She hides behind her smile, her insides riddled with anxiety, her breath shortens while her chest is tight and yet you can’t fathom how deep her troubles run. She disguises it well from the outside world while she fights to get up and face another day.
This friend of yours shares a story with you, one where you aren’t sure if she’s referring to herself or something she’s read, but suddenly you realize, it is in fact her horrific experience. As you continue to politely listen, the shock and disbelief well up. The pain grows in her heart, the agony dims the light in her eyes and as you watch, her body physically changes. She speaks more words, you become uncomfortable and though you don’t mean to, you interrupt her flow with your concerned opinion. Suddenly she turns the faucet off, chokes back her tears and shuts back down. She is experiencing a trigger from a deep gaping wound. Voiceless again, she shoves that secret back down to where it lives.
You didn’t mean to create this reaction. How could you know that this friend standing in front of you has such inner turmoil erupting inside of her? She took a chance on you, trusting you to just hear her cries and take her seriously without judgement or condemnation. So often when she has a moment of bravery and courage to reach out, she does so with the hope of being heard, believed and understood. She hesitates, even retracts some of the information and begins trivializing it once more.
She didn’t “know better”. She struggles with confusion and retraces her steps over the years of abuse. How could she be so trusting, so naive, as she beats herself up now too, feeling so dumb. Over time, she disappeared, even to herself. The coercion and insidiousness of what had become her life, though a little more behind her, the pain engulfs her and she desperately fights to overcome. Her friends observe from their perspective., “She’s a survivor. She’s resilient. She’s strong”. You think you see her solutions and without meaning to, the accusations fly; “if she would just abc, xyz”. “This again?” “Are you still talking about HIM/that?!” These are the worst things you can say to her. All of your well intended thoughts would cause her to retreat back to her darkness where she resides with those secrets that whittle her away.
Never dismiss her need to keep talking. There’s more that keeps emerging with every passing day as she fights for the freedom of her soul. This isn’t one of those things she can keep ignoring and hope it dissipates on its own. No, the poison has to come out with the fear from her oppression. One day you will notice the light returning to her spirit and you’ll know she is healing. Meanwhile, hear her, hug her, just be there.
They have all loved her through the battles they can see, but can you with the ones invisible to you? Is it unconditional or based on her doing what makes you more at ease? She keeps wrestling with the lies she’s been told and the battles still to overcome, wondering if there’s truth to any of it. She is telling you in her own way of her broken spirit, her beaten body, her shame, her wounds, her hurt and her survival. What she doesn’t realize is, she’s truly revealing that she is a conqueror, but she has no idea, not yet. She is still coming out of the affects of his gas lighting leaving her to think maybe she is crazy, but she’s not.
There are days she believes what you dear friend tell her with your uplifting words, but when she needs to run the thread down to the core of its root, listen compassionately, respond with love, offer the gift of your presence and allow her the dignity to process and time she needs to get to the other side. The only way for her to get through it, is to go through it, one hour, one day at a time.
When she comes to you, her heart in her hands, be the light in her darkness and a dose of love because she is running on empty. In doing this, you have given her a gift she will cherish and it reminds her she has another fight left in her…
Where did you go, she asks herself night after night as the darkness engulfs her every thought with delight.
She reached for him, pulling back an empty sheet. Are you coming home soon, she wonders inside her private, deepest desire. She was sure he’d be here when she woke in the daylight hour.
The sun streamed across her face, kissing her gently and for a moment she smiled thinking it was him, feeling the warmth on her bare skin.
She peeked out of the corner from one eye. A sleepy smile emerging from her lips, it was all but a dream, such a beautiful cry.
He reached over to her side of the bed, wanting desperately to pull her in as he’d done every day for so long, yet when he felt over to the edge pulling back his own empty arm, he awoke more to realize her form truly gone.
He flicked the light on as he’d so often do, read for awhile just to get him through.
