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
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.
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 the angry adults are really injured children
inside adult bodies
who lash out
because no one defended them when they were little.