Mountain – A Poem

20170406_182751Our love is a gentle breeze

I am a mountain, tall and solid

From my soil grows all types of fruit,

Warm and ripe from the summers sun

From my ground—sharp rocks, jagged edges

You cut your feet when you try to climb me

Your hands reach for the delicious fruit

Hanging there on branches like slender arms

Your blood soaks into the earth of me,

Wet and dark

The ground is fertile like the lining of a womb

The rocks are a boundary raised from

Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes; things that injure

And kill

And our love floats up to me,

Where the white snow covers my highest peaks

It sings to me, asks me to allow you inside

Every crevice and cave

Allow you to pick any fruit you desire

Taste its sweetness

But I shake my earth like a quivering woman

In rage, in shame, in storm clouds and rain

Red fire engulfs the trees, the birds, all things

Alive and beautiful

I am covered in ashes, black as onyx stone

I cannot accept your bleeding feet, your outstretched arm,

Your longing song you sang to me

And yet, beneath the ashes of my rage and pain

The tiniest of sprigs pushes itself stubbornly

Through the hot earth

Its leaves are the newest green, soft and supple

Like the breasts of a young woman

And then it stands taller, grows wider, takes up more space

Soon I am covered in these proud plants

Then trees, and their strong branches

Where birds come to nest and raise their young

I am alive again

The mountain breathing

My lover comes again, here you are

Your feet have healed and my rocks

Don’t

Cut you

You are patient in your climbing,

Holding onto earth and tree

You find me in the quiet solace of

My highest peaks

We rest together in the comforting snow

I hear the song you sing to me

And I begin to sing it too

We live together

And the blood-soil you gave me

Has become a sign for

New things

To come and grow here

 

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Trauma and Memory Recall

Memory is a strange thing for the traumatized mind. Some memories are nothing more than apparitions of smell, emotion, and touch; try as I might to put flesh on these ghosts, they remain as formless as mist rising in the morning. Other memories are clear on the big picture yet lack details. I remember his size, the tenor of his voice, the time of year; but his face is an empty and blurred image, as if I can only recall the outline of what happened and who he was. And still others, more strangely, are incredibly vivid and detailed. I can recall the color of my shirt and the exact size of his member on me. I remember the lunch I ate, and the cigarettes I smoked. I remember his face; he isn’t a blurry image I struggle to recall. I can still see the lines on his forehead and the way his lips drew together in rage against me.

Sometimes I have to close my eyes and think “ok…I was very cold and wearing a jacket so it must have been Fall or Winter….yes, it was because the soup kitchen gave us Christmas dinner…” and that is how I put some things together. It is like tracing lines, connecting dots, until I can place a certain event in the timeline of my life. “Was I 18 or 20 when this happened? Well… didn’t meet my husband yet so I wasn’t 20…” and on it goes.

Why are some memories so detailed, and others so far away? They were all traumatic. I was high during some, and sober during others; but it makes no difference in my ability to remember. Why, oh mind, do you insist that I remember the drug dealing pimp from Harlem who raped me but will not reveal the face of a similar man from East Orange? Why, oh mind, do you allow me excruciating memory of shame and secrecy during childhood but will not permit me his name? What is this game of ours we are playing?

There has got to be some reason, no? I just cannot figure it out. This memory puzzle, this strange collection of blurry and clear snapshots in time.

That man from Harlem, I don’t want to remember him. I want to forget. Yet, my mind insists on not forgetting him. But then, I wonder why on earth I am trying to coax details from the misty memories of my mind. Surely they must be worse? But are they? I don’t know.

I am my own puzzle, and my brain has stored the pieces in various places in different ways.

I suppose the most important thing is to resolve the feelings. That is what I focus on now.

If I cannot recall what I want to at will, then I will focus on healing the wounds they left behind. I will work with what I have available to me, and trust in my mind’s way of storing these events long left behind.

As long as one day, I am whole again. Free again. Me again.

Dear Mother, Dear Father..Your Child Was Sexually Abused.

Dear Mother, Dear Father:

There is no easy introduction. There is no careful beginning to help soften the blow. When I was a child, a small child, I was sexually abused. This is a confession a life-time in the making. This is a truth never uttered verbally from my lips. Even staring at those words makes me tremble and my stomach churn.

But how? And who? Where and when?

This is the place of my condemnation, I may never be able to answer these questions. For you, or for myself.

