How It Feels

by Dawn Staples

My Story? Sure. I can tell you that. I can tell you all about it. I can tell you about all the abuse I’ve been through and all the abuse I’ve put others through.

I can tell you that my only grandpa tried to molest met on a trip to Tennessee at 11-years old and only spent 28 days in jail for it.

I can tell you that my brother used to beat me because I annoyed him, and that my daddy used to call me a whore when I was still a virgin. I can tell you how I became one and, at the age of 21, I don’t know how many people I’ve been with.

I can tell you how, at this young age, I’ve spent over half my life on drugs and lost my first child because of them, and how I just gave birth to my first living baby here in prison, and today makes 12 weeks since I’ve seen her.

I can tell you that I have Hepatitis-C and don’t know how I got it, and that my daughter has to be tested for it again this month.

I can tell you all that without flinching. I can tell you anything you want to know about me; that is easy. The hard part is to tell you how all of that feels. You see, for me to tell you how it feels I have to feel it. And 90 percent of the time, I don’t. I haven’t in a long, long time.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a monster because I can look at the pictures on my desk of my wedding day and my daughter and not feel anything. I love them, of course, but I just don’t feel the pain. I have the feelings; I just don’t allow myself to feel them. (If that makes any sense. It doest to me.) My mind knows how I feel; it just doesn’t make it to my heart. It doesn’t register.

I know that my brother beating me made me feel unloved and that my dad calling me a whore made me feel worthless. I know that being a whore made me feel dirty and that killing my baby, even though it wasn’t on purpose, made me feel it.

Numbness is automatic for me. I know that just thinking about these things I should be crying, but the walls are up. There’s a big difference between knowing and feeling, and it’s made of brick!

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