He didn’t open her door when she stood beside it, but only for a moment did she wait. She climbed in her seat there beside him, she seemed content and I thought of you… (Opening my door as I skillfully slid into my space next to you while you pulled out my seatbelt so graciously handing it to me)
They arrived at the restaurant, again she exited the truck, meeting him around the back where they made small talk heading to their destination and I thought of you… (I remained still, grinning as you walked over to my side once more, opening my door, offering your hand, I emerged as we made our way)
She stood outside the door looking at the sign, he said, “Allow me” as he grabbed the handle to the door, she stepped inside and I thought of you… (My hand never touched a door as long as I was with you)
They were seated, the menus presented and the question, “can I start you off with a drink” and I thought of you… (One menu was all that was required, my drink was chosen along with my meal, handled with care)
He picked up the check not a word was exchanged except when she offered to pay her share. He reached for his wallet thanking her, then stating he’d have to give up his man card while handing it off to the server without hesitation and I thought of you… (One of our first dates I noticed the price and you thanked me for being thoughtful then assured me it would be alright, the cost wasn’t an issue. I relaxed, feeling special)
She thanked him for treating her to a pleasant evening and wondered what to do next so they left out the door and she casually laced her hand through the bend in his arm and I thought of you… (Next to you I felt taken care of, protected and safe, looked after and thought, I felt loved)
There was the truck, the one they open their own doors for, the one they return home in, to the house they reside and I thought of you… (Again you pull open the door, buckle me in, my hand on your knee as it slides up your thigh, a peck on the cheek, with a twinkle in my eye. I thank you for a lovely evening, for treating me like your queen, I can hardly wait to get home to show you all the love in my heart)
He flips on the TV and she checks her phone. Divided by some walls, back to their own separate interests and distractions, it’s like the spark and the magic were left somewhere far behind and I thought of you… (We barely made inside with our hearts beating deeply, your hands all up in my hair, the door closes quickly as clothes fall to the floor)
She makes her way to the chilly room where she lays her head. At some point he will take his place beside her all cozied up in their bed. She’s fast asleep and he’s quiet while he slips between the sheets and I thought you… (We walk together down the darkened hallway to find that safe, familiar place, the warmth of your body comforts me while mine stirs up all your deepest desires)
They closed the door to the wonderful night without another word, he turned off the light, she rolled over, her back turned to him, now he lies there staring at the ceiling asking himself where have you been and I thought of you… (Engulfed in your arms I feel your hot breath, it smells like tequila, I smile to myself being pulled in closer, I don’t want to breathe if it means loosening your grip, I exhale, we are immersed, becoming just one, please don’t let me wake. I know you feel loved and I do too) and I thought of only you…
I could feel the famine as my tastebuds were tricked into savoring and becoming addicted to the flavor from the essence of meeting my needs. The chains that held me captive, though heavy, kept me trapped in a belief that this was my worth and value.
My survival mode is what told me to remain with my broken pieces for if I broke the lock that was cinched so tightly, how would I be fed the morsels that kept me alive?
There was a point I was so deep within the struggle I couldn’t see another way. This was my comfort food, my nourishment that sustained me for 1 day increments. The rest of my days, I was starving.
The dungeon was dark, cold and despairing, but it felt familiar and safe somehow. The rituals, protocols and rules overtook me. I didn’t know I was in danger, mentally and physically being tormented as my soul cried out.
One day I saw a link that had rusted and became like glue, but looking closer, I noticed another that had cracked. This precious piece had been compromised as I wiggled it a little each day. Days, weeks, months even years had passed and though this once sturdy link, now weakened over time, gave me strength I hadn’t known before.
Could it be that if these restraints were all removed that I could withstand the release and experience freedom, have joy and peace, comfort and feel loved? Terrified I would die, remain lost and starve forever, I found ways to begin to break away.
Consumed with questions, paralyzed by my own answers and fearing the truth, I embraced the idea and took that first leap. What was about to happen I couldn’t know or see and where I was going to end up I couldn’t reach, not yet.
Day 1, I learned to take a big gulp of the new air I had never smelled before. Day 2, I felt new strength as my legs stood taller and walked a little farther down the path. Day 3, I tasted this sweet flavor that was clearing my palette that I’d never experienced before.
Day 150, my appetite has gone from destruction to reconstruction of my spirit. What I craved all those years was never going to be enough to make me feel full. Your fish are not that delicious, but my Fathers fridge is full! I haven’t been eating the wrong things, I’ve been getting them from the wrong source.
He has done for me what I couldn’t consider and by doing so, He created room to receive the truth, the peace, the love, comfort and joy. Welcome to my funeral for the rabble as I enjoy the new feast.
He had cast a spell over me some time ago. I loved him when he was hurting me. I trusted him not to do it again. I believed him when he said he loved me. I questioned him in my mind and answered it to my heart.
It was he who disappointed me. It was he who lied with every word falling from his lips. It was he who deceived me. It was he who took pleasure while I suffered. It was he who tore it all apart.
I can see clearly now that the physical and daily mental pain has gone astray, the kind you inflicted upon me.
I feel clarity washing over me, the kind that allows me to see clearly.
I taste a little freedom now and then since making real choices as decisions are declared over my life by me now.
I smell the fragrance of life since I’ve been unshackled from being devoured whole and fed nonsense by you.
Today I can pause, it’s a must, to pay attention to my breath for this is all I can trust.
Because of you I walked away from all that I knew, believed in, held tight to, counted on and grew.
Thank you for the release from ties that kept me bound, for had you not I wouldn’t have the courage to stand firmly on this ground.
