~PLANT YOUR OWN GARDEN, DECORATE YOUR OWN SOUL. INSTEAD OF WAITING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO BRING YOU FLOWERS~
My childhood was as vicious as any battleground in the world.
I grew up hidden in the closets of a home filled with violence.
I awoke to shattering glass and cursing insults, the muffled sounds of beating and smothered screams for help.
I was a casualty of a cold war.
My mother died the kind of death no one likes to discuss, and afterwards I was left in a world that had never been motherly to me. Adapting to her loss required a maturity most eleven- year -old's don't have, and lacking a mother figure to guide me I have had to piece together a female self-image on my own.
As I faced continuing difficulties - a violent foster home and sexual abuse - I learned that close relationships can be impermanent, security ephemeral and family capable of being redefined. I developed an adult insight while still a child, yet had only juvenile resources to help me cope.
I learnt not to cringe away from the big, the unforeseen or the unexpected. That to be strong did not mean the sprouting of muscles to flex. It meant meeting my own numinousity without fleeing, learning to be able to endure, and to then thrive despite my pain.
My basic self was wounded long before my mother's death. I believed I was weak, ugly and unacceptable, and the pressure to be "adequate" set me on the road to wander for a long time looking for a place of nourishment and peace. Yet, whenever my life wanted to burst forth someone was always there to salt the ground so nothing would grow. There was a kind of pathology in my "not deserving" syndrome. I kept knocking on all the wrong doors even after I knew better, though it is hard to know which doors are the right ones when you've never known a right door to begin with.
And the wrong doors cause you to feel the outcast all over again.
All creatures must learn that there exist predators - shrewd trackers that sense the willing, the naive, the young and the weak. Without my mother's guidance I became a woman who was unable to navigate safely in my own forest without being devoured.
There were no bars on my windows and no barbed wire fence, I was not chained or locked in a cell; my enslaving barriers were invisible. Nonetheless I suffered continual abuse for years, feeling totally powerless to escape. This sense of powerlessness continued into my adulthood, rendering me vulnerable to further predation.
It would have been comforting if my predator had been easily recognizable, obviously deviant or disturbed, but he wasn't. He seemed terribly and terrifyingly normal, and this normality was worse than all the atrocities put together.
Being able to say that one is a survivor is an accomplishment. But once the threat or trauma is past, there is a potential trap in labelling ourselves by the name we bolstered ourselves with during the most terrible times of our lives; it can create a mind-set that is potentially limiting.
For too long I just froze up. This coldness, which I thought an achievement, meant I was without feeling towards myself and had even less for others - a self-protective mechanism that ultimately damaged my soul.
Choice defines us, but alas, fear had paralysed my freedom of choice. I packed whatever was the easiest and most available into my emptiness, thinking that if I could but gather enough I could fill the void, rescind the darkness and repair the loneliness within. I muddled through endless needy relationships, substituting heads, hoping like hell I would find my soul in one of them. I gave away my power, my identity and my dignity, loving my partners too much and myself not enough.
Looking for love in all the wrong places became repetitive, compulsive behaviour, that only caused more injury because my original wounded state was not being attended to and I incurred new wounds with each foray.
I didn't realise that the moment I entrusted my happiness to a man in a search for self-worth, social status, and cash in my pocket i was in fact endangering the very possibilities of happiness by removing a sense of personal responsibility from the equation. Instead I was saying to the other person "It's your job to make me feel whole, complete and wanted"
To begin my healing i had to stop kidding myself that a little "feel-good" of the wrong sort would take care of my broken heart and lost soul. I had to hold out for the right remedy that would strengthen my life rather than weaken me. After years of wandering I had to move from being a victim into a shrewd-minded, wily-eyed, sharp-eared woman.
It was time to tell the truth about my wounds after many years of hide and seek, and in seeing my own truthful picture I could begin to do something about the other lost sounds of childhood.
The muted cries of children, who are being smothered by vulgarity, exposed to pornography and robbed of security. Little girls who are left at home while the predators smile like greedy imps hungry for the next crop of fresh meat.
It isn't easy for any of us to transcend the past, or the pain, we might have suffered. Yet there are gifts in those pains, and we can choose to let light into dark places. Then, we are not alone.
My story is proof that despite some of the bleakest turns in my life, a detour can turn out to be a destination.