I sat there on the couch, feet up, cuddled by the warmth of my favorite blanket watching nothing in particular on the tv, apparently it was for the background noise . The quietness outside competed with the sound of your car as you pulled into the drive. I took a semi deep breath and remained calm, both of which have been difficult to accomplish these days.
Typically you come by, with your usual demeanor, the inability to just be. I feel the energy coming at me before you enter the door, but this time you remained in your car. Curious as to what you were doing, I casually strolled past the window a time or two to take a glance, ah, you’re on the phone. This could be awhile, and it was. I took notice as I confirmed what had your attention. There was something different about you, but I’ll wait I thought. My intuition is pretty strong and my emotional intellect even higher. After all, you are my child, grown or not, I carried you in my body for 9 months. Little gets past me and even less surprises me.
Finally you made your way through the door and I was correct about your person although I wasn’t quite sure what it was, not yet. We got beyond the formalities of hi’s and hugs and found ourselves sitting now, a little awkwardly and I was eager to know why. Clearly you have a heavy heart, a burden you’re struggling to balance and even hold. You’d begin talking incessantly, this is never new to me, but there was a nervousness about you and I just listened. This has become our routine. You talk, I listen and soon it turns into a long threaded rant on nearly every topic from childhood to current time. Whew. Catch a wave pal, you’re drifting. I remain quiet, taking in what I can, paying attention to my own breath, facial expressions arms and body language. This child is working up to something heavy and deep as the words keep flying, but not much is being said.
There’s that moment when someone is trying desperately to unload something, but fear has stymied what is needing to be shared and so the conversation goes in circles and backtracks, then the trickles begin. The questions fly, do you remember when I was such and such and age and this and that happened? I’m trying to keep up, really focus on what’s being said or rather what’s being eluded to but not fully comprehending the message. I’m working on my patience. My unconditional love for this grown child pouring out from me while the fumbling keeps happening. This went on for 4 hours. God have mercy on this child and help the words just flow, please Lord.
At last the personal revelation and truth emerged from this poor child’s lips. I sit silently as I feel my shoulders relax and I grin, hoping my quiet response was loving and supportive. I nodded in agreement or maybe it was acceptance, but either way, I felt a wave of relief wash over me. At last we have a reason, the reason for all the peculiar, relentless, angry behavior that has consumed this child for nearly 25 years.
I turned my head for just a moment and you were gone. A panic washed over me as I frantically called your name. Pushing garments of ladies apparel aside, rack by rack, I could hear a faint giggle. You were only 2 and you loved to play games like that. Unbeknownst to you, the fear that arose in my chest, as you would grow accustomed to saying, “I got this mom”, and you always have. Somehow that would be your way of assuring me you would always be okay, no matter what.
I feel so lost without you now. You got this, right? Yet that all too familiar panic has risen up and taken residence in my heart. This time I blinked and tried again, but I don’t hear the giggling in the air. I can’t see your face. I can’t find you anywhere.
Before you could form sentences or even threw your binky away, I could tell there was a mystery about you. Over time it was the little things that made you cry, often inconsolably and I couldn’t figure out why, but you knew.
Years would pass. You were growing up, trying to find the place where you belong. Never feeling liked by the kids on the school ground, not knowing how much you actually were. Was it your hyper activity that kept you moving? Sports became an outlet, baseball, soccer, dirt bikes, skateboards, bikes and scooters. Anything that would occupy your energy and free your spirit, but still, you sought after anything that would grant you acceptance. You tried basketball, even wrestling and joined the school band on drums. Then one day you asked for a bass guitar. Please mom. Happy birthday sweetie. You joined brothers, forming a band, the 3 of you, so young and talented, you were more than good, you were amazing.
Sports and all “that” began to fall away. You’d found this passion deep inside playing bass. Self taught, you wouldn’t allow me to “waste money on lessons when you could teach yourself” and you did. Yet all those years I’d watch you on stage, self conscious and insecure, as if you were still searching for that place of belonging, because you were.
Your pain continued to haunt you. I couldn’t read it, put my finger on it, then he left and you were devastated. The dad you tried so hard to please, to be like and feel included by. This was a whole new level of despair while I was desperately working to be all I could for you 3, but somehow I saw it in your heart, for you this grief of loss was affecting you in some other way. It was different and deeper.
That same 2 year old resides within, still inconsolable, try as I may. “I love you” are all the words I have, with everything I know. Life was harder back then, but we were gaining everyday as we made our way through, just us 4.
We got this, right? Wrong… “We” crumbled. My turn. You’re gone. Here I sit. Motionless. Breathless. Helpless. Guilt. Hands in the air. Heart splitting in 2. Inconsolable. I’m still searching for that place of belonging, just for you.
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 remembers standing in the kitchen so many nights, making dinner as she paid attention to every last detail. Striving for the perfection that would go unnoticed yet was required. She smiled to herself feeling proud as she scooped out the portions and served them at the table.
She graciously walked into the office beaming at her finished product and announcing supper was on the table. Without looking up from his computer he replied, be right there girl. Feeling dismissed, she quietly resumed what she was doing as she waited patiently for his arrival to join her. Once he finally made his way to the table, he motioned to her to begin. Uttering not a word he took his first bite, then his second and a third. She sat there in silence as the tv blared some random show he’d chosen. She glanced over at him for a sign of validation, a small grunt of acknowledgement, but nothing came from his lips.
