Tag Archives: everyday resilience

love your community on v day – believe and then take action

Good morning good morning. How is the morning where you are? Here the day is just dawning, and the air outside is a hazy, misty blue.

I have been trying to write about Dylan Farrow and her adoptive father and her resilient naming of his actions and the way the whole world has something to say to her about it. I want to write about how, when you tell your story, things get better — because of course, people believe you, people will listen, people will take action. But, of course, that’s not true. We know that’s not true. Many of us told, both directly and indirectly, and were not protected or were not believed.

It’s hard for me to write about this. The people tell me that I have to be articulate, calm, composed, and objective when I write or talk about sexual violence and sexual violators (otherwise I’m just another angry victim shooting off her mouth). If I speak about W.A. and his actions (both copped to, like marrying a very young woman who had been a surrogate child of his, and not copped to, like sexual abuse of an adoptive child), or if I speak about how horrifying it is that the Interweb wants me to understand that they’d very much LIKE to believe Dylan Farrow’s story, but, oh, look, she was a child who didn’t tell the story the same way every time, and, oh, look, her parents were involved in a really terrible custody battle and her mother was very, very angry, and oh, look, the conditions under which she was supposed to have been abused are totally unbelievable and oh, look, W.A. is a pretty great guy who makes all these films and has all these big Hollywood films who’s never been accused of child abuse *before* and oh, look, there was no physical evidence, and oh,look,the cops came and other authorities came and they investigated and they came to the conclusion that no charges should be pressed and that means that, sorry, Dylan Farrow is probably a liar but it’s not her fault because she was just a kid and she was being manipulated by a lying, scheming, money-grubbing, crazy mom — when I speak about all this, I have to be quiet and calm and composed about my response if I want anyone to listen to me.

Here’s my calm response:

There are kids who lie who are also raped.
There are kids who are in the middle of terrible custody battles who are raped.
There are kids who are sexually violated under the most unbelievable of circumstances. I don’t know if you can surprise me anymore, given the stories I’ve heard. Would a terrible claustrophobic climb into an attic for just a few moments to act out sexually with a child he was supposed to be caring for? Of course I believe that could happen.
There’s often no physical evidence of sexual abuse, with kids or adults. The fact that this continues to be a standard that has to be met in order to prove that violence has occurred astounds me.
Many, many people who are seen as pillars of their communities are also sexual violators.

None of these so-called logical reasons make me question what I’ve heard of Dylan Farrow’s story, nor anyone else’s. This, of course, isn’t just an issue for famous folks with major media connections — this issue of how we talk about survivors telling their stories has a huge impact in our communities. If we want to end intimate violence, we need to undo the culture of isolation and silencing that surrounds these violences. And in order to do that, we have to communicate to survivors that they are going to be supported when they come forward.

My sister and I were lucky that we both were abused by our stepfather in similar ways. What a completely awful sentence to write — yet, this is why I say it: when we went to the county attorney in Omaha and revealed who it was who had been harming us for the past decade, we were sure that she would run us out of her office. This was a man who was known in psychotherapy circles, a man who had friends in the court, a many who worked with child abuse victims at Boys’ Town, a man who acted as an expert witness in child sexual abuse cases. You’re going to tell me he did what? There was, of course, no physical evidence, and we were there with our father, a man who had plenty of reason to be completely furious with our stepfather and our mother, both — and a man to whom we had both told a lot of lies about what was going on in the house on 57th Street in Omaha, NE. There were lots of reasons for us to expect not to be believed.

We got lucky; I don’t know how else to say it. The County Attorney said she’d never heard of him (I’ll never know whether or not that’s true), and sent us to speak with detectives — something neither of us was prepared for. We each met with a male detective, separately and alone, and each spoke to those men for a couple of hours, at least, I think, telling our stories. It turned out that we corroborated each other. That’s maybe the only thing that put our stepfather in jail. If either of us had come alone to the courthouse, told our story alone, been expected to defend ourselves with the rest of the family contradicting us, his community contradicting us, what hope would we have had of finding any justice?