Well, then how do I know? Where does this confession come from if I cannot give you the face and the name and the place? If I cannot give you the who, why, where, when; how can I possibly know?

The answer is easy, because I have always known.

There has never been a day in my memory that I have not known this as a simple fact of my life.

I may not be able to remember the event(events?), but I remember the aftermath which has always been with me.

As far back as kindergarten age, I recall the sickening feeling in my belly. I remember the heavy weight on my shoulders. I most of all cannot forget the deep, enduring sense of shame and disgust at myself for what “I had done”. I was a little girl, and I somehow heard of the word “rape” and had a sense of what it meant. I knew it involved a violation, and a physical act of some private kind. I didn’t know anything about sexual intercourse, neither was I violated in that particular way. Yet, I sat on my bed in my room trying to swallow the panic lodged in my throat while thinking, “I’ve been raped.”

“How can I tell my mother?” I would think through tears. I don’t understand to this day why I never did say something. I know I wanted to. I know I really wanted to. It seemed too big, too grotesque of a truth to say to my mother who knew me only as an innocent girl. What would she of think of me? Will everyone hate me? I must be really, really bad. I bet God hates me too because I’m dirty.

I tried to forget. As I got older, left elementary school and went into middle school. I tried to push it far away. I tried to convince myself that I had to put it behind me. I was worn down by the secrecy. I was worn down by the weight of it all, crushing my chest and making it hard to breathe. I wanted peace. I wanted to be a girl, unmolested. So, I decided I would never remember it again. I was in 6th grade. I told myself it was forbidden to think of. I pushed it way, way down and wrapped up it up in a box and threw away the key. I would not allow myself the knowledge of it anymore. It would be gone, and I would be free.

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I am in 6th grade in this picture. Just a child.

But I was not free. I did forget though. But never the feelings, they stayed stubbornly with me. They insisted on bubbling up to remind me of my uncleanness, of my secret, of my ugliness.

I turned on my body. I took out my rage against this cage of flesh so determined to destroy me. With diets and vomiting and scratches with pins until I bled. I will forget. I will be normal.

Soon, whatever rage and despair I had carried with me was combined with the new traumas I endured. I realized my body was once again a deceiver and a problem, when that 40-year-old man painfully forced his fingers into me at 14. I had tried to move on. I had tried to be new. I had tried to be clean and forgiven. But here I was, laying still on the dark grass while a man taught me the same lesson again; your body does not belong to you. Your body is a temptation and a problem. It must be me. It must be my fault.

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Me at 14. Depressed inside and my outward appearance reflects that here. I wore only black.

You see the body does not allow you to forget its violations. It remembers. When I shudder at the gentle touch of a friend, because I wasn’t expecting their hand on my shoulder. When I still cannot sleep without some sort of light on, I have to know who is coming for me. When I am overwhelmed with anxiety from a doctor’s exam, their hands and tools triggering a flight or fight response. I am not allowed to forget.

I tried to overcome this body-remembrance dilemma by cutting off all feelings of attachments to it. Punishing my body didn’t work, just left scars and fluctuated my weight. So maybe I could become a spirit, totally separate from this fleshy prison. I would leave my body whenever I was abused, now as a teenager and young adult. I could watch myself from outside of my body. I learned how to go through motions and sounds without feeling anything or being present.

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16 years old here

But you know what? The spirit doesn’t forget either. And then, when I tried to make love to a man that I wanted to be with; I realized I had been robbed of the ability to feel. I couldn’t just turn it back on. And, even worse, my problem body would react as if I was being abused even if I wasn’t. I had been trained to associate anything sexual with pain. I was stuck.

Drugs helped to numb the pain away, and distract me from all this hell. But it also led me to places where I was being hurt on a regular basis. My body became currency, because it was all I had left to give. If I didn’t give it, it would be taken anyway. Once again the same lesson, your body is not yours. I was taught at 16 by the men who dragged me down a hallway kicking and screaming that it is better not to fight. Just give in, fly away, endure it.

I have endured. But now, I want to stop running away.

This is just too big. How can I possibly address every act violence committed against me? I don’t think that I can. It is too much. But I can address the feelings. I can address how I relate to myself, to my body, which is in fact mine. I can ask for help. I can set boundaries and actually stick to them. I can find myself worthy of defending again. I can place blame where it rightfully belongs, not on my fragile bony kindergarten shoulders, not on the broken back of my teenage self, but rather on the broad grown shoulders of the men who choose to hurt me.

