I know what it’s like to feel like you’re nothing
It wasn’t so much done with intent
But a byproduct of a sacrosanct promise broken before them
One that said love shall never equal harm.
My parents molded me with two broken hands strengthened by the layer of thick that develops when the people you love kick you too many times
They tried to teach me love is more than a word
it’s a thing you do
I think they got too caught up in the lesson because they forgot to use it
The two words I remember most fell from my father’s lips the day I graduated
like two broken promises meant to be kept
Like the way he was of me when my walk across that stage was a guarantee that I was going be something
Like the word he said to me when he realized his first-born wasn’t going to be home much longer
I remember he said he loved me that day because I remember being surprised
My parents held me with nervous hands and happy hearts that day while we posed for pictures too special to capture in a man-made lens
My mother’s belly distended
With a trauma that happens when a stepfather touches you in a way a child is never meant to be touched
When a man made a vow to cherish her mother in sickness and then in his sickness cherished them all
A trauma that comes when a mother permits an act that disturbs Mother Nature, so that the even the earth shrinks away
But I wish the permission was the worst part because maybe then you’d have a chance at boxing it away
No, no then she had to create another box
one of physical abuse and psychological wrongs that come when mental illness raises children on the belief that sexual abuse is the theft of a husband by a child.
My parents molded me with two broken hands
My father was a man who worked twelve hour days in the sun-filled, humid-licked, summers of Louisiana with nothing but a few tools, old work boots, and holey socks to make sure we had a meal on the table and clean socks in our dresser drawers.
He was angry with a soul anger
One that comes when you know you could have been something more
He couldn’t say he loved us so he built it with his hands in bookshelves and new rooms
Love is a thing you learn to do right and his lesson got stuck a generation ago in a war that captured as many hopes and dreams as it did people.
It took his father strong and ready to live his life and returned him half broken
The kind of broken forged from memories that bleed death – when you see death like wallpaper
His lesson came back and taught him love gets violent when it’s drunk and poisoned his chalice of childhood with a “not good enough” and a “nothingness” that started in the childhood before him and was sharpened in the traumas of war.
It’s no wonder he never said the word.
Anger is the belief you have the power to change your situation, and he had a lot of belief.
He had to.
It was also the feeling we related on
My father once taught me that love is angry then hollow
Angry with the memories of a love received and never got right
Angry with knowing
I remember the day he gave up
His angry love became hollow with his eyes
They would both stay that way for a few years
My parents fashioned me with broken hands and the traumas of a far from perfect life
They passed on the nothingness they also received too soon
Not with spite or deceit
It was an accident
from one brokenness to another
It took me thirteen hard years to shed enough layers to get the nothingness out of my skin
It drips into my memories sometimes
I collect my drips of nothingness and put them in jars so that when I’m passing on pieces of myself to someone someday I don’t mistakenly pass them along too
My mother spoke her traumas to life so that she didn’t have to say them inside
My father whispered them in action
I knew he was angry by the way he walked in the door and looked for the wrongs in the room
Making a checklist as though he was trying to count the wrongs he could never speak aloud.
I counted all their wrongs for them and made a checklist of reasons they didn’t mean to mold the brokenness in their hands to my bone structure.
I fashioned each bone molded broken with a reason, so that my body is a mass of bones, brokens, and reasons paying tribute to the story they’ll never tell
I am a chalice of broken promises and good intentions and till my last breath will fill myself with the pieces they’d never get