Yes, I would walk to and from school as well as travel on two buses. I remember the fear rising up in me as I neared home. I was trapped in knowing I had to be home on time, no stopping or punishment and wanting to run away but having nowhere to go. By the time I got home my body was so stressed I was desperate for the toilet and in pain, dashing past you standing at the doorway.
Yes, I used to be able to walk. That day I walked back from the beach alone when I was nine or ten and that man, a rapist the police were looking for, who I luckily escape from, held my wrist so tightly I thought I wouldn’t escape. But I did. I screamed and caught him off-guard, only to be subjected to questioning from male policemen afterwards (as if I would talk to men about a man touching my private parts). I could never tell you. You touched me anyway. I felt I deserved it.
Yes, I used to be able to walk. I was a big girl. Quite tall and busty, with large feet that I hated. Size 7 feet at school. All the girls with their petite size 3’s and I had clumping great big brown Clarks sandals. How I hated you for those shoes.
Yes, I used to be able to walk. On a Sunday afternoon, as a teenager, I would walk to my friends house and we would love sauntering back past the Fire Station at the top of my road, hoping to attract glances from those ‘men of all men’. Often we did. They would lean out of the window, wolf whistle of shout a passing comment to make us blush.These men were safe to flirt with as they were ‘safe’ and we were unobtainable. Men in their uniforms with their precious jobs, real men, wouldn’t be bothered with two silly teenage girls. We saw many other silly teenage girls chatting to them too.
Yes, I used to be able to walk. I loved to have a reason to walk into town. I loved to be free. I loved to get out of that house, that prison, but I had to have an excuse. Such was my life that you had to know what I was doing and for what purpose, always.
Yes, I used to be able to walk. I walked every day to the park to walk the dog supposedly, when I was fifteen, to meet Terry, a man in his 40’s that you set me up with. It fuelled your sick fantasy. You fancied him but you left him to me. He groomed me, with your help, and was my first taste of sex. You were one sick woman. Not only did you put fear into me, rooting me to the spot wherever you were, you also showed me that when I walked away from you, my life was dangerous and that I was only alive to be used.
Yes, I used to be able to walk. I can’t walk now. Now, I hate you for my condition. This fatigue that has crippled me for years. This fatigue that has added four stone to my already large frame. This fatigue that has left me bed-bound and then wheelchair bound. This fatigue that right now, has me in the depths of despair as I’m told ‘you cannot move because of your stress response’.
My stress response that kicks in every time I am verbally attacked, like you used to do, for anything. Verbal attacks that as a toddler left me frightened, no petrified, immobile. Verbal attacks that rooted me to the floor. I couldn’t run. I stood frozen. Impotent. A child so frightened that I couldn’t function. Your spit as you sneered at me. The anger in your eyes, your hatred and viciousness. The utter venom that changed your face to that of a snakes. You spat your poison into my face and I was mortified. Years of that treatment still didn’t make me fight it.
I didn’t get used to it either. Every single time, I was still there, petrified and frozen to the spot. Every time. My brain became used to it. It became my response to fear. My response over the following lifetime to being verbally attacked. No response. Unable to fight back, I am immobile.
Yes, I used to be able to walk. Now I’m immobile. Years of being hammered and beaten down have left me with this huge hill to climb. It may as well be a mountain range. It may as well be. Even to walk more than 20 steps is like wading through sludge with a lead weight attached to my chest. Everything in my brain fights against moving. If you’re faced with a snake you stand still. You don’t run. You shrink into yourself to hide. You hope you are not seen. You don’t move, in the hope you don’t get bitten. Once you are seen, the attack is vicious and unrelenting.
Vicious and continuous strikes of that forked tongue. Vicious. Unrelenting. Scarring. Leaving its mark. Forever. My adoptive mother, the snake.