by Kelsi DeStefano
crack-head (noun); a person who habitually takes crack cocaine
daugh-ter (noun); a girl or woman in relation to her parents
Put those two together and you get “a girl in relation to her parent who habitually takes crack cocaine,” or more simply put, the crackhead’s daughter, which is exactly how I used to define myself.
Let me back up here, and hopefully stray from anymore run-on sentences. My name is Kelsi, and I am a crackhead’s daughter. I have spent twenty years, soon to be twenty-one, living with this definition hanging over my head. Spending time wondering if everyone else could see it, if the belief I had put into it had somehow manifested a physical neon sign above my head with an arrow pointing down. I had put so much energy into the thought of that being all that defined me that I could’ve sworn someone could see crack in my pockets. Not that I ever took any, nor will I ever, but it felt like cigarette smoke looming over me and no matter how many washes, you just can’t get the smell to go away.
I thought that if one were to look up my name online or in a dictionary, that would be the definition, along with a picture of my father’s mugshot. I feared that my peers would look down on me, or worse; pity me. I feared that everyone else would soon see me this way and put me in a box, a box overflowing with little white rocks. It used to astound me, how something so small could have such power over the mind, body, and soul of a human being.
I used to keep quiet, because who would listen to the opinion of a girl descended from a drug so violent that it can change someone in the blink of an eye? My father would scream and yell, tell me to stay quiet, so I did. Whether it be physical or emotional pain, or even just my own opinion, I kept quiet.
Complete silence, no words muttered from my lips while my head was pounding with every internal voice screaming and begging to be let free. I never let them free. I zipped my lips and threw away the key.
I was a wallpaper girl, and what good is wallpaper that talks? I blended in, made myself small in hopes that no one would notice me. If they did, I would give a small smile with my eyes down because I knew if they looked in my eyes then the mask I had worked so hard to put in place would falter. They would see all of the pain and sadness that I kept hidden. I form my lips into a smile to keep those words locked in, teeth clamping shut, while my eyes tell it all.
At night, in the solitude of my own bedroom, those words are let free. Not a single word spoken, but instead my eyes scream, tears running down my face, as I would sob into my pillow. Always so quiet, as to not disturb anyone in the house with my own weakness. I’d lay there until the waterfall stopped, and the tears would dry, and when I woke in the morning I could still feel the trails they left on my skin. I’d wipe them away and start over again; new day, new smile.
I wish I could go back, tell that scared wallpaper girl just how powerful her voice could be. Old habits die hard, they don’t go down without a fight, but I don’t either. I wish that I had used what little energy and motivation I had each day to fight; right hook, then left, block one punch and throw another. Turning weakness into strength and never letting up until I could taste the sweet victory.
I wish I had had the strength, the courage, to redefine myself. To let the world know that I would not pay for my father’s mistakes, only my own. To shout from the rooftops that who I am is only who I want to be, who I work to be, who I aspire to be. Those little white rocks, the scars on my skin put there by my own hands, the pain and suffering I faced, none of these are what make me who I am. What made me the woman that stands before you, the woman that has put these words on paper, words she feared to speak aloud for so long, is her newfound desire to not give a fuck what the other people have to say. Who couldn’t care less if some people want to keep her in that box of someone else’s wrongdoings, because those people will miss out on the incredible things she has done and has yet to do with the life she lives. A woman who should never be underestimated, for she will always fight to prove you wrong. A woman who can and will do more than survive in this world. She will thrive.
Kelsi (noun); a girl who is defined only by herself, and no one else
About the Author
You've read the essay. You know Kelsi. She is and always will be enough.
From the Editor
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