A Daughter’s Lament by Karen Leslie Hernandez


I still cannot speak.
To the depth of the pain.
The sting.
The knowing
My heart
Will never be.
Or Feel.
The same.

More than
A year
Later.
And I still can barely utter
To anyone.
What was said.

Bitch.
You’re a young little bitch.
Ringing.
Churning.
Life altering.
Devastating.

It’s just a word.
Right?
Bitch.
Used
In so many
Ways.
To motivate.
Describe.
Disparage.

Girl, you bitch.
Get it, bitch.
That bitch.
Bitchin‘.
What a bitch.
Bitch you.
Such a bitch.
Female dog.
Bitch.

You’re a young little bitch.

Words that destroyed me.
Ate me alive.
Wrecked me.
Brought me to
Question
Worthiness
In me.
Who I am.
Such unbearable
Pain.
Brought me to
Question.
My existence.

This wasn’t the first
Time.
Detriment
Was projected.
Your work
Is
Muslim shit.
Who the fuck.
Do you
Think
You are?
You call yourself.
A Christian.
Right?

This wasn’t the first
Time.
Abusive words
Were uttered.
But it
Was
The last.

Boundaries.

However strong I may
Be.
Now.
My heart feels
Distant.
Undecided
Uncured
Undeclared.
Lost.
Angry.
Forgiving.
And worse
Cold.

Uncertain if
I’m worthy.
Of a man’s love.
Of anyone’s
Love.
At all.
Ever.
Someday.
Not really.
Who’d want me.
I’m a bitch.

Why would anyone want this.
Bitch.
Damaged goods.
Bitch.
Fucked up.
Bitch.
Hurt.
Bitch.
Ugly.
Old.
Bitch.

I know.
I am.
Kind.
Compassionate.
Giving.
Loving.
Intelligent.

My heart reminds me.
I am.
Worthy.
I must.
Love.
Myself.
Deeply.

My mind wonders.
The one.
Man
Who
Should love me.
Unconditionally.
Without fail.
Without harm.
Without hurt.
The one man whom
I should not
Be afraid of.
Want to see.
Want in my life.
Want love from.
Appreciate.

The one man who
Should treat me
With respect.
Should take care
Of my heart.
My mind.
Of me.
With love
With truth
With gentleness.

Not spewed by a
Partner.
Friend.
Stranger.
But by the man
Who’s known
Me
The longest.
Yet, who
Doesn’t.
Know me.
At all.

The man who held me.
The moment I was born.
The first time I cried.
The man who created me.
The first man
I ever saw.
Vomited.
I’m a bitch.

A young little bitch.

I care
Not.
For apologies.
I await
No deathbed guilt.
Because that is
Empty.
Void.
Obtuse.
For him.

Accountability.
Will never
Be.
But Blame.
Will
Live.

I hear
Now.
You are.
Difficult.
You are
Mouthy.
You.
Are.

Truthful.

Again.
Again.
I wonder.
Again.
I have to
Accept.
The one man
Who should
Love me.
Unconditionally.
Doesn’t.

Why would anyone else.

Karen Leslie Hernandez is a theologian and interfaith activist. She has published with several media outlets including the Women’s United Nations Report Network, The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue/Studies, the Interfaith Observer, and she is the only Christian to have published an ongoing Op-Ed Column with OnIslam out of Cairo, Egypt. Some of her past gigs include designing and teaching an Interfaith Dialogue workshop with Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, as well as spending three years working with United Religions Initiative, in several different positions. An Over-Achiever, Karen has not one, but two theological master’s degrees – one from Andover Newton Theological School, the other from Boston University School of Theology. She did her BA at Wellesley College, graduating with honors in her major, Peace and Justice Studies, where she wrote her thesis on Al Qaeda and their misuse religion for political gain. Karen currently lives in California, works at two faith based non-profits, teaches workshops throughout the Bay Area, is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree at Claremont School of Theology, and she is also a certified domestic violence advocate.


