By Doris AC Johnson MA of Psy

I woke up the other morning realizing that I am approaching the twenty year mark since I walked away from a life of long-time suffering. I won’t lie…there were good times and bad times but when times were bad…they were badddd. For a long time, I blamed myself because I was made to believe that I didn’t deserve to feel pretty although I was always told that I was. For an even longer time, I hid myself away in a box so that I didn’t have to look life in the eye…and so that no detailed glare would notice that I was merely a fraction of what my parents wanted for me and the type of parent I should have been to my children whose young eyes adored me. 

I was living a double life. Whenever I had to make myself present, I hid my unhappiness. I hid black eyes with long hair. I hid marks and bruises with make-up. I muffled tears with plastic smiles. I got up and got dressed each day with no particular place to go because I thought that would lessen his aggression towards me, but it made it worse depending on how the wind blew or how the sun shone. I could never know, so I walked lightly with emotional arms raised to shield myself from whatever was to come next. It could have been the furniture he would throw, or the or the punches to the side of my head. I could slather half a jar of cocoa butter on my face towards hope of healing and learn to sit quietly with that. I could cover my ears with my emotional hands to muffle the sound of words that I couldn’t unhear no matter how hard I tried, and how much I prayed. The names echoed and blanketed my hope for a better tomorrow…or something as simple as a good night’s sleep…one better than last night when he slapped me everytime I dozed off.  

I was a girl in a box. And my box was comfortable…built just right for my shadow and I.  Some of my peers that I looked to for support made the dysfunction functional while others judged me and I pushed them away. It was easier for me because their disappointment reminded me of what I was before those days…who I was supposed to be on that day. I was no longer a shining example to them. I was low…low because I bent when I was supposed to run. 

I was at such a low point that I thought my abuser loved me more than I loved myself…although he was the one tearing me down, stomping me into little pieces and then crying when all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put me back together again. My soul had become disheveled and I was exhausted from the lies. 

I remember running to the mirror to look at the fresh bruises and scratches with tears in my eyes, and screaming to the top of my lungs all the while trying to figure out how I could fix myself…but it would take more than what my eyes saw. It would take the grace of God to save me. I ran down dark alleys nealy sinking into muddy puddles…not sure if the water was wrung from the clouds or if it was the tears I could finally cry. 

Dear reader, you have to excuse me, because I was having a moment. And I hope that my moment can change  moments for someone else.