There was a girl. Short, dainty, with skin as soft as butter, and hair as fine as silk. She was the color of melted chocolate, oozing into a cruel world. A child so pure of love. Filled with hope for a life full of dreams. On her head, sat two pintails with blue beads dangling off of each end, clanging loudly with each turn of her head. The noise ricocheting of the walls as she jumped down off her bed and smiled at me. She was beaming with happiness; her smile big enough to fill the entire room. She bent over and tickled me. I was small, barely able to hold myself up. I looked up at her with big brown eyes in awe. I knew. As she laughed and began racing around the room pretending to fly, I knew. I knew that this little girl would be something special. She would face many trials and tribulations, but in the end…she would surprise us all.
You see that was the first memory I have of that girl. I can remember countless times after that. Moments we fought. Moments we laughed, cried, and smiled. Times we couldn’t understand how life was so cruel for a black person. Times we understood all too well. Times we we’re grateful for everything we we’re blessed with. And times we remembered how much we lost. But it wasn’t until recently that we shared a time that cause me to realize two things.
For one, I was right. That little girl had faced some trials and tribulations. She, like many of us, had gone through a battle we weren’t sure we could survive. But she did. I was right. She was going to be something special. She already was.
For two, life is sad. There are so many things that go wrong. So many things you wish you could control or change. But the sad truth is that you can’t. Sometimes you simply can’t do it alone, but with somethings you simply can’t change it at all. Not everything can be controlled. One of the main things you can’t control is what happens to others and what happens to you. This is what that little girl discovered and something I soon would too.
You see that little girl had layers. As she was growing up, she was always mad. Always popping off at little things people said or jumping to conclusions about how people felt about her before they even expressed them. She acted as if the world was out to get her, because to her maybe it was. Nobody understood it. We believed it was simply her character, simply the behavior of a growing youth. A child becoming a teenager. Who would have known that it was all for a reason. As she grew up things changed. That little girl that was always angry, wasn’t so angry anymore. She didn’t pop off on people or feed into negative energy. She was happier. She focused on her dreams and her ambitions. She focused on family and love. And those she loved had wondered what changed.
Later on I found out, I shared another moment with this girl. One not so happy moment. You see, little did I know, I was with her during her trials and tribulations. Or one of the main ones, at least. See when we were younger, we used to visit this house all the time. This house was a place we felt safe. Somewhere we could laugh, eat, and relax. It was a place only open to those close to us, and so it became a safe haven for secrets and drama. It was filled with the ramblings of kids and the laugher of adults. It was a place you could go to spend quality time with people and learn the joys of human communication. It became a second home for that little girl and me; but, when a place becomes so dear to the heart, we forget those homes can hold intruders. There was one night, when the parents had gone out to celebrate and left us kids in safe company at the house. We loved it there so naturally we didn’t mind nor complain when they left. We felt free without our parents around. It was a typical night like any other. We played some games and gossiped about school before passing out for the night. Like usual, the little girl and I decided to lay next to each other so we could gossip a little more before bed. Not too long after, I fell asleep. I was young, maybe around the age of 5. We were laying in the same bed, when that little girl decided to get up to use the bathroom. On her way back, as she plopped down on the bed exhausted and prepared to get a decent night’s rest, she was met by the intruder. That night, that little girl was molested by a grown man. A vile man. She looked at me in the midst of my sleep, begging to herself that I would wake up. That I would scream. That I would save her. But I didn’t. I wish I did. I wish in that moment; I could have been the superhero she needed. The savior we both wish to be. The savior she was, because the assailant could have attacked me. I wish I woke up… but somethings we can’t control.
And then eventually, she shared a moment with herself. A moment where she accepted what had been done to her. For years she had told herself it didn’t happen. She internalized the event and suppressed it deep in her brain, protecting herself from a memory she wanted to forget. She dreamed about it; coughed it up to be a silly nightmare. Until eventually, she couldn’t ignore it anymore. She started to have triggering moments. Times where she’d see something that would remind her of the event, and she would break down. Fall to the ground in tears of a life she didn’t want, a moment she wished didn’t happen and of an impact she wished wasn’t there. It took her a while to accept it, but once she did, she realized she would be okay. She wasn’t going to let this one event, define a lifetime of them. She wouldn’t sit back and be called a victim. No, she couldn’t control what happen to her. But she could control how she let it affect her. From that moment on she made one vow to herself: to be happy.
What I soon realized, was that the reason she was popping off all those years was because she wanted to speak her mind. She had felt powerless, unable to speak in the moment she needed most and unconsciously she had already convinced herself that she would never not speak what needed to be said again. She became fearless. Standing up for what’s right in every situation no matter the fallback or the consequences….
This Woman is now trying to live the life she has dreamed of. She doesn’t see herself as a victim. She doesn’t blame anyone for what happened to her. She doesn’t want anyone to make a big deal about it or get mad. She just wants to move on. To be happy. She has big dreams and she’s taking every step imaginable to reach them. She wants to make an impact in the world, to help others. To be that modern-day superhero she needed all those years ago. I knew she was special.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is to simply…listen. I don’t burden myself with the idea that I could’ve stopped it. I know I couldn’t. You can’t control everything. And I don’t blame myself for not knowing—she wasn’t ready to tell. Maybe I blame myself for not asking. Not figuring out just why she was the way she was, and what made her so mad. I had known this girl for years without ever truly knowing her. Sometimes we get so caught up in the silly moments, we forget there are hard moments too. Defining moments. Ones that are hard to talk about. I should’ve asked. But I can’t change that either. All I can do is ask that you look out for the people you love. Check in with them. Make sure they’re okay. Like really okay…because life is sad. Bad things happen and people aren’t always comfortable with telling others or even telling it to themselves. But when they are, listen. Be there for them. But remember they’re not victims, they just simply lived.
I’m so grateful to know that little girl…the girl who lived.
Until Next time,