These are the days when my childhood haunts me; when my hips ache like they’ve been beaten with a mallet; when my neck goes tight all the way down to my lower back, and the irritation sits deep in my throat. These are the days I hold private, away from the possibilities of careless minds. These are the days I ask why they did that to me as a child, leaving me with sporadic days where my sacrum cries out in pain from the shatters, and I struggle to move myself around, when all I want to do is keep my legs propped up to relieve the pressure from my hips. When physical pain is a result of childhood beatings, and there is no cure, a rage fills you, because you didnt consent to be broken. So I go quiet, and I cry through it, and then I rise the fuck back up.
The Original One wavers, lazily sleeping, snacking and avoiding. Might I silence the fire, burning and buzzing in the spine? We run into the trails, avoiding the undergrowth of tree roots pushing their way through the ground. We grab at leafy branches. She’s an avalanche avoiding her own rubble. Sideways in the gradients lingering around our eyes, the shadows whisper. They run beside us, and we wonder if we are shadows to them, dark echoes leaning against their eyelids. Where do we go when the pressure explodes and the heart is torn? Where do we scream the aftermath? Into pillows, the skies or buried inside?
Words. We create language for the anguish. The Brave One stands in her place, warrior and explorer of the past. She will find answers for the empty spaces. Don’t fear the faces. Look into their eyes. Don’t cry. We stand beside oceans, gazing through windows of waves. One day the illusions will pass and the pieces of the flashes will merge into view. We see truth for what it is, a planted alibi to cover every lie the truth hides, and humans will bend at their knees to kiss the feet of the malevolent just for a promise of heaven.
The Dark One peers, silently into the whispers, always with us, there are none who can attack our back. It is revealed in instances, and she chuckles, amused at the minions. Might she cut open the simulated empathy being used as weaponry by the mind swindlers? Taking a piece of each, she throws their banter into the dark matter, and turning her face, strides away. There are days when she is habitual, residual and invisible. There are moments she is unaffected, stone faced and solid, looking at the rejected faces of the displaced, with malice.
“They are an inconsequential waste to this place and should die off, jump cliffs and return into nothingness.”
The Wise One watches, taking in the whole of their life, assessing and regressing into the violet of her quiet. Traveling back, she brings the messages so they can know the next step.
“Nothing is permanent.” She says. “Stay inside the moments.”
We hold hands in the color tunnel where the memories funnel in. We rewind back, watching the past, progress to the present and the continual disturbance. The film strip plays sporadically and without warning, disarms the army. We didn’t morph into what was intended. We’ve pretended for years, watching you, and now we see all the way through. You’ve been duped.
(cover art by Simona Ruscheva “MPD” oil on canvas)
When I was a child growing up on Sam Fife’s cult compound in Alaska, we did not have electricity or plumbing. As a result, we used the bathroom in chamber pots and outhouses. We also did not have toilet paper. Our toilet paper was often a Sears magazine with anything that wasn’t “proper” for us to see torn out of it.
We would rip out a couple of pages, sitting bare butted on top of a wooden hole, softening the glossy paper with our hands so that we could wipe as gently as possible.
I also had a severe fear that a demon would rise from the pile of human manure and snatch me down into the outhouse hole.
It was here, that I would find the toy sections of the magazine, and I would see what all the of the kids outside of the compound were getting to play with. These toys were considered evil commodities for they fed the wants and desires of the flesh; to want to play and enjoy doing it. For all “play” and attention should be only on God and what he wanted for our lives.
Yet, they left those pages in the magazine for us children to have to use as toilet paper after stealing a few seconds to dream of what could be.
So I used these pages to clean my body, dropping them to float down into a mound of lime covered feces, urine and other, already melting pages.
Your face crinkles as you read this.
“Gross“, you say.
Yes. The smell covers you, rancid and fuming, even with the lime to help counter it.
When we finally got toilet paper around 1981, it was rationed. Families were given toilet paper rolls based on how many people were in their family. Then the toilet paper roll itself was rationed.
“One square for number one and two squares for number two.”
The rule of thumb in regards to the use of toilet paper.
We live in this society who doesn’t understand what’s it’s like to be without even the smallest of things like toilet paper and baby wipes, diapers and showers, toilets that flush and electricity; even the freedom to be exactly who we want to be if we so choose.
Toilet meditations often reveal a lot.
