you will likely never read this. in fact, you probably don’t even remember who i am, apart from my various body parts. to you, i had no name. to you, my purpose was a place to pour all your rage and frustration with life into.
the after school specials taught my friends you only existed in the shadows, but i knew better. you were in charge of my livelihood, and apparently i was in charge of yours.
you were in my life briefly, the exact minutes/hours/days/years, i’ve since forgotten. a blessing from the Lord, really. my memory of you is limited. but what i do remember infuriates me to my core.
while you may have physically been in my life a short period, you’ve remained mentally, emotionally and spiritually with me for as long as i can remember.
sometimes it’s you i feel when my husband touches my shoulders. i cringe under the phantom callused fingertips. hands that feel too large on my skin. sometimes i start to suffocate under your phantom body. my chest tightens, my heart pounding on my lungs to breathe. but i can’t move.
for most, the late 80s/early 90s motif is an awful reminder of terrible decorating habits, but to me it’s a full on attack on my body and mind. shaggy carpets rubbing against my skin, the colors brown, green and purple scatter in my memories.
i’ve become friends with my shower loofah, for only she knows the depth i’ve gone to rid my body of your touch, your sweat and saliva. yet it doesn’t matter, she reminds me. i’ll be back under the scolding hot water the next time your phantom touch crosses my path.
some in my life say i’m dwelling. to them, i congratulate them on having no invisible friends to remind them of the violation they’ve experienced. because of what you did to me i’ve been labeled a drama queen, dramatic, over sensitive, and even mentally ill. i’ve struggled against these labels for as long as i can remember, yet they remain. almost as if they’ve been branded into my skin. they’ve become my counterfeit identity.
because of what you did, i suffered in silence, my screams only represented in the slashes on my skin when panic would arise late a night and there was nothing to comfort the invisible pain my body felt. confusion rose as my age did. the reality that i lived in a world that delighted in what you did to me sent me spiraling downwards. i nearly drowned in my tears when i realized my dreams of being a mother were only attainable through being a willing participant of the things you did to me.
so i shut my dreams down. a mother, i’d never be. a wife, i’d never be. i became a builder. a builder of walls. my wall was built with bricks of resentment, hatred, jealousy, frustration, and fear. like a solider, i stood watch. guarding my heart and my body. i became weak fighting battles i was never meant to fight. i was wounded and naked barely able to stand, and utterly alone.
a knight came. held out his hand and promised safety and did his best to pull me from my post. on my knees, i pleaded with him to leave. it wasn’t safe here, in my heart. it was a dangerous place to be. because of you. but he wouldn’t leave.
my savior came. in his arms he carried a pile of armor. he laid it at my feet. “put on your whole armor, my child and you will not find need for this wall.”
the armor was heavy. too heavy for my weakened body. i cried out. my knight sat by, head bowed into his hands. my savior came and whispered,
“my child, your burdens are too heavy. you carry the weight of another. you fight to fulfill the authority of flesh, an impossible conquest. for fear motivates the world. this battlefield you linger in is merely a representation of the devastation this world sees. the smell of death as it’s perfume. but come to me and you shall see the truth. a kingdom of righteousness awaits you.”
slowly, my bruised and bloody fingers reached towards the pieces of the armor. the first piece. a belt. I wrapped it around my waist and fiddled with the large piece that hung off the side.
“this holds your weapon. truth. a reminder of who i am.”
i reached for the next piece. a breastplate. i looked to my savoir, my arms shaking as I placed it upon my breasts and abdomen.
“this is to remind you of who you are. righteous. this protects your heart.” he placed his soft hands on my abdomen. a shiver went through my body.
sandals laid out before me. i grabbed the soft, worn leather bound souls and wrapped my blistered and dirty feet in them. as i tied them, my savoir placed his hands on my hands, pausing me momentarily. he moved my fingers and began twisting the brown straps around my ankles.
he whispered, “to ready you for your journey, peacefully. as you walk, you’ll be comforted by the peace of me.”
i reached for the next piece. a helmet. i slid it onto my head, it’s warmth circulated around me.
he placed his hands on the sides of my head, “salvation is yours. this protects your mind from the lies of my enemy. you are saved through me.” he laid out his hands, palms up. beckoning me to take them. my knight, still bowed with his head on his hands. i laid my shaking hands on his palms and he pulled me up.
he lifted a large shield, the tip narrow at the bottom and widened further than my shoulders. the shield stood to my chest. he flipped it. a large strap clung to either side. i slide my hand and forearm into the strap and lifted the shield. his hands on either side of it.
“have faith my child. faith in what i tell you. believe my message. and you will be safe. and lastly.” he laid out a small dagger like sword, and put it inside the pocket that hung on my belt. “use my words to defeat my enemies. for when my name is uttered, they must leave.”
i stood, fully clothed, in front of the wall i’d built. my knight rose and stood beside me. i turned towards my wall. grabbed my dagger and slammed it into the wall. dust rose. screams from the enemy echoed in the abandoned field. when the wall fell, you stood behind it.
you were always the strength behind my wall. holding it up whenever i’d try to tear it down. forcing me to believe i needed it to stay safe. you crammed your way in between my knight and me. but not anymore.
today, i’m a warrior. today, i take back my dreams.
what you did to me, didn’t destroy me. it destroyed you. i see you clearly now. your brokenness. i’m not going to thank you, because you did nothing to earn my gratitude. but i am going to do something i believe you’ve never had done to you.
i forgive you for tainting my life with your darkness. i forgive you for accepting the devils will over your life rather than the Lord’s. i forgive you for attempting to condemn my life. i will continue to forgive you each time your phantom smell or touch invades my life.
i forgive you for raping me. i forgive you for making me think that rape and sex are the same things. but what you did to me wasn’t have sex. you delighted in my pain. you delighted in the control you had over my frail body.
the enemy tried to kill me through you. he failed.
my forgiveness can only go as far as you let it. i pray you can forgive yourself. i pray you can take responsibility for what you did to me.
i will no longer bear the weight of your sin. i am not responsible for your behaviors. my worth is no longer entangled with what you did to me.
i know who i am. i know who you are. and i will never forget what you did, and neither will you. my memory is stained with images of you. but that is where you shall remain. a memory which will propel me further. to the darkest of the darkest places. on my knees i will fall to pull others out from the enemies grasps.
but know, this isn’t because of you. i survived because of God. you have nothing to do with where i am, or who i am today. you can have my past. but God.
God gets my present and future.