The child hid in the shadows.  She listened to the air, waiting.  Trying to hear the faint whispers.  Trying to understand.  To discern danger.  She walked silently, on tip-toes, in socked feet.  Peeking around corners.  Holding her breath.  Even when she reached the safety of her room, she didn’t stop listening.  She didn’t stop hiding.  She didn’t stop being afraid.
Darkness surrounded her. It was everywhere.
Her parents erupted without notice, anger spewing, fists flailing, like boulders shot from a volcano, showering down on her.  Knocking her to the floor.  Slaps and hair pulling.  Angry, bitter, destructive words pummeled her.  But there were things much worse than the anger and fists.  Much, much worse.  When the air turned thick and stale.  When it was too quiet.  When every move of the hunter was calculated.  The trap was being set and she was the prey.  When sick daddy came for her. 
When sick daddy came, he used his hands in ways that were far more horrible than fists. Things that hurt far more than being knocked to the floor or slammed against a wall.  He did things to her body that hurt her in her heart.  In her soul.  Things that demolished the deepest part of her being.  He used her as if she were an object of no value.  He was all powerful, taking, demanding, controlling, manipulating.  Then he dismissed her and walked away.  He taught her she was nothing.  He let her go, but not without a warning.  Each time, he told her to get dressed and to act normal.  To remain silent.  To tell no one.  Keep the secret.  Or else.
He released her, but she knew it was only a matter of time until he took her again.  Used her.  Threw her away.  Stole everything that mattered, that would ever matter, from her.  Again and again.
She thought it was what she deserved.
She knew she didn’t deserve love.  Didn’t deserve protection.  Didn’t deserve safety.  That was undeniably clear.
When you deserve nothing because you are nothing, you do not have any expectation of happiness.  Or security.  Or a good outcome. She learned to not need.  To not want.  To not ask.  To not trust.  She learned she didn’t matter.  That she was just a thing.  A thing of no value.
Her guard was always, always, always up.  On high alert.  She expected the worst and the worst is usually what she got.  She got what she deserved.  She was nothing and she didn’t deserve anything. 
Life bore this out.  Proved the point again and again.  Experience is a harsh teacher.  But it teaches you.  You learn.
The little girl is now an old woman. She knows her place.  In spite of working hard, she has nothing.  In spite of daring to dream and believe, she is unloved and unwanted.  Empty.  Alone.  In spite of fighting day after day for decades, she has gained no ground, won few battles, accomplished little, achieved even less.  Despite trying with all of her being, she is still lost and needy.  Of no consequence.  Her life is a grain of sand in a vast universe.  Life has made sure she got what she deserved.  Nothing.
They tell you that if you work hard, you can have.  You can be.  They say dreams will come true. But in the end, you get what you deserve.  Regardless of effort, desire, investment, attempts, hopes, or beliefs.  Once broken, sometimes the pieces can’t be put back together again.  Sometimes the damage can’t be repaired.  You can fight fate, but you can’t win.  You hope you are deserving of love and joy.  You pray you are deserving of happiness and mercy.  You beg for grace, strength, goodness.  But you get what you deserve.   And sometimes, you don’t deserve anything at all.


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