13.

– I have kept diaries since I was nine, in an effort to unpack what has happened to me. When under attack and upset I turn inward, desperate to find answers as to why I react in this way, who I am. The answers are of course clear, stories we have heard – an unwanted baby born to young, useless parents. A child raised in poverty, oft neglected for four or five days – left to fend for herself, not allowed to speak up and object. I wore the village’s hand-me-downs, was bullied at school, ate all of my meals at friends’ houses. Of course, I grew a little older – as a teenager I took drugs and ran away, staying for days with friends and catching trains alone and realising that actually, nobody knew where I was. I grew up a little more, stopped hurting myself, and came  to understand that nobody would ever care where I was. Perhaps a village raised me, but that village didn’t come to my rescue. I learned to fend for myself early, and I learned that there was safety in a thick skin. In not letting anything through, in never crying. In saying sorry immediately, when it is the last thing that I mean.

– Despite all of this and despite my knowledge, I still run away. I still took off with barely a word and moved to the seaside to start over and never speak to anyone again. I take planes to America when I want to, and I do not explain why. When friends or family expect explanations, expect to be forewarned when I make decisions – I ask why? Nobody has tried to mother me before, and I don’t much expect it to start at twenty-two. A lot of unhealthy rumination and inward-gazing has taught me who I am – that I am insensitive, calculating, and always in a rush. This rumination has also taught me why, where others around me might not see it. They see bad manners, personality disorders, rudeness. Turning inward protects me from violence – from words and fists that crush me and push me back to riverbeds and pill trays. I am no longer three, and I am no longer thirteen – but I could look after myself then, as I can now. I owe nothing.

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