I used to think my blood was poison.
I thought because my teenage mother had an affair with my 33 year old married father, and they were 6th cousins, I was marked with a sign of the beast, carrying the sin of being a boy born in a girl’s body, being girl-bodied and desiring other girl bodies.
At night, I would pray for God and Jesus to heal me from my sins and wash away the demons that lived inside of me that cause me to be unnatural and odd. I would cry so hard and quiet as to not make a sound and cause any more burden on my mother
who already mourned my brother James’s passing at 7 months old every day and especially every November 30th and July 12th
who got angry at me
for being odd
for saying the wrong things
for being the spitting image of my father
whom my grandfather hated.
She got angry at just about everything
She’d yell and scream and fight and cry and some days, she didn’t get out of bed except to eat
She fought with everyone
I was her only friend, she’d say. She said she didn’t trust women as friends because they’d try to steal my Dad away. I watched women like a hawk when it was just Dad and me, because I didn’t want to lose a dad who actually wanted me.
She told me my father was handsome and charming, and that his favorite word was “incognito”. She told me how he wore short shorts that showed off his thick legs and his kiss was out of this world amazing. I wondered if I would kiss like that some day. I stared in the mirror for hours wondering if my father was behind my eyes, wondering if he saw me, he would have changed his mind about leaving my mom and never meeting me. I wondered if he hurt like I hurt.
She told me she almost died having me and she thought I would come out blonde-haired and blue-eyed like her, and when I came out with dark hair, she cried and told the nurses she didn’t want to hold me. So, she didn’t until the next night.
She then would tell me about the sacrifice it is to have children, but that she didn’t regret it, because she had me to talk to. She prayed to God for him to send her me,
because she knew I’d love her unconditionally, because she gave birth to me when everyone else didn’t want her to.
She told me about her problems being married to my Dad, who wasn’t my Dad until 1984. She’d say it used to be just the two of us. She said I made her feel love for the first time, and she said that my Dad fell in love with me before her, because the doctors said he couldn’t have kids, and I already existed without a father who wanted me in this world. And she’d say that she was scared and lonely before my Dad came along, and when he came along, she said she didn’t let him go.
She told me of the physical, verbal, and sexual abuse she suffered as a child from friends of the family and the family itself and would quiz me to make sure I didn’t suffer the same. I watched everyone with caution and wondered if I let my guard down, they might do that to me.
I thought she was my protector. I thought I had the responsibility to pick her up when she couldn’t do it for herself. I thought that I caused all of the problems in her life. I thought it was a mistake that I was born, and that the fights my parents had were a direct result of me not supposed to have been in the first place. I thought my brother was too golden and light to be burdened with how it felt to be born cursed because he was the miracle that didn’t die as an infant from leukemia, and he didn’t show any signs of the darkness that raged within my bones and poisonous blood, so I carried around my cross’s weight every day of school and every day of church for my mother, father, brother, deceased brother, and Dad. I carried around prayers in a black box for the acknowledged guilt of being born and being born cursed in case God would suddenly strike me down for the thoughts I was thinking and I would have have a record for the times I knew I was bad and wrong and the times I couldn’t stop the demon in my head.
My brother’s and my differences were accentuated by our shared mother’s verbal comparisons.
She told me:
I was darkness.
(I was the girl)
My brother was light.
(He was the boy)
I was only ten years old.