She was young and she liked it that way. She used to say that she never wanted to grow up so that she wouldn’t have to deal with dating boys or wearing bras, both of which she found to be extremely bothersome. Those days stretched themselves out into mornings of mischief with her best friend at school and nights of choir rehearsals and dinners with her family at home. She loved to sit and watch the national news with her parents on sunday nights because even though she never admitted it, it made her feel smart and grownup.
But there were screams between her parents on some nights, accusations thrown back and forth, and once or twice forceful shoves and a slap or two. It went on for years, a secret no one outside of those four walls was aware of besides her and her three siblings. It was very confusing to see her parents smiling at church the next day. She’d remember the tears of the previous night and wonder: Did it all disappear? She wanted to scream to the world that nothing was fine, that her family was broken, but would anyone believe her? Did she even believe it herself? Most mornings things felt fine. But when they fought, she stayed silent and cried in secret under the covers.
And after nights and days of the same town, same school, same friends, suddenly she was moving again, starting a new life in a new place. She held hands with her family, said a prayer, and was expected to forget it all. But how could she? Slowly the fog and mirrors of her childhood and everything she believed in quickly started to dissipate.
It took her a long time to open up and understand the reason she eventually rebelled against everything her parents taught her. She had to hear the words out loud, probed by someone she loved, until it was clear that those screams never left her, they were never shut out. Eventually she got to a point when she pondered: “Why should I believe in what these hypocrites taught me?” She didn’t want to be that girl anymore, the one that was weak and powerless, crying silent tears underneath the covers and praying for things to be better. So she turned her back on her past, buried it deep somewhere she wouldn’t have to see with frequency and embraced a new culture and new friends who would never ask her about her childhood, her religious upbringing, and her parents.
I catch glimpses of her sometimes when I find myself praying, still believing in something greater than myself. But for the most part, in her place now is someone who hates politics and religion for the sake of religion and traditions for no purpose other than appearances. She despises those that never question anything and she barely remembers she used to be the same exact way.
And although she may understand the reasons why she became who she is, she sometimes wants to go back. Back to innocence and wide-eyed admiration for the people who made mistakes but gave her more than she could ever give back. It wouldn’t be so bad, she thinks, to blindly believe in what we can’t hear, touch, or see.
Scars that heal but never leave. Can we ever recover back to the person we used to be?