Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The History of Humiliation

It works like this: you get humiliated first. Someone decides that you're not it. Somebody leaves. Somebody purposefully says something awful to you, about you, because they were there first. They were humiliated first. Because they are you, but they don't want to be you. They don't want to be humiliated, so you get humiliated first. Then you find someone to humiliate. First you think you find someone who won't humiliate you, but you don't realize that even in thinking they can't humiliate you, you humiliate them. Then you decide they're not it. You leave. You purposefully say something awful to them, about them, because you were there first. You were humiliated first. You are them, but you don't want to be them. You don't want to be humiliated, so you humiliate them first...

I have a memory of something I never saw:
you, broken, laying on your bed in the middle
of a sleepless night. You can't go outside--
they might see the shame on your skinless
frame, your muscles aching with it, glowing
with it. I see it like I'm the ceiling, the walls,
the floor. I can feel the steam collecting
on me from where you are burning--your fevered
pitching about in response to memorized voices
that all left you behind. You are pressed into
place by the weight of all that you have been
seen as, the idea of yourself. You believe
that you are being pressed upon by the air,
something real, something all around inescapable.
You turn out the lights so that you are invisible,
physicality a reminder that you are. That you are
is a punishment. She told you so. You don't know
that for her to be is a punishment. She wakes
with an ache that pushes against her skin so forcefully
that every movement causes her insides to shriek.
For relief, she pressed herself against you like
an iron rod, bruising you to make it true.

This is the history of humiliation.