I hear it in the way you speak,

the words you use,

the tone you choose.

The anger, disgust, contempt

are like spikes in my soft skin.

I have made you mad, again.

It seems I am built defective, wired wrong

a mixture of thoughts, ideas, opinions, and hopes

misfiring daily.

Then, you smile

and my entire body lights up.

There is a warmth that surrounds my heart

cradled like my infant body once was

when you were ecstatic to meet me.

But it doesn’t last long.

The more familiar feeling

of being cold and alone replaces the warmth,

like an ice bucket dumped on a struggling flame.

It’s overkill.

I scurry away.

Looking for a secure space

to lick my wounds, retrace my steps, plan a different approach.

It is an exhausting existance

I must endure

because I am five

I am ten

I am fifteen.

I see the flags waving, the people celebrating

“Home of the free”

and I cringe.

How can this be true?

My body does not feel free

My mind does not feel like my own

My heart beats, but is told it is too sensitive.

I retreat again

and make promises to my future self,

You will defend children

You will be a strong voice for the defenseless

You will say things that make adults dislike you,

but you understand it’s really the injured child

inside an adult body

who is lashing out

because no one defended her when she was little.

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