I hategiving bad news. It breaks my heart in so many ways to know that what I have to say will upset someone. My Grandpa called over an hour ago for my Step Dad and a little earlier, so did his brother, so I knew something was up. I asked if everything was ok and he told me Jesse’s sister Linda died of Pneumonia and he asked me to tell him. Without hesitating, I told him I would even though in the back of my mind I started to stutter. I didn’t want to be the one to tell him, so when he and my Mom came home, I told her. She told him and I just sat there waiting at the computer. I went in there after about 10 minutes of silence coming from the other room. I walked in and Jesse had his hands in his hands and my Mom was stroking his hair. He was crying. I’m sure everyone thinks that’s a usual reaction, but in fact it’s really out of place for him. He doesn’t cry. He’s been around since I was 9 and I’ve never seen him do it. I was instantly uncomfortable in my skin and I felt 3 inches tall. It’s like being a child again and walking in on something your parents didn’t want you to see. That kind of scolded feeling. I have explored the thought that the awkwardness I felt was because, mostly due to him, I grew up in a household where I wasn’t allowed to cry. The moment that I would start to, I was told to stop and some other unpleasant words followed. I was 10 when he first said that crying was a sign of weakness and to not do it. So, I didn’t. After a while I got sick of hearing that if I didn’t stop, he would give me something to cry about and he kept his word. Wow. Hearing that in my head is entirely different than seeing it written down. Anyway, I found other ways to cope and they weren’t healthy. I later started cutting. Before that, I would shove needles through my wrists and this was way before I understood why, along with chewing on my hair and later pulling it completely out, picking at scabs until they would scar and so forth. I didn’t know why I did these things. All I knew was that I felt better after. I had just turned 13 the first time I was hospitalized. A cutting session got out of control while I was at a school sponsored program in Blacksburg, VA.  I remember what triggered it too. We had to watch a video on domestic violence awareness and that included some sensitive subject matter.  I got up and walked out. I went into my room and proceeded to cut anywhere I could find bare flesh. When I ran out, I stripped down to my underwear to locate more places. After I was done, I went to the bathroom to clean up and my floor manager found me. She talked to me before calling my parents and the cops. The latter I could have done without, but they were already there because a girl had run away the same night. I have never felt so fucking helpless in my life. My Mom arrived with my Aunt and they took me to a hospital close to home. “Why did you do this?” a question to which I could not give an answer. ‘Crazy bitch’ soon became a phrase that I couldn’t get out of my head. My Mother said that to me when they were taking my clothes away from me. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. That hospital later transferred me to one in WV, where I stayed for around a month. After my release, I returned 3 more times. Each time I was on suicide watch. It seemed like every single time I got out of control that was the answer to adjusting my behavior, that among other things. Each time I went home, things got progressively worse. Yes, obviously, I grew up getting hit, but things steadily got scarier. The bruises got darker and harder to hide. The next three years where complete hell and not only on me. Every gray hair my Mother has in her head belongs to me.  She kicked me out when I was fifteen or so and I was sent to live with my Dad in Pennsylvania because she didn’t know who I was anymore. Neither did I.

It is a major possibility that my discomfort in seeing Jesse cry is because in my mind growing up, he wasn’t human. To see him show the same emotion that I wasn’t allowed to and had to relearn is hard for me to digest. I get along with him now after years of effort and I’ve come to respect him. That may not seem right for some of you, but when you spend your youth hating someone and devoting every waking hour and nightmares to that, at some point you realize you can’t live that way. I forgave him, but I never forgot any of it. I still deal with the damage everyday.

I’m sure that some of that was hard for a few people to read. It was hard to write and re-read. It might be a while before I touch on any of that again. I feel pretty sick now.