Fuck Off My Broken Heart // Casa Jurnalistului

My prince charming was a bandy guy with tattooed forearms, former drug addict and ex-convict. His name was Edi and he was 20 — five years older than I was.

We met on an alley in Parcul Tineretului (The Youth Park). It was June, the first of June. Until the 12th, my birthday, we only teased each other. On the 13th it was his birthday and we had our first kiss. On the 14th I went to his place and stayed over. For three days and three night we were inseparable.

Ok — here is where we draw the line because everything starts here.

For the next two years we took drugs, he cracked my head open, left me with broken teeth, broke my ribs, left me pregnant, beat me until they died — my babies, my twins. I stayed with him because I felt I couldn’t do anyting on my own. I kept hoping that he could come to his senses, even though I knew from back home that people don’t change.

I lost my virginity at 14. It happened with a guy from my gang, without a condom. I bought the morning after day pill from the money I got for Christmas and told my mother about it while she was wrapping my Christmas present. Now you’re letting me go to the New Year’s Eve party. This is what you were so worried about, that I’ll fuck somebody. Well I fucked somebody.’ She started to cry. I went to the New Year’s Eve party and I fucked somebody there too.

My mother is something 23 years older than me. We have the exact same apple-shaped body type. You can only tell difference by our breasts — she nursed. I met her when I was three. She went to Greece for work when I was eight months old and left me here with my grandmother and aunt. One summer she showed up with some large boxes — one full of toys, and one full of colorful plates and cups. They told me she was mum and I’ll have to share my bed with her from then on.

I hated her all throughout my childhood. The first reason was that she left. The second one was that she had separated from my father and he wasn’t around. ‘Surely you’ve done something and that’s why he left and now I don’t have him.’ Then there was the marriage with Vio, my stepfather, whom she had another baby with. School was about to start and I needed a father, she said.

The first three or four years went well; then he started drinking. When my mother was pregnant again he left his job, so we were all living from her salary while she was also going to university. More often than not we had nothing but a piece of bacon in the fridge. My grandmother had to come and sneak something in for us before he saw her.

When he drank Vio used to go into the kitchen with a can of beer and headphones on, and curse out loud. He was listening to Parazitii (Romanian rap music band), grumbling the lyrics. I used to sit with him at the table and listen. When he got bored he took me into his arms and kissed me, and those were the only times he showed me a little affection.

Whenever he picked on my mother I was there to join him. I could see there were conflicts at home and I’d say that it was her fault for she had to get married. And still she said she did it for me, when it all did me more harm than good…

You’re a junkie, you’ll end up a whore!’ Vio used to yell at me when I was going out. I was 13 years old. I still hadn’t done anything.

From the New Year’s Eve until the summer I slept with about 50 men. I had a good friend, Taisia; my only friend, in fact. I was always hanging out with her. She knew guys with lots of money who took us out for drinks and bought us gifts. I wasn’t really going to school anymore.

Then I met Edi and I moved in with him. With Taisia I broke it up because we were living such different lives now. She was a depraved whore while I saw myself a serious young woman, ready to commit to the family life.

I love you, I hit you

Her name is Gia. She’s a small and slim with short, chopped hair, dyed either black, red, or highlighted. Now she is blond and wear cat eyes — some blue contacts with dilated pupils, long eyelashes and arched eyebrows. She has a silver piercing above the thin lips. Her arms and legs are covered in tattoos, her hands are rough, her ankles are swollen. She puts her left foot on the frame of the bed. The needle goes right in, above the teddy bear tattoo. The white mixture in the syringe turns red from blood.

It’s called spritz. They say it works better if you draw a little blood in to go with. I don’t really feel anything from crushed pills anymore. My veins are all collapsed. You know how people have rounded, soft veins … Look, if I try to puncture this one it’s like going into a tendon, and something electrocutes me.’

The first time I did heroin I felt something went straight into my heart and hugged me from within. Then I felt my eyes dilating. I was being introduced to myself. I loved him and loved me. We loved each other on the floor, by the the tiled stove. I was wet inside, outside, his whole body was penetrating mine slowly.