Off goes the light with a toss of the tablet and glasses too, sighing a deep groan from his chest, pounding so slow, he lies there and wonders why, trying to rest.
Now separated by his very own hand, she’s nowhere near, lying there without her, both left trying to understand.
Could he have opened himself up to her? Would she have welcomed his heart, he isn’t sure.
So much time has passed them by. Somehow they let it all fade away or wouldn’t continue to try.
Her balance was wobbly, but she didn’t know how to shake it all out. His forceful ways made her afraid, kept her living in fear with so much doubt.
She wouldn’t talk, living in the darkest room, not telling him any truths how deep the loneliness loomed.
Where had he gone, so far out of reach, she imagined he’d grown weary of his baby girl that he’d wanted to teach.
She was so good, exquisite and bright, she knows what the magic 8 ball said in all her glory that night.
He loves her more than he knows. He told her now and then. She sparkles and shines and is light on her toes.
She weeps not for him while she sleeps anymore, but dreams of him nightly, his breath on her neck as he gently grazes her lightly.
His love for her grows a little each day as he figures out what makes him happy and choosing to stay.
The words come freely and rhyme now and then. Love doesn’t cost a thing just to remember when. An easier time has arrived to be who she is. Closing his eyes until he feels her again.
They deserved a better ending after such an epic tale, so she raised her white flag and began to set sail…
Losing sight of that thing that made me smile. Forgetting what it feels like to laugh without explaining the punchline. Stopping to remember how the littlest of things brought a smile to my lips. Quitting on myself when everything I wanted out of life became out of my reach.
Ignoring the words that cut deep inside my heart. Dismissing the aggressive passivity when actions hurt my flesh. Denying the truth when it flashed directly passed my eyes. Lying to myself when I said I wasn’t hurting.
Picking myself back up after the seventh time. Learning that I cannot love too much. Deciding to stop going back to something that remains broken. Choosing me over all else for the very first time.
Mattering more than anything Being exceptional Never being perfect Being exactly who I am
There’s this thing I do when I feel afraid or alone and I can’t or won’t cope with what’s happening all around. I disappear. Not in the physical sense of the word, but into a place of secret hiding where I feel safe. It’s simplistic and calm, but especially it’s quiet. So quiet that I really can hear myself think and there isn’t anyone else there to rearrange those thoughts or disregard them. It’s just me and me.
I guess I started visiting this magical place when I was a young girl. I could walk along the cement pathway Grampa poured to connect my front door to theirs, walk through the front door and make myself at home. This became the space where I could just be. Where everything was in its place and everything had a place. You know, that sense of belonging? I was always welcome anytime I wanted. I knew I didn’t have to ask, but I did just to be polite. Once inside the only rule was, if Mama said no, just ask Gramma.
Their home was always a comfort of warmth, like a big cozy blanket I could cuddle up with. There were cookies in the Oreo cookie jar, usually sugar ones, but sometimes actual Oreos. The gum was double mint and waited for me on the second shelf of the pantry cupboard. Then my favorite and always just for me, was vanilla ice cream in the kitchen freezer with a backup in the deep freeze, with my own can of Hershey’s chocolate syrup waiting for me in the fridge. I’d grab my lap tray from behind the back porch door where it lived and settled in next to Grampa’s chair in the living room to watch whatever it was he had on tv. It didn’t matter to me, so long as I was next to him.
Some nights Gramma and I had our own special “shows” we liked to watch together and we’d spend time on the back porch laughing and having a snack together. Me with my ice cream and her with some popcorn and a pop. I cherished these times and often dreaded having to walk back across that long, cement pathway to the other house, but I got to keep this ritual until I was about 10 years old.
Midway through 5th grade, I was uprooted and moved clear to the other side of town. It may have well been in another state. Grampa couldn’t pour a path that big. My heart was crushed. My safe haven was out of my reach. This is when I learned to retreat inside of my own world where nothing bad could reach me or touch me. It became my new escape. My fantasy world.
