“just leave him. take your kids and go.”

these memories are very present this week and you know why.

yesterday, a facebook friend (we have never met, but have exchanged text messages, spoken on the phone and commented on one another’s facebook postings) wrote a beautiful perspective about telling women “Just leave him. Take your kids and go.”  to which i replied, ” i remember my mom packing boxes and hiding them in the closest and under our beds. i remember going to the post office to ship them. i remember her taking my brother and I out of school and receiving our school records. i remember not knowing what was going on. i remember the long train ride to Memphis. i remember us still being scared he would find her/us. i remember he did. i remember being secretive about everything. i remember being scared for a very long time.”

then in the wee hours of this morning i wrote, “so this is what happened. it was not the first time but it was the last time. (this is my last memory of her being hit/slapped/punched by him and the last memory i have of him beating me or my brother.) he slapped her so hard she slid across the floor. two of her children, four and five, tried to fight back for her. he beat them too. (she is 4ft 11inches and he is more than 6feet tall .) i remember her calling her mom, but she would not come.  in my mind, my memory, she began within days  secretly packing boxes and hiding them in the closets. then she came to our school one day and withdrew us. when we got outside grandma was waiting with our boxes and infant baby sister. grandma took us and our stuff to the train station. we boarded the train to Memphis. we were all scared. he had hit and beaten us all except his daughter, my baby sister. the train ride to Memphis was cold and long. we got there without any issues. my great grandmother awaited us. i remember it was winter time. the man, my mother’s husband, did track us down. he kidnapped my baby sister and threatened my mom. i do not recall the details in between but i do recall being terrified that he would hurt us again; that we were not safe; and we were not free. we did get our sister back. he did leave. but we were left with the fear he could come at any time and hurt us. and knowing we had no place left to go.

my mother, grandmother and i have never talked about that time. over the years i have put bits and pieces together about this man and that time in our lives. the thing that stays with me from our story is if he hits you once he will likely do it again and that children are often abused in these domestic situations. my mom could not have left Kansas without the financial aid of my grandmother and great grandmother. i wonder if people knew. i wonder if people ever told my mom, “Just leave him. Take your kids and go.”

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Shell:  flesh/skin, pubic hair

Lining: fatty tissue, secreting glands, nerve endings

Hand Wash


Use Mild Soap

Gentle Cycle

Douche only when needed

Towel or Air Dry

she only came with the directions i received directly  from my mother;  the other ones i picked up along the way. the first instructions she received came from my mother and grandmother.  while cleaning her, they gave instructions on how to clean her, how to keep her clean, and how important it was to clean her very good. i remember them saying  things like:

“ open your legs so i can get in there and clean her real good.”


“wipe to the back.”

“no one wants to smell you.”

“got to get in there real good.”

“watch what i am doing. you see that?”

“you have to open the lips and get in there.”

“be gentle.”

“now every day you have to wash. some days maybe more.”

“be sure to rinse all of the soap off.”

when my mother and grandmother  were in charge of cleaning her they were diligent but always gentle; yet, i find myself scrubbing her like she has been dragged around the worse city streets and alleys.


because  i am trying to clean the inside: the VAGINA  (the part that holds stuff); whereas, they were washing  the external part the vulva -the proper name for women’s outer genitals – which is not the VAGINA. the only part of the vagina that is visible from the outside is the opening.  the vagina is actually on the inside and it leads all the way up to the cervix. the VAGINA holds stuff: secrets, accidents, menstruation, sex, birth, yeast, tampons, penises, discharge…

most days i am just washing/cleaning the outside-the vulva. i just want to get the day off of her and off of me.  i want to rid myself of the smell and feeling of all day. even if no one else smells her i do.

then there are days i go to work trying desperately to  get rid of memories trying to return her to the days of some type of innocence.  an experienced grown woman vagina has more than a smell it has an invisible stain that only her  owner sees and carries. shame. guilt. oopsies. damn. musk. STDs.  sweat. pain. desertion. fucking. sex. grinding. masturbation.  sin. colposcopy. biopsy. incest.  rape. harassment. unwelcomed touch. abortion.

an experienced grown woman vagina just wants to be clean and fresh again. my shower starts with cleaning her and ends with cleaning her for a second or third time. though i know no amount of scrubbing will erase her story or make her new again, there are days i  am determined she will be fresh and clean again like when my mother and grandmother cleaned her.


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“…and i ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.

In a few breaths’ time i will speak some sad words to you. But you must hear them the same way we have agreed to see scars now. Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means, this story teller is alive. The next thing you know, something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile.”

Cleave, Chris. “Chapter 1.” Little Bee. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009. 9. Print.


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