She was abused by her parents. Badly abused. Her father was a harsh, angry, mean man who abused her sexually from the time she was a toddler until she was a teenager. He hit her too, during his violent outbursts. Her mother didn’t protect her. Didn’t even really see her. To her mother, she existed only to serve, to fulfill, to obey, to provide happiness. Her mother hit her too, but she didn’t hit as hard. They both let her know she was nothing. Of no consequence. Totally didn’t matter. She was so alone in the darkness of her world. She was so terrified of what would happen next, what would be taken from her, what would be demanded of her. What would be done to her. She had no oxygen and no safe places. She tried very hard to be invisible. She was sensitive, intelligent, creative…and alone. There was no one to reach out to, no one to tell, no one to care. It hurt…a lot…being alone. It hurt that she didn’t matter. That she was not supposed to be a bother, have any needs, get sick, or cause any problems whatsoever. She tried not to, but sometimes, she was a bother, she did have needs, she did get sick, or she was a problem. She paid for it. So she worked very diligently to get by on the tiniest amount possible. The tiniest amount of care. The tiniest amount of attention. To survive without love. Without acceptance. Without nurture. There was much to be afraid of. She was afraid her family would be destroyed, either through divorce (her parents fought horribly) or if someone discovered what they were doing to her. Instinctively, she knew there was something not quite right about what happened in her house. She feared being placed in a foster home. Getting in trouble. Adults terrified her, as did her teachers. Her peers frightened her because she never knew where she fit or how to respond to them. She was afraid her house would burn down. That it would be annihilated by a tornado. That someone would break in and steal everything. That someone would be in a car wreck and be killed or horribly maimed. That her parents wouldn’t be able to pay the bills, provide food, make it through another month. That she would wind up on the street with nowhere to go. That she would somehow cross the invisible line and become a target. That the creaking noises in the house at night meant bad things were going to happen to her. That there were evil spirits everywhere. That she would never escape. She was afraid of being left behind. Of being unloved and unwanted. But those were the genuine realities of her life. Those were the things she had to deal with daily. Because she was unloved. She was unwanted. Sometimes it was easier to be afraid of a tornado. She watched everyone and everything, quietly hiding within herself as she observed the world around her. She learned to read it. She could hear what the air was whispering. She became very good at understanding what every vibration that rippled invisibly through the environment she lived in would cause to happen. She learned how to act by patterning her behavior on what others did in different situations. She learned when to laugh. When to smile. When to act surprised. When to pretend to be happy. How to appear relatively normal. She was the best actress in the entire universe. But won no awards. No one knew. No one ever discovered her secrets. Twice, when she was a teenager, her father tried to run over her with his car. Once, she was walking home from school with a boy who was holding her hand. It was a very rare, special moment because she wasn’t popular and most boys didn’t want anything to do with her. Suddenly, the boy unceremoniously threw her in the deep ditch that ran along side of the road where they were walking. And he jumped in right behind her. Not even a fraction of a second later, she caught the blur of a white car out of the corner of her eye as it raced by right where they had been walking. A white car. Like her father’s car. Her father’s car. He stopped some distance ahead, glaring back at her. Then drove on home. It took her a few minutes to get out of the ditch and continue to walk. No more holding hands. The second time, one of her few friends from school saw her mowing the yard and stopped to chat. They had only talked for a few minutes when she saw her father’s car (the same car) roaring toward her. This time, she saw him coming in advance. She ran behind a tree. The boy jumped in his car and drove away. Her father kept trying to drive around the tree to hit her, but the car wouldn’t turn sharply enough, so she was able to escape. He finally gave up. Drove away. Put the car back in the garage. She finished mowing the yard. But this was near the end. By the time these things happened, she had already experienced years and years and years of abuse. Emotional abuse. Sexual abuse. Fights. Anger. Tears. Belittling. Years of violence. Years of fear. She had shattered and broken so many times into so many pieces, there wasn’t much left of her. No self-esteem. No sense of person-hood at all. She was nothing. I am trying to find this little girl. This broken child. I am trying to reconnect with her, understand more of what happened to her, how it affected her and basically destroyed her life. I am trying to accept her instead of reject her. I don’t know if I can love her, but I’m told I should. She is a little girl lost, who was fragmented and yet endured. She was crippled, but she limped on anyway. She was horribly wounded and mutilated, but she fought her way through, one breath, one moment at a time. I don’t know what to think of her. I don’t know what I feel about her. This little girl who suffered so much. This child who was so demolished and terrorized, she struggled simply to survive. Simply to make it through the nightmare. She was actually a sweet, tender little girl once upon a time. A long, long time ago. Before. Once upon a time, a million lifetimes ago, a billion wounds ago, she was me.