I remember riding my bicycle a lot when I was in 8th and 9th grade. Any time I had to visit my abusive parent I would spend as much time riding my bicycle as I could. The house felt like a prison and I was very unhappy being inside it.
A judge and a lawyer had decided that we were safe in this person’s sphere of influence and that was that. I hated the judge for this. I hated my parent for “winning”. I hated my parent for … I didn’t even know what at the time. Now I know. That house was not safe for me. For anyone.
One time I was out riding my bicycle and I was cruising a neighborhood where some of my friends lived. It was along the same bus route that I rode to school. It was hot like only a midwestern sun can be, baking the black tar asphalt, searing my skin, reflecting into my eyes. My eyes were so squinted they were almost closed and I was coasting along, coasting…
And then I remember the ground being very hard and the bicycle was pinning one of my legs. Then I remember pains. But I was sort of disconnected from them. It felt very surreal; as if that person, my person, had crashed their bike in the middle of the street. More than pain, I actually remember feeling ashamed and frightened.
Very frightened of what my parent would do if I had damaged the bicycle.
I knew if I’d damaged myself they would not take proper care of me and of course would not take me to the hospital if I needed it so I was scared that I would need it and not be able to go. I was scared that I was broken and I would heal improperly and be maimed forever because my abuser was in charge of my medical care.
Ashamed that I had lost control.
Ashamed that I had crashed and it was my own fault.
I felt so ashamed that I needed help.
Ashamed that I wanted help.
I felt incredibly guilty that I would inconvenience multiple people, my parent included, by crashing.
You might say, like my abuser often did, that my parent did not intend for me to feel these things therefore they were not responsible for my mental anguish. And I would say to you that you can go jump in a f*cking lake. I would invite you to take your argument about intentions and oppression and shove it up your a**.
A brown van with a family of five or six rolled up next to me. The nice people were very concerned about my fall. They tried to talk to me and ask me if I was okay. I think I said I was okay but I also think they could tell that I was not. I was clearly confused and addled. I was dizzy from the sun and stress and I was dehydrated and with all the things I was feeling it was difficult to deal with articulating my needs.
I’m not sure what we said but I know they stopped and helped me get to the curb. They helped me sit on the curb and tried to talk with me. I must have been pretty addled because they ended up deciding to take me home in their van. I think they wanted to take me to get medical attention but I was distressed about needing it so we ended up going back to the house of the abuser.
Looking back, I am sure I had a concussion. The stress and the concussion itself helped me block this from my mind. It was easy when you feel so disconnected from the pain! I remember for weeks afterward I would poke at my giant bruise on my leg, using the pain to reassure me that I was alive.
This incident became a great excuse for my abuser to not allow me out to ride my bicycle anymore. I still feel doubt in my ability to ride bicycles to this day because of him. But now I know what I always felt: I was a great rider. It made me feel safe and alive and it made me feel happy. I was good at it and there’s no reason I couldn’t be good at it again.
F*ck that man who made me distrust my very self. My own feelings. I was stuck in a situation that allowed an abusive adult to constantly groom me emotionally and mentally to distrust my own senses, my own brain, my own eyes, anything. My identity was actively attacked, pruned, beaten, snipped, slashed, stomped and burned. This narcissist could not abide a child outside of their own identity, females especially could not be allowed their own identity. I had to be suppressed.
Males had a little bit of freedom; but this freedom provided another means of control. I know this now. This is the reason each of my siblings and I have such different experiences, memories, and ways to cope. We developed variety due to our abusers endless flexibility to adapt to our defense mechanisms and tailor his abuse to the specific child. Or person. He manipulated everybody, not just us. It was all part of his grand design to protect himself and guarantee a safe environment for him to carry out his abuse.
Isolation and Control.
Isolation and Control.
Three times is poetry: Isolation and Control.