I am a woman full of scars. Broken and jagged puzzle pieces, placed meticulously back together so as not to show the cracks. I am watchful, I observe. So many words circle in my head, the cursor always blinking. Sentences forming, delete that adjective and add something that pops. Feelings and thoughts have always been taught to remain hidden. They rise to my throat and stop there, replaying in my head over and over until I’m satisfied they come out just right.
The thing about childhood trauma is you can never really escape it. You may momentarily feel free, happy even, and then you pass a red brick house. Your chest tightens and your fingers immediately dig into the steering wheel until your knuckles turn white. You become an adult who seeks peace but can’t escape the chaos. The darkness hovers on even the perfect summer afternoon, water glistening like a million tiny diamonds under the sweltering sun. Others may not see it, but I do. A song comes over the radio with lyrics and a melody that speak to the darkness, and suddenly I’m enveloped in the all too familiar dank cold attic of my mind. The space where all of the thoughts and feelings hide, a deadbolt on the door only I hold the key to. You think you know me, but only the version I want you to see.
I am meticulous yet careless. Which version would you like? The options are endless. When you grow in an environment that puts little emphasis on finding and appreciating who you are, you begin to take versions of everyone else and piece them together like a quilt. Stitch by stitch, square by square, the patterns and colors vary greatly from their predecessors. One square for your job. Precise with neutral hues in shades of white and gray. A square for motherhood, an array of colors and lines that attempt to make sense but end up jumbled together making it difficult to tell one color from another. In the middle, that’s where you hide the darkness. Shades of gray and black, you try to hide it but surrounded by all the color it’s hard to miss. Others wonder why you can’t just throw in a touch of purple, make it pop. They will never understand that the darkness wouldn’t allow it. It will always find a way.
Why does it feel so uncomfortable to be happy? Why do we choose those we know will only challenge the depths we’ve already rose from just to find ourselves deeper than we ever imagined possible. Perceived as cold and heartless, but that’s only one of my squares. My love is hidden so well most would never find it. No one will get close enough to the true me. No one will get the opportunity to hurt me again. Relationships suffer, they beg me to let down my walls. If only they knew their construction was perfected to the point even I cannot break them down.