his girlfriend weren’t getting along. I didn’t care, I was so starved for any kindness and contact by that point.
When I was 15 I would be stalked by an older boy for 6 months. Driven home each afternoon by a friend’s father in the police force or walked by his younger brother and a friend – who didn’t know what was wrong but cared that I didn’t want to be left alone with him. I never told my parents. My father would be angry at me, my mother had two young boys hitting puberty to deal with.
I was 15 when I called out a boy in class, in front of everyone. He called me a red headed rat rooter. I, with absolutely perfect composure, suggested he bring his insults out of grade school given I’d been called that and worse since I was 7. My teacher nodded to me, a gesture of approval that I had stood up for myself.
I was 16 when two older boys would fight over me. One who would come and go as he pleased, and one who would possess me. I had no idea what to do and no one to ask.
I was 16 when Shannon, a gay boy a few years older than myself, would look at me and tell me I was brilliant and not to let anyone tell me otherwise. I didn’t quite believe him, but he talked to me about art, books and my dreams. He will never know that he saved my life that year.
When I was 16 I would wear ankle length skirts to school.
When I was 17 we moved to Melbourne. I had no friends. My grades suffer. I sink into a depression I only survived because I HAD to be there for my brothers… Someone had to be.
When I was 18 I was stood up in a bar. I met people. A few weeks later I slept with a man with a partner who would succeed in turning me into a possession. We would fuck for years on and off while he told me he loved me… I was his dirty little secret. Years later he would be the reason I would hide myself, my sex, my sexuality, my love, my strength… because I was nothing.
When I was 23 I met my first long term partner. He who would manipulate me, turn everything into my fault, who knew exactly how to keep my long past the point where I wanted to, needed to leave.
When I was 26 I lost my mind, and started on the path to healing myself.
When I was just 27 I stopped being a dirty little secret. I would instead by that girl he used to have an affair with… In short he would make me his slut and shame me when I told him to back the fuck off.
I was closing on 28 when I began to say enough, began to get angry. I was told I was being unreasonable over and over.
When I was 28 I got drunk at my birthday party and was raped by the friend I met when I was 18 later that night. I fuck him a few days later in a desperate attempt to take back the control. It would be months of grief and anger before I could acknowledge that I had made it clear he was not welcome to my body in that manner and that he had abused my drunken state to get what he wanted. That it was rape and there was no excusing him for it.
I am 29. I am told I am sexy and bold, smart and intimidating. I have fight depression every day, sometimes it’s an easy battle and most times it is not. I have learnt to wield that anger as a weapon. I hurt.
I also know my own worth and I love with everything I have. I refuse to let fear rule me, and I have so much I fear in my heart and mind. I will acknowledge that I am seen as an object of desire by most and that I will be treated poorly for it for the rest of my life, and that I can wield it as a weapon should I so chose.
You look at me and see confidence, beauty and strength. You see what I let you.
I look in the mirror and see a woman who is both broken and brave in the same breath.
And when I look at you, especially those of you who are just beginning to really fight with what the world has pushed on them, I see people who are so much bigger, bolder and braver than they will ever realize.