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tw: special ed, abuse 

If you had asked my parents, they would have told you that they were aware of the problems with behavioral therapy. That they knew about the abuse in special ed programs. That my therapists were different, my school was great, and my therapy was fine.

They would have told you they worked hard to get me services, which they did. They would have told you they refused to let the school district send me to a place with padded rooms, which they did. They would have told you they researched for hours, spent thousands of dollars, and called in lawyers, which they did.

They would have told you that I smiled at the therapists, which I did, hugged them, which I did, said they were nice and had helped me so much and I loved them, which I did. They wouldn’t have told you that I cried and refused to go to school so that they threatened and screamed and restrained me and dragged me onto the bus, they wouldn’t have told you that I asked if the other kids were scared of the therapists, they wouldn’t have told you that when I was restrained I shouted that it hurt and I couldn’t breathe, they wouldn’t tell you that when they dragged me to school I said, “I’m Carla. Abby is at home.”, they wouldn’t have told you that I said I wished I were dead.

My parents would have told you restraint was a last resort and then come home to pin me for throwing a pen. They would have told you the holds they used were so safe they were barely effective, and then gone home and left me with bruises and put me in positions that made me pass out. They would have told you they loved me, which they did, and they wanted good things for me, which they did, and they had my best interests at heart, which they did at least some of the time. I have learned that some types of love make you shake and give you nightmares.

If you had asked me if I liked therapy, I would have said yes. If you had asked me if anyone was hurting me, I would have said no. I would have said my mom was the best mom in the world and my dad was the best dad and my therapists were the best therapists and I didn’t know where I would be without all of them.

If I had confessed to you my fear or my pain, it would have been disguised as an outburst. I would have wanted it to be an outburst. I didn’t want to be taken seriously. I desperately wanted to be a sick, angry liar who had never been hurt and had nothing to be scared of. If I had told you what had happened to me, I would have apologized and taken it back. My parents would have forgiven me for my sick, angry lies until we were alone.

If you asked me, now, if I liked therapy, if I loved my parents, if anyone had hurt me, I would weigh my options. If you asked me in person about the school I went to, I would weigh my options. If you talked about how wonderful my parents were, I would smile and nod. I would talk about making pancakes together, going to plays, the lawyers. I would smile. I would smile. I would smile.

Everyone said my therapy wasn’t like the other, bad, therapy, and I believed it. Every bad thing had a good, good reason. Everyone said I wanted this until I began to believe it. I had never objected. It was my brokeness objecting. It was my illness objecting, my illness crying, my illness having nightmares, and I wanted to be well. I wouldn’t hurt if not for my illness; my illness screamed at me, my illness wrote therapy goals, my illness pinned me to the floor.

I wanted to die, I was scared for my life, I thought I was broken and lesser and wrong, but I wanted to get better, so I smiled.

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