Everything herein contains 100% emotional truth, and is told based on my memories of all the really terrible things through which I have lived.
However, I have far too much respect for the people who did awful, awful things to me, and for myself, who also did terrible and unjustified things to many others, to reveal who we are (except for me.) So I changed all the names, but then it just seemed obvious that saying something like, “My mother, Kim ‘Tootie’ Fields, threw me down the stairs,” would still implicate my real mother, especially after I mentioned that everything that I wrote was real and true except for the names.
So I changed other things as well: in each instance where I relate some of the horrible things I did or suffered, I looked at the sentences on the page (and what is a page, but a tray full of sentences?) and I changed, in each sentence, the noun, verb, and any ancillary terms in the predicate. But most importantly, the feeling are not changed. They remain the same. Emotionally, this is so totally true that it’s hard to write, and would be harder if it were not just emotionally true, but also factually true.
So for example, when I write “A gang of 8th graders chased me down a dark alley, shredded my schoolbooks, and then made me recite the pledge of allegiance,” I’m probably really talking about the time I cut the school bully’s face with a safety razor and laughed while he bled. But also, and note: in that last sentence, where I talk about cutting the school bully’s face? That didn’t happen. I changed that too. But it refers to a real event, which I cannot reveal, due to my ethics. But it’s a real event that feels just like what it would feel like to either be cut by someone who laughs at you, or to cut someone and then laugh in their face.
So when you’re reading this book, and you think, “that couldn’t have really happened,” you’re not wrong, exactly. I mean, it didn’t happen, but in a sense, it did happen, and in that sense, it could have happened. It just didn’t. Or at least, not in this way. But in some other way, that’s so much the same that it’s like being hugged by a strange man who sees you crying in a mall, it did happen. And it happened again and again and again, until I wrote it down and told it to the world so I could be free from the pain and you, the world, could have it.