(Not that the criminal justice system is set up to offer justice to victims and survivors of intimate violence — it’s set up to protect property and capital. But that’s a different blog post.)

Today I am thinking about the ways that we as a public will make excuses for the men and women who are violent towards others, and the ways that we work as hard as we can to continue living with our own denial, to not have to step out of our comfort zones, to stop listening to music that we liked or stop reading books we liked or stop watching movies we liked or even stop hanging out with friends we’ve liked because we decide we no longer want to support their actions toward others — even if we never directly witness those actions ourselves, but because someone has been able to take the extraordinary action of speaking out into and against that massive cultural denial to say, “This person has done immeasurable harm against me, and I can’t be the only one holding them accountable. I need my community to stand with me.”

My sister and I were lucky; our family believed us, and the community that our stepfather had participated in didn’t obstruct us — they didn’t support us, exactly, but they also didn’t come forward to call us liars.

The community, very often, doesn’t want to stand with the violated. We want to stand with the person with the power. The abuser is infrequently abusive in public; they reserve that behavior for private performances. It’s the survivor who can be challenging for us — so visibly angry, so demanding. So we, their community, feel more drawn to the person who laughs, not the person who’s angry. The person who seems calm, not the person who’s agitated. The person who’s easy, not the person who’s difficult. We, the community, in choosing to stay comfortable, also choose to stand against what we say we believe.

On this valentine’s day, people will enjoy loving, tender, and sweet romantic connections with themselves and their loved ones. And many, many people are going to be harmed by their significant others — both physically and in ways that leave no marks whatsoever. Someone you know is going to tell you something that has happened to them or is happening to them and you aren’t going to want to believe it — you aren’t going to want to have to believe it, because believing is going to mean that you have to change in some way. Believing your friend will mean you have to change how you see and/or behave toward both parties — your friend and the person who has hurt them. This can be difficult, sad, or scary. Standing up for your friend, and your community, means you have to choose to act out what you say you believe about undoing a culture of silence. It means you have to walk your talk.

Maybe let this be the place where your own writing begins today — how can you walk your talk with someone in your community today? How would you have your community walk with you? Give yourself ten, twenty minutes on the timer — and follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.

Thank you for the ways you show up for your community, and for the ways you allow your community to show up for you. Thank you for the generosity you show yourself as you move through your layers of tellings. And thank you for your words.

extra:ordinary – how something is made flesh

(Our final post in the extra:ordinary project (stories of everyday survival and resilience) comes from Renee Garcia of Berkeley, CA — a stunning piece that tackles this idea of monstrousness that so many survivors live with, and reveals the tremendously creative work we do to keep ourselves living and alive. Thank you, Renee, for offering this beautiful piece as the finale to our project.)

How something is made flesh

no one can say

1.
How something is made flesh no one can say. She knew the story of her birth. She remembers in bits of static and some old pictures that didn’t get burned up in the fire, and some stories people told about her being born. Not a boy. Not a boy. She knew from some stories and the pinched look on her mother’s face and the vacant dreamy look on her father’s face that she was never born not really. Not in the made flesh sort of way. She was born like a story they told themselves about having a baby. Because that’s what normal people (not monsters) do. They fall in love (and they did fall in love with their broken-ness and made themselves as one (like monsters do with magic) and they had a baby. Little white perfect baby clothes. A white crib. The house scrubbed to brightness. They had a baby who cried all the time. They had a baby they were not equipped for as normal people, as broken people made as one, as monsters made by the dark shadow whispers in his ear saying take this flesh and eat of it. As the dark shadow whispers in her ear saying take this flesh and kill it-this will destroy everything and besides it won’t stop crying.