I became a different girl when I’d visit there. That girl was fearless. She said what she wanted to say and sang at the top of her lungs. She was bold. She spoke words no one had heard leave her lips and she was loud enough to be heard. She was courageous. She tried things that frightened her out there, but in here, she conquered it all. She was confident. She walked with her head up high and carried herself tall and proud. She was fierce. She was strong. Then one day, she just slipped away. She didn’t know where she had gone or how to get back and she was alone.
Her safety net was shredded. Her life was unstable. She felt uncertain for the first time in this life and she stumbled and fell, forgetting how to get back up, she stayed down. Her light had begun to dim. Her tenacity had slipped through her fingertips. She was becoming invisible and slowly, she disappeared. Where had she gone? This bright light, exuberant young lady, with sparks in her eyes and fire in her soul, what happened to her she had asked, but she had no answer. She had become a shell of herself, the kind that’s kept upon a shelf.
Years passed by and she grew weaker in her heart that once was explosive with desire and hunger for love and for life. She evolved into some version of someone else to keep peace and harmony for others. She realized that the world told her she couldn’t, so she didn’t. She believed them when they struck her down, leveling her to their limitations of her. They put her in a box that they designed and there she would remain, unable to grow and be that little girl who once had everything in her possession.
Gramma and Grampa never knew of her disappearance or maybe they would’ve come looking for her. Rescuing her and brought her back to where she first knew of her capabilities, her worth and her sense of belonging. How she longed for the safety of her home with them. The smells of comfort of joy of connection of acceptance of love and that familiar sense of knowing where she belongs.
Time to begin again. As I think, my mind ventures down a path of beauty where the air is clean, the trees are whispering affirmations in my ears while the birds are seemingly in tune and chirp above the sounds that become loud inside my very soul. I write these words for the extraction of the pain. It is such an imperative step towards healing.
Notice, just notice, where do I feel that emotion in my body. Check in with my brain, is this new? A lie? A fact? A trigger? A flashback? Let’s sit with it for a moment. Explore its validity, destination and root. Remember those breathing techniques they taught you? Practice them now. Remind yourself you are safe, this isn’t happening right here or right now. Open your eyes girl. Wider. Take another breath. Release the toxins on the exhalation and inhale the sweetness of the aromas as they sweep across your face. View the beautiful sights of creation.
That is all you are ever intended to do as more has yet to be revealed. Keep walking. That next step belongs solely to you child. You may choose to look back to see how far you have come, but remember, it’s just a glance measuring your progress. Staring isn’t serving you anymore. Take your stride as slow as you need. No one is rushing you. The push is in your own mind. Time is measured by the hands on a clock and the days on a calendar. Oppression was your enemy that caused stagnation, complacency and even paralysis, all of which led to those feelings of unworthiness, self doubt and certainly fear. As we walk along this newly, still uncertain path, it is leading us to the freedom we’ve desired, to the truth that is gently nudging those feelings. They are not facts, so just let them come. Greet them like a sweet friend who reminds you that you are alive. Allow them to wash over you and fade as quickly as they came. Keep what belongs to you and release the rest. Breathe again and again and again until it becomes natural, yet again…
This is me, not a version of, a small fragment or even a shell, but who I’ve always been, authentically me. The former human I belonged to was not the first, nor the only man to dominate me, exercise power, exert control, overshadow, diminish my essence, cast painful words and cruel intentions directly into my personal being, but he will be the last. I have new beginnings and they are mine for the taking.
Thank you grand teachers for without whom, I would be a far different human than the one I have become. My empath journey has gone from believing I was living a bad dream that I couldn’t awaken from, to the reality that this life has been a journey of lifelong lessons, all of which has created my character. Bestowed upon me have been gifts and blessings for a deeper sense of self, compassion, empathy, clarity, peace, joy and above all else, love, for me.