And you, my parents, could you try to remember with me? Maybe there is something, anything you can recall about what took place? If not, then just support me. Believe me, and believe in me.

I am starting to believe in myself.

Accepting Love, After Sexual Trauma.

The deepest kind of sadness is felt by one who is lonely in that sadness. Although I endeavor to share my experience and my hope, there are certain places where that raw loneliness has remained untouched by another human soul. Those deep places, still bleeding after all these years.

My sex is something painful. On one hand, womanhood has blessed me immeasurably. I rejoice over my body’s ability to grow a person inside my womb, birth that person into the world, and nourish and comfort that baby at my breast. In fact, having children gave me love for my body and gender for the first time as an adult. Yet it feels that my body has betrayed me so many times.

I ask myself, was I ever innocent? I know that I was. If I think hard about it; I remember. I was an innocent child. I deserved no harm against me. Still that feeling of ugly, dirty, worthlessness has been etched so far into my psyche that it can be difficult to force a memory of innocence.

Too. Many. Men.

That is the truth. They have no number, no name, only some have a face or hands that I remember. There are just too many, far too many, men.

I remember just when they succeeded in crushing my spirit inside of me, along with my body and blood and bone. That moment when I stopped the fruitless and pathetic begging. When my legs ceased to kick erratically and ineffectively against the strength of their manhood. When I no longer opened my mouth to utter a painful “no”.

My mouth closed. My legs opened, without fight, with resignation. I had been lost. Defeated. Completely overcome.

So. Many. Years.

That is the truth. I cannot recall a time that I was not so damaged by them. It seeps into every corner of my mind—my very being is infused with my defeat. For so many, many years I could not resist them; any of them. My body and mind checked out, survival meant submission. And I did survive.

I couldn’t accept the forgiveness of my Father in Heaven because I knew he would never want something like me. I felt less than human. I looked around at the kind people at this church I had never been exposed to, and I knew that I would never be them. I could never be them. Someday they would realize it too. Someday they would stand me up, strip me naked, and expose my filthiness. I would be thrown out, cast away, shut off from the kingdom.

Yet, what does this Savior say?

That those who hurt children would be better off thrown into the sea. My abusers were adults, they saw my lack of maturity and used it to their advantage. They knew I was desperate, so they used me. They saw that I was unable to defend myself, so they hurt me.

What does this Savior say?

Those who come to him will be forgiven, clean as snow where they were once scarlet. He will forget, remove, destroy the sin that trapped me and held me in perpetual guilt and slavery. There is no sin too great, no person too low. He sees me as pure, even if I can’t yet.

Again, what does this Savior say?

That prostitutes will enter the Kingdom of the Father before the hypocritical “righteous” do! He says to the woman who has lost her way, “You are forgiven. Go, and sin no more.”
Even prostitutes can enter the Kingdom?

When we seek His face, repent, and trust Him; we are forgiven. Yes, even we.

Even I.

Tonight, the emotions of the past are climbing into the present. I feel uncomfortable. I feel the aching despair of shame and loneliness. Has anyone else had so much taken from them, that they just wanted to scream “ENOUGH! I have NOTHING left! Stop touching me! Stop taking from me! I am empty”? Has anyone else ever stood in a crowded room and wondered if the people talking to them would stay, if they knew “their history”? Has anyone cried uncontrollably and alone wondering what it feels like to be loved instead of hurt by others?

I have. For too many years. From too many men.

I want to focus on One Man; Yahushua(Jesus), who DOES love me. He does not and will never hurt me. He forgives my sins, and he shows me where I should be forgiving to those who have sinned against me. He can heal me, if I will open myself to Him and accept his love.

Help me to accept your love tonight, my Savior.

Help me to accept your healing tonight, my Abba Yahweh.

To my sisters who understand the aching grief of sexual abuse, I am so sorry you have endured it as I have. I love you, and you are loved by the one who created you. You do not deserve abuse. Please, reach out to someone and allow them to love you on this journey.

Peace to you. Shalom.

*Relevant Bible Verses (brackets inserted by me) *

John 8:10,11 Straightening up, Jesus [Yahushua] said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus [Yahushua] said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

Matt 21:31 … “I [Yahushua] tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.”

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD [YHWH, Yahweh]. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Luke 17: 1,2 He [Yahushua] said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.