WU Words: The Horrible Misadventures of Tumor Baby

The Horrible Misadventures of Tumor Baby

I always have and forever will be a problem child. I’ve always liked to say “I started ruining things the day I was born,” as a reference to the fact that they had to tear open my mother to get me. I was a C-Section. The kids at my school would tell me I was a tumor baby and that I didn’t have a birthday, just a removal day. I can remember crying every year on my birthday because of it.

Now I think it’s funny.

Whenever I’d cry there were three things I’d turn to. The Beatles. Grandpa J, and the Boogie Man. I turned to them a lot. There were plenty of things that made me cry.

Like the kids at my school. I was very boyish as a child. I wore boy’s clothing and kept my hair short and honestly liked when people mistook me for a boy. I really wanted to be one. Boy’s got everything. They got more praise from teachers when they scored well, they didn’t get in trouble when they fought, and they got to like girls. Now of course I know that boys can like any gender they please (even those who don’t identify as just boy or girl) but when I was a kid other people thought it was weird. Five girls in my second grade class alone were infatuated with our school’s head janitor. He was fairly young and had a ‘cute nose.’ I was head over heels for our teacher. She had long light blonde hair, tan skin, stunning blue eyes, and she was tall. There was nothing more I wanted than to be tall since I was the shortest girl in my class. Little did I know I’d grow up to stay under 5’4. I can still remember how she’d always praise me for working so hard on the math homework. Then she brought in her fiancé and I thought I would have to fight him for her honor. On the last day of school I was going to leave her a special note telling her how I felt. I left it on my desk during recess but when I came back it was gone. The meanest boy in class had gotten ahold of it and read it to his friends. They made me sign an agreement that when we were 16 I’d show them my boobs. I wasn’t quite sure what boobs were at the time, but I knew signing it made me feel dirty and gross. Once I’d signed it the meanest boy shoved me down and said I was gross for liking her. “Gay tumor baby,” He’d said. Then he called me a few other choice words that he probably didn’t understand that well himself. From that point on I swore I wasn’t ever going to let anyone know that I liked girls just as much as I liked boys. That night I went home and stayed up till my sister was sound asleep so I could talk to him, the Boogie Man. I told him how much it hurt to have someone call me gross and wished that I could stop feeling the way I felt. I begged him to help me… but he didn’t respond. He never did.

Let me explain a bit about ol’ Boogie. I never believed in things like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I was steadfast in my belief of three ‘magical’ figures. One real, at least in the sense that I wasn’t the first to make them up, and two of my own imagination. There was the Boogie Man whom I spoke to almost every night. Sometimes I would tell him my problems and my feelings whereas other nights I would ask him how he felt and let him know I would listen if he ever needed. Guess he never did. The second figure was the man who made the clouds. I never named him but I knew that he was a large poofy man who lived up in the sky and made clouds. I would lay down on our trampoline and try to depict what he made. Clouds were meant to tell stories, I thought, of things he’d seen throughout history. Wars, romances, and so much more. Last was the girl who made it rain. She was very sad and cried often. When she cried her tears would fall and hit the clouds, filling them with water and causing it to rain.

Whenever it started to rain I’d go out and sit on our porch to try and talk with her. Even if she didn’t respond I wanted her to know that someone was there for her. These were the things I believed in.

Then there was my Grandpa J. He was always there for me and willing to listen when I had problems. I suppose it’s easy to listen when you’re dead and the grandchild you never met talks to a picture of you. We didn’t have many photos of him so when I found one I took it and taped it above my bed on the underside of my sisters (we had bunkbeds) so I could see him all the time. No matter what went wrong I would go to him and tell him. When my parents weren’t home and my sister got scary I’d board up our bedroom door and talk to him. He was my personal confidant. It also made me feel less sad about our circumstances of knowing each other. He’d gotten to meet every grandchild except me. My four much older cousins and my sister. He died before I came around. For awhile I actually thought it’d been my fault. Like someone had to die for the family to get someone knew. It made me feel guilty inside and like my mother secretly blamed me, though she never gave me any reason to think so. The point was I loved my grandfather even if I’d never get the chance to meet him in person.

Speaking of my mother, though, let’s talk about my parents! My mother is the kindest most wonderful human being you could ever meet. Everything she ever did was for the benefit of my sister and I. I don’t think I’ll ever love anyone as much as I love my mother. She pretty much raised us on her own. Even though we have our fights and rough moments… she’ll always be there for me and I’ll always be there for her. My father is a different story. For as long as I can remember I don’t remember him being kind, loving, or even the least bit caring. He would constantly go off and leave us with our mom. I can still picture the night my mom went out to something with my sister and I was at home with dad. I was only 5. He’d invited friends over and gotten heavily intoxicated. At some point I went to ask him help me get a glass of water and he put me in the hallway closet with a door under the handle to keep it shut. Getting drunk was something he did often. I didn’t know till I was older but just about anything fun he ever did with my sister and I was a result of him being drunk. He’d take us sledding at midnight or out for ice cream. The way he’d swerve the car was funny. It got scary as I got older. When I was 14 he was swerving more than usual and I said “Dad, I think you’re drunk. Let’s pull over.” He got so angry that he pulled over and forced me out, telling me to walk home. We were more than two miles away from our house and it was past midnight in winter. When I was 16 a friend of mine asked “Has he ever even told you he loved you?” It was in that moment that I realized no. No he hadn’t. This person who’d had a hand in my creation and I was supposed to call dad had never once said that he loved me. The man who made me cry in the middle of a grocery store when I told him I didn’t want to be in band anymore. The man who sparked my insecurity about my weight by calling me fat as a kid. This was who I was suppose to love and respect?

