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A letter I’ll never send to you. A letter that would only fuel the emotional abuse. A letter you wouldn’t read, save for everything you’d use against me. A letter in a diary.
Emotional abuse… wether you acknowledge it or not, you painted my world with it.
Something that will always stick with me… That day that you walked me through the grocery store and, without any reason, said to me “No one I work with here likes you. Everyone thinks you’re stuck up. You’re a snob. You act like you’re better than everyone.” Your tone was cruel, taunting, as if you wanted me to argue back so you could escalate.
But I stayed quiet, head low as I held onto the cart beside you. I was filled with anxiety, pain, and confusion. I wondered what I’d done wrong, in my minimal interactions with them. I knew I was quiet, shy. Was it something I did, or was it what you said to them about me? I was 14…
Just as you did to your other coworkers at your other job after you read my diary when I was 13. I found out through one of their daughters.
I was mortified. Angry. A feeling I wasn’t allowed to express. When you read my diary the only passage you cared about was the one where I mentioned wanting to strangle my brother when we would fight. An empty threat, a private moment to express anger, that you ripped from me. You wrote back and guilted me as if I were detestable. You succeeded. I felt terrible. I understood your desire to protect him, your youngest biological son. But you never felt that pull to protect me. The rest of the diary I wrote about wanting to kill myself, about my mothers alcoholism, the trauma I was dealing with. You told me I was seeking attention. Even if I was- what does that mean? A cry for help? But I wasn’t- I wrote it in a diary. Thinking it was private. Terrified to tell anyone. Never wanting to hurt you, because of how you lost your brother. But I did want to die. Id had those urges at the age of 8 but I’d started planning it at the age of 10, because shortly after I moved in I caused you and dad to fight. I kept looking for dads sleeping pills. When I couldn’t find them, I thought maybe the aspirin in the medicine cabinet would work. I planned to write you each a letter to apologize for being a burden and thank you for all you had done… To thank you for being my step mom and for loving me. That’s all I wanted, those moments where I thought you loved me- the only moments I felt safe.
Because so many moments I did not:
-The day you told me the head-lice, you hadn’t treated me for- for an entire month, was my fault. My mothers fault, because she was “dirty.”
-The day you screamed in my face and told me I was a tramp, at barely 13, because I didn’t want to wear a sweater and you were mad about a dress my mom gave me that was short. I didn’t yet understand my body was maturing. Just as you told me, at 10, I was disgusting and needed to wear a bra- as if I were seeking sexual attention. I was just a child. A sexually abused child, that you then sent the message was seeking sexual attention… what the fuck? -The mixed message when I was 18, and you told me I was selfish for not having sex with my boyfriend. When, just the year before you’d told me you’d slap me in the face if you caught me doing it. I think you wanted to hit me, every time you were angry. Thank you for refraining… You’d blamed me though, when dad got angry at you for saying that. As if I manipulated everything. -When you told me I manipulated my boyfriends parents into dying my hair, when it was a birthday surprise. I was terrified when you screamed at me over their phone. They looked at me with pity. I choked back tears with a smile. -When you laughed in my face while I wept, after someone had pressured me into slitting the throat of a baby bunny that was suffering, paralyzed after I tried saving it from a cat. The knife was dull, I can still hear it squeaking in pain and terror, suffocating because of me. I still want myself to suffer for it. I can still see the laughter on your face. There are countless moments like these. In your eyes I was manipulative, selfish, a lier, a sexual deviant, every bad thing. Has that changed? Do you love me more than you judge me? You still judge me- for things like taking medication that I need to not be suicidal. I know you still say cruel things about me behind my back, you still believe everything bad thing you labeled me. Dad told me it is because I was a reminder that he had a partner before you. Later he told me I was dramatic and only thought of the negative- held the past against you. He rarely saw the abuse. He worked too much. Still though, it cuts me like a knife. He knew enough, but in the end I was the problem. I’m sorry I hurt your marriage. I heard you both did better when I moved away. I’m glad my boyfriend let me stay in the summers, and for the summer I worked at a camp to survive. When the dorms closed- for all intents and purposes, I was homeless. There was no place for me, just an unspoken “You’re not wanted.” I think maybe I had not been for the 7-8 years I lived with you… maybe even the weekends I stayed all the years before. I made that decision to move at 10 because of my trauma, but all I found was more. You tolerate me now. It feels better. I keep it surface level. Short and sweet. I even emotionally support you. I dismiss your abuse because I know how badly you were abused in your childhood, I know how far you’ve come from the abuse you grew up in... I know you, and I know I was an easy target. I cope better now, but some nights it still haunts me. A phantom pain, in the safety of my own bed, miles and year away from you and the power you had over me. I love you still. I desire your love still, but I don’t place my value on it anymore. I love the good I can see in you. I try my best to forgive you. But I will not forget. On nights where those Phantom pains ache, I’m glad I have ether… Only one other person knows my identity here, I think… so it’s finally a safe diary, locked away from you.