Smile I am not a victim, but I’ve been victimized I have fed many monsters with my tears, and my cries So young with no way to stop the abuse I decided to put my defiance to use I had to stop feeding the monsters my tears And confuse them, by no longer showing my fear I figured out a way to hide my pain And to drive my monsters even more insane So when the physical abuse started in Instead of my fear, I offered a grin Ear to ear smiling to their disbelief Deprived of my pain, this caused them grief Not saving me, but still satisfaction Inside, I was laughing, a welcomed distraction And to my great pleasure, I was depriving A monster the tears, on which he’d been thriving And though it still hurt, and I was still broken Inside I was beaming, bravado unspoken Monsters Hate My Smile I would never recommend to a child to do anything that might hurt them or increase their abuse. As a matter of fact, I would get intense training and adequate education before working with children who are in abusive situations. Many years ago, I answered a call for volunteers and began training with a wonderful organization that supports and advocates for children who are in the foster care system. I was never in the foster care system, but by all rights, I should have been. And I would even venture to say I would have been better off raised in foster care, than by the monster that I called dad. Maybe as a single child. But in my case, I have five siblings. And sadly it is commonly known that when siblings go into the foster care system they are rarely kept together. Though I understand why, It doesn't make it any easier to digest. And at the age of eight, I was handed the reins of parental responsibility, much to my dismay. And with those reins came a threat, delivered in a hiss through clenched teeth…as his spittle made contact with my face. A vicious warning that if any attention or intervention came to my family and we ended up on the radar of Social Services, It would be my fault. Then he told me my mother would never forgive me, and added I had better not fuck it up! My Debt to the Kids And in some weird way, I felt I owed the kids in the foster care system something. That they were paying some price that I escaped having to pay. My heart was in the right place. The training was very intense, as it should be. This is no delicate job. If a person is going to commit to this type of work they had best know how to handle it. They have to be brave for those kids. They have to have emotional IQs that support a child who is currently suffering the greatest emotional nightmare they will ever suffer. While offering compassion and sympathy on a level that a child will truly pick up on and understand. And the thick-skinned, street-smart, formerly abused child that I am could have handled it. But the emotional, overly sensitive, empath that I am, absolutely could not have handled it. And in the second week of training when they were showing slides of what the traumatized brain of a chronically abused and neglected child looks like…I cracked. I folded. The emotional weight I could not bear. Not to mention the bitter realization that my own brain looked similar to this…shrunken, blackish, the opposite of healthy and normal. Failure By Default Simply put, I was completely devastated. I had such a desire to help kids who were going through what I had gone through as a child. And these poor babies we're going through even more. There I was with the ability to understand and intelligence to offer tangible help but cursed with emotional dysregulation. That was 14 years ago, and looking back I remember questioning myself during the first couple of days. Was it a question? Or was I doubting my ability to remain professional, calm, and collected? Would I piss off judges, lawyers, and social workers with my emotional outburst? Would I be able to control myself when faced with situations I did not agree with or found unfair? Or would my emotional dysregulation, a term I only recently became familiar with, get me banned for life from the courtroom? And when it came to the safety, stability, and well-being of an innocent child who had already been through so much, would I be able to refrain from voicing strong opinions and play by the rules and regulations of federal laws, that the courts strictly adhered to…even if the situation made no sense and I disagreed with it? I'm Fine...Really! At the time, I decided it was not the right time to give any more of myself, as my own boys were barely in school, and I was currently and proudly breaking cycles. Abuse cycles. Neglect cycles. And my kids were valued and loved…which was what started my short-lived journey to help the kiddos, who did not have it so lucky, just like me. I literally had avoided the whole self-healing issue by throwing myself into motherhood. I decided I would rebuke any negative influences from my past that could tarnish the perfect childhood that I was determined to give my son's. This meant I foolishly believed that if I was smiling when sad, imploding when mad, and refusing to address the elephant in the room…that meant I was a good and protective mom. My situation was compounded by the fact that my boy's dad was mentally, verbally and emotionally abusive. And it took 99.9% of my energy to keep the peace in that household…which meant being non-reactive. I learned to like the taste of blood as I bit my defiant tongue. Ignoring my defiant urges as I willingly walked on eggshells so sharp, so often, my feet felt like two pounds of proverbial ground round. I mean isn't that what all good mothers did? Wasn't I supposed to ignore my urge to be defiant, now that I was all grown up? I was still the hurt little girl from the poem, but painfully aware that my actions could result in unnecessary emotional pain for my children. I had to be responsible and take the high road for the sake of my boys. To practice self-discipline and have self-control over my own emotions, right? Monsters Hate My Smile But I am no saint, and I never proclaimed to be perfect. And that is why I smiled at the monsters. The dad monster, quite provoked, would unleash unimaginable suffering on me. A madman's failed attempt to control. One time my smile even dared him to take it further by losing complete control of his rage. Because the way of escape was not relevant anymore. And the two marital monsters that both hurt me feloniously, as one tried to kill me. The other believed he had. And when only the monster could see it, I would revert back to that scared, defiant little girl…and I would smile while they were deeply engaged in retrieving my pain…a feeding frenzy brought to a halt by the simple act of a broken woman. My defiant smile that deprived them of joy…that invoked and provoked. And the final monster…was the scariest of all. Bringing to my life a brand of madness far surpassing the dad monster. So evil and calculating in his blatant destruction, and so purposeful in his determination to shatter, rip, deprive, and deplete. Maniacally breaking my heart and my bones, dividing my home, and even attempting to extract my final breath, on multiple occasions. And I was hopelessly ensnared in his extreme mind fuck. His psychotic severity and demonic rage unsatiated by my blood and tears…but briefly slowed by his own disbelief that I would dare defy him. My decision to smile at him as he gleefully choked me, blessedly evoked in him fear. Briefly rattling him enough to loosen his grip. I broke free and ran defiantly screaming. That was my final dance with a devil. Forcing me to realize I was worth so much more than death at the hands of a madman. That last smile of defiance was the only thing that could have saved my life, and I would never again allow a monster under my bed, in my bed, or in my life. Dont Engage with Madness It was at that time that God revealed to me, that I had worth, as His sweet, though sometimes defiant, child. In retrospect, I understand how much danger I put myself in, and more times than I care to admit. And I could never advise or even condone anybody engaging with madness, as this could almost certainly put them on the other side of a statistic. He helped me understand that my brokenness, and feeling worthless stemmed from my broken childhood experiences. and the fact that I was not valued as a child, as I had suspected, permeated my existence and was a beacon to sick, abusive men. This is the first time I've ever talked about the defiant smile that brought a hurt little girl, and a broken woman, so much pleasure, in the midst of her pain. And it will probably be the last time too. That defiant smile now graces the face of a healing badass, who is well aware of her value and worth.