I’d like to save you but I’m washing my hair

School teachers are usually ranked highly in those most trusted professions. Two years ago I would’ve spoken highly of my high school English teacher but as I read her plead for forgiveness everything I thought about her turned to black.

I read her message and felt nauseous. In this letter she told me that she was so very sorry. She told me that she knew things were really bad for me but decided not to do anything because it would complicate her life.

Imagine that. Washing clothes and doing the tax rated more highly than my safety, dignity, and self-worth.

For people who have never experienced the hell I grew up in, they can’t understand why you wouldn’t say something. They want to know why you didn’t scream and demand to be heard.

Here is the answer, are you ready for it?

People like me are told everyday that they are worthless, pathetic, a waste of space, always in the way and then weaved into all these messages are the people won’t believe you and they will know what a truly horrible and bad person you are. How do we ask to be saved when we feel this way?

The other component of it is fear. As scared as you are, speaking up is even more terrifying. You know that at some point that you will be back in the hell and that the people you spoke out about will be keen to punish you for dragging their names through the mud.

I thought of running away a few times but where would I go? Every person I thought of escaping to would at some point betray me and back I’d go to the hell.

Setting off into the distance wasn’t an option either. In a small country town there are spies everywhere. A girl walking across a paddock that she shouldn’t be sticks out. Beady eyes would glare into the face trying to study it. Within minutes the owner of the property and people of the town would know of the daring escape. No time in the day was ever safe from those prying eyes. Those same glaring stares that would turn away from anything even remotely a little ugly.

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But, I am a WOMAN!

“I’m sorry but only the account holder can make those changes. Sir, you are not able to make those changes”.

“But I am a woman!” came a shrill but yet deep voice.

Leaving home I had no social skills and couldn’t even make an appointment – phone, face-to-face or email. I couldn’t do anything that involved me having to potentially talk or make eye contact with another person. I’m not sure why it was such a surprise to me that after years of abuse and being locked away that I wasn’t a people person.

If I did muster the courage and interact with someone I would hit myself in the head over and over again as I played it back in my head. I must’ve sounded stupid and that poor person who had to have me anywhere near them. I avoided eye contact and even got married without telling people I worked with because I was convinced they would think I was stupid and say things about me behind my back.

I agonised over telling my work I was pregnant with my son. They’d think I didn’t deserve to have the baby and they would punish me because they thought I wasn’t as competent as somebody else. I was already lucky enough to have a job. I’d have to go for appointments and that was time away from work. They’d be mad at me.

Every year I have gotten a little better at talking to people. These days I make myself talk to people for work. It’s draining for me to have to pony on up like that every day but I do it. I come home tired and unsure if I was able to do the act well enough.

I’ve never found making friends to be a natural thing. I tend not to invite anybody to anything because I have a crippling fear of them saying no. I live in constant fear of the word ‘no’. I live in constant fear that I’m not good enough.

I then met Katherine. She was my boss and encouraged me to share more of myself with her and friend Bec. Soon I felt like I belonged and had people to go to if I needed it. Katherine and Bec were never far from my thoughts. I got mugged at knifepoint and those are the two people I thought about which makes it all a little pathetic now.

“Isn’t it wonderful to have friends,” Katherine would boom as she would read my mind and smile.

Katherine decided I was too much. I was too intense. Too broken and not somebody that she wanted to be around or even look at. She deleted me off social media and seemed surprised when I asked why. I guess she was thinking I should’ve just crawled away. I thought I could fix it. I thought I could make her want to be around me. I quickly realised that like always I had been moved aside on the shelf, forgotten and sit there as some dust covered memory.

Katherine had at this stage moved in with Bec and she was the ultimate and best so I had no say in it. I had to just stop talking to a friend that I love dearly and still cry about losing. It makes me angry but then I hit myself in the head and tell myself that I’m not good enough.

I do things alone because I have nobody to do things with and don’t want to be rejected. I keep to myself and rarely leave my house. I have to pay somebody to talk to me. I make an appointment and talk to a doctor, therapist or whoever. That’s where the Medicare money is going – to a sad, lonely person who is desperate to fit in and be good enough.

Hell has a special place for you

Chubby little hands work fast to rummage through the pantry in search of a tasty treat. A smile creeping across the little face as his hands close in on a cheese and biscuit snack.

Surfacing from his search, my son excitedly finishes stumbling over his words as he exclaims that he is giving me the best mother’s day gift.

I couldn’t help but smile and wrap my arms around him

Two years ago was the last time I would force myself into a store that assaulted me with sugar-coated pink expressions of thankfulness to that ‘special mum’.

I would go through the process of choosing a card for my mother, I’d pick up random cards from the racks muttering to myself and desperately wanting to flee.

Unfortunately Hallmark don’t produce a card that represents my relationship with my mother. I’ve searched long and hard for the thanks-for-not-leaving-me-in-a-blanket-in-a-pig-pen card. It doesn’t exist.

Even when she was pregnant with me she lacked warmth. It was known at the time the impact pesticides would have on a fetus but yet she wasn’t having a hedge around her house. The hedge couldn’t wait. I was born with a tumor which doctors had thought was caused from the hedge killing.

Cuts on my wrist warranted a deep and meaningful about how I would never get a job with visible marks. She didn’t care I was doing it.

She would keep me in the house for weeks and not let me go anywhere. It got the stage where people in the town questioned if I even existed. When this would happen I’d be paraded around like some pig at a country fair. Once I’d been seen and confirmed to be alive it would be back to the house with me.Even to this day people think Mark and Heather only have four children.

She would put me on diets by giving me significantly less food than my brothers. My dad didn’t want a fat daughter. My mother would hiss venom at me and tell me I was just like my grandmother – a woman she would say she hated on a daily basis.

She would stand-by and watch as my father would expect me to work me just as hard as a man. I was expected to cook, clean, wash clothes. And no matter what time I got up in the morning, I would be expected to make my bed – as well as my brothers and my parents. And heaven help me if there was a crease (I never make my bed now! And my children don’t need to either!).

She wouldn’t touch me. Wouldn’t smile at me and never said that she loved me. She had me convinced that I was ungrateful – something like a mother trying to get her child to eat and reminding them that other kids have no food.

My hands tightening into balls of anger and breathing shallowly I stand in front of a rack of greeting cards.

My mother doesn’t deserve the cheap foot spa they are spruiking. She doesn’t deserve the dusty pink soft slippers and she certainly doesn’t deserve those pomegranate smelling candles.

My mother does deserve that special place in hell waiting for her though.