One autumn morning I was in bed in between wet sheets. He was trying to inject himself into a vein but couldn’t find the right spot. He was frowning, holding his breath, failing. He asked me to do it. It was his friends who usually injected both of us and I didn’t know how to do it either. I tried and I missed the spot. POW! He slapped me so hard that I smacked my head against the bedside table.

‘What are you, stupid? How the hell did you miss that vein?! Stupid whore!’

When you wake up it’s the worst. You only regret starting doing heroin when you feel sick. It’s like praying to God only when you need to and apologise for not praying more often. ‘Lord, please help me find a vein, I can’t take it anymore! I promise I’ll never do it again…

Time was going by, the future was dispersed itself into doses, life was only taking shape under heroin’s scrutiny. I learned how to inject him after a number of episodes involving punches, slaps and cigarette burns.

Meanwhile he developed another obsession. He made me have anal sex every time. It was his new thing. After we injected I usually pretended to be asleep. He kept trying and I kept refusing until one time he tied me up and fucked me against my will. I felt a slap on my butt, burning like a thousand needles invading my body. I told him to stop but he only kept cursing and hitting and penetrating me.

And then he apologised. He thought that I was playing a role and only pretending not to like it. I played many more similar role, just as convincingly.

When he began to hit me I was already pregnant. It all happened around the beginning, when he was a prince and heroin was paradise. I found out when I did a pregnancy test in the park. I was so happy I got high. Later, I regretted. I’m not lying, I’d be lying to myself otherwise. I kept getting high but not as much. That was always the hardest decision — do we get high, do we not?

You couldn’t really see that I was pregnant until about the sixth month. I had barely put on a little weight around my stomach. Between the first and second ultrasound they told me that I might have twins. It was hard to tell, one was pushed somewhat forward. I was thinking there can’t be two of them now that my relationship wasn’t going well. But I wanted them, and I hoped they would help me fix things with Edi. That’s the worst idea a woman can have — that something will change when it’s already bad. I thought that, in that new situation, he would develop certain feelings too. He didn’t.

We were living in some sort of a summer kitchen, an improvised shelter in a common yard where his parents lived too. When we moved in I drew our portraits on a wall. Every time we fought the drawings reminded me of how well we used to get along.

I don’t remember what started the argument that time. It was me… I couldn’t stop. I knew that it would get ugly. He pushed me and I hit myself against a stove with a hot marble hob. When I turned around he must have had his knee up in the air for I hit that too. I don’t remember what I said but it was only then that he got really angry.

‘You curse me now? If I didn’t hurt you before just wait and see how I’ll hurt you now.’

He slapped me, but I kept arguing back. I thought it wouldn’t be so bad, I’ll go to hospital and everybody will see, and I’ll be able to leave him. He kept saying that if I left he’d take my children.

I pushed the door and ran out into the yard. His parents and neighbours all came out and a huge fight began. I felt something wasn’t quite right. He then got alarmed. ‘Oh baby!’ Something ran down my leg, like blood. I didn’t know that the pressure made the water break.

He took me to hospital. I tried to avoid telling the doctors what happened. I thought it couldn’t be too bad, the babies must be seven months old and therefore a little smaller, that’s all.

I remember they gave me some painkillers and there was a chubby nurse telling me to calm down, that I’ll be fine. Then they put something up inside me. Cold. Iron. Then a sound, like something going through a wall and falling into water. SPLASH.

They took the first one out and told me that something wasn’t quite right. The babies had suffered fractures from the kicks. I tried to get up and see it for myself. The one pushed somewhat forward was born dead. I saw the other one. I heard him crying. He was alive. After a few minutes he was gone, too.

Everything around you falls to pieces. You can give life, you are almighty. Then someone rips off your arm.

In that state you don’t realise what’s happening, you just want to numb your pain. It’s a dull pain that after a while doesn’t tell you anything anymore. Like when you tell somebody what you’ve seen, not what you’ve lived. You alternate between what happened and what didn’t happen.

It doesn’t matter how many slaps, how many fists led to it. All that matters is that one act of violence can kill something you were going to love. It can kill your wife, your lover, your children, the children in her, trust. It kills everything that is beautiful between two people.

Syringes and men were my executioners

A dark living room with old furniture. A bottle of Coke, a packet of cigarettes, a porcelain bowl with orange condoms. A sick pigeon is resting in an improvised cage. Gia puts the sheet stained with ink on the bed, lays on her front with her feet up in the air, and starts counting. She draws lines in a school notebook, writes names, pluses, minuses. She’s making an inventory.