2.
She knitted herself a person suit from watching how other real people acted. She made herself a person suit from feathers she tore into strips, from bacon fat, from red clay gathered in the foothills of the Sierras, from old stories she dreamed from her real ancestors from long ago. She knitted herself up with her broken hands and didn’t mind the pain. Giving birth is painful even when you are making your self. Her own flesh that she crafted that smelled like the earth and bread baking and wild flowers that were really just weeds. She used tree bark and the trees allowed it. She used other people’s stories and dropped consonants from when they talked too fast. She walked until she was used to it. Her feet were the best thing she made. She made them from poems and old church hymns and wild grasses and river rocks. They were sturdy and determined and kind and could carry her for miles and miles. She threw away the original flesh, it had gotten ruined and who says you can’t make your own flesh. She is only sorry she forgot the wings.

3.
How do you unmake human flesh no one can say.

So easy the hand over the mouth. So easy the underwater bath. She remembers being underwater as much as she remembers air. She remembers becoming flesh painfully over a life time because she was othered into the sheets and coated in bleach and dressed up like a doll and taken into the world silenced and golden with pretty. People said so. Little perfect dresses and shiny black Mary Janes. She was pretty and a good child until she learned how to climb the tinker toy scaffolding she made when they were asleep all normal people sleep (and monsters too) and then she was a bad child but that made her real. A real live something. Girl was wrong. Boy was just a dream. A real live creature. The one that lived in the trees and listened for the bird song and shot hoops in the back yard where she cleaned up all the dog shit from all the dogs she loved and he disappeared.

4.
Who can say how flesh becomes human or human becomes monster. The monster is in everyone. We want to have it be dark and mysterious and impossible. We want hollywood 3D glasses and popcorn and screams and relief that there are no monsters. There are monsters everywhere. Not under the bed. Just under the in breath. Human, monster. It’s waiting like our cells wait to mutate. When cancer breaks in, or some other dis ease that says you belong to me now. Monster is the same. It’s just a state we occupy or don’t. Monsters are made by human flesh made flesh in an equation that is as ordinary as cracking an egg into the fying pan. It’s a choice often it’s a choice. Some of us get made that way. But monster is a tribe too.

The word “monster” derives from Latin monstrum, an aberrant occurrence, usually biological, that was taken as a sign that something was wrong within the natural order.[1]

5.
Something was wrong with the natural order. Sure. She knows that as she looks at the family tree on the big butcher paper and she draws vines around the throats of the one’s she hates in her own loving way. She can’t cross them out and un-make them, it’s too late. She can only decorate them. No off with their heads magic doesn’t work backwards at least not until she deciphers the mysteries of time travel. Then who can say. And if she takes their heads will she take her own because they came first or will her own determined flesh making win out over the sperm and the egg. She can’t complain and doesn’t this is how she got herself this how she started before she made her own consecrated flesh. These are the stories she does not tell her children. She only tells herself.

6.
Sometimes she becomes flesh and real and breathing in the touching of another and another touching her. Skin to skin. Warmth. Breathing. Loving. Fucking. She is alive then and fluid and moving and it’s like all the sunshine days rolled into one and falling from a high tree before the ground bites her back with it’s gravity rules. The falling is a flying without wings and it tastes like all the good things. Like wild berries and hot sourdough bread and lips in the first kiss or the last kiss. It tastes like real and round and hard and sharp and she never doesn’t feel baptized and saved from the darkness then. She is a real live girl now even when the flashbacks arrive on cue, like a line of toy soldiers that demand their viewing in formation until she knocks them over or turns them into art with a blow torch and glue and paint and glitter.

7.
This is how she is made flesh. Writing herself into her own story. Drinking iced tea that is strong and almost bitter and adding lemon. Her mouth wakes up. Digging in the dirt and tasting it. Dirt tastes as real as anything else and it’s organic. And free. Remembering that she used to bleed. Forgiving the moon for everything. She is made flesh over and over again by wishing it so. She will finally learn how by heart when it’s time to let the flesh go and become a cloud walker again. Who can say how flesh is made. We say it and say it, we tell the stories and tell the stories and we make it so.

