A Good Girl

A good girl eats everything on her plate. A good girl starts to clear afterwards without being asked. A good girl always puts her dishes in the dishwater. A good girl cleans up her toys when instructed and she goes to bed when it’s her bedtime.

She does this — so that her parents will smile and tell her she is good.

A good girl does all her homework. A good girl raises her hand to answer the teacher’s question. A good girl doesn’t talk or make noise during lessons, even when she’s very very bored. A good girl always tries her hardest.

She does this so that the teacher will smile and tell her she is good.

A good girl doesn’t hit, even if someone hit her first. A good girl takes the high road, a good girl turns the other cheek. A good girl doesn’t go running to the teacher to tattle when someone calls her a cunt.

A good girl is quiet and doesn’t fight back. She does this in the hope that they won’t hurt her more.

A good girl takes care of her mother. A good girl fetches her tea, and remakes it as many times as it takes to get it perfect. A good girl apologizes profusely, even if it wasn’t she that committed the offense. A good girl never talks back. She only speaks if it’s to say something positive, co-operative, or helpful.

A good girl understands that Daddy is stressed and Mum is in incredible pain. A good girl knows that her little fears and problems are nothing compared to those of her parents.

A good girl knows her place and that now things are different.

A good girl gets A’s in school and glowing report cards. A good girl never leaves her parents wondering where she is. A good girl fills her spare time with soccer practices and choir rehearsals.

A good girl makes her teachers and her parents proud. A good girl showers them with credit for her accomplishments, and she tucks the failures away for herself.

A good girl opens her mouth to complain about her headache, but swallows a pill instead. A good girl doesn’t admit that something is wrong; the street signs don’t make sense anymore and the letters drip off the page of her textbook. She swallows another pill and squints harder at the page.

She does this so that no one will think her weak, or stupid, or bad.

She grows up to study what she thinks her parents want her to study. She does what her friends want and what her boyfriend wants. She gives the people she loves as much of herself as she possibly can. She mistakes their approval for happiness.

But approval doesn’t fill the empty space when she is all used up. Eventually, the good girl is gone. There is a scared young woman in her place and she can’t go back.

This woman is not good, not by the standards she’s become accustomed to. This woman yells and stomps her feet when she is angered. She digs her heels in instead of knuckling under when she is squashed. This woman loves the people she wants to love, and gives them what she wants to give. She works hard for herself first and for others second. She is as selfish as she needs to be to survive. She is loud, angry, upset, enthusiastic, and unapologetic.

She looks at herself in the mirror and whispers fiercely to her reflection. She is so much more than “good.”

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