1565 plus 55… Bingo! I can pass my maths exam now. I spent so much time counting men and their money that I learned maths. I can get whatever I want from the suckers, so why not?

I had my first client when I was 17. Edi and I were still together. One evening we went out to sell his metadones. He was going to a center where they gave him substitute treatment for heroin. He held the pills under his tongue until he got out, then sold them for money. We did a lot of drugs in that period.

We were waiting for someone we could sell to when he pointed at Marinela, a toothless prostitute of about 30 that we got high with a few times.

I went to her. A guy stopped. Young, clean, about 20. Listen, he said, I’m going to take a shower, then I’m coming back. How much? 130, normal, with protection, in the car, I said. I was quite scared. I knew that prostitutes are treated fairly ugly. I said I wanted my boyfriend to be there, to wait outside.

And it happened. I took some pleasure in prostitution that time. I was already disgusted with the man next to me. At home he asked me why I accepted, that it hurt him deeply.

That was when the separation from him and my career as a prostitute began to take shape. After several months I went back to Marinela and we both went with a guy. With the money we earned we got high on as much heroin as we could.

I thought it was all almost over, I thought I’d soon have the courage to leave him and end this nightmare. I had signed up as a volunteer at the Ratiu Foundation and was about to go camping in the mountains. The night I was packing my bag he burned me for leaving him for a few weeks. He felt I was broadening my horizons.

I left for good. Sort of. After two years of fights we ended up with nothing more than a professional relationship. We only met for transactions — I paid him in normal/oral sex for 10–15 methadones to get over the withdrawal symptons when I couldn’t get heroin.

One evening I needed them badly, I was crying and rolling on the floor in my mother’s kichen. I needed them like I needed air. I called, I asked, I begged him. He came to pick me up from home. On the way I hesitated, but the withdrawal dragged me after him.

He locked the studio’s door behind me and pulled out a ready mixture in a syringe. He held it up like a trophy, moving it slowly, like a pendant before my eyes. He told me to trust him, that it was more than a slut like me deserved. I grabbed the syringe and injected everything into a vein, to the very last drop. METHADONE!

Me-tha-done… me-tha… done… and… slee-ping pills… Yes, methadone and Seroquel 300, sleeping pills that can make you, reader, and your entire family sleep for 48 hours straight.

It’s dark, and I can’t see clearly. I try to get up and see who’s on top of me. Heavy hands slap me over my thighs and butt, like whips.

It hurts… it hurts… auch…

Shut your fucking mouth, you’re only good for this and when you don’t want it you’re even better!

When I woke up my skin stinged, my whole body hurt, I was feeling like my soul had just been amputated. Between my legs there was a mixture of sperm, saliva and lube. When I got back to my mother’s I realised that three days had passed. For three days and three night we were inseparable.

It was August and I went for a walk in the neighbourhood. I had a syringe with four units of heroin in my pocket and I was looking for a quiet place to inject. I had just come back home in Berceni after traumas and fights with Edi, the tattoed devil. I was so thin I couldn’t see my breasts, I weighed around 42 kilos.

I’d gotten the heroin from an impotent guy who lived with dealers in the neighborhood and was paid in doses for his contribution in the house. We were just friends, I liked a rocker in the neighbourhood. Thin, not very tall, with a ponytail down to his shoulders, thin lips. He had a neon signs firm and an old BMW. To get him to notice me I became friends with one of his employees, whom I also became drugs companions with.

I ended up with another guy, a tattoed blonde from Ferentari. I liked him too. He was clumsy around girls, worked at a typography and was very careful with his money. He was nice to me. When we first ended up alone we got high, we fucked and we became a couple. He fell in love.

Everything went well until the tap closed at the impotent boy. I started dating more guys to get money for drugs. I sold my computer for 75RON. The rocker I liked bought it and this is how we got together. Lăţosu, as they called him, was 32. I was 18. He was dating a girl with some heart disease and was scared to leave her in case it caused her a shock.

So we met and consumed both our relationship and the drugs in his car. I spent hours and hours outside, with him.

