When I was eight, I used to walk home from school before my parents were back from work. One day, some boys from the neighborhood broke their way into our secluded back garden and started playing noisily there—in the south of England, this is a big boundary violation. The boys were also quite a bit older than me.
I hid, thinking they might look through the back windows and see me. What would they do to me, if they knew I was home alone? I'd already been experiencing bullying on a daily basis at school, so this fear was familiar. I remember the fast patter of my heart.
I'd have been far safer if I'd learned, back then, to go up to the window and bang on it, to shout that I had called the police. That way, I'd have learned my true power. I now know that when, out of fear, we avoid the unknown, we'd actually be safer there.
Not long before the boys broke into our garden, my mother had shouted at me in kitchen for being too messy as I baked the family a cake. She'd grabbed me, pulling me off balance, and had hit my arm so hard that it turned scarlet. I cried and ran from the room. As usual, we never spoke of it again, because whenever I tried to remind her that she'd done something like this, she'd gaslight me, calling me a liar, telling me she'd never do such a thing.
Even so, on the day when the boys were out the back, I was relieved when my mother arrived home. I'd spent the past hour slinking around quietly, hiding from the boys in the back. Actually, had I not been so scared, I'd have looked and seen that they'd already gone.
I love you, queerly dear,