I don’t understand why I am not liked, so I fit how I am received into my own version of unworthiness.
My ball of shame is hidden behind my desire to please. It is rolled smooth and thin by compliments and adulation. So thin it becomes nearly transparent, but it never disappears. And like rubber, it springs back into shape. It is thick and slimy -- impenetrable and sticky. I can’t wash it off. I can’t remove the smell. I can’t get rid of it. My humanness is inescapable.
I am branded. I know it. No one needs to tell me. It is written on my forehead. Everyone can see I don’t measure up. It doesn’t matter what I do. The mark of the beast is apparent. Susan Jenny Julie can’t protect me from that. Her blond hair and blue eyes only make the darkness of my skin more apparent. She stands in stark contrast to my otherness. I shield myself behind her sunshine glow. Living in her shadow hiding out in the wings while she takes center stage. The delusion I live in is profound. I can be her. I can pass as her. I am her. It just takes so much effort to keep the act alive. I want a place to rest. Maybe the beast isn’t that bad? Maybe my blackness is good enough? Maybe my rotten flesh that smells and sweats and stains will do?
I was eleven. Three thousand miles away from home. By myself. Staying in a home of darkness where secrets slither down hallways. Smiles sting to the bone and innocence is frowned upon. I am seen as spoilt and soft and weak. I don’t know pain the way they do.
It is fitting that I lose the simplicity of childhood there.
I entered the bathroom looking for a space to retreat. I turned the large old-fashioned key in the lock and heard the click. I pulled down my jeans and underwear and sat on the toilet.
A single tear slid down my cheek. I heard the faint sound of Pink Floyd singing “so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain.” The walls were a jaundice yellow. There was black mold on the window sill. It was cold and damp. A typical English summer. There is a frosted glass window and on the other side of it a suburban garden of mostly grass that is rimmed with a wooden fence. The bathroom smelt of a cloying artificial floral scent mixed with ammonia. I was wearing a chunky cream Aran sweater. My ears were ringing and my head was buzzing. Next to my right converse sneaker was a black hairpin. Separated from the pack like me -- vulnerable and alone. Homesick.
I looked down and saw the blood. Of all the places and times for this to happen, I said to myself, “Not here.”