He helped me switch to methadones and always told me that I can do more, that I have to work with my brain and not with parts of my body that decay in time. It was with him that I saw what an ok relationship can be like. He only beat me at the end, when he found out I slept with another guy from the neighborhood. He had heard that I kept prostituting but didn’t want to believe it. But then he got angry, grabbed my hair, kicked me in the knees and tried to force me into his car. And that was about it for us.

He picked on me one more time, I called the police and some cops in plain clothes showed up and handcuffed him. The neighbourghs said ‘Don’t bother, she’s a whore, a junkie.’ So what? Does that give him the right to grab me like that and force me into his car just because he wants to? I went home, afraid that he’d climb down on a rope from the rooftop and come in.

I had my first client when I was 17. Edi and I were still together. One evening we went out to sell his metadones. He was going to a center where they gave him substitute treatment for heroin. He held the pills under his tongue until he got out, then sold them for money. We did a lot of drugs in that period.

We were waiting for someone we could sell to when he pointed at Marinela, a toothless prostitute of about 30 that we got high with a few times.

I went to her. A guy stopped. Young, clean, about 20. Listen, he said, I’m going to take a shower, then I’m coming back. How much? 130, normal, with protection, in the car, I said. I was quite scared. I knew that prostitutes are treated fairly ugly. I said I wanted my boyfriend to be there, to wait outside.

And it happened. I took some pleasure in prostitution that time. I was already disgusted with the man next to me. At home he asked me why I accepted, that it hurt him deeply.

That was when the separation from him and my career as a prostitute began to take shape. After several months I went back to Marinela and we both went with a guy. With the money we earned we got high on as much heroin as we could.

I thought it was all almost over, I thought I’d soon have the courage to leave him and end this nightmare. I had signed up as a volunteer at the Ratiu Foundation and was about to go camping in the mountains. The night I was packing my bag he burned me for leaving him for a few weeks. He felt I was broadening my horizons.

I left for good. Sort of. After two years of fights we ended up with nothing more than a professional relationship. We only met for transactions — I paid him in normal/oral sex for 10–15 methadones to get over the withdrawal symptons when I couldn’t get heroin.

One evening I needed them badly, I was crying and rolling on the floor in my mother’s kichen. I needed them like I needed air. I called, I asked, I begged him. He came to pick me up from home. On the way I hesitated, but the withdrawal dragged me after him.

He locked the studio’s door behind me and pulled out a ready mixture in a syringe. He held it up like a trophy, moving it slowly, like a pendant before my eyes. He told me to trust him, that it was more than a slut like me deserved. I grabbed the syringe and injected everything into a vein, to the very last drop. METHADONE!

Me-tha-done… me-tha… done… and… slee-ping pills… Yes, methadone and Seroquel 300, sleeping pills that can make you, reader, and your entire family sleep for 48 hours straight.

It’s dark, and I can’t see clearly. I try to get up and see who’s on top of me. Heavy hands slap me over my thighs and butt, like whips.

It hurts… it hurts… auch…

Shut your fucking mouth, you’re only good for this and when you don’t want it you’re even better!

When I woke up my skin stinged, my whole body hurt, I was feeling like my soul had just been amputated. Between my legs there was a mixture of sperm, saliva and lube. When I got back to my mother’s I realised that three days had passed. For three days and three night we were inseparable.

It was August and I went for a walk in the neighbourhood. I had a syringe with four units of heroin in my pocket and I was looking for a quiet place to inject. I had just come back home in Berceni after traumas and fights with Edi, the tattoed devil. I was so thin I couldn’t see my breasts, I weighed around 42 kilos.

I’d gotten the heroin from an impotent guy who lived with dealers in the neighborhood and was paid in doses for his contribution in the house. We were just friends, I liked a rocker in the neighbourhood. Thin, not very tall, with a ponytail down to his shoulders, thin lips. He had a neon signs firm and an old BMW. To get him to notice me I became friends with one of his employees, whom I also became drugs companions with.

I ended up with another guy, a tattoed blonde from Ferentari. I liked him too. He was clumsy around girls, worked at a typography and was very careful with his money. He was nice to me. When we first ended up alone we got high, we fucked and we became a couple. He fell in love.

