How Did You Feel?

by annie

How did you feel?
When he kicked you clear across the room at Grandma's house
I can see you sitting there, stunned perhaps
But trying not to show any hurt, pain, humiliation
So little, yet already knowing how to pretend it didn't matter
But it did matter'to you'and now to me
I want to know How did you feel?.

How did you feel?
When he slammed on the brakes'your body flying forward
Stopping only when your head smashed against the dashboard
I hear his voice, "Put your head in my lap!"
I see you hesitate, looking over at him
Already you've scooted over to the other side of the car
Then he demanded, and you obeyed
A few years ago you gave me a glimpse of that moment
He placed his hand on your head
And for one moment it felt good
Then all goes blank'memory evaporates
All but a flashback of his voice
He said, "Don't tell anyone!"
How did you feel?..

How did you feel?
Later that day you ran into Grandma's house
You started to tell her - tell her what?
Then the words from Daddy echoing in your little mind
"Don't tell anyone!"
So you didn't tell
But I want you to tell me
I want to know
What awful thing took away the memory
Of one moment in time you felt nurtured
How did you feel?.

How did you feel?
When he slapped you so hard across the face and demanded that you go back to sleep
You were only trying to get him to leave your mama alone
He was trying to rape her
You were only about five
Did you cry silently as you listened to her cries of protest
And as you watched him on top of her pushing her into the bed as she struggled
How did you feel?.

How did you feel?
When he was carrying your mama across the room
She was yelling at him and asking you to hurry and lock the door to the outside
I see you hesitate'had to choose who to listen to
Then you struggled with the lock and finally managed to lock it'Just in time
But he just took her in the bathroom and locked her in there with him
I see you standing at the door helplessly listening as he again raped her
Only five and already trying to be the protector of those
Who were suppose to protect you
You were so concerned for your mama and how she felt: but what about you?
How did you feel?.

How did you feel?
I see you standing in the kitchen clinging to your mama
He is crying, tears running down his cheeks
Somehow you felt responsible for those tears
Mama told him you would never want to go with him
And then she asked you who you wanted to live with
You watched his tears but clung tightly to your mama
Did you want to go to him? Were you afraid if you did your mama would be hurt
Or were you afraid of him? How did you feel?
I know now that she also told him then that you weren't really his child
You blocked that knowledge, too. Why?
How did it make you feel?.

How did you feel?
When the day came that
You had to leave your home, your life, your dog, your friends
To go to live with a new dad
I see you jumping on the bedsprings with your friend, Robin
You were telling her that you were getting a new daddy
Were you really happy or were you just playing the part defined for you?
How did you really feel?
You lost your dad, your home, your beloved dog, Mikey
How did you feel?.

How did you feel?
When you saw him again at Grandma's house
He was remarried'do you even remember that day?
I was told so many times that you tried to sit in his lap
His new wife, Cheryl, a teenager herself, pushed you down
You were stubborn though and got on his lap again
Three times they say she pushed you back off
Then the last time, he told you you couldn't sit on his lap'or he pushed you off
You blocked that memory so fast
That every time your aunt would try to explain it was Cheryl's fault
You didn't even know what she was talking about
Did you cry then? Somehow your aunt and your grandma knew it hurt
Or did you just pretend again that it didn't matter?
How did you feel?.

How did you feel?
The last time you saw him as a child
You were sitting on the back of the chair behind him
Carol was on his lap
You were only six, maybe seven
I see you there looking at Carol and I can hear your thoughts
You wanted to sit on his lap but for some reason knew you couldn't
But that reason is just a deep knowing'
There is no memory there to show me why you can't
You also didn't know what you were supposed to call him now
So you finally called him by his name
It sounded funny. What did he do then?
How did you feel?

How did you feel?
When you sent the prayer request calendar to that Radio minister
You asked him to pray that your dad would be found on your 13th birthday, January 28th
January 29th, your step dad read in the paper that he had been arrested on the 28th
Answered prayer! You got to see him again
You sat in the car between him and your mother
You listened as they talked
You thought later how he was a stranger to you
For a few weeks your mama would take you to see him
Each time you watched and listened as they talked
He didn't talk to you'at least there is no memory of it
Then he got released and you never heard from him again
How did you feel?.

How did you feel?
What feelings caused you to create a fantasy dad
To exaggerate a few sketchy memories and build them into an
Incredible, loving, caring dad
And take a few more and make yourself into an ungrateful, unloving child
That sent your daddy away
Reciting even at 25 what a good relationship you had with him for those six short years.

How do you feel?
Now to know the truth'at least the bits and pieces of it we've been able to put together
I think I've had glimpses
Like when I've watched children with their dads
There's this big lump that comes into my chest
I've had to choke down the sobs, the pain, the emptiness, the incredible longing
Or when I used to pass the house of some children whose parents had just divorced
I would break out in sobs I didn't understand
I've always had to push the feelings down because it was so very painful
And I didn't understand what the feelings were or why they were all of a sudden there
But I think I do now
I couldn't stand it then, but I can now

There was also the dream I had of you
I watched you playing with Mikey
Your mama called you in and said you would be late
You stood in the doorway looking at her and listening
In one awful, terrible moment I became you
We knew what was happening
She was leaving your dad and getting ready to move in with your soon-to-be-step dad
The horrible reality dawned on you,
You went to the corner of the kitchen and huddled in the corner
You sobbed your little heart out and I heard your thoughts and felt your feelings
It was too painful to describe
In that moment your world came to an end
You lost everything and everyone that mattered
You were all alone
I sobbed myself back to sleep that night
It was the closest I've ever come to knowing you
And knowing how you felt.

How do you feel?
I want to know'to really know how you feel
No one ever gave you permission to feel
You were always told how you felt or should feel
So you've had to hold it all deep inside and bury it
But now someone is giving you permission'I am'
To feel and to express those feelings anyway you need to.
So please tell me'
How do you feel?

To Saucy from Annie


**Saucy is the little girl I once was and have had a difficult time learning to love. I blamed her for everything that happened and saw her as ugly, fat, and bad. I have come to understand her more and don't blame her anymore, but I still have a hard time getting in touch with that part of me or even claiming her as me.

' Copyright: Annie: 1965-1998: All rights reserved