(Thank you, Renee, and thank you to all of our extra:ordinary project contributors — and to all of you who read and shared these words and manifest, every day, the extraordinary resilience, that beautiful work of remaining, in the aftermath of trauma.)

extra:ordinary – “The fire of survival is the strongest heat within me”

(This week’s contribution to the extra:ordinary project (stories of everyday surviving and resilience) comes from Ami Lovelace of San Francisco. In her piece, Ami vividly describes the reality for a young child living in an abusive household, and how she has found the capacity to continue living. Connect with Ami about her powerful story at her facebook page, or leave a comment below.)

Suicide is hard. Trust me. I know. It’s one of the few things in life I’ve actually failed at when I tried it.

I don’t think I ever identified with being a victim. I’ve been a survivor, always, even at 16 when I slid that ridiculously dull blade across both my wrists, tears streaming down my cheeks, but the cut just wouldn’t go deep enough to stream the blood. Being a survivor has never been a choice. It was a have to. It is a have to. Innate and involuntarily. The beatings, the rage, the alcohol reeking from his breath, the sheering and stripping of my emotions and spirit, it never registered to me as OK, as normal, as a matter of deserving it. It was always wrong. Somewhere, way deep down in the solar plexus, before I even knew what that was, in the body of a tiny little child, with big green eyes and light brown hair in pigtails, or curls, or some family chopped bowl haircut, his fists pummeling away at my flesh like his own boxing gym, or the knife cold and huge against my mother’s neck as I cried from under the kitchen table, while he swore he’d tear her throat open in front of me, I knew it was wrong, and I hated him for it. And hate, hate is a very powerful thing. Sometimes seemingly more powerful even than love. After all, isn’t the world now run by hate, when we wish really that it was shepherded by love. That seedling of hate, of wrong and resentment maybe sprouted from watching him with my brother. His real child, his real family, and sometimes with my mom. The softness in his hands as he held my little brother, the smile on his face and words filled not with malice, but pride, joy, tenderness. Maybe being a survivor was born somewhere in the mists of jealousy? Of needing to be good at something, to be better at this, getting through, rising above, breathing still, even in the thick of it, of getting attention, even if it was just the wrong kind, the kind that affronted and offended, that incited more beatings and more blood. Survival, before I even understood the concept, spewed from my mouth as a rebellious ten year old, sticking up for myself, defending myself against a man, a presumed man, four times my size, even as he lumbered over me, sharp edge of a clothes hanger lashing into my face, thrown and held against the kerosene heater until I could smell the back of my own thighs burning. The constant barrage of insults, the devolution from human to animal to creature to nothing, all through his words. An entire childhood lost to the obscure corners, too dark for even his cast shadows to reach.  But that was then. And even then, in my bloody rebellions, I did not want to cede power to him. I did not want to be eclipsed by him. I would not shrink away.

I remember moments of that last stand. The day I really tried to fight back. In the dark living room of our ranch style home, arms swinging, I charged, a battle cry whelp from my lungs, received wholly by a quick steel-toe carpenter boot to the face. Who was I defending then? Me? My mother? The only thing that I know for sure was that it wasn’t my brother. It was never my brother. Everything after that shrivels away into the recess of memories I cannot access anymore. That year after the piping hot potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil being flung at me from the doorstep as I stood on the curb unable to enter my own home, to stepping between his boots and Pepper, the puppy black lab, he let loose into the neighborhood, hoping she’d be hit by a car, and telling us exactly that (she found us anyway, smart thing, pawing at the sliding door of the kitchen of our neighbors house, two and half blocks down where my brother and I had relocated and listened through the open windows, still hearing his voice pummeling my mother while she still [tried] to leave the house), the multiple 911 calls and the police officers who showed up and did nothing, with some small town first responders brotherhood loyalty bullshit as their defense for ineptitude —he was a volunteer fireman, after all— sometime, after all that, and on a day I don’t remember well, my mother called my aunts, and we walked, each of us on our own legs, my brother looking over his shoulder, leaving for the last time.  I kissed a childhood I remember only now in brief flashes, goodbye.

