I am the child who was forced to anticipate your unwritten rules, lest I be shamed for messing up, or worse.
I am the child you told would have to achieve, or face yet more unspecified consequences.
I am the child you shamed with judgemental comments about my body, something I could do nothing about.
I am the child you terrified, when you screamed at me for grieving my dead grandfather.
I am YOUR child. Did you not see me? Or did you see what you hated in yourself, and want to snuff it out?
I am the teenager who was too afraid to fight back against the bullies who tormented me. I feared my own strength, yet I also feared you because I was still your child, and believed you would sooner punish me than stand up for me.
I am the teenager who tortured herself to be thin, because I believed my worth and acceptance depended on fitting the norm society, my peers, and my own mother flogged at me.
I am the teenager who sought solace and acceptance in the arms of an older boyfriend, who was interested in little more than sexual exploitation.
I am the teenager who believed she had to strive for perfection to even be loved.
I am the teenager who believed in the religion you shoved down my throat, that I would burn in hell for my inability to measure up to both your ideals and the ideals of a supposedly loving god, to whom I was also unlovable.
I am YOUR daughter. Did you see me for who I was, or the unrealistic reflection of yourself you wanted me to be?
I am the young woman who went out into the world, afraid to trust yet too needful of acceptance to protect myself.
I am the young woman who gave too much of herself in every respect, because I felt I was only worth what I could give to others, whether that meant my time, my money, or my body.
I am the young woman who didn’t know who she was because I had never been allowed to be myself, or was ever loved for myself.
Now I am older, replete with the battle scars of youth and a few silver tendrils of wisdom.
I am a person who was always beautiful, though I was told and believed otherwise for far too long.
I am stronger than the fragility of the small minds who tried to tame my body, my spirit, and my will.
I am gifted with empathy for others who have been abused.
I am loved by people who see me for who I am, not for who they wanted me to be.
I am someone worth fighting for, someone worth protecting.
I am angry… But that is a far cry better than being numb.
I am intelligent in ways that the old tests and report cards were too limited to describe.
I am a force to be reckoned with, and will, ’til my dying breath, use that strength to help others see who they really are.
I am not who you told me I was.
I am just getting started.