Everything went well until the tap closed at the impotent boy. I started dating more guys to get money for drugs. I sold my computer for 75RON. The rocker I liked bought it and this is how we got together. Lăţosu, as they called him, was 32. I was 18. He was dating a girl with some heart disease and was scared to leave her in case it caused her a shock.

So we met and consumed both our relationship and the drugs in his car. I spent hours and hours outside, with him.

He helped me switch to methadones and always told me that I can do more, that I have to work with my brain and not with parts of my body that decay in time. It was with him that I saw what an ok relationship can be like. He only beat me at the end, when he found out I slept with another guy from the neighborhood. He had heard that I kept prostituting but didn’t want to believe it. But then he got angry, grabbed my hair, kicked me in the knees and tried to force me into his car. And that was about it for us.

He picked on me one more time, I called the police and some cops in plain clothes showed up and handcuffed him. The neighbourghs said ‘Don’t bother, she’s a whore, a junkie.’ So what? Does that give him the right to grab me like that and force me into his car just because he wants to? I went home, afraid that he’d climb down on a rope from the rooftop and come in.

I quit high school after the first year, I stopped going to the foundation, and I had no friends. I couldn’t stand staying at home all day long with my mother and grandmother. I remembered Marinela, the prostitute. I took her some condoms to grab her attention and began to hang out with her. That’s how I met her friend, Ana, who got high on pure by magic, some ethnobotanical substances. I didn’t see those in a good light. I had seen people doing horrible things after taking them — jail, beating wives, killing people.

For about a year I roamed the streets with either Mari or Ana. I don’t remember which one I fucked first. With Ana it happened inside a residential building. I lied that I’d had ethnobonicals before to spend more time with her, to get high together. I liked Ana, she was different — boyish, strong, with a place of her own and a job.

With Mari I remember kissing and touching under a sheet in front of the guy she was living with. He were only covered up to the neck. Top down. We fucked random guys, took the money, got high, then woke up and did it all over again. We looked worse than after years of heroins. I used to look in the mirror and feel embarrassed by what I had become. Ethnobonicals are the devil. Worms and ants are eating you from the inside, all the demons are chasing you.

I was doing street prostitution two steps from the school my mother worked at as a teacher, and round the corner from home. They passed me by on the way to Carrefour but couldn’t tell it was me. At one point my grandmother recognised me. She said I fuck like a bitch and chased me with a stick. After that she kicked me out.

I got together with a guy who offered me a place to stay in exchange for services. I did videochat then and it felt nice to have a quiet place of my own. He started to bring me friends of his. One, two. After a while he was bringing them without asking me and charged me for rent. I got what was going on and left in time.

I moved into Ana’s and changed the Berceni streets for hose of Floreasca. I loved her, but I was afraid of attachment. I was very afraid. In the first year I would push her hand away from me if she hugged me. Not intentionally; I was scarred.

I was afraid of her grandfather too, who also lived in the house. I ran away from him. I didn’t cook because I was scared I’d ruin the food. My hands looked awful, I was disgusted with myself.

I quit high school after the first year, I stopped going to the foundation, and I had no friends. I couldn’t stand staying at home all day long with my mother and grandmother. I remembered Marinela, the prostitute. I took her some condoms to grab her attention and began to hang out with her. That’s how I met her friend, Ana, who got high on pure by magic, some ethnobotanical substances. I didn’t see those in a good light. I had seen people doing horrible things after taking them — jail, beating wives, killing people.

For about a year I roamed the streets with either Mari or Ana. I don’t remember which one I fucked first. With Ana it happened inside a residential building. I lied that I’d had ethnobonicals before to spend more time with her, to get high together. I liked Ana, she was different — boyish, strong, with a place of her own and a job.

With Mari I remember kissing and touching under a sheet in front of the guy she was living with. He were only covered up to the neck. Top down. We fucked random guys, took the money, got high, then woke up and did it all over again. We looked worse than after years of heroins. I used to look in the mirror and feel embarrassed by what I had become. Ethnobonicals are the devil. Worms and ants are eating you from the inside, all the demons are chasing you.

I was doing street prostitution two steps from the school my mother worked at as a teacher, and round the corner from home. They passed me by on the way to Carrefour but couldn’t tell it was me. At one point my grandmother recognised me. She said I fuck like a bitch and chased me with a stick. After that she kicked me out.

