At age 9 and 10 little kids are supposed to play and have fun. Run in the park and have a good time with their friends.
In first grade I always wanted to be a mommy, which meant to for having breasts. Regularly I pulled the skin on my flat chest because I wanted to have breasts like my mom.
When I was about 9.5 years old, my breasts started to develop and my mom got me a bra. I was teased for wearing a bra. The haunting voices of the kids in school laughing at me and saying, “Aviva is wearing a bra, Aviva is wearing a bra” and pulling my bra strap on my back. I hated having breasts and having to wear a bra. Being made fun of about something that I couldn’t control.
To make matters worse, around the same time, I got my period. Oh no, I thought, why am I bleeding down there? I’d take a whole bunch of toilet paper and tissues and stuff it in my underwear to absorb the blood. This went on for a while. I didn’t know what to do. Why is this happening to me? All I knew was that every month, blood came out of me for no apparent reason.
Then I figured it all out. I couldn’t believe it. Blood was coming out of me because of what daddy did to me down there when I was 7. Oh no, I can’t tell mommy that I was bleeding because then I’d have to tell her what daddy did to me and then he’d kill me, like he said he would if I told anyone about what he had done. Even though I thought I had figured out the reason for the bleeding, I couldn’t tell anyone. Feeling so alone and lost, I didn’t know what to do. At least it all made sense to me now.
I remember going on a field trip with my class and we were walking back to school. I remember till this day what I was wearing. I wore culottes and a matching vest with a white t-shirt underneath the vest. It was one of my favorite outfits. I was bleeding and had toilet paper in my underwear. I was the last student walking behind my classmates because I didn’t feel too good, my stomach was hurting.
As I’m walking a piece of bloody toilet paper fell out of my pants. Thank God no one saw that. I was terrified. What if it all fell out and nothing was left in my underwear? I was praying that some was left in there. I could see the school from a distance. I couldn’t wait to run into the bathroom and take care of my issue. That was the longest 5-minute walk ever! The teacher said: Come on Aviva, hurry up. Well, it’s difficult to walk fast when you’re walking with your legs so tight together, trying to make sure nothing comes out from between your legs.
Then one day, my mom had a talk with me. She told me she found my bloody toilet paper and tissues under the sink in the bathroom cabinet. I started crying hysterically. I’d have to confess the secret daddy and I had. This was the end of my life, I thought. My mom loves me so much and she would be heartbroken if daddy murdered me for sharing our secret.
All this went through my head as I was crying. My mom then talked to me calmly and explained that at a certain age (normally not 9) a girl gets her monthly cycle and blood comes out of her vagina. I was so relieved. That’s all it was. It was a normal thing. It wasn’t connected to my dad. All the fear and anxiety that I had built up as to why I was bleeding was for nothing. But can you blame me for thinking the way I did?
Thankfully my mom got me pads and I didn’t have to worry about stuffing my underwear with toilet paper any longer. The small blessing in life called pads.
As children we make things up in our heads that make sense to us, and that’s all we know to be the truth, until an adult tells us otherwise. Being teased about wearing a bra and getting my period at a young age really had an affect on me. Becoming a “young lady” at 9.5 did not seem appealing to me. After my mother told me what was going on, every time I got my period, I was reminded of the fear I had for months, thinking I was bleeding because of my dad.
I always wore large t-shirts so no one could see I had breasts. I was ashamed for a long time about having breasts. Being like a mommy with breasts wasn’t cool anymore like I thought as a first grader.
Now as an adult, I need to comfort the little girl in me and let her know there’s no shame in having breasts at a young age, give her love and let her know that it is OK that she didn’t know what a period was. The healing process is continuous.