Subject: A List For When You Think It Might Happen Again
.Keep a list of the bullshit that happens. No matter how small. Have a record of every time this person makes you feel like shit. Not for revenge. No, just because you doubt the truth a lot, and this is one of the times you need to hold certainty the most.
.You noticed how at first everyone told you to talk more, but when they realized quiet is your default, they embraced it? These are the people you keep close to you because they want you, the real you. Notice how even after everyone told this person you’re quiet, he demands you speak to him, as though he’s above everyone else? Notice how he has tried to manipulate you into talking to him (even though it’s obvious it makes you uncomfortable) by saying, “You can’t clock in until you say hello to me”? Well, that’s bullshit. Even the coworkers within earshot have called bullshit on that. You don’t like him and he doesn’t get special treatment from you because he doesn’t fucking deserve it.
. He’s trying to take advantage of you because you’re obedient. That might be why what happened last time came about. But this time you know, you can say no. Everyone is telling you that, I am telling you that you can say no. If he gives you less hours because you’re not sucking up to him, that is not your fault. That is petty and fucking manipulative on his part and you are not going to apologize for it. I know you need the money and you want to keep going cause you like everyone else and you don’t want to get stuck again but if it gets to be too much, you leave, you hear me? You leave.
.He hurt your little sister. Not in the worst ways, but enough. Really, he will never be
.You are around sharp objects nearly all the time. Carry your pocketknife with you. Turn into a weapon. I know you’re not good at screaming with your voice, so do it with his blood if you must.
.People will tell you you are being overdramatic. People don’t know shit. They told you you were being overdramatic when they hit and screamed at and scratched and poked and terrified and isolated and raped you. People don’t know jack shit. They cannot tell you that you are so sensitive to everything, know important things and you are so wonderful how magic all of this knowing makes you and then turn around and pat you on the head saying you know nothing about this. It doesn’t work that way. You know when things are right and you know when shit is wrong and I am telling you to trust yourself, to stand up for yourself, even if no one else will.
.It’s different this time. You have already told people just one little thing about him, and they all imagine him, look at him disgust. You didn’t want to make the world any uglier on him, but he did this to himself. You cannot be evil to people and expect kindness in return. You hear that bigger people do that, exchange good for evil, but you’re too busy trying not to be small to worry about all of that.
.When he walks up behind you and you want to die, don’t. His presence does not diminish your importance. Let me tell you that again: His presence does not diminish your importance. His existence doesn’t mean you have to make your existence smaller so it’s easier for him to swallow. You’ve been inside the belly of a demon before and it took too much to get out. You’re not going back. You know how you like to disappear? Well, right here, fuck that. He doesn’t get to do that to you. You know why? Because so many people have worked so hard to bring you back because you are worth staying. Oh no, you don’t believe it, but that doesn’t make it any less true. You have worked so hard to come back even though it hurts like a motherfucker you are coming back and you are staying because you are worth staying for. I am telling you he’s trying to make it so that you run. Fuck him. Fuck him. Fuck him. There are people who love you, I fucking love you, and that is worth more than the fear he is shoving into your praying hands.
.I know you’re going to be scared because Ariel Gore’s mama said that “evil didn’t just come onto the earth, Tiniest. Evil is what we do to each other.” and you don’t want to be a monster anymore, but I’m telling you, it’s not monstrous if they are evil to you first, if they are evil to you just because you exist. No, that doesn’t make what you feel evil. You are always allowed here. Do you understand that?
.This is what I care about: what you do with what you feel. If that means you turn into a monster, so fucking be it. I have seen you begging for kindness on open wound knees like you are sin and crying with eyes turned guilty upward as though every person you meet is God granting you forgiveness as long as you do what they ask. I have seen you cruel because you are afraid and you are not going back there. You are not going back there.
.But cruel and monster are not the same. You monster however the fuck you need to, to stay safe, to keep your loves safe. It won’t be pretty, it never is, but if flesh under your claws and blood dripping from your teeth gets the job done, be a monster. Never be six years old helpless again. Come back. Stay. I told you there are times you must monster beyond redemption and this is it. This is it.
By A. Tony Jerome
A. Tony Jerome is a twenty one year old explosion of messes. They are queer black writer that was published in a book about how horses heal (Wild at Heart by Heather Kirby), and has work that can be found on theEEEL. Fun facts: they tied a pillowcase to their back and tried to fly after seeing Sky High, their mantra can be found in Wreck-It Ralph, The Babadook, or Orphan Black (depending on the day) and they’re terrified of mostly everything but art makes the fear easier to hold.