I got together with a guy who offered me a place to stay in exchange for services. I did videochat then and it felt nice to have a quiet place of my own. He started to bring me friends of his. One, two. After a while he was bringing them without asking me and charged me for rent. I got what was going on and left in time.

I moved into Ana’s and changed the Berceni streets for hose of Floreasca. I loved her, but I was afraid of attachment. I was very afraid. In the first year I would push her hand away from me if she hugged me. Not intentionally; I was scarred.

I was afraid of her grandfather too, who also lived in the house. I ran away from him. I didn’t cook because I was scared I’d ruin the food. My hands looked awful, I was disgusted with myself.

To get high, not to get high?

A small kitchen with grey, greasy walls and sheets hung from a rope. A vegetable soup bubbling on the stove. A dog barking sharply. Gia comes through the sheets with a cigarette in the corner of her mouth. She sits at the table, in front of crumpled paper with school girl writing all over it. She draws a line from one end to the other and writes in capital letters: START PRESENT.

Two years ago I sat on a mattress in the middle of the room, naked, with only a sheet to cover me. I woke up after two weeks. I was seven kilos thinner, the mattress was dirty, urine all over it. I don’t remember when I got up, when I ate. I had let myself go.

I began to take my methadones. Firstly, 10 in the evening. Then 10 in the morning, 10 in the evening. Then 10 in the morning, 10 in the evening, and 10 more that I secretly crushed and injected to feel something. I did this for a couple of months. My veins were burning, I felt I was melting. I went to a center that gave me the right doses, with monitorisation. I took Ana with me. She stopped the drugs, too.

Since I moved to Floreasca the men changed and the tariffs too. I earned better before. Now I barely give two orals a night, 35RON each. I prefer to ask for less and know that the client doesn’t refuse. I just want to finish quickly, get my money for tratment and cigarettes.

I’m trying to get stable customers and come off the streets. Now I have three that come every week. For them it’s like some kind of a relationship — we meet as semi boyfriend-girlfriend, semi client-girl looking for a sponsor. They don’t just give me money for the transactions, they also help me when I’m in need or give me lifts.

Prostitution is like a game, like power play, both for me and for them. Sex itself doesn’t really have a role in the whole thing. Customers say: ‘I paid, now you do what I want.’ Like when you put a coin into a machine. I use them. I convince them to give me some money that they have and I don’t give them anything physical in return. I am nothing. I don’t feel anything. The only sexual pleasure I feel is when I masturbate with the shower.

In the summer of 2015 I made some changes. I want to have a salary and not depend on prostitution anymore. I started an IT course, got a job as a cleaner at a social cafe, then a sales assistant at a grocery store, and now I work at a paintball field.

I kept a journal during this time, in between jobs. I learned from my moods and I tried to be honest with myself. If you flick through it you’ll get to know a girl who’s both aggressive and vulnerable, you’ll see that sometimes I take things too easily, other times I’m too dramatic, that I think I deserve either everything or, on the contrary, nothing at all:

Dear diary, today was the first day at my job. I poured cement and sand over bricks, I worked on an alley and did a lot of physical work, nothing that I had been promised, but after all, it’s the same everywhere.

[…]

Go to work you lazy bum! I’m tired of being poor. I’m not looking for wealth, but I don’t want to make any more compromises, I’m sick of being touched by so many… it’s awful. I remember the New Year’s Eve of two years ago when I begged a ‘friend’ to support me because I needed help. Because I didn’t want to do this anymore, because I was afraid of dying on the streets, because I wanted something else. That I would reward him…

[…]

I don’t know what day it is, but it’s the day I met a PERSON. It was like dreaming but I heard from my boss’s mouth that he wants to help me get off the streets… He is the first one who sees something in me, who sees a human being, he is the first one I see a beam of light in. He knows that I don’t trust him but he trusted me since before knowing who I really am. He said that in the future he wants to send me to an organisation where I can speak to young people about life.

[…]

I’m done, today I end all compromises. I’m leaving. It’s a job, but not the right job for me. I want to gain my independence, not to give it up. I don’t want a job where I get paid to do something and they make me do something else. When I’m said I’m no longer a victim, I meant I’m no longer a victim of any kind of abuse.

