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…
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.
He got it in his mind that women are to be more than submissive, but subservient and assuringly beneath him. The desperate need of his that they worship him as if he were a God. We are easily used, regularly dismissed and always ridiculed as if we possess no value or worth to dane to be in his presence without his permission. The perversity and depravity in that statement feels like a knife twisting in my heart as I groveled to be that worthy girl in his deemed place of honor. Fuck that…
When I was 10, he showed me that same worthlessness and stole my youth with his control by devaluing me just as a professional manipulator behaves. I was being trained up to expect to be treated this way when I got older. The woman I was becoming didn’t matter and I deserved nothing more than what he gave and did for me or to me. Fuck that…
He drilled it into my brain that my thoughts were insignificant, my needs were as well. No one wanted to hear about what I wanted or how I felt about anything at all. Being objectified began when I started to “develop” into that blossoming young teenager. How does a grown man become this way? I couldn’t think in terms such as this when I was a mere teen. From those days forward my attitude was only, Fuck that…
I’ve learned to escape my body. To float up to the ceiling where I feel safely detached from whatever takes place in the moment happening below. I practice wading in the air as if I were swimming along a soothing stretch of the lake. From here I watch and wait and when everything begins to fade away and it’s safe to return to my body, I snuggle back in. Relieved once again, I can work to get myself to drift off to sleep where I can dream of a life that is calm and beautiful, free of the anxiety that wakes me most nights and even keeps me from that night’s sleep. I pray for freedom…
After years of this way of existence, I’ve been coming back to my body, slowly allowing myself to feel things I never permitted myself to when it was a dangerous place to be. Never had I imagined the destruction of detaching from my very own self. It was all I knew. It’s what I practiced for survival. It’s what kept me going. I prayed harder for freedom…
By retreating inside my own mind and hiding behind my fears of these monstrous sized men, I had developed a case of dissociation for my self protection. It became my only source of a coping mechanism that gave me the illusion of being bigger than those who were hell bent on creating my inferior self in order to feed their self created superior selves. When I could detach so completely from the situation, I became invincible as I checked out of the world for the terrifying moment I needed to escape from to be safe. Freedom was what I craved…
The demons are as real as the dragons I battle. Maybe things will be better in another life, as if I have more than one. What am I doing, still and again? Why am I intent to suffer so? I am on a treasure hunt to find the glory in my story. It’s time…
There came a day when I awoke after a decent night’s sleep. One where anxiety didn’t shoot me out of bed and my skin. This same night I hadn’t dreamed of my body floating up to the street light that sent a glow on the picture below as I often do. Instead, I was lying there, the light trickling in, listening to the hummingbirds feeding outside my window as Mr. Squirrel was playing like a monkey jumping from branch to branch and Mr. Monty the Rooster began his morning wake up call and it occurred to me… today is the day I believe I became sick of trying to make sense out of nonsense, so I just stopped. I truly felt more free. Suddenly, smiling to myself, I was reminded of the fable…
“The Scorpion and the Frog” A scorpion, which cannot swim, asks a frog to carry it across a river on the frog’s back. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung by the scorpion, but the scorpion argues that if it did that, they would both drown. The frog considers this argument sensible and agrees to transport the scorpion. Midway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog anyway, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung him despite knowing the consequence, to which the scorpion replies: “I couldn’t help it, it’s in my nature”.