Child Welfare- Christine Ray

I am in a child welfare class

In graduate school
Class starts at 4 pm
The room is crowded and dim
My classmates and I are drowsy
We all could use a snack
Some caffeine

The professor puts on a film
A surprisingly graphic film
About child sexual abuse
I am fine
I am fine
I am fine
And then I am not fine
I am rushing out of the classroom
In a cold sweat
Heart thudding
Hands shaking

I just make it to the ladies room
And the privacy of a stall
Before I vomit my lunch up
In the ancient, cracked toilet
I have never used the words
Sexual abuse
In relationship to myself before
But my body is telling me a different narrative
As I shake, white in the 3rd floor bathroom

I have had lovers
Who are sexual abuse survivors
I have always told myself
That what happened to me was not like
What happened to them
That drifting on the ceiling
Doing my grocery list my head
While having sex
Was normal

That my constant need for control
Was normal
That my inability to let anyone touch me
When I am feeling vulnerable
Was normal
That the fact that I cannot look at pictures of myself from
Certain parts of my childhood
Without wanting to be sick
Was normal
That I first wanted to die when I was 12 years old
Was normal

As I fight my panic in the bathroom
Praying that no one else will need to use it
I am finally forced to admit to myself that
Maybe this is not normal
This unnerves me
Makes my world feel upside down
It takes me some time
To regulate my heartbeat
Calm my breathing
Splash water on my face
And school my expression into something
That resembles functioning adult
Before returning to class
And watching the rest of that damn film

 

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved

Child Welfare- Christine Ray

woman-1006100_960_720

I am in a child welfare class in graduate school

the room is full

Class starts at 4 pm it is dim

warm

my classmates and I are drowsy

we all could use a snack

some caffeine

Unexpectedly,

our professor puts on a film

a surprisingly graphic film

about child sexual abuse
I am fine

I am fine

I am fine

I am not fine

I am rushing out of the classroom

full fight or flight

heart thudding

hands shaking

I just make it to the ladies room

the privacy of a stall

before I vomit my lunch up in white porcelain toilet

my knees sore on the cracked
black and white checkerboard tile

I have never used the words sexual abuse

in relationship to myself before

But my body is telling me a different narrative

as I sit on the cold bathroom floor
I have had lovers who are sexual abuse survivors

I have always told myself

that what happened to me,

was not like what happened to them

That drifting on the ceiling

doing my grocery list my head

while having sex

was normal

That my constant need for control

was normal

That my inability to let anyone touch me when I am feeling vulnerable

was normal

That I cannot look at pictures of myself from certain parts of my childhood without wanting to be sick

was normal

That wanting to die for the first time when I was 12 years old

was normal
As I fight my panic in the bathroom

praying that no one else will need to use it

I am finally forced to finally admit to myself that “Hey, maybe this is not so normal”

I am surprisingly unnerved

as though I have never seen

the young woman looking back at me in the mirror

It takes me some time to regulate my heartbeat

calm my breathing

splash cold water on my face

school my expression into something that resemble

s functioning adult

before returning to class

and watching the rest of that damn film


Christine Ray writes for Brave and Reckless and is a member of Sudden Denouement. She is also curator at Blood Into Ink and barista at Go Dog Go Cafe.  She is an aspiring badass.

Child Welfare by Christine Ray

woman-1006100_960_720

[Poem by Christine Ray]

I am in a child welfare class
In graduate school
The room is full
Class starts at 4 pm
The room is dim
My classmates and I are drowsy
We all could use a snack
Some caffeine

The professor puts on a film
A surprisingly graphic film
About child sexual abuse
I am fine
I am fine
I am fine
And then I am not fine
I am rushing out of the classroom
In a cold sweat
Heart thudding
Hands shaking

I just make it to the ladies room
And the privacy of a stall
Before I vomit my lunch up
In the ancient, cracked toilet
I have never used the words
Sexual abuse
In relationship to myself before
But my body is telling me a different narrative
As I shake, white in the 3rd floor bathroom

I have had lovers
Who are sexual abuse survivors
I have always told myself
That what happened to me was not like
What happened to them
That drifting on the ceiling
Doing my grocery list my head
While having sex
Was normal

That my constant need for control
Was normal
That my inability to let anyone touch me
When I am feeling vulnerable
Was normal
That the fact that I cannot look at pictures of myself from
Certain parts of my childhood
Without wanting to be sick
Was normal
That I first wanted to die when I was 12 years old
Was normal

As I fight my panic in the bathroom
Praying that no one else will need to use it
I am finally forced to admit to myself that
Maybe this is not normal
This unnerves me
Makes my world feel upside down
It takes me some time
To regulate my heartbeat
Calm my breathing
Splash water on my face
And school my expression into something
That resembles functioning adult
Before returning to class
And watching the rest of that damn film