I’m grateful as fuck for toilet paper and toilets that flush. Not because of third world countries who don’t have them, but because I lived a third world childhood in a first world country that was and still is so focused on third world issues that the citizens of America never pay attention to the horror children endure here in their own camp.
and for the most part, they still aren’t.
I’m done dealing with humans who claim co-consciousness and oneness or follow religions that claim to be based out of love yet are the same people supporting things like hitting children. They call it discipline. I call it abuse that damages the spinal column.
Oh, that’s just science. What do they know… unless you’re dying. Then you care about science.
Yes, I’m talking directly to you.
How can anyone be love in any way while at the same time finding a reason to support hitting, neglecting or harming the most innocent and defenseless humans on the planet?
This oxymoron of take and shut down are like gnats.
I realized today in a big way, how much humans are stuck in duality; how they think they know all, and yet, if they silenced themselves to listen, if they read the voices of us survivors who have written out our experiences, they would understand how deeply they must open their minds in order to truly bring this planet to a place of peace.
They’d understand why people like me, are grateful for toilet paper, why we fight against mind control and shorten our allowance arena.
Until you’ve lived with nothing. Until you’ve carried the scars of a shattered sacrum from too many childhood spankings, memories of outhouses and dumping chamber pots into potty dump holes, working through aching bones, untreated split skin and bruises, you can’t know. You lived a life of electricity, television and secular luxuries like getting to go to grocery stores.
Until you’ve had that all stripped from you and lived wiping yourself with magazine pages holding treasures you can never have, oh, dears, you cannot know. You can only accept and ask yourself why you can’t open your mind to care.
Be grateful for toilet paper.
How often have you heard this phrase thrown around, either flippantly, in jest or to victim blame someone who has overcome or is recovering from abuse?
I heard this often as a post-cult teenager and well into my adult years. While I was actually dealing with the behavioral aftermath of being an extremely abused child, instead of receiving support, caring and nurturing I was told that I was crazy. When a child is told enough times that they’re mind is insane, we begin to believe it.
This poetry piece is from my spoken word album, Dusted Shelves, which is available on Amazon in paperback and c.d. Written in 2013, it is a representation of a life by which I was conditioned to believe that I was crazy.
Some abuse survivor work is considered to be dark and oddly psychotic. This piece would fall under that theme.
**Trigger Warning for those who are sensitive to these themes**
There’s a faded line
Between reality and time I
Catch myself remembering rejection
Straddling a log fence watching
Them play and laugh and shout
Odd girl out
I used to be an expert at stilts
Stride the mud like a queen
I could do anything
If I just believed but
I never prayed hard enough to
Make God real and
It would be a version of
Drop Dead Fred who
Emerged the memories in my head
Do you know the flashes
That leave gashes behind your eyelids
Ask a soldier if he can forget
The blood of war then
Ask me if I can erase
The horror of flailing bodies
And belt straps stripping skin
We don’t forget
We learn to live occasionally laughing and
We hide the burning in our throat
The angst that never goes away
We become quiet
Learn to fake it
To not ruin moments
We pass the bread and wine
Close our eyes to the sighs
As we lose track of time
We hope we don’t carry on
The aftermath of our dysfunction
Watch our children struggle
As we cry in silence
To do it over, take the pain
Would I endure it again
The lashes and shunning
The fear and repentance for
Deeds confused and undone
Would I die again just to be here
Take the scourging of my flesh
To understand the depth
That loneliness can sink a soul
I don’t know
I am back walking paths
Running to escape shadows
Hiding behind trees and
The demons who will enter me
So they preach and I
Reach my arms to the moon
Take me home
I want to leave this place where
The babies cry and fathers weep as
Mothers scrape together meals
Where humans have forgotten to feel
Take me back
I want out of this mission
I am missing starlight and quiet
The soft green beneath my
Weeping willow tree
You promised me
I am watching sand fall slowly
Motion reversed I am poised
Rehearsed for the scene
But if I told you that
My ears can’t take the screams
And my heart can’t take the weight
Would you hold me
Would you softly kiss the spot
Above my heart and
Understand the sadness without
Judgement or coldness
Would you encase my face and
Tell me I’m safe
Because you see I am just
A little girl lost and
Sometimes I am tired, weak
Battle torn and worn
Longing for touch
So I sit beneath the pines
Write poetry lines and
Breathe in the rain because
Water washes pain and
I am an hourglass waiting it out
Until the last drop
Turns me on my end and
I restart this life again.
