Turn this way. Turn that way. Take this off. Let me see. I’m just checking. Breathe now. Relax.
That’s what he did.
The others. Hold me down. Strip me bare.
Dignity taken. Control stolen.
Don’t cry. Be strong. If you’re good…
When you cry, there are consequences.
Cry about a cast on your arm when you’re ten – “You want me to go get the saw right now? I’ll cut if off right now if you don’t stop crying.”
Say your elbow hurts when you’re 15 – “Let me see” slams his fist down. Laughs. “See, it’s fine.” It was broken.
Anxiety shows itself in tears at 18 after your final consult with the surgeon who will break your jaw in 5 places and rearrange it so you can eat again. You’re grounded. You’re a bitch.
What is the point of fixing what’s broken when fixing it hurts more and you’ll always be broken?
What is the point of fixing what’s broken when there’s nowhere to go after?
The places that were supposed to be safe are the very ones that always hurt me.
Home. Doctors. Hospitals. This little spot where I thought I could breathe.
I fix one thing and break the next. None of it connected so no one sees it all.
They think it’s the pain.
They think it’s anxiety.
It’s okay to put it off, they say. I know the consequences for putting it off.
I hand them the DNR and advance directives. You’re too young.
I’m too old. I shouldn’t have made it this far. But I tell them it’s because of law school.
No one will follow the DNR. No one is that compassionate.
There was that one time. It was dark. And peaceful. And nothing hurt. Nothing at all. And I was okay. Just darkness and peace.
They brought me back.
They didn’t save me, though that’s what they call it.
Strapped down. Laughed at. Lectured. Yelled at. Looks of pity. Looks of disgust. Looks of frustration. Looks of incredulity.
Everyone thinks they know, but no one does.
They’ve met people with trauma.
They’ve met people with trauma from men.
They’ve met people with trauma from fathers.
They’ve met people with trauma from doctors.
They don’t know what to do when it’s all three in the same person.
They say it’ll get better. It doesn’t. But they never stick around to see.
One did. He understood in time. It took years. Seeing these glimmers of hope destroyed again and again.
He helped me know what shouldn’t have been.
How many times did I ask her if he’d drugged me? Because things didn’t add up.
And then that day I knew for sure.
How many times had she lied?
She chose men over me.
She told me once she left me there on purpose. She knew what he did, what he was like. But she didn’t want to be around him.
I tried to be an adult. I didn’t understand the things that were wrong that I should have understood.
A brother who told me time and again “you should kill yourself or I’ll do it for you.”
A brother who threw a knife at me and chased me into rooms where I was afraid beyond measure.
They too were hurt by him. But I was the target.
Does this hurt? How about this? Let me just do this. Let me see. Let me feel. Let me…
No one ever believed me when I said I hurt.
I liked xrays and MRIs because they didn’t lie. Somebody could finally see.
There was that doctor, my father, who said my wrist wasn’t broken – it was.
There was that doctor, my father, who said my elbow was fine – it wasn’t.
There was that doctor, unrelated, who said they didn’t realize how bad my shoulder was until they did surgery.
The same doctor who said they didn’t realize how bad my elbow was until surgery.
There was another doctor that said my knee hurt because I was fat – it was torn.
There was a doctor that said my headaches were because of my blood sugars – I had herniated discs and occipital neuralgia.
There was the doctor that said my hip was because of my endometriosis – it’s not.
I tell them I’m good with pain. I’ve been through a lot of it. They hear that a lot.
There was the broken foot with no pain meds because I couldn’t afford any.
There was the jaw surgery where I only had 4 days of pain meds because I got sick.
There were abscesses and herniated discs and broken bones and endometriosis and coming back from suicide and so much more. I learned just to stay very still and pray, even when I believe in nothing, that pain would stop.
Lift this up. Take this down. Walk like this. Stand like that. Don’t move. Push back. Squeeze here. What does it feel like?
When everything hurts, nothing hurts at all anymore.
You come prepared. You try to explain. You try to say what needs to be said and write what can’t be said at all.
At some point it’s forced out of you, some of the words you can’t say because it’s the only way they can hear it.
Eyes down. Don’t look at them. It’s more uncomfortable for them. You shouldn’t make them uncomfortable. They don’t want to know. They won’t understand. They need to understand.
It’s not exactly what they think – it’s both worse and not as bad.
Compelling and tragic, one said. Words that can’t be processed.
There are no words. For what happened then. For all you survived since.
Submit. Again and again and again and again.
You tried to escape. In high school. You left.
But you are cruelly tied to a profession that will never let you go.
It owns your body and most of your mind.
What little is left doesn’t make up a life.
They own every piece. Each of them, one part. None of them sharing.
You’ll never be whole because they can’t see the whole. They see the parts.
It’s just one more test they need.
It’s just another appointment to go through.
It’s just a delay.
It’s not a big deal.
That’s what they all say.
But it is not just one more test or one more appointment or a simple delay. It is all a big deal.
You have no control. It’s in their hands.
You’re one patient in an ocean of patients.
Don’t make them mad. You know what happens when doctors get mad. You know the consequences.
Submit. Be good. Don’t cry. Be strong. Let them…
When does my body get to be mine?