I shouldn’t have read the letter. It triggered all those same emotions I went so long to therapy to forget. For most people it’s just another news story about a girl that was raped, but for me it hits a little too close to home.
I come from a big family and am lucky to still have my parents together after 32 years. My mom gave birth to 5 girls and 1 boy. Sadly I’d never come to know my brother because he was a still birth. His funeral would be my first of dozens and I wasn’t even 2 years old. After my brother my mom had 4 more girls and we became what she called her little “tribe”. Growing up being so many, so close in age, and being all girls, we often drew lots of attention. Everyone would always ask the same exact questions, “Are you all sisters?” ..”All from the same parents?” .. “No boys?” followed by the typical ” I feel sorry for your poor dad!” response. We got used to it but people never got over that. We often joked around with each other saying that we were like “unicorns” because it became glaringly apparent that we were the last of a dying breed. As we got older and began to blossom into young women, the attention only grew. As our bodies and features changed over the years, we still bore a strikingly similar resemblance to one another. Many people confused us and developed crushes over multiple sisters. Many treated us as a group, rather than individuals, but we didn’t care. We were happy, sheltered and protected growing up. All too often we were labeled and judged by our appearance, and the perceived notions of others. Malicious rumors spread by bitter exes and old friends began to destroy our reputation and image over time.
A dear friend of our family always says, “It is impossible to become close to a “Durazo girl” and remain untouched or unmoved. You guys get under people’s skin and draw out their deepest thoughts, love and insecurities. People willingly give to you what they deny others. Falling in love with one sister is like falling for you all.” He says that because we were raised in a bubble of unrealistic expectations that we’ve learned to hold even ourselves to those unrealistic expectations too. It’s depressing to look back on the revolving door of relationships that we as sisters have had and lost. People who promised “forever” are long gone, and men we once adored have become ghosts haunting the hallways of our past. There have been those who came to us with nothing, and in return gained an entire family. It’s sad to see how the demise of our relationships and the loss of our presence has left them in a dark place. I don’t know what it feels like to experience our world and gain our acceptance, only to be denied reentry after the relationship has run its course. I imagine it’s gotta be a lot like culture sock. Both sides hurt when ties have to be cut. Its never easy but we are not the picture perfect image people often perceive us to be. We are more like the desolate desert filled with cracks that run deep and hide incredibly low valleys. We’ve seen our fair share of trials and tribulations. No matter how many there have been, the loss of any relationship hurts just the same, each one being unique and different. Each one baring its own scar.
When it comes to perfection we are far from it, as much as people wanna think how great we have it made, the reality is that there are traumas that have changed us forever. Which brings me back to my original thought about the rape victims letter. I couldn’t believe how each emotional and physical reprocussion from her rape echoed both of my sister’s emotions and cries. I wept bitterly reading the affect it had on her entire family as well and I felt a though I was reading an entry from one of my sisters journals. Not many people know this, but out of the 5 of us girls, two of us have been raped, and the other 2 have been molested by people who were involved heavily in the church. The one sister who has not been exploited in these ways has been cheated on and taken advantage by every man she’s ever loved. We have been manipulated and abused in every way imaginable and it’s always been at the hands of people who claimed to love us the most. It’s hard for us not to believe that there’s some kind of curse keeping us from maintaining any shred of real happiness. I guess in order for light to shine through it must be engulfed in complete darkness. We bare the symbol and wear the scars. Bound by supernatural ties, childhood memories and vaults of secrets that we will never speak on. Like a chain we are linked together indefinitely by blood and love. We may be the little princess’ in our parents fairytale kingdom, but our father groomed us to be more than just another pretty face. We were trained like soldiers and disciplined as such. We were taught survival tactics that helped shelter us, but ultimately didn’t teach us how to confront major life issues. As children when we fell we were reprimanded for it. When we got our feelings hurt, we were ignored. When we tried to sit on my father’s lap as we grew older, we were told it was improper. Our parents were somewhat cold emotionally and physically towards us. Cuddling and random hugs or kisses were left for annual holidays and birthdays. High bars of expectations were set for us to reach in each category of life, and we grew up with the logic that nothing we could ever do would be good enough. Much like the illusion roses have to exude beauty while appearing defenseless, we were able to hide our sharp thorns. We learned how Beauty can distract the eyes long enough to keep our thorns undetected. The men who have tried to possess us, have ended up pricking themselves because they tried to hold us too tight. Some men have been understanding enough to know that roses left to bloom naturally, are the best roses of all. Some have come watering and sheltering us, allowing us the freedom to grow. Some have uprooted us and left us to dry out and wither away. Just as flowers have their seasons of death and bloom, so have my sisters and I.
The men that raped my sister’s were not men, they were cowards. They deflowered my roses and robbed our once innocent kingdom of its peace. Yes, my roses have managed to grow back even through concrete, but we all know that they will never be the same. My heart aches for that young woman the same way that it aches for my sisters. So many questions have gone unanswered and there’s even more that are bound to come up in the future. All I know is that pain changes people, and knowing that other lives are being destroyed by the same means, leaves me feeling so heartbroken. Her powerful letter reminded me to be thankful that I still have my sisters here with me to grow old with. Her words reminded me to remain hopeful and believe, that maybe letters like hers will help bring peace and understanding to other victims and their families. We have been irrevocably affected forever by the careless actions of cowards, but it doesn’t mean we have to remain in the dark places they left us in. We are not the product of things done to us. We are however defined by the way we deal with those struggles after they’ve tried to destroy us. I pray for my sisters and the victims of these vicious crimes. May they find the peace they so desperately seek within themselves and may letters like these continue to bring awareness to a dying world.