Not Her. Not Her. Not Her.

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Head slams against plaster. Door crushes fingers. Knife blade glints in the dull moonlight. Words vibrate between my ears.

"Michaela! Wake up. Its just a nightmare," my sister pulls me out of my haze. She must have heard me tossing and turning from her room. Despite moving here over two years ago, I kept getting nightmares. My therapist, Karen, said they could end tomorrow, a week, or never. Karen was never very helpful; she would just sit there. One day, she gave me a workbook where I filled out all of these different quizzes to see if I had any mental disorders, and if I did, which ones.

Manic Depression. Severe Anxiety. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

No one was surprised by the first two. I had spent the past six months in my room, only leaving when my dad forced me to go to school. But the third one, that got people confused. My immediate family was under the impression that only soldiers get PTSD. My dad tried to make jokes that my mom's house was a war zone. He did not get that it was.

After my parents' divorce, my mom fell headfirst into a bottle of Vodka. She slept through the day, not bothering to pick me up from school. When I would confront her, she got angry. New Year's Eve, she threatened to kill herself, so I hid the knives and ran away. On Easter, she kicked my sister and me out. She threw our baskets at us as we sobbed in the pouring rain. Two months later, my mom punched me square in the nose for turning up the heat in the car.


My dad told me horror stories about her apartment in the week before she was evicted. Vomit, flies. She stopped trying; she stopped existing. My mom went missing for three months when I was 14, then she went to prison.

Most of the trauma comes from my middle school years, and even as an upperclassman in high school I have flashbacks. Usually once a month I get nightmares. I cannot sleep at night because I spend the hours trying to convince myself that I am not her. Not her. Not her. Not her. I chant over and over, my body sweating under the suffocating blankets.

With a Perspective, I'm Michaela Allen.
Michaela Allen is 16 and a junior at Alameda Community Learning Center.