Blame has no place in my house of flesh. Shame has been cast out as my voice becomes clear and a grander understanding that my words have always had value. Beliefs are mine to own, to embrace and to change. I welcome a hunger for knowledge without starvation and a thirst for information without dehydration. There will be no more lack, only abundance. From this day forward, it will begin with me, muther fucker…
The daylight woke her and she jolted straight up in the strange bed. For a second she wondered where she was. She began recalling the night before, replaying the script in her scattered mind, the silent argument, an uprooting of the life she knew and a what seemed like an endless night of collecting her belongings. She needed coffee. She needed explanations, but most of all, she needed him. Why?
Anger began washing over her, wanting to make friends with her now. It was more like a pact really. How else can we assure one another to never go through this ever again. We couldn’t. She knew the game. Hell, she was one of the star players and she was an expert in it. She couldn’t comprehend the situation, but had to do something to distract herself. Her resolution, get her ass to the gym. There she can pick up some heavy shit and drop it back down, just to keep her sanity. Kind of an irony now. This would become her routine, working out alongside her friend. Her friend whom became her trainer, then became her therapist while her therapist became obsolete.
Days passed and for two straight weeks, he showed up there in her personal space. Coincidentally, knowing she would be there, lifting, clearing her mind, she didn’t think so. He said not a word to her, only taunting her, desperately trying to rattle her with his presence as if to remind her of their sacred, cyclical dance. It took all her strength to maintain control of her power. She fought back the internal force. He’d hurt her for the last time. Fuck him.
God had been showing up in her life a lot more, revealing Himself to her, giving her clarity with every passing day. He promised her salvation and protection like she never felt before. As days turned into weeks and eventually months, she began talking, revealing the secrets she had kept hidden. She was speaking out loud for the first time in 8 1/2 years to her friend, the trainer and the therapist. At first she was ashamed and timid, but she was feeling safe with her. The more she shared, the lighter her heart was becoming. To her surprise, what was coming back to her was a similar story as her friend also spoke about her private life she’d been leading too. Their bond strengthened and they were inseparable for the months that followed.
For all those years she was crumbling while he whittled away at her sweet, once light hearted spirit, she couldn’t leave. There had been glimmers of hope, small doses. Signs that maybe he did love her, enough to keep her there. She had to stay with her broken pieces, no matter how depleted, confused, abandoned and abused she was.
Just admitting the truth was a huge first step. With the support of her dear old friend, she had a new found hope. Now was her chance. She had to begin collecting her scattered, broken parts she had left along the way, but how? She began to pray, everyday and for the second time in her life, she didn’t feel so all alone.
There’s a reason we sink before we rise up. An anchor only works when it hits the bottom…
He silenced her with his anger. Afraid to speak another word as a quick slap struck across her face. She sat there in disbelief, what was happening? Then, as he drew his hand back, he followed it with a stern, “get the fuck out”. Without hesitation, she swiftly rose to her feet and speaking not a word. In her mind she asked God, “is this it Lord?” and in that instant, she knew, she would never return to him again.
Her mind was racing after the appalling scene that occurred only moments before. It took her over two hours to mindlessly gather her belongings in the dark of the night. She was replaying the events of the day that led up to his finale of the evening. What had gone so wrong so fast? She kept hitting the rewind button yet nothing was explaining to her why she was packing up 8 1/2 years of her life in a whirlwind like a death sentence she just received. “Get the fuck out” kept flashing over head and made her move more swiftly.
Probably to his dismay and surprise, she wasn’t becoming enraged as her typical, dissociative behavior had surfaced in the past. This was much different then all the times before, more surreal. She had a calmness about her as she loaded bag after bag in her car. The moon was shining brightly on that warm summer’s night, but there was an icy energy exhuming all around, causing her brief moments of panic.
She saw him sitting quietly on the back deck where they spent so many days and nights together, but also to her, alone. Silently, she walked out to join him, grabbing her chair to sit beside him in hopes he had changed his mind, would apologize for his rash behavior and say he loves her. Instead he arose, saying not a word and went back inside. She sat there a little longer gazing out into the darkness without any words, saying goodbye to it all.
