PTSD, an improper diagnosis because post is past and this is our present

preamble: discovering breasts under my nightgown was one of the most traumatic experiences of my childhood. from that very moment i was trapped in a world with a constant bombardment of sexual attention so aggression i simply could not breathe. they no longer saw me. the me, i had been. the somersaulting-head-standing-singing-and-climbing-trees-daydreaming me was lost. overnight, i had become flesh and the collective heat of their attention targeted me with a singularity so stifling it drowned out any hopes of being. all i could do was duck, dive, bob and weave to keep myself, my me, protected.

Hey, baby.

Where you going?

Can I go with you?

Oooh, girl! You like an amusement park. I could ride you all day long.

Why you walking so fast? Let me catch up.

Smile, beautiful.

Come on girl. I’m a doctor. I just want to check you out.

I’m gon’ follow you home.

Come back. Come back.

Are you a hoe? Or are you a woman?

I need a woman.

You got what I need.

You got what I want, baby.

Baby girl, you ready to be a woman?

I got something you can ride.

Let me teach you.

Come on I got something to teach you.

All night, girl, I can go all night.

 

They didn’t want me.

They didn’t know me.

They could not see me

not my artist heart

nor my brain racing at a

thousand miles per second.

They did not hear

my song

my poetry.

They did not recognize

my rhythm

my humanity.

 

They identified

only singular parts

breasts

hips

thighs

derrière.

 

Watched me move

and read a message

I never sent that

gave them license

enough to

single

me

out.

 

Demanding that I

who was targeted

be grateful and

smile.

 

When all

I did was

walk out

my front door.

 

All I wanted was

to go to the store

for a quick run

walk to school

make it to work

be on time for

this appointment.

 

I was not looking for

had no intention of having

them find me.

I live my life

in my step and

my time.

No propositions sought.

Yet every day

they

found

me.

 

Imagine a 9 year old

putting on armor

so tightly that to step outside

she has to inhale deeply

just to hold it in place.

Once outside cocooned

in an impenetrable shell

she cannot even see

her own true self.

 

This barrage of unwanted,

undesired, unneeded attention

did not make me feel in anyway

recognizable want, need,

or desire. I instead felt like

meat. A calf slaughtered and

splayed on a butcher’s block

a breast,

a thigh,

a backside.

 

My shoulders slowly

slumped from battle fatigue.

A scowl permanently

imprinted on my face.

The adage smile girl

would incite

pure

unadulterated

rage.

 

At 9

this notice raised in me

a fear so stifling

I was paralyzed.

Gratefully, guardians

expertly thwarted all

inappropriate advances.

I was never

left alone in

large public spaces.

Boogeymen lurked

on corners, in doorways, and

crept down side streets

in lincolns and pintos.

Their hunger so intense-

in parka, moon boots, wool cap with mittens

and turtleneck sweaters that hung past my knees-

I felt naked.

 

Eyes swallow you whole.

Life saving sentinels

kept me safe as long

as they could.

 

As I grew so

did my world.

Attentions

expanded.

Fear transcended

into an anger seething.

 

My protectors

could not be

everywhere

every time

in an ever

broadening world.

 

So…I would curse

Motherfucker you best back up off me!

You dirty rotten bastard!

Who the fuck do you think you are!

You don’t fucking know me!

You don’t know shit about me!

Come over here and I got something for yo’ ass!

Talking to me like you don’t have no goddamn sense!

I don’t know who the fuck you think I am!

 

At 10, I yelled,

I’m a little girl! You sick fuck! A little girl!

 

At 11, I exclaimed,

You need to crawl back under the motherfucking rock you came from!

Talking to little girls like you ain’t got no goddamn sense!

 

At 12, I carried a big stick in my hands

and a pocketknife in my bra.

I marched down streets

head high,

eyes straight,

ears primed and

shoulders squared.

 

Once a pack of

dejected boys turned

their dog loose on me.

I beat

the shit out of that dog, then

looked at those boys

and screamed, “Who the fuck is man enough

to be next?! You sick ass

motherfuckers!” I got

no takers.

 

Predators presuming our

bodies are not

our own. Little girls

conditioned for war

protect themselves from

becoming only flesh.

 

Marauders mare

carelessly with only

one intention to make you

flesh

to possess

to own

to devour.

 

You go on defense

and offense and begin to

see every move as an ulterior

motive to

bed you,

degrade you,

fuck you.

 

So I screamed

and shouted and carried

a big motherfucking stick.

I would swing that sucker

till the cows came home

directly and intently prepared

to do as much damage as

possible.

 

There is

no thing a

9 year old

10 year old

11 year old

12 year old

13 year old

14 year old

15 year old

16 year old

does that

asks for it.

 

No open invitation to rape, violate or humiliate.

Stop talking under her clothes.

There is no dress, short, blouse or skirt, no tight or wet tee

sending hidden messages.

 

Relationship builders

do not include

abuse,

shit talking, or

cattle rounding euphemisms.

Bitch is not

a compliment.

 

Love messages do not

come with demands,

innuendos,

propositions, or

assault.

Anyone who pulls that shit

is deserving of a,

motherfucker you best back the fuck up before

I show you my little friend.

 

Catcalls and groping

should be met

with the business end of a

very big stick followed by

a swift left body blow

and upper right cut.

 

Back up

against a wall, what

do you think should happen?

Surrender?

Fuck that.

 

Warrior pose

head high

eyes forward

hips grounded

feet shoulder length apart

Release fear.

Release anger.

Strategize.

This

is

war.

 

There is no time to

be open and

happy and

singing and

marveling at the

wonders of this life.

 

The boogeyman is real and

he is legion.

Hiding under

rocks, behind desks

and in priest robes.

Aiming to

hurt,

steal,

maim, and

abuse.

 

Little girl, you are better off

learning knife skills and

how to clean and carry.

Be ready.

This is real

this culture of rape

rendering

PTSD, an improper

diagnosis because post is past

and this is our present.

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