The Great Performer

When you live in a home of incest, no piece of you lives free. You can’t talk about your feelings, you cannot discuss the abuse and your emotions must be hidden away from sight.

No love in. No love out. No feelings. No discussion. You must live disconnected to yourself. Every part of yourself.

What then remains?

A bullshit life of fake duty.

How do you accomplish this? You start pretending.

At the dinner table you show up with a slight smile. When the family gathers to watch TV, you must please the abusers around you so you can enjoy the show too.

Do you want to live in complete rejection? Of course not!

So, what do you do? You perform. You create a version of yourself that is so far from reality, you actually fall out of ownership to yourself.

I know. I lived this way my entire childhood. I was so good at the charade of dissociation and living a life of pretend, my oldest sister and brother called me a three dollar bill.

What other choice did I have?

I wasn’t going to be killed. I knew I was going to have to be raped, but at least during the off times of abuse they might leave me alone if I just dam complied with their every fucking notion of what it took to be a good girl in there farce of a home.

That sentence I lived with, a life of performing, took me some very serious years to undo. Everywhere I went, I set the stage and commanded a great pretense before my audiences.

People pleasers had nothing on me! I’d give away everything I was — and more, to just about anybody. And, for what? A pleasing nod? Maybe I wouldn’t receive as much rejection as they’d planned to give me?

WTF was it all for?

I had no other choice if I was going to come out of that house alive.

I don’t perform any more. I leave that to the jesters.

Originally published at on February 12, 2021.



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Jodie Tedder

We write openly about our sexual childhood abuse, not only because we need to express but because we want to shine some light on this difficult healing path.