[…]

I’VE BEEN OFF THE STREETS FOR TWO MONTHS. A semi-client takes care of 40% of my expenses, I have another guy and two, three others who come every now and then, when they remember, and that’s it.

[…]

I work at paintball. This week is when I should get the money for the first month at my current workplace, a paintball field under construction in the Corbeanca-Green Paradise area. It really is paradise, for it hosts my dream job for now.

[…]

I have two dogs and three cats, and that fulfills me. From Edi I learned to love animals and hate people. Together with Ana I learned to love people and care for the beings I love, my animals. They make me happy, make me better, motivate me. I learned a line from a lady of silver age, something like THEY ARE MY MORAL! Mummy loves you, you pure little hearts.

– by Gia –

I write my story to come to terms with my past. Who am I, why am I this way? I’m just trying to find my answers. I even wrote my mother a letter to explain what happened to me during all these years. She doesn’t want to read it. She says she doesn’t want to dig out the dead and says I should do the same. Dig them out from where, when I still sleep with them? I go to bed and I start shaking.

For a long time we didn’t talk to each other. I got in contact with her again a year ago and visit her about once a month. Since I stole my sister’s gold I’m not allowed to be alone in the apartment, but slowly I’m getting closer to them, I’m trying to regain their trust. I talked to my mom about her past and learned that she was abused too. Somehow I always blamed her for who I am, for what I became.

Mom told me that she, too, had an Edi. My father was an Edi. He beat her and took the money to keep her there, in Greece. He beat her during sex. He had forced her, she was staring at the ceiling and let him do his job, so he punched her. ‘Why do you just lie there like a cow? You’re sleeping with somebody else, that’s why!’

It all lasted for about two years. When she told me I felt that I knew her story, I just hadn’t had the courage to talk to her about it. I felt that she was weak, that she didn’t know what to do with me. Maybe that’s why I hated her.

I met my father when he died. Well, a month before he died. I have his mouth. And the rabbit teeth. And his legs. He barely knew what world he was living in, as my grandfather used to say.

My father lived in the same building as us, one floor below. He wasn’t always there. Sometimes he went to his parents’ house in the countryside or to Greece. They broke up when my mother came back from there. Around the same time as her, he also had another child. It was each with their own. For 16 years he didn’t even ask about me. And it was one floor between us.

Between the 7th and the 8th grade he told my mother that he wanted to take me on holiday. My mother got my bag ready and took me to the meeting place. She kept saying it wasn’t a good idea, but I insisted. I was glad he finally missed me. When we arrived in the parking lot she called him. He said there was not where we were supposed to meet, that we should go somewhere else, to some hotel. He was drunk. We went there and we called him again. He was nowhere to be found. He didn’t even answer his phone.

‘Why doesn’t he want me, why is he doing this to me?’ I squirmed and cried on the asphalt. My mother picked me up and took me home.

He was terminally ill when we went to the hospital in Fundeni. I was already more passive because I was on drugs, had lost the children, had left school. How are you, how are you… We had a coffee, he gave me 50RON. Said there were some money in an account, that he took from my mother while she was in Greece.

It hurt me. I always wanted to meet him. I was always blaming myself for not being a good child, a wanted child. Around Christmas I always thought about how I, too, would like to sit at the table with mum and dad. It hurt me that he slipped through my fingers.

Each one of us is guilty of something. At 23 you can’t really know how to be a parent. My father wasn’t there, my mother didn’t know how to be my friend. I don’t judge them. I keep thinking, if I had had my children at 16… what would have happened if they were born alive?

Gia writes

If you’d slip into my skin for five minutes you wouldn’t understand anything anymore. You’d hurt yourself, you’d hurt others, you’d be hurt and you’d want somebody to come and hold you, you’d kick them, you’d spit them, but then it’d hurt you that you did that, that you got to that point, but then you’d want them to come to you and apologise for not understanding you.