No. I wasn’t going to.

Let’s just say men in my life were typically… problematic, to say the least. Like the boys at my school or my father. Though nothing could compare to the boy from my church. I don’t want to name names so let’s just call him… M. M was at least 4 years older than me and loved to make me upset. He’d pull my hair and make fun of my clothes and say God would never love me. Pretty average schoolyard bullying. But one day it really changed. I remember it was just after I’d turned 7. Everyone at church had wished me a happy birthday that day. Even M which was surprising because he was always so mean to me. After the service it was time for Sunday School. Older kids went to one place and the younger kids to another. That day he’d pulled me aside and snuck the both of us into the kitchen. It wasn’t locked but the lights were off since nobody was planning to use it that day. I didn’t understand what was going on as he lifted me up and set me on the counter. When he lifted my shirt and took off my pants I became uncomfortable but still was thoroughly confused as to what was happening. He left my underwear on but stuck his hand underneath. That’s when I knew that whatever happening was bad. I’d been told that was a private area that others shouldn’t touch till I was much, much older. I’ll spare you the details of exactly what he did that first time but I’ll tell you there was blood. I remember crying silently and him making fun of me for it.

He continued to physically, verbally, and sexually abuse me for the next three years. Then one day he just… left. I guess he showed up at the church somewhat recently but only for a holiday service. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget what happened. No matter how hard I try the memories won’t stop resurfacing. I remember everything vividly as if it’d happened last week.

He wasn’t the only person to ever sexually abuse me. When I was 8 my older cousin would often have me touch and bite him in weird places and he’d touch me in weird places. Only over clothing but still. I didn’t quite get it then because it wasn’t the same as with M but looking back I realized it was all wrong. In ninth grade I had my first boyfriend and he felt me up in a movie theater. I’m still very nervous about being touched, even by friends. It’s like my brain just snaps when someone comes into physical contact with me. The idea of having sex is frightening. I don’t know if that makes me asexual or sex-repulsed but what I know for sure it that it’s a scary topic for me.

Moving on with the sad story train, let’s talk about an old friend of mine. We’ll call her A. She and I met in 7th grade and bonded over stories we’d write. In my eyes she was perfect. We got each other so well and loved so many of the same things. But when high school started something changed. She would go through these phases of not talking to me. It threw me off and made me extremely depressed but what could I do? She blamed it on her depression and said “I just don’t want to talk to anyone right now. It’s not just you.” I accepted this explanation even though it was obviously bullshit.

She would talk to other people. She’d still talk to everyone except me. So what was I doing wrong? I tried so hard to be a good friend and damn it, I was a good friend. I was better than most friends. I put up with her doing this to me up until our junior year. She’d been held back so she was technically still a sophomore. She’d started dating a boy around Thanksgiving and was very excited because she was still very new to dating. I’d liked him at first. He was funny and seemed nice enough. Let’s just say he showed his true self quick. He was a complete asshole to most people. He’d only been nice around me at first because he’d wanted to date A. He wasn’t mean to her but they fought constantly. Whenever I’d bring up how mean and unkind he was to me she’d say “Don’t make me choose between you two ‘cause I’ll choose the person who didn’t make me.” I’d never wanted her to choose, I’d just wanted her to evaluate the fact that she was willing to date someone who was so beyond horrible to the best friend who’d been there for her for years. They became overly involved with each other, honestly. She pushed out nearly everyone else in her life to make room for him. I remember her and I fighting just before the start of winter break. We only spoke once over that break and it was on New Year’s Eve when she got drunk and called my other friend and I because she was ‘sooooooo drunk.’

After that we still weren’t on great terms. I spent that time feeling sick constantly and not wanting to go to school when it came time to return. Pretty quickly, though, something sparked my interest. A Shakespearean play that the school had a tradition of doing (Well, wanted to have a tradition of, this was only it’s second year being done) was having auditions. I’d always been a big Shakespeare fan and was looking for something to focus on other than how sad I was. I got a role and found myself amidst all these theatre kids. So many of them were outgoing and eccentric but one stood out overall. We’ll call her Z. While A was quieter and liked to be nastier about life, Z was over the top and loved having lots of fun. A couldn’t stand to be around lots of people but Z lived for the crowd. Their differences were very obvious and it was… so refreshing. Z and I became very close and still are now. I’m so beyond thankful to have met her. I’m still having issues cutting ties with A but Z has been such a huge help throughout the process.

Meeting Z and being a part of that play changed my life. I started to be more outgoing and gained dozens of new friends which helped me slide into my senior year in a good place. I stage managed the Shakespeare show the next year and was the leader of my film class. I was able to find where I wanted to go to college and apply early on so I could have things planned and ready come graduation and Summer. Things have been so good recently… it’s almost hard to believe that I’ve had such dark periods in my life. I’m happier than ever and I feel like I’m so much closer to being the person I’m meant to be. Washburn has been amazing so far. I’ve met so many people and already made such amazing new friends. This is a place I’m not afraid to call home. Who would’ve of thought that tiny tumor baby would grow up to love and respect herself? Certainly not me. But I guess that’s what matters. I proved myself wrong. I’m still here and I’m doing good. I’ve reached the next chapter in my life and I’m ready to tackle it. Here’s to the next four years!