Louisville, Mississippi, USA
Not too long ago I read the challenge about Child Abuse. It struck a very tender spot in me, and I answered the challenge. For the first time in my life, I have found the strength to write about something that haunted me from the time I was 8 years old until I was 13. When I wrote this poem, I released at least a decade of memories that I had buried inside of my heart. My Mom and Dad divorced when I was only 6 and both remarried. The lady that my Dad remarried (my step-mom - and I use the term loosely) never accepted me as belonging to my Dad. She had a son that he adpoted, and they had a son together. I never belonged there in her eyes, and she maintained that feeling until the day I made the decision that I had to stop seeing my Dad. I lost a lot of time that I will never regain with him, but I really didn't think I could survive if things kept going like they were. (He and I have begun to talk again now, and I have since told him a lot that happened that he never knew.)
When I wrote the following poem, I started only as the answer to the challenge. Before I was finished, I had cried a decade's worth of tears. I held out on posting it, because I had to let what I wrote sink in to myself, but now I want to share it with you, dear friends. Thank you for just being yourself--
I remember how you laughed at me
And told me I was strange
And even though I was a child
That I would never change.
I remember all the harshness
Of your shallow, careless words
And the pain they caused inside me
Every time they were heard.
I remember the feelings
That overtook my heart
When you told me I was worthless
And in your life I had no part.
I remember every tear
That I shed because of you
And the struggle to keep hidden
All the bruises, black and blue.
I remember the sting of
Every blow that I endured
And the month I could not rest
Until the lashes on my back were cured.
I remember all the times
I awoke in the early morn
Crying silently to myself, remembering
You said you'd be happier had I never been born.
I remember the last time I saw your face
How you grinned in glee
At last, it seemed, you'd won
And you were finally free of me.
I remember this without an ounce of hate
For my spirit has grown strong
And though you did not want me near
I am where I belong.
~you reached inside, you touched my heart,
and I am all the better for it~
Terry A. Woodson, Jr.
[This message has been edited by TerryW (edited 05-12-2000).]