I was afraid of you from the very beginning.
As far back as I can remember, I cannot recall
A single incident in which you held me in your arms,
Consoled me when I was sad,
Comforted me when I was ill,
Or sheltered me when I was distressed.
I cannot remember any words of encouragement,
But rather the tone of disappointment
When once again I failed to be the girly girl
That you expected. Demanded.
You did complete forms when I wanted to go to college
And when I bought my first car,
But beyond that I only sensed frustration
And anger and rage
Expressed with almost demonic glee
Whenever I slighted your sensibilities,
Causing you to discipline me with hand or belt
Or word, the most painful of all for those hurts never ceased.
I feared your homecoming after a day of work,
For I never knew what your mood might be and
How it would affect me.
If you were angry, I’d be the recipient of your anger.
If you were frustrated, I’d be the outlet.
It got so that I hid away in my room
Whenever you were around
For I never knew when you’d explode
And I’d be the nearest target for your hands.
I’d dream of living in a different family.
One filled with love. Soft voices.
Encouragement. Joy. Laughter.
I convinced myself that I was adopted,
Like the kids in stories who were abused
By their adoptive families,
As an explanation as to why you treated me
The way you did.
That helped me move past my deep-felt hurt.
I never forgot the things you did.
The way you spoke to me in derision.
The lack of your love.
But more than anything,
I never moved past my fear.