No one really knows the pain that others may be hiding. We look at one another, and make judgments. They are made based on what a person is wearing, where a person is from, or the way a person walks, talks, or interacts. How often do we stop to ask ourselves why a person is the way they are? Why is he so confident? Why is she so self-assured? Why is she so shy? Why does he seem dark and gloomy?
I have always been known as perky, bubbly, and happy. Friends didn't understand that I could relate to their pain, and their fears. Many friends shied away from me when they felt their pain was beyond my comprehension. No one knew what I was hiding. I was labeled as Naive, even as an adult. When I went back to nursing school, I was seen as a know-it-all and way too perky. I hid behind "perky" and buried my pain in "bubbly".
The first time I became shattered, I was 5 years old. Boys in my neighborhood decided to use me like a toy, and then break me. The only reason I made it through was because of prayer, and my forgiving nature. It changed me. It scarred me.
There was a boy that was older. He lived across the street from us. He lived with his mom. We would often play together, and when we went to his house his mother was supposed to keep an eye on us. What could go wrong in the backyard? Behind the garage? He was supposed to be my playmate, my friend. I still get a chill with the name, "Bobby". Sometimes older boys would also come over to hang-out and play in Bobby's yard. At times they would also come over to our yard, but my mother seemed less than thrilled to have them there, so usually they would just talk to us in the front of the house or at Bobby's.
One day my sister was not with me, and I was in Bobby's yard playing. Bobby's older friends were showing off. The group of boys led me behind the garage. We were out of sight. I was 5 years old. With me standing there, they began to explain to Bobby what boys are supposed to do to girls. I remember them teasing Bobby, telling him he is not as "developed" as they were (in not such polite terms). I was confused about what was being said. They blocked my only path out of that small enclosed place. I was 5 years old. I remember the things they did to me that day, and the times that followed. I remember the way they acted out sexual intercourse, dry-humping me through my clothes. I remember the tallest boy putting his hand down the back of my shorts. I remember all of the touching, kissing, and pain that followed. As the boys became more confident that they would not get caught, future interactions would be more invasive. They would keep pushing their limits, and hurt me more.
At the end of that first interaction, one of the boys pressed a lit cigarette against my right upper arm. I was told not to tell. It was his way of warning me that this could never be spoken of. I still have the scar. I was given more scars at later dates. I was told that my family would get hurt if I told. I was told that they would kill me dog if I told. I was burned with lighters, and cigarettes at future "play dates". I was threatened with a blade. The marks on my body didn't even come in to question by the adults in my life. I was accident prone. I had a habit of getting hurt. They looked like my many other wounds of play. I rarely complained about cuts, bruises, and scrapes.
My mother had no clue this was happening. I remember my mom taking us across the street to Bobby's Birthday party. It was in his backyard. Adults were present. I remember trying to go across the monkey bars. I remember his mom and my mom standing close, talking. My brain was that of a small child. This time I went untouched, so I thought that maybe things were different. No, it didn't end. That day was just a day of false hope. The boys would continue to come across the street in the future, take my hand, and take me back behind the garage. I was taught how to touch them. I was told instructions that I had to follow without making a peep. One of them was always keeping an eye out, and an ear open for a parent to walk over or call out our names. I suffered pains. My young brain was taught about sex before it was capable of processing it all.
I tried to tell my parents, without actually saying the words. Around the age of 6 years old I attempted to write a letter. I wrote a letter to myself. I put it in the mailbox like regular, every day mail. My dad found it. I remember him telling me that mail cannot go out without a stamp. I don't even know if I was able to write or spell very well at that age, but I remember what I had tried to express. I remember that I had wanted to write about kissing, and sex, and the penises I was forced to look at, touch, and do multiple things to. I wrote about pain. I did not have a word for "rape" yet. I wrote about nudity. I wrote the letter as if one of those boys had written it to me. I knew if my parents saw a letter to me containing such vulgar subjects it would have to raise questions. The letter must have been unreadable, just a bunch of child scribbles with words missing letters, because when I saw that letter in my dad's hands, instead of it being my saving grace, it was a lesson on how to send mail properly.
I never tried to tell anyone again. My cat had been shot in the head by a BB gun. Most likely, it was unrelated, but as a kid, I thought it was because I had tried to tell. They had told me they would kill my pets. I became very fearful of the dark, and of being in my room alone. They told me that they could see me when I was in my room. They told me that they watched me in the dark. When I would get sent to my room for misbehaving I would cry. I was so afraid. I would sit and stare out the window, even if it was pitch black. I would swear that I could see demon eyes in the sky, or ghost. I would begin to pray, and I would just sit there, frozen, staring in to the night. When I would go to bed at night I would make sure my blankets would completely cocoon me. I would make sure not one bit of my body was exposed. Something would surely grab my feet, or my hands. Something would surely hurt me in the dark. I was terrified of dark rooms, and walking past dark doors. My confidence was shattered. I was scared now of everything. We moved from the city when I was 7 years old, and Bobby had moved prior, but the fear never left with him.
I found strength in church, and in prayer. When I would get more and more fearful over the years I would play my christian music, and hide beneath blankets. I would pray out-loud, and I would pray in my head in silence. When I would be in a social situation, I would talk. I dealt with the anxiety that I would feel building up in me by talking, and by being perky. Soon people identified me as a perky, happy person. This seemed like such a positive, so I always tried to be the perky, happy girl. People also got annoyed by me though, because I talked too much.
Who would I have been if I had not experienced such a horrible thing at such an early age? Would I have such low self-esteem and live my life hating everything about myself? I looked in the mirror and saw a Plain-Jane. I hated the sound of my voice. I hated that I wasn't athletic enough, or smart enough. I became fearful of playing my trombone out-loud outside of a large group. If someone could single me out in the crowd, I was terrified. I was never pretty enough. I was never enough. I was only 5 years old when my whole future would be effected by a few horrible boys. I was only 5 years old when I felt a large part of who I was begin to die inside. I was now left to move forward with big, ugly scars. I can barely see the physical scars that were left on my arms (I will show them to you if you ask), but the scars on my soul are there. I can feel them. They are some of those breaks that were repaired with gold that I spoke of in "Beautifully Broken".
I must keep in mind that each time I was broken I was made stronger! This was only the first of many painful moments. I am stronger because of each and every one. I see the ways that I am a strong woman. I also worry though that learning to survive at such a young age dulled some of my emotions. I had turned off some of my reactions to horrendous situations. At times, when I watch the news, I feel that I should be more emotional than I am. At times I feel that I give off the wrong reaction at the wrong times. But I survived. I continue to survive. I have just begun to really live. This is why I am like I am.