I feel like I’m slipping away. I want to slit my throat and I can’t even do that. I didn’t get my salary, they keep lying to me, it’s been five days. The house is upside down. With the treatment, I can’t stand to go there every day anymore. My phone is broken, the internet sucks. I have 900RON debt. I have no shoes that water doesn’t get into. My ovaries hurt. The dog upset me too, she got fleas. Ana doesn’t have a job. Everything I want to do involves money, and I can’t afford it. I took the necklace out from the pawn shop, then I took it back in… The fridge is nearly empty. Damn this life. I’m going back to the bank now to see if I got my salary. I’m going mad. But I’ll get it together somehow; or else the roof collapses on us.

This whole writing thing has done more harm than good. It’s like being in a carousel and thinking you’re almost there, you get to come down now. Then you go up again and here comes the fear, and here comes the sickness all over again.

I start writing and think oh, it all feels so good, look at me, I’m putting it all out there. Then it gets to me even worse than before. I don’t relive it for one day, but two, three, seven after. It’s like eating poisoned food that only makes you sick after your body processed it. I wake up afraid, I have nightmares. I get scared when I hear someone running down the street.

Last night I woke up hitting myself, beating myself. I was punching myself in the head and screaming. I sat up on the edge of the bed for hours, staring. I remember the terror, the glimpses, somebody shooting at me with a tranquillizer gun, feeling something burning my back, wanting to move and not being able to, being cold, very cold. My heart beat terribly and I felt the fear up in my throat. I put on warm, thick clothes. I wanted to know that no one was touching me.

My name is Gia and I am 22 years old. I live in a two-bedroom apartment with my family: my girlfriend Ana, my crazy dog Tara, my new little dog Nana, Miti the cat, Maia the cat and Puta Bleaga the cat. Yes, I have the rescuer’s syndrome. I wanted to be saved. I still do.

I quit drugs and I’ve been on treatment for two years now. The nightmares are less frequent, the past is further away.

I had sex with 2166 men. Approximately. I want to quit prostitution for good, or at least not depend on it daily. I came off the streets two months ago.

I work at paintball, I want to start tattooing, to have a blog, to open a social business for dogs, to write a book.

Why lie to you, I don’t know what will happen in six months or a year. I change from one day to another, I find it hard to concentrate, I get angry. I am told I’m smart, I can do so much more. Someday I’ll know who I am and then I’ll become somebody. I’ll let you know.

***

I spent six months with Gia, in a soup of past with a concentrate of present. I fumbled through her memories, through school books, letters, photographs. We talked on the phone almost every day, I watched her at her job and we discussed the important people in her life. I asked her to write about stories and memories she had buried, to talk to her mother, to draw, to keep a diary.

I saw how the girl abandoned by her parents, the abused teenager and the adult woman counting the months she’s been off the streets met on the same page. I think the strongest elements in our relationship was feeling how she oscillated between moods and attitudes. Sometimes we were a team, other times an employer-employee, or I was like a client of hers, or the parent of a teenager, or the impostor psychologist. I felt a lack of confidence in herself and others, the obsession to have control, the instinct to put up barriers, the fear of being pitied and judged. All these are consequences of a bundle of past traumas that she’s trying to untangle in order to pull out a thread and call it ‘me’.

From the dialogue she carried with herself these months we reconstructed the story of a girl who one day this summer drew a line, from one end of the page to the other, and under it wrote START PRESENT.

The last time I talked to Gia she told me that she is tiding up and throwing everything out. She let her hair grow, took her piercing out, lowered the number of pills and gave up all the clients. “It all started because of this gentleman,” she confessed, chuckling. “It’s like one’s first love should be, the real thing. I never felt this way. And the job’s great, I feel free when I’m out in that field. With the money it’s harder than ever, but otherwise it’s good-good, Timea, believe me. It’s beautiful.’

***

A journalistic-existential experiment by Timea Hont

Illustrations: Gia

Cover Collage: Wanda Hutira

Translation: Anca Dunavete

***

This material was created as part of the Bursele Superscrieri/Avon (ediția a II-a) project, on the domestic violence theme, under the Superscrieriawards for non-fictions that change the world. Superscrieri Awards is an annual competition, an initiative of the Friends For Friends Foundationthat promotes narrative journalism and non-fiction creative writing in Romania. The scholarship program is a financial and professional support for Romanian authors who are interested in in-depth complex journalistic projects on various topics of public interest.


 Originally published in Romanian at http://casajurnalistului.ro/fuck-off-my-broken-heart/

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