Art by Matteo Arfanotti
I don't talk about this anymore, or not as often, as the hotness of it, the sting, the pain and the anger are behind me, but there is not a day that goes by when I don't feel the effect the abuse I have endured as a child has had on my life. It delayed my blooming, my physical, emotional, and intellectual development. But sometimes something would jar me, poke me, and remind me of it. This time what poked me was Americanah, the book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I started reading the other day, and Adichie's TED talk on feminism.
If you can think of a bird, a young weak fledgeling that crawls out of the broken shell, and if you can imagine what would happen to that fledgeling if it doesn't get proper care, if it's not fed like its brothers and sisters are fed, if it's beaten and pecked at daily, you can predict that this fledgeling will be the last to chirp and the last to learn to fly and maybe it will crash to its death on the first try because the bones in its wings are broken. But now imagine that it did learn to fly, despite its shortcomings, only it learned much later, and every move of its wings sends painful spasms down its nerves but it perseveres and it struggles and it does it. It gets better and better. Yet it's easy to break it. It's not whole. It's injured for life and any wind that's too strong and any cliff that's too high might be its ruin.
You know how they call some people late bloomers. All of us abuse survivors are late bloomers. When the others used their time to grow and to mature we used our time to hide and to lick out wounds and to figure out how not to get hurt again. Our development is often delayed. Certain skills are forever missing. It might not be as glaring as an injured leg or a missing eye, but it's there and it's deeper and it's worse. You can't just swallow a pill and fix it. You have to work through it and hope that you have enough strength to go all the way. [read on]