She was a little numb now and feeling hopeless. She herself entered the back door, her heart pleaded silently within her own pounding chest. “Tell me to stay. Make this all go away.” His words never came. Sitting down at the dining table expecting him to join her there now to…who knows what? Explain himself, have a conversation, anything, something, but he never did. Instead he approached her with only one question, “got everything?” She nodded and quickly stood to her feet, walking slowly to the door where he was already 3 steps ahead, waiting and she asked her final question fearing the answer, “this is what you want?” Forever in her heart she will always remember the last thing he ever said to her, “I can’t get what I want”. And with that, she didn’t act on the rage that was boiling inside of her. In fact, she used that energy to channel her ability to walk away and know this was everything he would ever give to her and that was nothing at all.
There was a kind of numbness and peacefulness washing over her when she got behind the wheel to drive a mile down the road to the cottage she never could understand why he insisted on her maintaining as a part time residence, until now.
They’ve done this dance too many times to remember now, but he kept count and blamed her for every infraction and incident. Each time just like the time before, he knew, or rather expected her to come back, pleading, crying, begging even groveling to take her in his arms and love her once again. The ties that bound them were unbreakable. She had convinced herself of this and that being alone without him was unbearable, but for a split second, she inhaled what she thought may have tasted a bit like… freedom? And, for the very first time that night, there in the darkness, she began to exhale and she smiled.
She pulled into the not so familiar driveway, got what she needed from her car for the night, unlocked the door and walked into the dark and seemingly lonely place. It felt empty and strange, or maybe that was just her projecting. She began to come down from the adrenaline rush that kept her going for the last 4 hours. She found the bed, right where she left it. The girl, who just earlier that day, had a life that was tortuously familiar with a man she had loved and respected for so very long and now, she felt very displaced climbing into her empty bed. She was ready to drop by this point as a tear streamed down her face she thought, what the fuck just happened?
“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
Or a little this way and a lot that way, but still I’d like to go back there and kick my own ass for all those things I understand to do differently now, but instead I will learn, I will share and I will grow. Life can be an emotional roller coaster, mine certainly has been, but I persevere. I invite you to experience my journey as I write from the depths of my heart. Please, take what you like and leave, or sell, the rest.
Ever get fed up from the sound of your own voice? Get sick and tired of camping out in misery, the woe is me, pitiful state of being? I have. It was 2 days after Christmas 2019 and a long time friend had sent me the intro to the latest book she received as a gift. I had been inflicted with the flu on Christmas Day, was stuck in bed and was feeling so lonely and as I read it, my heart lifted. I asked her what the title was and as I saw those 4 words, girl, wash your face, I looked up and smiled. Ok God, Your 3rd message for this book. I felt His strong nudge and ordered it on audible. Seemed fitting to be read to since the flu bug I was battling didn’t allow me the energy to actually read. This young, inspiring author spoke truth right into my heart. So much of what she talked about resonated. As she went on to tell her story I thought to myself, its time girl, get started on your own book and blog.
I give myself permission to glance back at my journey so long as I don’t stare. Eyes forward is the goal. The continuing of forever reflecting is serving no other purpose but to remain stuck. Am I merely justifying my lot in life of that claimed stake of a crappy hand dealt? Pity parties are not on the agenda, I know better, but movement feels paralyzing at times. After all, this has been my life. If I don’t keep it alive, who will? There is a time to talk and then there is a time to heal and that time is now. I have told the little girl inside me that all will be well, especially us. Secrets that once kept us safe are ours to reveal and share for our healthy healing process.
The drive behind writing this at all is to save my soul and preserve my sanity and it all comes together right here. I did the whole camping out thing in trying to figure out what happened to me over those 8 ½ years. I began to make myself nearly as crazy as the life I had been participating in, or rather was drawn into so insidiously. It had consumed me. I was gone, but to where?