My hand is outstretched, force-ably. I am being lifted by the wrist from the bathtub. Moments earlier the bathtub was a swimming pool for me and my barbies on a hot summer day. I am under the age of 10, 8 maybe? Playing in the bathtub in my bathing suit. I live on Orange Road. It’s easy to remember because we live in Florida and oranges are on every license plate. My barbie drops back into the water and as her hair forms a halo of gold around her head, I know I am in trouble…though I do not know why. Then the blow lands…dead center in my stomach and I heave and struggle to breathe. I don’t recall the pain only the suffocation, the feeling of my lungs collapsing from the blow and the desperate biological need for air. It’s so fast. It happens so fast. I am being yelled at but my ears are ringing and I see the movement of his mouth but hear no words. I can’t even cry, though there are tears in my eyes and he drops me on the tile in a heap and he is gone. I crawl into my bedroom which is right off the bathroom and I gasp and cry. I push my face into the mattress of my bed because I am afraid the noise I am making will cause more blows to come. I shove the blankets into my mouth to stifle the noise that is escaping me. I distinctly remember being ANGRY at MYSELF for the noises that were involuntarily leaving my beaten, broken frame. I was angry that I could not control them and that it might cause me more harm. I think this is the first memory that I have where I felt anger towards myself at something that was so obviously (although not then) out of my control. I think this is why I stop myself from crying even now. I feel anger towards myself when I allow a vulnerable human emotion to take over. I despise crying. I have always viewed crying as a sign of weakness and just now…I realize why. You really don’t know just how much your past infects your everyday life…..