Three days ago I quietly celebrated one year in this safe space with each of you. I am still, and may always be, hoisted above myself in my father’s iron grip, but by some miracle my voice has been wild and free here — free and subtle and powerful as the wind.
What is left of me evades the trappings of my own body. This year I’ve come into close contact with that stuff we call our ‘essence’. Mine being called to the unique cadence of silence, the woods I love, the right words, warmth shaking in me until it sets and holds.
Next week I’ll celebrate another birthday with real gratitude for surviving another year when we all know how hard life is, how fleeting hope can be. I keep on going for my daughter, for the community of child abuse survivors who are still told either directly or indirectly to ‘grow up’ or ‘get over it’ or to ‘find something else to focus on’.
Scientists now know that there are significant changes that occur in our brains — changes that affect emotional processing and regulation — that are distinct from those without an abuse background. That knowledge is only going to grow and expand until we can link this early trauma to so many complex problems that ail our society.
It’s already happening, and the stories we tell are adding the richness that is a necessary partner to any new scientific discoveries on this topic. When we are hurt when we are so very young, something in us breaks like tender shoots. Something vital is severed and our sense of self, our faith in our purpose here, withers.
The grief endures, in my estimation, a lifetime. That relentless grief for who I might have been had I been loved and protected properly, right from the start. As I grow older, as time continues rapidly passing, I’m less and less willing to pretend that each day isn’t difficult, that each breath isn’t; we owe it to ourselves, and to our vulnerable community, to help others understand the link between our suffering and our pasts.
By some strange miracle, something in me, something there right from the start, was untouched, somehow preserved, while I was fighting for my life. That same something — call it an essence, call it a soul — wants me here in this marvelous, frightening, awful, striking, fruiting present.
This next year I’ll strive to stay right here telling these important stories while reading more and more of yours; thank you, thank you, thank you, for being here with me.