I won a diary at the school’s book fair in the fourth grade. It was my first honest to goodness diary, and at the time, I felt the addition of a lock transformed it into the most trusted friend ever. I picked it up before school ended, and a smile plastered my face from ear to ear as I walked to where we were living at the time. That same day, my teacher Mrs. Smith, gifted me a brand new pencil covered in red hearts that smelled like cotton candy, and I planned to sit outside under a tree and share my thoughts with my new best friend.
When I walked to the door, I heard my mother fighting with the man that we were staying with, and as soon as I walked inside, her first words were, “I ain’t got nothing because of you! Get out of my face!”. It was like I’d suddenly been snatched out of a rainbow cloud and pulled down into some quicksand swamp.
The acid in my stomach immediately turned my insides into a lake of soot and my eyes into angry waterfalls. I felt like I’d been accosted in an alleyway and stabbed directly in my heart. I ran to a bedroom, slammed the door and opened my diary. Tearing the paper with the weight of the pencil lead, the first words I shared with my friend were, “I hate my Mom!” Then the door jiggled and I panicked, pulling the key from my pocket and trying to lock it up before she came in and saw what I felt. But the key was too small to maneuver through my shaking hands, and she approached, snatched the diary from my hand, read my words, and proceeded to slap me on each cheek over and over again, until I begged her to stop, repeating, “I’m sorry, Mama. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. Please stop. You’re hurting me!”
I don’t suspect she cared that she was hurting me. She called me names that my memory has buried somewhere in that basement of our brain that we don’t really ever need to retrieve anything from. When she walked out, she took my diary and threw it away. Dinner that night was spaghetti, and she made sure that I didn’t eat, and had me watch as she poured my portion over my best friend, never wanting me to talk to her again. I never felt such a loss in friendship as I did from that day to now.
I still wrote over the years, and suspect much of it was confusing because I was scared the paper would be taken away. I was never naked with my emotions, so sharing what I wrote sometimes felt safe. But the more I built a relationship with the trees, the more clothes I removed, and the more I kept it hidden. And today, you the reader of this post, are the only ones who know how often I write in the nude, or how often I write at all.
This blog is my closet.
Some days, my yearning to have a body to write my love upon, is what I attempt to satisfy here in these walls, among hangers filled with the old and new dresses of my present and past. I suspect that in my patience, my wishes will be granted, like a new wardrobe, or like this here friendship between my heart, my words, and you.
This is why I know how precious our closets are, cause we never know what pain and fear leads a person to hide there in the first place.
When The Present Meets The Past
Tonight’s dinner was spaghetti, and my son wanted to try making it for everyone. It was his first time, and he did a good job. As I cleaned the kitchen, I waited until he took his shower to put it away in Tupperware, because half of it had stuck to the pot, and I didn’t want him to know I was throwing his efforts away. As I poured the noodles in the trash, my memory took me to my first diary, and I cried. You sometimes never know when the memory of childhood abuse will visit, but I think it’s important not to fight it, but invite it in to bless it if you can. So, this is my way of showing hospitality to my heart, and yours.