Writing About Trauma Without Wallowing in Self-Pity

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Sometimes, kids don’t want to go home.

“It’s okay,” I assure one of them. “This is a safe place for you; we’ll both be here tomorrow.”

I give them a hug and hand them their bag. It means everything to me to mean something to the kids at the daycare where I work. The hugs and artwork they give me mean more to me than any paycheck. Kids need someone to support them, someone to listen to their fears.

I wish I had someone.

I’m 6 or 7; I can’t remember. The lights are dimmed; the carpet is scratching my bare legs. I’m in my childhood bedroom. My cousin is with me; I’m not safe. If I tattle, he says he’ll hurt my mom. I am terrified and alone. One day, he tells me to sit in his lap and I refuse; I yell at him. My mom’s friend hears me from the next room.

The next day, he’s gone. CPS talks to me. I don’t understand, but I’m relieved that he can’t hurt me anymore.

My parents fight more; the police are at our house practically every night. At the Child Advocacy Center, I squirm in my seat, avoiding my case worker’s gaze and the truth. My mind swarms with my parents’ lies: she was paid to rip families apart and I’ll lose everything I’ve ever known. In bad homes, parents lie. CPS can't change that; social workers can't fix that.

I’m not a...

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