Invading My Space: The Lip Gloss Incident

One of the tools in my stepmother’s arsenal of ways to hurt me was a consistent invasion of my bedroom. That was the closest thing I had to a safe place, and she would violate it regularly, probably with the aim of making me feel like a less valuable human being than she was. The room she shared with my father was absolutely off limits to my brother and I – she had sacred space but we were not allowed to have any.

Invasions of my bedroom while I was not at home were always coupled with desecrations of some type. She would find things that I held dear and destroy them.

I was maybe thirteen years old, and it was a summery day. I remember going home with a fairly light step that day – things had been pretty good the day before, it was a lovely day, and maybe today would be a good one as well. I still had some hope at that point, instead of the constant anxiety and fear that marked later years.

I got home, and she was nowhere to be seen. I don’t remember where my brother was. He usually got home before me, because he went to a school much closer to home than mine. But I don’t remember him on this day.

The silence felt ominous. Not being greeted when I got in was often a sign that things were not going to be good that day. I went to my room to drop my bag and change out of my uniform.

The christmas before this incident, I had been given a little heart-shaped pot of sparkly pink lip gloss. I loved it, used it rarely so I didn’t use it up too fast, and it sat in the centre of my dresser. It was one of the few things I owned that made me feel special when I used it.

The first thing visible on entering my room was my mirror. It was on my dresser right opposite the door. And it was graced with the word ‘slut’ in huge letters in my precious pink lip gloss. It felt like my heart actually dropped out of my chest. Today was not going to be a good day, and I didn’t know why. She had just felt the need to desecrate my space. Maybe it was something to help her cope with her own demons. I don’t know. But I remember the feelings of that moment.

I was thirteen years old, and I’d never even had a boyfriend. I’d never kissed anyone. I don’t think I’d even held hands with a boy. But the word ‘slut’ sparkled here in the afternoon sun, condemning me for things I had never done. The heart-shaped pot of lip gloss sat in the centre of my dresser, almost used up in the writing of hate.

I was made to clean it off before my father got home, and somehow I felt like I was at fault. If I hadn’t . . . something, maybe this wouldn’t be happening. If I was a better person, maybe she wouldn’t need to hurt me.

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