I swore Then, never again. And never has it been that a man has laid an unwanted hand on me. And rue the day any man tries. The fire of survival is the strongest heat within me, smoldering still now, just under my ribcage, ready to leap up, and flame into uncontrollable inferno, engulfing anyone in its path, if ever again it’s needed.

I thought about writing a book, a memoir, about the abuse, about growing up somewhere between love and bruises, scars and smiles. Years ago I wrote down that first chapter. Ten Days in the Gray, that what I had thought it was going to be. That it was going to chronicle the story of Then, and the 10 days post the miserable attempt at suicide, hospitalized in the psych ward. Because I had wanted to be. I had chosen to be. I had asked to be.  But then I told myself, who wants to read about that? Who wants to read my story, as a child, in a shitty situation who grew into a teenager with emotional issues hidden beneath the surface of the faded scars and disappeared bruises? I didn’t want to dwell on Then. I never want to dwell on Then. Besides, it’s not about the Then. For me, it’s been way past the story of Then, since Then. It’s about the now. It’s about the me in this moment, the me that I am, and the me that I want to be. It’s about the remembering to wake up each day, every morning, and tell myself I am valuable. I am important. I matter.  And some days, I forget.

The struggle now is not in the defense or the physicality, it is the worth and desire. A desire to live, each and every day, with my face to the sun. And to remember that I am worth that feeling of the rays on my face, warm and perfect in the moment. That my breath, as I take it, matters. Each one. To someone else, to the world, and above all, to myself. And that to think differently, even in a fleeting moment, is to pass off that power that as a child I clutched so dearly to, back to him. And to remember that there is strength in me, worth in me, that no other person has, through each memory, each scar, each tear.  I am not grateful for having gone through it, for experiencing any of it, but I am ever thankful, and grateful for how I have come out of it. For myself, for that little girl me, who even before she could intellectualize what she felt and what it meant for her, with no thought to danger, since it was already so present in her life, fought anyway, and fought hard through bared and gritted teeth, for the inner desire to live, to be, to more than just exist, that still today, on off days, I sometimes forget I have.

(Thank you for that remembering, for this honesty, and for your fierce creative power, Ami. Thank you for sharing your story with us.)

extra:ordinary – May It Be so

(This week’s post for the extra:ordinary project (stories of everyday surviving and resilience) comes from a crone from California, and I am so grateful for this fierce and formidible writing. Please know, as you enter into this piece, that the story explicitly and powerfully names experiences of ritual violence. Thanks to you, Crone, for sharing your survival and resilience with us.)

 

May it be so

I am sixty one years old. I have survived such extreme violence of my body, heart, soul and psyche that I am sometimes amazed that I function in this world at all and sometimes, yes sometimes experience love and joy.

I long to be the kind of person who brings joy and humor and grace to all situations. I long to be someone at peace on this earth. I have come to understand that I have a choice and sometimes that makes it harder, to accept me as I am. Angry. Scared. Scarred. Judgmental ( that is the hardest to admit ). I walk around with attitude a lot, scared.

I want someone to see and understand my inside world. I am not alone in this, far from it. When I am good and loving, I still want someone to know how hard I have worked for what I have and where I am today. But where is that? Alone. Fighting for my breath.

I want to be the kind of person who sits here and writes beautifully and is inspiring. I want to be someone who feels whole and has something to give. I want to be free of fear. Here I sit and if I try to write anything about love, I get an anxiety attack. I was taught to hate myself and I learned the lesson well. I sit here and laugh, thinking “don’t I sound like someone you would love to know?” meaning it with extreme sarcasm. Come close and I will glare you away. Or I will just be soooo very nice, yet not there at all. Out of body, back in five minutes, years, centuries…

I am sixty one years old. I have survived such extreme violence of my body, heart, soul, psyche that I sometimes feel such extreme compassion for suffering, I am amazed at the possibilities of love. I am smart and sometimes funny. I challenge people and sometimes, every once in a while, someone listens. Someone hears me. Someone sees me. That is soooo f’n frightening. If I am seen, I am dead. Or worse, if I am seen, I will ultimately disappoint you with who I really am.

