Sunday, March 11, 2012

No Dummy

I am 17 years old.  I am sitting across from my father in a chinese restaurant.  I have felt uneasy since his invitation- just him and me.  I don't talk much to my dad. I don't talk much to anyone except my boyfriend and a handful of others.  My father induces immense anxiety.  I have never been what he had hoped I would be.

I received my first college letter in the mail.  It was a denial to my own state university.  The punch to the gut is that my father is a tenured professor there.  I should have been a shoe-in.

He tells me that I will have to face the reality that I am just not up to potential.  Perhaps I am just not not college material.  Maybe I should look into vocational schools or something of the like.  I push food around my plate, spiced by my tears.  he doesn't believe in me.  I don't believe in me either, but it still hurts because he is supposed to.  I have nothing to say and the rest of the meal is spent in silence creased by his overt sighs of disappointment.

I decline my weekend visit with him and my stepmother.  I cannot take anymore of his disdain- his bitter disapproval over not having inherited his genius.  I would rather stay with my mother and stepfather- they don't have much to say because we all avoid each other with great care after the great uncovering of my detail laden journal depicting my rage against my very own in-home tormentor.  I am, these days, choosing the lesser of the two evils in terms of where I will lay my head each night- each a small degree away from the same oppression.

Days pass and I wrack my mind for a way to make enough money to travel far, far away.  My glass shards help me to think more clearly and I have various stages of scarred flesh to show for it.  I keep my other unopened college letters in the same box.  I have not numbed myself enough to be able to receive any more rejection.

Finally, after a good deep sculpting of the word "loser" on the inside of my thigh, I fan the blood dry with a letter that I am preparing to open.  There are three.  Each one has a matching piece of glass with which to confirm my failure.  The last glass scalpel is the sharpest and my plan for myself with that one is permanent.

My leg is dry and the raised droplets are a nice brick color.  I enjoy the rashy feeling as I rise to sit on my bed and inch my finger under the flap of the first envelope- Boston University.

 Accepted.  I am welcomed to Mass Art, Boston College and Portland School of Art as well.  Huh, what do you know?

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir, Attachment Disorder, reactive Attachment Disorder, Physical Abuse


  1. I'm glad you share the moments that defined how you pulled through, Cairn. They are precious examples of our human ability to overcome all odds and may show the way for others. Your courage then and now is an inspiration. Thank you!

  2. Thank you, Chapin! Yes, i liked being able to twist the end of this story. It was one of the first times i realized i was going to be in charge- so scary, but so righteous. :) Cairn

  3. I love the titles of the last two blog posts. They speak of denying anyone else's claims of power over you...

  4. Still not Crazy and No Dummy after all these years... :)

    1. Were this Facebook, I'd hit the "Like" button on that. =)

  5. Of course we want to know your father's reactions to your acceptance into the other colleges. This so so great!