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Recovering Is Atrocious and I Can't Swim
I stare, empty of expression, at the small antique sandbox as the lady sitting across from me signals me to look up at her. “Well, you have two options. You can keep this narrative, or we can throw it away. But I’ll have you know it’s mandatory that we read this to your mother.” She exclaimed with a sigh; my eyes redirect themselves to look at her and away from the zen garden. “We might as well get this over with, just throw it away when we’re done please?” I said with an exasperated sigh, of course, I didn’t expect much closure from this event, I had assumed that my mom wouldn’t have much a reaction besides the one she would always give me when she was disgusted or uncomfortable. But that was until an unfamiliar lady had walked into the room along with my mother. “Who’s this?” I murmured to my therapist, my face being flushed away by any color that was left on it. “I was aware she doesn’t understand English too well. So in order to prevent any misconceptions, I brought in a translator. Isn’t that lovely?" She said with a wide grin, having the two women sit down across from me. The translator begins to read my narrative to my mother in her language, having me force to sit back and bite my tongue, my eyes observing my mother’s solemn expression to one that’s undetectable.
It’s my last day with Rachel, who appears to be my first and only therapist I ever had. I’ve been with her for nine, almost unbearable, months. My first encounter with her was atrocious, she sat me down and explained to me that blowing bubbles is really the way to relax people with anxiety, she then paces over to her desk, popped out a bottle of bubbles, and “tested” me on how phenomenal my coping skills were. Ever since then, these sessions lacked intimate conversations, the sound of keys being pushed on a keyboard is the only noise that erupts from the silent room. I bore the burden of keeping my manners respectable, and bite my tongue when we struck a nerve, forcing a grin from ear to ear when she would ask how I was feeling.
As soon as the translator had finished speaking, my mom began to sob, as if her eyes had a broken facet in them. My mother turned her face over to mine that was empty of any emotion. “Por que tu guardaste esto de me?” She wailed, her body was trembling and her face was painted red. I couldn’t demur, I only sat there oblivious and loss for words. I didn’t know why I hadn’t screamed for help, why I hadn’t cried out for her when my abuser had violated the last fragments of my innocence. The room stood still, dreadfully weighted down by my lack of words. My throat began to knot up painfully, my hands began to tense up, but my face refused to even provide an expression of remorse or fury. At this point, I knew my lack of reactions would besiege me and taunt me for the worse.I slowly began to ease my mind, keeping my breathing steady and slow. Miss Rachel doesn’t see right through me, instead, she walks over to my mother and hands her a tissue. My mother eyes drift away from my face and over to my therapist’s. My therapist breaks my silence that had broken my mother’s confidence, “Evelyn did everything she needed to do. I’m proud to say she finally graduates from therapy. But of course, I have some advice before you both leave.” The lady murmured in a soothing voice, attempting to ease my mother’s mind, giving the translator time to rephrase her statement to my mother in Spanish. “My work may be done, but Evelyn has a long way to go still, the coping mechanisms should be helpful. Since I would no longer be here for Evelyn, I recommend that she takes up some activities or some after-school programs, when she isn’t busy with school of course.” Rachel chirped with a big grin on her face when this was translated to my mother, her expression shifts from despair to determination. “Thank you so much. Hablamos pronto?” My mother said, getting up and signaled me to get my things. My mother doesn’t say a word when she grabs my hand, squeezing it firms as she drags me away from the building. This is the last time I ever see Rachel again before she quits her job.
Farther on, the leaves had already bloomed and the air begins to feel humid; summer vacation is near. My sisters and I have a clean plate, me and my twin, Elizabeth, lost touch with our last companion. This school year was a complete bust, only a week goes by into the summer haze when my mother notices that we’re just keeping the house clean and moping around like the potato sacks left in the smothered pantry. Later in the summer, my mother disrupts my slumber one blazing afternoon, “Levántate! Ponte tu ropa.” She hollers to me before rambling gibberish to my agitated sisters in Spanish. My sisters and I begrudgingly get dressed and drag ourselves outside with my mother, who soon took us near sunset park. “Where are we going?” Yawned my little sister, her voice sounded groggy and agitated that she was woken up by surprise. “Vamos a la playa!” Squealed my mother, my eyes shot wide open, I look ahead and see that we are near the public pool. “Mama we can’t swim, and none of us has a swimming suit!” I cried out. “Aprenderás.” My mother worded, and that was the start of the dreadful summer swimming lessons at Red Hook public pool! The geezer who teaching us how to swim was very efficient at his job when it came to other kids-- but not in my case. It was very difficult for me to cooperate with the other kids in my swimming session! If only I wasn’t a sitting duck. But my lungs were incapable of holding air in for anything longer than five minutes, I was filled with scorn when I was forced to swim under my partner’s legs, they forced my head to stay down. Chlorine always stung my eyes bloodshot red every time. However, my youngest sister, Vanessa, seemed to enjoy these swimming lessons, she didn’t have an old geezer as her teacher: she had a young, vibrant, curly-haired lady teach her how to swim with kids her age-- I was 3 years her superior after all. “We always use the pool noodles! I like the pink one's mama.” She would chirp in her high-pitched voice, skipping around without a worry in mind. As time flew by, I could slowly start to see that my sister, Liz, was getting out of bed effortlessly, her eyes empty of any source of light. If this were to continue any more than it should, she may explode.