Some days I realize that death will come eventually, so maybe I can enjoy this ride while I have to be here. At least participate in this life the best I can.

Ah, my story: I was raped so many times by so many different men, by the time I was 10 yrs old, that I lost count. I saw animals tortured and heard their screams. Sometimes I still hear their screams. I am relieved to know they no longer suffer, just me as I remember, alone. I saw kittens get their baby necks broken, could feel my brain crack. Did you ever feel your brain crack? Nauseating. I was used as a party toy at “adult” parties. Locked in the bedroom for any drunk, sadistic, party animal to enjoy, fuck, laugh at, abuse. Tied to the bed, listening for the door to open and knowing someone new was there with their own inventive ways to humiliate and hurt me. Dread. Dread. Fear. Wanting to die.

How old? I was eight. I was nine. I was ten. I was eleven… I was three when my father started to abuse me openly. Before that it was energy, vibes, sick desire, filling my world and the air I breathed. Then I guess he could hold back no longer.

I am going to stop here. Are there more stories? Oh yeah, lots. I am traumatizing myself by going on and on. Therein lies the rub. If I hold it in, I am so alone it is unbearable. If I say/write this out loud, I feel the terror and trauma and grief and I can barely function. Choices? I have choices… healing is a choice. The road is paved with land mines, emotional, psychic land mines. But you know what they say, if you are in hell, keep going. It is the only way out: through hell into the arms of love.

May it be so.

(May it be, yes yes yes. So much appreciation to you, Crone, and to you, readers, for sharing this space and the grace of your healing.)

extra:ordinary – self-made

(This week’s contribution to the extra:ordinary project (stories of everyday and ongoing resilience) comes from Jen L. in Denver, CO. Jen shows us what it’s like inside the survivor who excels as a means of resistance, and yet can be perceived as utterly unaffected by their trauma. Thank you, Jen, for this powerful piece!)

self-made.

i am 28 years old. i have three (sometimes four) part-time jobs. i am in a full-time graduate program, have a 3.89 GPA, presented a poster at an international conference this fall, and am starting to look at PhD programs. i have a maybe-girlfriend (we’ll probably define that relationship soon, but there’s no rush). we laugh pretty much every day. i have built up an incredible network of very good friends who have stretched my heart across the entire country, from maine to massachusetts to florida to ohio to minnesota to kansas to colorado to california to washington state. six years ago, a family, not at all related by blood, gathered me into their fold, giving me a place to call home. my apartment is filled to the brim with book-friends that i’ve collected and hugged close over the last seven years.

i dated a girl recently who had an amazing apartment with an 8th floor balcony that faced west over the park, the perfect vantage point to watch the sun set over the mountains every night. she had a great car with heated leather seats. a sweet kitchen stocked with organic and natural everything. an enormous tv with satellite cable. an adorable dog who was fed specialty food. and she paid for none of it. her parents, who were generous and kind and loving and lived near napa valley, paid for everything. as far as i could tell, she walked through the world with no weight on her shoulders, with no baggage strapped to her hips.

we did not last.

i am 28 years old, and i’ve crafted and molded this world from the ashes that were left when i burned my family down to save myself.

i grew up with an abusive mother and an older brother who followed her lead. our house was always filled with people we took in, mostly college students who lived too far away to go home often and so they found a home in our handyman’s-special house by the creek. they never knew what happened upstairs, in my bedroom, in my parents’ bedroom, in his bedroom. these strays were the kids she could mother because they didn’t need her, they were the people she could love because she didn’t birth them. she took in strays like they were her own, while her own hurt each other in ways we didn’t know how to talk about.

