Outside. Running down the hill in my bare feet. Cool grass between my chubby toes. Warm sun on my round face. I was a good girl. I was a smart girl. I was a pretty girl. They all said so.
Inside. The special room. Straight even lines on the carpet. Clear plastic on the couch. Glass shelf. Shiny things. They were for looking not for touching. One was round and clear and sparkly. I wanted to hold it. I imagined picking it up and feeling its weight in my hands. Oops. Warm heavy feeling in the back of my pants. Accident. Other things on the shelves. One looked like a deer. It looked very pointy but I wouldn’t touch. I would just pretend. Grown ups talking. They liked to do that. That child is old enough to sit on the toilet like everyone else. If that were my kid I’d rub her nose in it.
My arm pulled HARD. We walked FAST to the bathroom. The door slammed SHUT. Her face was RED. Her voice was LOUD. Her hands were SHAKY. Her words came FAST. My pants came off rough. Her hands held me down. Bad smell. Warm smelly poop on my nose, my cheeks, my forehead. Final raging words: “IF YOU ACT LIKE A DOG I’M GONNA TREAT YOU LIKE A DOG!”
At that moment a new sensation burned in my heart that I had never felt before. It started as a spark, then grew to a small flame, and finally became a raging wildfire. Before I knew it the forest of joy, love, and optimism that grew there became an empty, smoking landscape. The hungry fire consumed every inch. Although good feelings would take root and sprout again, they were mere shoots, not the tall glorious trees that once grew. And the fire’s name was Shame.