“I’m not fat. I’m not ugly.”

“I’m not fat. I’m not ugly.”

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As I worked out today, I found myself tumbling back into another time in my life. My boyfriend showed up drunk. He wanted to fight with me. I wanted to sleep. I told him let’s get together later when he’s sober. This pissed him off. *wham* he slapped me across the face. My ear rung. My face stung. I stood there stunned. Is this really happening to me? *wham* another blow to the face. I staggered back. He was enraged at this point. I began to plead, but he wasn’t hearing me. He tore my clothes off. He raped me. Afterward, he was still angry. I think he realized what he did. There was blood. I was bleeding. He drug me off the bed by my hair. He started screaming at me, “You fat ugly bitch. See what you made me do.” I crawled on the floor apologizing and pleading. As I cleaned, he held me by the hair and kept poking me. He made me clean the bed, clean him, clean myself. I was so disorientated; I didn’t know what to do. I obliged. At one point, I was on the floor cleaning the mess, he kicked me in the stomach. The taste of air disappeared from my body. I told myself, Nick- don’t cry, don’t cry. If I cry he’ll get more mad. I wanted to get out of this alive. I wanted to see, my baby, my Sonny. That night, my boyfriend held me tightly. As he was passing out, he kept saying vile things to me. My body hurt. My soul hurt. Pleading to God didn’t help. As usual, the next day when he woke up he was remorseful. He cried and he was apologetic. He promised me again that he wouldn’t do it. I ached everywhere. He was gentle, again. He was kind. He disposed of the mess we’d made. Looking back on that time, I realize this, I accepted what he said to me, no one would want me and this is the best I’d ever get. I leaned into accepting this as my life. Resolve. That morning, he took me to breakfast. He sang to me. He made me laugh. We’re gonna be ok, at least that is what I told myself. It didn’t stop. It happened again. Eventually, I stopped accepting his calls and avoided him in public. My friends fought with him. I had no strength to keep him at bay, but they did. Today, I declared to myself and to the people working out around me at the gym, “I’m not fat. I’m not ugly.” As the weight drops off this body, so do these memories. The power behind them is subsiding. I’m not quivering in fear, as often. And, I am beautiful.

Nick Metcalf is of Rosebud Sioux Tribe.  Cetanzi, his Sioux name, which translates as ‘Yellow Hawk’.  Nick is a columnist for The Circle | Native American News & ArtsNick is a parent, poet, and soon-to-be-grandparent.  Nick lives in Minneapolis, MN and is a Two-Spirit person.