She sunk lower in her seat, taking small bites of the meal she worked hard to prepare just for him. She felt the gloom all around her while the emptiness welled up inside of her and she felt alone once again.
This had become her daily ritual. The girl who once chose her invisibility long before he chose her, now desperately wanted him to see her, but he didn’t. Loneliness crept in her heart day after day. She didn’t know how to speak to him, to explain this feeling, so she remained in her state of existing.
What should she do she wondered. He’ll never understand nor would he care. She kept her secret to herself because to her, any expression of a need would bring such grief from him, silence was a better choice. She continued internalizing her sadness for as long as she could.
The day came when she could no longer suppress the pain she felt for being ignored, with high expectations placed upon her, especially the one to be quiet and keep those undesirable feelings locked up tight. Don’t burden him with her heavy heart so filled with loneliness otherwise he will show her what that feels like again. She couldn’t bear another dismissal, but another did come.
Time passed on and she felt this new strength rising within her and for the first time she opened her mouth. Though barely above a whisper, she heard the words leave her lips and he looked at her in disbelief. She couldn’t stop the flow.
Her voice was polite and firm. His response back was disapproving and then it came, his punishment. The silent treatment, far worse than she imagined, but nothing she hadn’t experienced before with him. It lingered on until she couldn’t bear it any longer. She sweetly said to him, “I love you”. He broke his silence with a gruff, “I know”.
There she was sitting beside him in the car on the ride home when she realized, he is a very cruel and mean man. He really doesn’t love her. Her heart broke once more and the loneliness she’d felt all along had brought her to this place called reality. It was in that moment she felt a wave of panic and calm wash over her at the same time. Something was coming, but she didn’t know what. She was prepared and scared at the same time.
((Close your eyes little one, everything is about to change. You will forever be different and feel more loved than you ever knew possible. Trust in Me and you shall see I will I set you free))
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…
As if grieving during the painful process of a loss isn’t enough. She thought she had dug her way down to the delusional bottom of the pile and wait, oh yes, there is another heap to dismantle. She had begun to breathe, even find a little peace now and then as she made her way through those still, sometimes agonizing days. She actually found her smile again.
The stages of grief, she can recite those off the top of her head, but more importantly, she understands them when they hit. “Oh, you again, fuck off”, but she didn’t mean it. Embrace each one. Look it square in the face little one. We are survivors, sure, but really, we are resilient fighters and most of all, important as fuck.
She took her almighty shovel out today and said, “alright crap, let’s just see what other bullshit you have for us today” and with one sturdy plunge, the hunt was on. For fuck sake, she thought she had uncovered this one, but there it was in all its glory, hiding like the coward who put it there. “I see you” she said, “and you can no longer hide from me”. As she fought deliberately to force the pile apart, she felt the all too familiar sting of tears welling up in her eyes. What the fuck now? Haven’t we shed enough of these for all we’ve been through girl? As she thought these words to herself, she remembered what she had learned (again) from her oldest, long time friend in her world, “cry till you’re dry honey”. How the fuck is there anything left?
Ah, it was beginning to make sense to her. Every layer has another story to tell and all the cover up is eroding away to tell you what you need to know love, one small piece at a time. We can’t possibly take the 9 years from the most current abuser, the 18 years from the one before and the 10 years from the original source of childhood where it all began and have it magically be healed, over and done with it. It just doesn’t work like that. We have more work to do and so it continues.
Here we stand, together but alone, digging, sifting and sorting through the debris and rubble we have been left with. Let’s call this here, “experience”. Some would rather happily shove this shit under a great big rock and never look at again. Others, like us girl, will not only take it out from the dark place of which it’s been buried, grab the microscope and start the deep internal examination. Let’s call this here, “analysis”. This part of the process will help us determine the “whys, how comes and what for’s”. All the answers to these inquiries are crucial to why the fuck we do what we do, love who we love, follow and attach to what’s familiar, accept the unacceptable and tolerate the intolerable. Let’s call this here, “lessons”. The question that often arises during this portion is, “why is this happening?” When the better, more affective one would be, “what am I getting out of this, what am I learning?” No one wants to believe that the mounds of bullshit they’re uncovering and discovering is actually useful information for their own growth, but it truly is beneficial to the sometimes excruciating, always imperative, healing path.
What we will find next is becoming like a treasure hunt to learning who she really is, on her own, with no other outside influences controlling her thoughts and emotions, her soul and her body, just her and her alone on this fabulous ride called life. Why then does our princess in the story of her newfound life keep bumping up against more wreckage that can sometimes halt her in the middle of the deserted road? She asks herself this often while she keeps pushing on.
It is in the ashes where beauty remains. Yeah, yeah, she has this expression down cold having had her spirit burned to the ground and torn down, both literally and metaphorically. Each time she has risen, more grateful than the time before, but she has grown weary of them all. Let’s call this here, “strength”. “Diamonds are created under pressure and can cut through glass. A mighty oak grows strong in contrary winds. A palm tree might bend but it won’t break.” She often relates herself to these well defined comparisons and smiles, then wonders for how long she must endure and drudge through the remaining piles. It all comes down to educating your brilliant, sweet, smart, feisty ass girl and so she digs a little deeper into the soil of her soul…