It’s so easy for other people to look at me and look right past me, who I truly am. It’s so easy to stamp a label over my forehead and walk away.

The cuts are now a blazing warning sign. Because my physical scars are showing people think they know how screwed up I am. It’s like this sign that says “Girl Got Issues” “Daddy’s Little Mental Illness”.

I’m often told that my battle is so hard because I am so strong. Doing what I do doesn’t feel like strength. It’s not lifting a burning car off a child or making the news for receiving a gold male statue or saving lives in Africa with a water or Vaseline drive. These are things often equated with strength.

What I do is wake up every day and decide to survive. The next step is to wake up every day and decide to live.

I wake up and I decide to get off my bed and try to shower and ignore the flashbacks and the horrible sensations that happen when the hot water beats on my bare skin. To fight through a feeling like dark water, moving so slowly it takes me an hour to get ready which before I was ill used to take 15 minutes. To get my butt to the gym to exercise even though I hate my body and it would be so much easier to let my muscle waste away. To not fight through the gym presnack and the postgym snack that I have to eat if I want my body to not go back into starvation mode.

To eat breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. And try to eat a “human” portion without throwing up. To eat a dessert without bursting into tears. To ignore that voice in my head chanting that I’m a fat, worthless, bitch and that I’m ugly and undesirable and I’ll always be alone.

To hurt so deep inside every time I see a happy couple together knowing I’ve never had that. Examining my own hand and trying to imagine someone else taking it and saying “This is my girl. I love her.” To imagine someone wanting to hug me or kiss me. Someone thinking I’m attractive. And me wanting to be with someone. And not remembering the sadistic repeated torture of the rape.

More of my memories came back and I realized why I flinch away when someone hugs me too long or when someone raises their hand. Not only was I too young and so scared… He made it painful. He hurt me on purpose. Not just with the sex but also with his words, his voice, his hands. He poured poison into my ears, into my heart, and it still burns in my blood yet somehow turns my heart to ice.

And I’m respecting myself even more because I stopped him. He hated me for his own secrets and threatened me. Hit me. Hurt me. And even without the memories when I was thirteen I ended it. I put my foot down and I protected myself.

I came to my own rescue when no one else was there. Just like happens every time I get to one of those dark places where no one can hear me scream. There’s no one except my own self, my own voice, and she does what has to be done.

I care so much less about talking about my issues in front of people. What’s it to you if I was sadistically tortured and raped growing up and it really screwed with how I relate to people?? Does that give you the right to treat me like the leper? Just because some small fraction of pain beyond hell is expressed will you run? Fine. Go ahead and run. If you can’t take pain you have no business being around this girl. My level and your level are two separate things that will not mix. The door is that way.

People are people. We put up our walls and what we can’t handle we shut out. We choose blindness and deafness over understanding. We sell ourselves short thinking “I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m no good. I CAN’T do this.”

One of the things I have learned in my short life experience is that as soon as you say the word “can’t” you really “can’t”. For reasons of our own making we sell ourselves short constantly. We shape ourselves into what we become by our decisions about our life circumstances. There is potential inside every person to become exactly what they need to be.

People often mistake me for Native American. I am so sorry for them but at the same time I’m what you call a “mix of wonderfulness” I got no idea where my good looks come from, sorry. Despite this, I was born in a desert and I’ve spent much time under the wide sky, listening. Belief for many peoples who are defined as “native” by academia is defined as the peace in heart that comes from understanding your own part to play in the swirling of stars and worlds. Knowing simply- who you are. An understanding that your body and soul are connected to the land, the sky. This is part of who we were meant to be. Nature gives and takes life. We are alive and nature is our guardian, ally, and enemy.

Power exists but it is the utilization of power that is good and evil.

Every day I ask myself who are you. My body is changed. I have been displaced from my ancestral home and family. I’ve set out on this journey that very few survive and even fewer “live” through. If my body. My possessions. My skin color. My physical location. If this is not even the surface of my identity, then who am I? Where is my value? What is my place? My path?

The desert is how the Earth breathes. The blistering heat scorches from the sun and all who live under it constantly struggle for survival. Flashfloods. Monsoons. Desert storms. A valley of heat and sun. Gorgeous blood-red-fire sunsets. I am as much a part of the land I was born upon as it is of me. Everything I am is because the land provided.

I’m a runner. I’m a warrior. I’m a tryer. And I don’t quit.

Not easily.

Not ever, actually.



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