There are two worlds. Two worlds that exist side by side here on this planet that revolves endlessly around the sun as it hurtles through space. A planet that is but a pinpoint of light in a deep and endless darkness. A galaxy filled with light year after light year of eternal night.
This is where our lives play out. On this speck of a planet surrounded by a deep airless void.
One where love is.
One where love is not.
Two worlds. They exist side-by-side. But they’re worlds apart. Touching shoulders with each other. As different as night is from day. Neighbors. But not friendly neighbors. Distant cousins who have never met. Who don’t want to meet.
I come from the 2nd world. The really dark one.
In my house, on the side of the street where I grew up, there was a lot of yelling, hitting, anger, pain and rejection. There were so many expectations, I couldn’t keep up with them. Fix my parent’s life. Fix my parents. Make all A’s. Be popular. Be silent. Don’t cause trouble. Have blonde hair. Be cute and petite. Don’t be a bother. Don’t ask for anything. Don’t need. Do the dishes. And homework. Keep the secrets. The many secrets our house held. The secrets the curtains cloaked, shielded and guarded. Don’t tell. Don’t call attention to yourself. Act normal. Do what you’re told. Make everyone happy. Make everyone feel better. Make the hard stuff go away. Solve all my mother’s problems. Be her confidant. Affirm her. Take care of my little brother. Shut up. Smile. Don’t ask questions. Don’t stir anything up.
An endless list. Nothing was ever removed from the list. Much was added…often daily. Much was expected without being spoken or defined.
In my world, the world where love wasn’t, acceptance was never achieved. If I made all A’s, I should have made A+’s. If I got all the housework done and done well, it was never good enough. I was always at fault and deficient. Because I was defective. I was a failure. Flaws could easily be thrown in my face. And of course, I couldn’t solve their problems, fix their lives or make them feel better. Nor could I make the darkness go away. Instead, the darkness swallowed me whole. And refused to spit me out.
I was fat, ash blonde and getting darker by the minute. I wasn’t popular or petite. I didn’t have answers.
I saw the kids who came from and lived in the other world. I saw them daily at school. They were foreign to me. I couldn’t begin to imagine all of the ways in which we were different, but we were very, very different. They were better. I was inferior. I was worthless.
They laughed without restraint. They had confidence. A voice. They mattered. They were special. Wanted. Worth caring for.
I was not.
I did keep the secrets. That’s one thing I did extremely well. One area where I exceeded expectations. The people from the other world never suspected what I endured behind the closed and locked doors of my parent’s house.
Abuse. Constant. Abuse.
Where there is abuse, love is absent. And there was always abuse. There wasn’t much, if any, love.
They told me they loved me. Then hit me. Slapped me. Knocked me down.
They told me they loved me. Then demeaned and used me.
They told me they loved me. Then rejected me.
They told me they loved me. Then ignored me.
They told me they loved me. Then neglected me.
They told me they loved me. Then my loving father sexually abused me. Raped me.
They told me they loved me. Then detailed all the many different ways I disappointed them. How I let them down.
In my world, winning was no more of an option than was being loved.
Two worlds. Worlds apart. Vastly different. Day and night.
My world lacked air. Warmth. Light. The laughter that existed was forced, guarded, cautious. Required. No belly laughs. No joy. Not even a little sliver of happiness.
Lots of caution. Silence. Darkness. Cold. Anger. Disappointment. Fear. Anguish. No one to turn to and no safe harbor. Danger lurked. Lunged. Ripped me to pieces with razor sharp claws.
There was no escape.
I endured. Survived.
When I left home at the age of 17, I tried to leave that shadow world behind. But growing up there had damaged me on a cellular level. There was no leaving it. I left the slaps, but not the rejection. I left the sexual abuse, but not the lack of love. I left the darkness, but the darkness grew inside of me. It stunted me. Left me broken and empty.
Two worlds. I drew the low card. The short straw. I came from the wrong one. I could see the other world, but I couldn’t touch it. It is and has remained forever out of my reach.
One where love is.
One where love is not.
My world is the one where love is not.