i learned how to manipulate, growing up in that house by the creek. i taught myself how to harden my heart. i taught myself how to turn my tear ducts into deserts. i taught myself how to starve my desperation away. i taught myself how to shut down, and when that didn’t work / when that worked too well, i taught myself how to shock the pain out of my body with cuts or bruises or burns. i taught myself how to feel only what fit within my limits. i taught myself how to function in impossible situations. i taught myself how to see in the dark.

i taught myself how to find solace in writing suicide notes, in fantasizing about finality with all of my loose ends so neatly wrapped up. i taught myself the skills i would need to believe that i was at fault (i.e. that i still had control) after i was raped in college. i taught myself how to keep believing that it was my fault / that i still had control after i was raped again, less than a year later. i taught myself how to keep up appearances while my heart crumpled in on itself; i got scholarships and wrote brilliant papers and graduated just-shy-of-with-honors from an elite women’s college, all while writing poetic and brilliant suicide notes and hiding them from everyone around me.

i learned all of these things in that house by the creek.

down in the creek, though, i learned how to trust. it started with my oldest friend in the house just down the creek, and then exploded onto other friends and teachers and nurses in the hospital. in a creaky old house by the cemetery, i taught myself how to trust therapists with my story, and in a creaky old repurposed factory building by the river, i taught myself how to trust therapists with my crumpled-up heart. in a high school cafeteria, i taught myself how to rely on friends to fill the holes my family of origin had left in my soul. on a boat dock in the finger lakes, i taught myself what a home was; i learned how to identify that warm feeling that starts above your belly button and expands up through your shoulder blades as “home.” (i’ve felt that warm belly twice since.) on a rock by a lake in massachusetts, i taught myself how to let someone mother me again. in every place i’ve lived, i’ve taught myself how to let people in, how to build family from the ground up. on a mountain in virginia this summer, my brother and i started to teach ourselves how to find a connection with each other in between the light and the dark of our relationship. on these mountains in colorado, i’m teaching myself how to live a life that allows the dark to coexist with the light.

Jen L.
Denver, CO

extra:ordinary – learning to trust our truth

(I have continued to gather submissions for the extra:ordinary project — stories from our community of our recovery, resistance and resilience — and I am excited to share with you our next piece from Janice in California. I am so grateful for her words — thank you for holding her words here.)

Child of Sorrows

Infant, uncovered, cries alone.
Defenseless child of sorrows
holds her breath, listens in the dark, and
weeps alone in silence, afraid to fall asleep.

Where is mother when
she calls, “Mama”?
Where is God of love?
“Suffer the little children.”
Why must children suffer?
Why do adults
betray her trust?

From her struggle
in the hush of winter,
she flies on voyages
to the stars
until the light of dawn
returns her to
her body.

How does a toddler distinguish the truth that is taught by the one she honors and trusts?  She is taught holy verses:  The lion and lamb shall lie down together.  Who is the Lord?  The Lord is Our Father.  Obey the Lord.  Honor your Father.  Your Father loves you . . . too much.  Fear not . . . but I was filled with fear and Sore afraid.  Our Father . . . hallowed be Thy name.  Thy will be done.  I don’t understand . . . why does Thy will hurt me?  What does this teach a vulnerable child?  In whom should she trust?  Trust in Our Father?  First she trusts everyone.  Then she trusts no one.  Who can she talk to when her mother won’t listen to “stories”?  Where does a child go when home is not safe?  Who can she trust when she can’t trust her parents?  Can your child trust you?

Am I alone?   That’s hard to believe.  Yet, I, a preacher’s kid, have not located a reference to other PKs who were sexually molested by a Protestant pastor parent.  Are your voices still silenced?   

AWA writer friends know my history.  I am grateful for these safe writing groups, the excellent therapist I had and the journals I continue to fill.

Janice
California