In the midst of August, my mother yet again dragged my two sisters and me to swimming lessons yet again. My sister enthusiastic as we paced down the block to the pool. If I had to go through another lesson, I was going to scream. As we walked closer to the building I suddenly stopped in my tracks. It took a few steps forward for my mom to realize that I had stopped moving. “¿Qué pasa, por qué te detienes?” She said in a stern tone, I grimaced, it seemed that my tongue was tied but my body was already trembling. “I don’t want to go anymore. I f***ing hate swimming classes!” I hollered, my mind unraveled in the middle of the street, my fatigue and frustration laid out for her to see. My mother looked at me, appalled and baffled at my hostile reluctance to comply with her. “Why you no tell me nothing?” She babbled out, her broken English attempted to sound solemn, but she sounded puzzled more than anything. “No se….I didn’t think you’ll give me a choice.” I murmured, rubbing my arm a bit as I left my legs get weak. “Oh, iremos al parque entonces.” She said, grabbing my hand and took us out to the park. I was left astonished yet completely refreshed, looking over to my twin who seemed to be enjoying the cool late summer breeze. We inch towards an ice cream stand, and we go on with our day.
Long ago, I had come out about my father's abuse, and it was like trying to recite a disorganized bible while walking across a thin rope that was elevated hundreds of feet into the air. I'll have you all know that I had no idea how to read the bible without being lost in transmission. Keeping my body balanced on that thin line was even more rigorous than I had anticipated. I've walked and fell off on that rope once and I'm not ready to fall off it once more. I had hoped trying to complete this arduous task by the bare minimum required of me, by my pastor of a detective was always stopping me in the midst of my performance.
“Can you remember what the time was? What were you wearing?” He said as if I knew the answer to everything, screeching and halting me for order; but I had repressed those memories for so long it was strenuous to cough up all the details at once. The setting of the room was worse; no bright colors, nothing to look at, not a single peep of sound besides the people in the room- basically prison. Later over the course of what seemed like hours, he brought out a recorder and a wire. He dropped the pen and the pad, his eyes coldly pieced mine. I believe he can see the color drain from my face. “Would you mind calling him about what happened?” Was the closest statement I can memorize of what he had originally worded. He said he needed me to call my biological father on speaker and ask him if he ever abused me. They wanted to use it in the trial from what I can recall. “Was I really going to go through with this?” I was at my breaking point. I couldn't keep my cool any longer; I haven't spoken that much to my biological father nor had visited him in years.
Unfortunately, that was the case, my hands instinctively retrieving my phone, my fingers fumbling to turn it on and find his number. One side of my mind was screaming at me, “It'll be fine. You’ve always hated his guts.” but the other side was whispering for me to say “Don’t”. When I dialed my father’s number, I can feel my detective’s gaze pierce me, my old bastard actually picks up the phone.”Hola papa! Como estas?” Is what I had first said, I started off as if I wanted to catch up. This lasted for what seemed like an eternity, although it was certainly under 20 minutes. The conversation was like one of those cheesy scary movies where the dumb blonde girl picks up the phone to their killer. It took me longer than expected to ask him, “Hey, dad, did you ever touch me when I was younger?” And hearing my father's response pushed me over the edge, “Nononono baby, I would never do that, I would play with you as a kid but never touch you like that.” He rambled on and I began bawling like an idiot in front of a grown man that I had just met and in the middle of the phone call. I stupidly ended it with “O-Okay dad. Bye.” His response didn't soothe me at all once the call ended, he only escorted me out back to my mother and sisters in my shameful display.
I ran up ahead of my family aimlessly back home, impatient to conceal my face from everyone that had taken notice of me. I had foolishly thought if I ever had a confrontation with my father, it would bring closure and put an end to my mental state deteriorating any further. It backfired entirely, it unleashed hidden sentiments I never knew I had, I had no clue of how I felt about my father. I had sacrificed the last bit of my sanity and innocence, all in what seemed like vain.
“Did they ever keep the recording?” That was the only thought that ran through my head. That cursed recording was something that had never left my mind, it still aggravates me to this day. But things will be a constant hell for me if I cannot clear my mind.
Reflecting back on these memories, I really do question my own actions. I made things increasingly difficult for myself and for others since I failed to talk my mind. It’s depressing I know, but it’s also a bit humorous looking back on it. There’s a reason why I didn’t go into the abuse about my father or uncle; I didn’t need to explain how terrible they were as people or their actions, their impact basically dictated my life. When I was younger my mother would notice how I would semi-circle pass males, as if I was trying to avoid them, as if they were going to hurt me. For years I lived in fear and paranoia, it was only until I was 15 to really let it all swim by me. Growing people don’t get engulfed in their past. These memories taught me when it’s necessary to speak up, how to forgive what has been done, and of course how to repent for wrongs I’ve done to others since I refuse to stake a stand. Yeah, there’s still a lot more growing to do, but it’s good to self-aware of my own actions than go through a vicious cycle of trauma and villainy.