Mommy said she would protect me
She also said if any man touched her girls
she would chop off their balls
and staple them to their forehead
When I was little I didn’t fully know what that meant
but I knew it was bad, I knew she meant business
She’d kill for us
She would make sure that no one ever hurt us
And I believed her
Until I didn’t
He hurt me, Mommy
And him and him and him
So much hurt
And I thought, Mommy would have helped me if she knew
It’s my fault no one helped me
Because I didn’t ask for help
It’s my fault I didn’t give Mommy the opportunity to chop off balls
It’s my fault
It’s always my fault
But I was so scared
I was so scared to tell
I was so scared to send Mommy after him
And then I wanted it,
I wanted her to go after him
I wanted her to kill him, to literally end his life
Why shouldn’t she?
He ended mine
So there I was, hurt, growing up
without actually growing
Being bombarded on all fronts
Full out war.
I have this memory you see, of telling her the truth.
But I convinced myself it wasn’t real, it couldn’t be,
there’s no way mommy did nothing.
I convinced myself I made it up.
I convinced myself,
until last week when I called her
and asked her straight out why she stopped talking to him
“Because you told me he… bothered you.”
I didn’t make it up.
We’re at one of her patient’s houses,
She spends her time these days doing house calls for her patients who need her,
Who count on her to heal their pain
This is what my mommy does, she heals pain.
So we’re there, the normal routine,
and all of a sudden mommy says,
“maybe we should visit ****, we haven’t seen him in a while”
We put up a fight, neither of us wants to visit him
My sister being a preteen says she doesn’t feel like it
Why? Mommy asks.
Because I just don’t.
That’s sufficient for mommy, because, you know, teenagers.
She turns to me, “you always loved ****, let’s visit him.”
“I don’t want to, Mommy.”
“Because I just don’t want to see him.”
She’s upset, as if I’m ungrateful,
as if I’m going to be punished because I’m being lazy and don’t want to see him.
He’s like family, you have to see family you don’t want to see.
She looks at me expectantly.
I just don’t, I don’t want to see him.
She doesn’t accept this.
Me, I can’t get away with it,
for me, saying no isn’t sufficient.
Well isn’t that just the story of my life in a nutshell?
So I decide this is it,
I’m going to tell Mommy.
I’m going to give her that opportunity.
I want him dead.
He murdered so many parts of me.
Meanwhile, he’s alive and well.
I want all of it, everything I was promised,
I want his balls stapled to his forehead.
At this point I know exactly what that means,
it means the whole world know he’s a monster,
it means he suffers, and I want it.
I want my warrior to go into battle for me,
Like she always promised she would.
So I take her into the bathroom alone.
She sits on the closed lid of the toilet and I stand in front of her.
I stand and I tell her.
He touched me.
She goes quiet, and then she looks at me so seriously,
“Where did he touch you?”
She seems angry.
Is she angry at me?
What did I do wrong this time?
I think I’ve made a mistake.
“There” I say, as quiet as I possibly can.
“What?” “What did you say, I didn’t hear you?”
“He touched me there”
Fire in my cheeks now
I underestimated the shame I would feel
Telling my warrior my deepest secret
Having her look at me
I feel as if she’s in the room and he’s touching me in front of her
I thought, OK, now she knows,
I don’t have to say more,
I don’t have to hurt and feel ashamed.
She’s going to wrap me in her arms and tell me it’s not my fault
and she’s not mad at me and that she’s off to do battle.
She looks at me, face red, clearly furious,
“Show me exactly where he touched you, point to it”
I shrug my shoulders at her.
Why is she hurting me more?
Now I have to point to my shame?
I don’t answer her, I just shrug again.
She points to her chest, “Here?”
Her face gets more angry.
She points to her privates.
I look down at the floor.
“Look at me.”
I look up, more ashamed then I have ever felt in my life,
Emotions I’ve never met come storming in like they own the place
“Here”? She asks again, as she puts her hand over her privates.
I nod my head and I look down.
“Tell me exactly what he did”
Now I’m angry.
Now I’m the one who’s furious.
But I can’t find my words.
I’m naked on a stage and I forgot my lines.
I forgot how to lie, my one true savior.
“He just, touched me, OK, Mom, I don’t know”
I managed a lie.
He didn’t just touch me.
It wasn’t just a touch.
There was insertion, there was breaking.
There was pain and shame and discomfort.
The kind of pain and shame and discomfort I’m feeling right now, actually.
“He rubbed? Or just touched?”
I don’t answer her.
I don’t understand her.
Just touched? Rubbed?
What does it matter? What’s the difference?
I’m so confused. Why isn’t she getting her stapler ready?
She gets up, and she leaves the bathroom.
She’s angry. She’s very angry.
But she says nothing to me.
She doesn’t hold me.
She doesn’t say she’s sorry.
She hasn’t asked me if I’m hurting.
She hasn’t seen me.
Do I exist in this scenario? Who am I?
She leaves me alone there in the bathroom and I don’t move for a long time.
I don’t move because I’m afraid if I do then this is real life
and I just revealed something I never thought I would,
And it didn’t exactly go as planned.
I stay perfectly still, until I realize this is happening and I have to react somehow.
We’re not in our house so I can’t just go to my room.
And I haven’t yet learned how to cry when I need to, when I want to,
but I want to.
I stand there, staring at the toilet where my mother was just sitting,
Where she mocked what he did to me
Where she looked through me but not at me.
Maybe she’s so angry that she’s off to get him right now.
Maybe she’s already left and she’s on her way there,
maybe he’ll be dead by the time I leave this bathroom.
And then she’ll come get me and she’ll hold me and she’ll say, see boo boo?
See, I told you I would protect you,
I told you I would kill anyone who hurt you, of course I would,
you’re my baby, no one will ever hurt you again.
And I’ll believe her and I’ll heal.
He’ll be dead and I’ll come alive.
I wait in the bathroom for an eternity, and she doesn’t come back,
so I go out.
There she is, working on her patient again,
She’s not healing me.
No one looks at me when I come out of the bathroom.
I go back to playing in the corner.
I sit there, waiting.
We go home,
no word from my soldier.
Maybe she’ll tell my dad.
If there’s anyone who knows how to get angry it’s my dad.
That must be what it is, she’s waiting until she has her full arsenal.
Silly me, of course that’s what it is.
Days go by. I wait on pins and needles.
Every moment I’m alone with my mommy I wait for her to tell me she did it,
It never comes.
Weeks go by.
I haven’t forgotten.
I never forgot.
I’ve never had the luxury.
She didn’t go to war for me.
She dug a foxhole and she hid.
Meanwhile I stood on the front line,
I stood there being destroyed from all sides.
First it was just the enemy, now it’s friendly fire as well.
I knew I was alone.
From that moment on, I knew I was alone.
Alone is a heavy punishment,
a full metal jacket that my tiny body couldn’t carry.
So I let her forget. I let her stay safe.
And I accepted that I would never be safe.
She never went to war for me.
My mommy left me to fight my own battles.
And I lost.
I let myself believe this never happened.
I wanted to protect her,
to protect my imagine of her.
But it happened.
And 20 years later I now know,
I’m the one who should have been protected.
But I let myself believe this never happened.
Now I wonder if I’m better off knowing the truth
or if I should have accepted the lie
to continue protecting us both from the truth.
No one went to battle for me.
He died, a saint.
He died with the reputation of being a good man.
No one went to battle for me.
And now it’s too late.
And I’m losing the war all over again.