I was born into this world doctrine free. My father was an agnostic lover of physics, and while my mother was raised Pentecostal Christian, she neither practiced the religion nor incorporated religion into our home. However, when my father started working on military projects which kept him away from home for sometimes weeks, my mother became open prey for a cult recruiter who so infused herself into my mother’s life that at three years old, I was forced into the extremist Christianity written about in my memoir, “Cult Child”.
As a child and into adulthood there was a constant war going on inside of me. This conflicted feeling existed naturally in me, both while living in the cult and transitioning into mainstream society as a teenager. My instinct was telling me that this Christian belief system was not authentic, but fear of a place called Hell held me inside of the belief system well into my early twenties.
While attending college in the early 90’s, I read “The Witching Hour” by Anne Rice. This book ignited something in me. There were traits in Ms. Rice’s characters which felt familiar to me; traits such as hypersensitivity and the ability to feel what others were feeling; seeing into people, and there were memories of my childhood which surfaced after reading the book. Because the cult sequestered me so far away from society, my hunger for knowledge delved me deeper into supernatural subjects.
I wavered for a while, still gripped at times by the fear of not believing in God and being sent to live with the demons in hell. I also found that I turned to Christianity when things didn’t go right in my life hoping that if I just believed more, things would change for me. When that did not happen, I explored deeper into paganism, pulling out pieces of my European historical roots. It was during this time I felt I was starting to put my fragmented existence back together.
Paganism led me to Santeria, a short study of Voodoo, Satanism and Shamanism. I curiously peeked into Mormonism and what the Muslims believed. I explored mainly for knowledge, thirsting to know all of the different paths which existed; paths I never was allowed to discover on my own. I delved into my Cherokee history and my connection to nature and the planet. I stuck my toes into Yogi and Osho, checked out the Buddha and jumped on the awakening and oneness trains. Yet, something interesting was happening to me.
I was definitely awakening. I was waking up to myself. Thirty years after being taken into a cult and losing all of my identity through an indoctrination which restricted my critical thinking, I regained my mind, deprogrammed myself and realized that I actually did not need a belief system which involved group think. In fact, to be who I am, I did not need a belief system at all.
So who am I? I am a non-believer who doesn’t worship anything or anyone. I journeyed deeply into disbelief, and what I found there was my free and clear mind. What I found inside of disbelieving was a knowing that empathy is inside of my DNA, not my belief system. For me, there is no reason to wonder where I came from or where I am going, but instead to be present inside of what I am doing right now, being mindful to the needs of others and defining my own boundaries of self love. In this space is a peace that no belief system has ever brought me.
It is said that we trauma survivors most often hold onto the past, ruminating over it in our minds and manifesting it in our behaviors and dysfunctions.
Our past is a map of who we are. It is our personal history book. For many of us it is a manifesto of survival and the treacherous terrain we have travelled over.
But I say this…
I do not believe we hold onto the past. If we could wave illuminated wands or erase our minds back into a clear palette of beautiful memories and loving childhoods, we would maybe then, believe in miracles. I would most likely take that option without question.
No, dears, we trauma survivors do not hold on. Instead, the past holds onto us, and we spend a lifetime prying it’s fingers from our skin, rebuking its haunting voice in our heads and clambering over the piles of images and dreams it randomly throws into our path.
Reversing language, instead of asking trauma survivors, “What part of your past are you holding onto?”, which implies that the survivor is almost enjoying the trauma of their past, a better question would be, “What part of your past is holding on to you?”
There is too much victim blaming language being thrown at trauma survivors. So, I ask myself, what part of my past holds onto me the strongest?
I’d have to say the sexual abuse and the mental fear fragmentation. It makes my stomach revolt when I’m around certain types of men. I cannot stand to look at them or even have them touch me or act intimately towards me. My mouth will water with the urge to vomit.
I am hyper vigilant in all aspects of my life, no different than a military trained soldier or police officer. I am hyper aware of possible dangers around me at all times, hence the urge to stay at my home where it does feel safest.
I speak to my past often. I tell it, “Don’t hold me so tight. You are squeezing my breath.” And it complies, easing just enough for me to move. Our pasts don’t want to release us. The automated aftermath of trauma has been extensively trained by our abusers to keep its spindly fingers gripped into us like puppets.
And we spend time cutting the strings as the spiders continue to weave. We race against time to stay ahead of them; to clear the webs. Sometimes we get tired. It takes work to stay ahead of a spider. They are dutiful and focused. So we must do the same.
“We do not hold onto our past. Our past holds onto us.” Vennie Kocsis