photo by Patricia
It is stressful to speak up, stressful for me but also the person who read my feelings via email where they could be outlined thoroughly. Perhaps a simple conversation would have been better.
Samuel says, “Grow a thicker skin.”
But Samuel never has been one to speak up about anything which is why some things continue that should not. There are some who take advantage of a person especially when they have no one to back them up. And since there is no extended family that supports me, and Samuel is the way Samuel is, it is easy to be at the receiving end of another’s hurtful vindictiveness throughout the years.
My heart feels as if it is being squeezed. Taking note, effort goes to relaxing it by doing the things that bring peace. Puzzles help my anxiety to calm. While walking the meadow the memory of Samuel’s words come back. A thicker skin? It is not the first time hearing that from another.
It’s like a badly burned body. The healed skin is paper thin. Samuel, what do you know, as the thought of how much strength it has taken to get this far rises up. Would you have managed so well?
“You’re weak,” I say.
“I’m wise,” he responds.
Maybe it is a bit of both.
The perpetual dance of being hurt and deciding when to speak up and when not to will continue. But there are times to speak. It saddens me to hear a loved one’s voice sounding sad because of what was written.
Voicing my feelings still seems wrong and foreign because I was taught not to. Though done with gentleness, the hurt to another because of my words is what clenches my heart and makes me wonder, was it worth it?
photo by Patricia
The feeling of differentness so acute as a child suffering sexual attacks by my siblings arises sharply at times. Many feelings from then still linger, stabbing into my present life. Unprocessed traumas and all the feelings with them didn’t dissipate but grew with me.
Yet no gentleness exists. It is a habit to beat myself up when today’s issues erupt emotion from childhood wounds. There is no conscious link to them. That is changing. There are reasons sleep is interrupted. Wounds untended in childhood along with a stolen voice caused an inseparable rift within; deep wounds and no way to them. I am mute to the world and mute to my soul.
Wounds fester and when touched with present hurts the pain expands exponentially. It is like placing an already burnt arm on a hot stove. The present slides away as the psyche escapes elsewhere. If a person is talking, what is said is not heard.
Self-loathing because the feeling of differentness is so acute is not what the wounded child needs. And she exists within me and will always be there. She needs what you did not receive then. Since there was only one urgent unspoken rule to not speak of it, there is no one to emulate a pattern of how to be gentle with myself.
It is a new road with little to go on except the times my mother extended gentleness in adulthood. There were moments when she tried, maybe to make up for the past.
photo by Patricia
The path to the core becomes tangled, blocked by memories, though the soul goes there to hide. So one resides in a place that can’t be found. No way in, no way out.
She peeks out at times. Maybe there is someone to trust, who takes her hand and guides her. Even so, the world is tough and into hiding she goes.
It may never be safe to come fully out. Maybe only in solitude does she find her soul, a safe haven to breathe, connect and become who she was meant to be.
It is these roots that save her. The very place she runs from, the memories which are a part of her history locked deep below. The same place where she hides.
Coming out she looks below and runs. Yet that is where the strength comes from and has kept her here all along. It is in what she suffered that makes her strong and who she is. It is her history that makes her beautiful.
photos by Patricia
The road is long, hard and lonely. All that one knows needs discarding, most painful those loved, the people making up the herd one is born into. Playing a part as if one of them, once touched in evil ways a child is alone.
Even those that were innocent of wrong touch became complicit in the silence adding to the restrictions placed on the child. The embarrassment of anyone knowing becomes paramount to the child’s survival.
This does not change with time but rather locks down securely. Freedom it is not found within family, not mine. Stepping out into the world asking for help is terrifying and there are “lions, tigers, and bears” along the way. It takes courage unparalleled. How does she keep going?