Time under tension increases strength and power, so is it no wonder I’ve come back to my One and only strong tower.
How grateful to you I have a new found peace and revel in the quiet moments to worship, glorify and to hear, the gentle whispers of my God who is always near.
Uncluttered is my heart, open it to receive, let my mind become sharper, it is honestly in You I deeply believe.
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…
When she was a young girl, before the insidious abuse began, it was just the 3 of them. Her mama would often make her way into the single bathroom they all shared and look in the mirror beside her then 7 year old daughter and smile. “Do you think we look alike?” she would ask. Daughter grinning back at her pretty mama, “yes!” They would giggle and go about their grooming and silliness before the school bell rang and her pretty mama would head off to work. She was learning at a very young age what being a soft, feminine, sweet little girl was by watching and learning from her very young mama. At 26 years old, she was the most beautiful, kind person in this girl’s life. She loved her with all her heart and she knew her mama did too.
They were essentially growing up together, but she also knew that mama was the adult and she had to follow her rules. Her big brother was only 16 months older than her and he loved them both, but somewhere he began growing up faster than she did. Maybe this is what happens to a young man when there isn’t a daddy around. She loved her big brother. They had fun playing outside, riding bikes and skateboards, tossing the football and playing catch. No one ever told her she couldn’t play like the boys and when his friends came over, they didn’t mind having the little sister tag along, much. She had her own friends too, but being with the boys was fun.
As she got a little older, this eventually started to fade. Either way, she was outgrowing them or they quit liking the baby sister hanging around. This is when that new man came into mama’s life and our lives began to turn upside down. Mama gradually stopped visiting her in the bathroom mirror and she was beginning to look elsewhere for validation and approval. She was turning the corner on adolescence when a young lady desperately needed her mama to keep teaching her about being that soft, feminine, young lady she was emerging into. She was losing her, or was mama losing herself?
Her teenage years were approaching and while other girls seemed to struggle with the normal issues of confidence, self esteem and courage, she continued to spiral down in her own self worth and doubt about her appearances. Boys were the topic amongst all these girls she was getting to know in her junior high days and she was becoming more shy with every passing day. Attention she received embarrassed her and she didn’t quite know what to do about it. She secretly had crushes on this boy and that one, but that was all she knew, how to like them, but not talk to them. She was getting good at hiding.
By the time she was in 8th grade, her family had moved to a new area which meant she had to start a brand new school and make new friends. This was especially difficult for the extra quiet and shy girl she had become. He immediately liked the new girl on the block and by that winter had become her first boyfriend. She had gone from admiring boys from afar to holding hands in public and at school with this assertive young man and she liked it. He was well liked and everyone knew him in this tiny little school. She quickly made a handful of new friends and was no longer angry about being uprooted from the only home she had ever known. This didn’t increase her confidence or boost her self esteem, but it did create an addiction to love and affection that would affect her relationships from there on out.
She learned that being with that special someone no matter the cost, was always better than being alone. This was the pattern she had established at the very young age of 15 when they entered their sophomore year in high school still a couple. What can you possibly know at that age? Was being in a committed, long term relationship normal at their age? Apparently to them it was. He told her often of her beauty and built her up the best he could, but she couldn’t receive his words of her external looks when she was fighting an internal battle for so many years now.
This would go on for years to follow, clear into adulthood. Her inner beauty so lacking in the strength and confidence a father typically instills in his little girl early on. Having an absent bio daddy and an abusive, substitute, narcissistic step monster who began objectifying her at age 14, she just wanted to be invisible and she worked hard to succeed at that. Her mama had long since been able to replace any of the hurtful, demeaning words that humiliated her since she herself was suffering most of the abuse from this monster. Her once, beautiful, spirited, lovely mama was just gone. Deep in the pits of despair she was cast and there she remained until her death.
By the time that young lady was married and a mama with 3 babies of her own, she had attempted to follow the beauty regiment she had learned at such a young age. She often recalled those intimate, special moments buried in her memories she shared with her mama. She recoiled at remembering his disturbing leering and twisted innuendos and once again chose to be invisible, rejecting the advances of her own husband and father of her children. Her head was muddled and certainly fucked up as she thought, what sort of woman doesn’t welcome the compliments of her own husband? Surely there is something horribly wrong with me she thought, but still she couldn’t shake off the shivers that haunted her. Don’t look at me, don’t see me and please, whatever you do, just don’t notice me.
It would be years later, five years post divorce that for the first time in her life, there was a man who did in fact, not only notice her and made her tummy flip, she welcomed his advances and wanted him to indeed see her. After the first 6 months or so his love bombing had hooked her so deeply she couldn’t get enough of his attention and longed for more. At some unknown point in time, after all the confidence and uplifting he had poured into her, she had changed her appearance to the point that he took notice of people noticing her and he loved that. As long as she was by his side, protecting her from other men, she felt safe. For the first time in her life, she thought she had been found and actually loved.
A secure sense of belonging overcame her for the first few years. One day she saw something different looking in the mirror at this indescribable image, she no longer recognized the lady looking back at her. The closer she gazed at the reflection, the more distorted and unfamiliar the features became. She had quietly been slipping away and was reverting back to that young girl, desiring nothing more than to be invisible once again. She had become her beautiful, lost mama after all. Fuck.
The compliments and uplifting expressions they keep tossing at her, are words and verbalized observations of her outward appearance. They haven’t matched her inside disturbance since she was that 7 year old, standing next to her mama, staring in the looking glass. Now she says to them…