Categories: abuse, Family, Grief, Healing, Women's Voices

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11 replies

  1. Dear Karen

    Your post made me weep for you, I am so sorry.

    It raises so many questions about relationships, expectations, freedoms, all sorts of negative stereotypes, our constitution in language and vulnerability to it. The destructive words spoken to you come from brokenness and distress and are not true.

    I honour your courage in sharing this piece and hope that the writing has brought some measure of seeing and managing the feelings that you can live with. You know and you are gifted, creative, kind, thoughtful, beautiful. Your work brings hope and sustaining to many others. May you find yourself sustained and re-made in relationship with many others and be able to hear who you truly are.

    In deep respect

    Margaret

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is no dearth of Beast on this planet,Karen. So why do you regret? In MatBhagabat Gita “Jatra Jiva, Tatra Shiva” , i.e. All life form on earth represent god. Wish you Good Luck. Well written.

    Like

  3. Heartbreaking what a parent can do to a child…. remember your words because they are true:
    I know.
    I am.
    Kind.
    Compassionate.
    Giving.
    Loving.
    Intelligent.
    Hopefully this poem helps you to come to some sort of peace…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So sad! But just look at you! You’ve survived the ugly words! You’ve grown up and you’re kind, compassionate, and smart. You’ve surpassed the name-caller. Hooray for you!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Holding you…
    Bright,
    courageous,
    honest,
    woman,
    worthy and holy being,
    in my own tender heart and
    Sending
    the whole you
    my gratitude, healing energy and holy light!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Karen, I had a similar kind of father. My heart goes out to you.

    Like

  7. It is confusing to have a father like that. Mine would turn on me with no warning. I finally had to limit contact to letters and email. You are not alone. Parents should be good to us, but life isn’t always like that, and I don’t believe there is any “reason” for being born to parents who are not good to us. It is the roll of the dice, in other words chance. We can make the best of it or not, that part is our choice. But that is easier said than done, as I know, however it is possible to heal or at least to begin healing.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Thank you, Karen, for the courage to put this experience into words so beautifully. While a horrible moment, you show how you rose above this hurt by someone who knew you the longest, held you, and always should cherish you. I feel your sadness in my heart and your strength in offering these words. Resurrection words. They brought me back to my first year of an unsuccessful marriage decades ago. My long time boyfriend and I were struggling as newlyweds! I asked if he would go to therapy with me. He didn’t want to, but agreed. After several promising sessions, he said on the car ride home, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t afford to take off time from work for this!” I understood that, but because I was learning a lot about myself, family patterns, and a big grief I’d buried as a teen I wanted to continue with the therapist and the group we’d joined. “NO WAY YOU BITCH….” he blurted. I stayed in the marriage for 8 years and treasure our loving and wise son, but I still carry that emotional “scar.” It’s important to name such a deep hurt, and you did that beautifully.

    Like

  9. Karen, thank you for sharing your experience. My father was verbally abusive too. He damaged my self-esteem, which caused me all kinds of problems. I married someone like him and put up with the emotional abuse for years before I divorced him. I finally realized my father was abusive, and it was not my fault. My second husband was kind and loving and his father was wonderful to me. He became the father I never had. Please know that you are smart, courageous, strong, and kind and you did not deserve that abuse.

    Like

  10. So visceral, biting, and honest. The line that jumped out at me was “damaged goods.” This is one description I have often used for myself in relation to abuse. I hate how easy it is us for us women to internalize those messages. But I love that you are able to go deep into the feelings and even share them as a beacon of the rest of us.

    we/you/I are all lovable because that is the birthright knowledge of our humanity. Continue to fight like hell. Be loving and be loved!

    Like

  11. Nicely written. Thank you Karen. Those words ring so true, except that I sub in the word “slut,” said to a virgin. I live alone now and never had children. Words hurt.

    Like

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