The crimes of childhood sexual abuse are many layered, the depth of fractures reaching one’s core. And the core closes in defense. No more can be risked because what is left needs preservation. So how to negotiate the outside world if one cannot navigate one’s own soul?
photo by Patricia
My mother died almost 9 years ago. After her death the book erupted from deep within. Protecting her vision of a happy family was no longer needed. Freedom to grow and become complete occurred. It took that long. I was 56.
As the words gurgled up about what they had done it was committed to paper then strewn to the universe where it belonged. It did not belong deep down in me, or kept on that little girl’s shoulders anymore. I felt lighter.
Along with the details no child should live with, came events that brought joy. The tears falling down my cheeks each week were capsules of joy with the pain. I looked forward to mornings writing while sipping coffee, and the hours ticked by satisfyingly.
A book emerged without much planning. Each chapter fell into place as if written before writing and just waiting. Once committed to book form and available to the world a need existed for further voice. A blog, start a blog. The voice blotted for decades began to sing.
The one rule is, be honest. Be who you are, or who you know yourself to be at the time of writing. Going deep beneath the layers of who should I be, the pleaser, the sweet person, and all the other personas worn and learned over time to ride the waves without hitting a rock, dissolved. What was left?…the journey inside, no longer fearful to learn about who was there, discovering her, and speaking for her for the very first time.
photo by Patricia
Cocooning myself against the threats in the world was crucial to survival. Every living being posed a threat. This type of cocooning lead to decay, not growth, but I knew no other way.
Reaching out for help from the black hole took great courage and persistence. One starts where one can. The local Mental Health Clinic took on clients based on income so my fee was very low. With only Samuel working at minimum wage we scraped by each week. My babysitting, crafts and frugal spending habits kept us afloat.
Those steps outward were so terrifying. What will they think about me? The urge to blurt forth what brothers had done had become too much to contain, yet along with it was great fear of how badly I’d look. The dirt by others dirtied me and in my mind must be my fault.
Yet there remained one glittering speck of instinct knowing all that was not true. And that speck grew and grew with the help of therapists throughout the years, even ones that behaved badly. Perhaps those spurred me on even more.
Reaching out for friends and outside activities brought anxiety and was scary yet the need for connection grew greater. Always a part of school chorale my love of singing drew me to the local chorale. That became a healthy opportunity for growth in many ways for years. With shaking knees at concerts, friends held me up with their kind support. Each concert became easier and rehearsals less scary and fun.
Friends have remained and due to taking risks and asking others, a group was formed that has met monthly for over 15 years. We rotate at each other’s houses for crafts, cards, snacks then a dessert. The comfort and camaraderie of other women became a base like earth to grow from.
The need to cocoon myself from too much stimulation remains. Many should’s arise in my mind, yet one rational voice whispers my truth, It’ OK, do what you need to for you…
There is in each of us a wealth to discover of untapped resources. But how to dig through the layers of injury to find the treasures? It wasn’t until middle-age when the filth left behind by others began to break away. Feeling clean arose from deep within. My life had stopped at the age of eight. Who I was went underground. Who you knew was not me.
There were periods of success and finishing what was started, but more often any hopes, dreams, goals or even a small simple project was left unfinished. Darkness and pain mired my body and mind in turmoil and self-hate.
Working with mosaics brings satisfaction on many levels. Sometimes the jagged pieces cut my fingers and reminds me how like the shards I am; warm and beautiful sometimes, prickly, cold and sharp other times. And the broken pieces, not usually cut carefully but pounded with a hammer, come together in wholeness with a unique presence not found when scattered.
It gives me hope. It feels good to finish what was started, from rolling out the clay, glazing it, firing the tiles, and then hammering the tile into pieces. The design phase allows a conduit from the soul outward, a route heavily blocked since childhood- the iron doors too thick to penetrate either in or out.
As the sun splays through the window upon my shoulder, reminding myself to breathe as muscles relax on the exhale, incense burning and music softly playing in the background, the process of coming together is happening with broken tiles, but also, most satisfying, with me.
This is my life, putting back the pieces…
What lies beneath?