*Warning: this post may be triggering to some, or feature content that some might find all too real or broaches topics and feelings you don’t necessarily want to read right now while you’re holding your kid or are in the middle of making dinner. Whatever it is. This for readers stopping by for the first time…please know that the piece below has been written in support of survivors of sexual abuse, violence, and assault.*
The panic attacks started about 2 weeks ago. Intense, demobilizing, sending shards of stabbing pain through my neck and back. I’d never known what a ‘panic attack’ was to feel like, to experience, that I can remember. Since I’m being honest, it’s not that I’ve not had them before, it’s just that I was so heavily self-medicating at the time that my recollection of much of anything during my first-time experiences with remembering childhood trauma is hazy. Flashbacks yea, I remember that part, panic attacks – no. By that time I was well on my mind-numbing way.
You see, a panic attack doesn’t necessarily take place as a direct result of trauma. Some people have them for a myriad of other reasons. Often they make zero sense at the time and it’s a body memory thing. Sometimes they are directly synced to memories, other times not.
With so much happening in the media right now, it’s hard not to be triggered as a person with traumatic amnesia. (There I said it.) It’s a veritable mixed emotion tidal wave, one that surges with a deep sense of belonging and a voice shouting inside of me, “FINALLY.” People aren’t talking about sexual violence and abuse in hushed tones. Another part of me knows I’m being triggered and I sign off from all of the discussion, the articles, the commentary, the debate, the hate and the support. It is all at once and at the same time; empowering and damning.
As many of my readers and friends know, I am a survivor of rape and abuse. I have been vague about when, where, how often, how and by who for many reasons. Often a person’s silence has much to do with their relationship with their perpetrator(s). It’s often someone we know. Sometimes it’s a mix of strangers and those we know over many years. Sometimes we don’t remember until decades later, our bodies and minds saving us from the brunt of that which they could not bear, generations deep. As startling as it is to some, we have been abused in these ways by our own family, close family friends or people in positions of power that we trusted. The feared. I understand that these topics are often too disturbing and heart-wrenching for anyone to really talk about on a daily basis, never mind constantly, ad nauseam every day while everything they ever believed about the good people in the world is being confronted.
Which is precisely why I have learned to surround myself in my never-ending journey as a self-healer with other female survivors. As a mother now, who has almost zero time to get swallowed up by re-living trauma. Women like us, we find each other, we find solace and strength in sharing our truths; our stories with each other. And we lift each other up.
An example of this happened this very morning wherein one amazingly good woman in my life listened to my words as my eyes skittered in shame and I apologized over and over again. It was the first time I was sharing something like that with her, and parts of me knew I would be speaking her truths too and that it was okay. After our FaceTime session together, (therapy happens in so many glorious ways) she sent me an email. In it was a poem she told me she wrote, inspired by me.
She saw things, she understood things I didn’t even speak with my words alone. What she articulates in darkly poetic-like prose, I am sure now, more than ever; will speak to so many more very much like me. So many more than we will ever know. I asked her if I could publish her poem because this poem is a ROAR. It speaks to hearts of survivors, though our stories and timelines may differ, our silence and shame is very much the same. She said yes and chose to do so anonymously. Speak the words aloud and listen with your brain and heart. Know these words to be true for countless others and hold them in your hearts tonight as you hold your little ones’ hands (if you have children) around the block tonight greeting devilish ghouls. Hold those little hands tight.
“The recent events in Canadian media have brought a lot to the surface, for a lot of people. For me, it’s brought a heaviness. A sadness. An unshakable understanding of inequality, but also of shared experience. I do not know one woman who has not been affected by sexual harassment or assault. Not one. This saddens me deeply. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a plethora of strong, incredible, supportive men in my life. I love men. But, I don’t love how many of my sisters have been deeply wounded without choice at the hand of the desire and dysfunction of the opposite sex. I see this problem as a systemic one. A heavy one. An important one. Why is it often overlooked?
I wrote this to shed some weight. Anonymously. For all those too shamed or scared to let their song free.”
Written by: Miel Larkin
The way women carry the world
without stopping to listen to their hearts pounding
without breaking or breathing or thinking and then
they corrode under the weight of 1000 men
the ones who looked hungry when we walked in the night
the ones who talked down when we put up a fight
the ones who are hiding in memories blocked
the ones who hold us and melt hearts that are locked
the ones who took without ever asking
the ones who can be without ever masking
their bodies, their dreams, their passions, their drive
the space between sexes, a massive divide
I carry the weight the way I carried my child
inside me so deep, something grows wild
but oppressed, kept quiet and still
until it starts to grow and kick and shrill
and out it comes when you feel spirits might
and even the stick in your teeth clenched tight
ain’t no match for the weight of the thing inside
the terror and hurt
the sadness, the marrow
the bones and the grit and the masks
that we wear
the worn out smiles
and the blow-dried hair
Muscles ache without reason
and my eyes are listless and I blame it on the season
but really it’s the weight
that I carry
that I fear I’ll hand off to
the man that I married
and the child I mothered
and the home that I keep
and that someday I’ll break
and words will become weep
and weep will consume me
because there’s no more words
So I look to the birds
and I sing them my song
and imagine the freedom
in flight and in long
distance trips away from this place
and I imagine the lightness