Tag Archive | Moving Forward

Memories

She kicks both feet out in front of her with every ounce of strength her body can muster, a small sound escapes her lips with the effort. She lets her body go limp and she falls backwards, the wind rushing past her ears as she folds her legs underneath herself and gathers up all her strength once again. Now that she’s upright again and looking ahead, she takes a breath and she kicks both feet out in front of her with every ounce of strength her body can muster, a small sound escapes her lips with the effort. She lets her body go limp and she falls backwards, the wind rushing past her ears as she folds her legs underneath herself and gathers up all her strength once again. She swings, with purpose and emotion to release the pain that’s built up inside her chest. The sun is setting and she can feel the change in the air as evening succumbs to the darkness of night, the sky changes from the almost angelic shades of pink and gold to deep blues. The stars emerge, almost as if prompted by a director. Perfectly timed, rehearsed. She stops kicking and lets the motion of the swing, controlled entirely now by gravity, comfort her. Back & forth. Back & forth. Each time the swing moves with a little less momentum. Eventually she kicks off and lands, gracefully, balletic, on the ground and begins the walk home.

Before she’d reached the swings she’d walked through the still, chilled water of the reserve. It was low tide, she stopped to look at the miniature forms of life that sat at the bottom of a groove in the sand, trapped – for now, until the tide returns and it can escape back to the ocean. She walked along the sand of the banks, noticing as she walked how the texture of the sand changed. When she first stepped from the grass onto the sand it felt soft, silky and seemingly untouched. It enveloped her every step, comforming with the weight and pressure of her foot. Slowly, and with purpose, she took another step, noticing the slight pull as the sand released her foot – first her heel then the gentle tickle as her toes left the earth, and felt the process begin again with her next step. A little further along the sand becomes rough, course and scattered with debris left behind as the tide washed out. Pieces of stick, seaweed and other items she couldn’t identify littered the sand, the yellows and whites of the creek bed scattered with flecks of green and brown.

Tonight, for the first time in what seems to be a really long time, she allows herself to focus on memories. Should those memories be immediately connected to her current surroundings or not, it didn’t matter. She was allowed to think. She allowed the thoughts to come into her mind, she allowed them to be there, unjudged, untouched. Whatever feeling they aroused was allowed to be there too. Just be there, no pushing it aside because it wasn’t allowed or shouldn’t be, it just was. She allowed her heart to skip a little, her breath caught in her throat, as she thought about her drunken father or abusive brother – M. She stopped any passing judgement and accepted the memory for was it was.

Playing over in her mind like a monologue written and rehearsed to perfection she could hear his every word, picutre his every movement as his voice gradually grew louder. She’ll never forget the time her father came home to fight and pushed so hard her big brother, B, took it into his own hands to protect her and her mother. His hands around his throat, the colour in her fathers face slowly drained away as B’s grip tightened. Her father chocked out his words – “Get the fuck off me, you bastard!” B’s grip didn’t loosen. She’ll never forget the look of rage in his eye. He wasn’t going to stop until her father stopped resisting. She thought he was going to kill him, she was sure he would have if M hadn’t stepped in. Interrupted, B’s rage only multiplied, turning on M he took hold of him and held him against the wall. Choking him now. For a moment, she wondered if B did infact know what M had been doing to her. Why such rage and anger when M was only trying to help? Why? And, for a fleeting moment, she prayed that he wouldn’t let go of his grip around M’s throat. She prayed that this would be the end of the abuse, that this nightmare would allow her to escape from another. Then she realised that if B did in fact kill him, the one man in her life who she had ever trusted and felt safe around would go to jail. So she slipped unnoticed, or so she thought, into her mother’s room.

Closing the door on the commotion that took place in her living room, she picked up the phone and dialled 000. Asking for the police she blurted out everything she could. “He’s going to kill them, he’s hurting them. I need you to help him, protect him. He’s only trying to help.” She’d no sooner told the operator where she lived when someone took the phone from her and hung it up. She knew she’d be in trouble. Looking into her mother’s eyes, she apologised before the shattering of glass interrupted the night and a screech of car tires announced that B had once again gone speeding off, and she now had to worry, not only about the impending visit from the police, but also whether the next time she’d see her brother would be either in a hospital bed or at his funeral after he’d wrapped his car around a tree. 

The police arrived within the hour and asked a few questions before taking her aside and asking her to tell them what really happened. What really went on behind those doors, they wanted to know. Of course she didn’t tell – she didn’t want to break any rules, so she told them everything was fine. She told them she was happy, safe. She lied. The police left, and she left her parents to their own devices and crawled into her bed, where she’d hold tight to her blankets and pray, at least for tonight that the fight would be enough to make M leave her alone.

Pulling herself from the memory, she found herself on the rail bridge, looking out towards the creek mouth, where the water filters into the sea, greeted by the waves. She could hear the rumble of the ocean. The slightest breeze tickled her cheeks, the mild sea air comforted her and she reassured herself that she was in her safe place. She wasn’t in that house any more, and in her mind she watched that child close the door on that memory, at least for now, and accept that her feelings towards the men who were supposed to be a role model and protect her will, at least for now, be somewhat hostile and emotionally charged.

It’s nights like this that she finds herself grieving the childhood she didn’t have. Watching from a distance as a family talk and laugh over barbequed sausages, a single, silent tear slides down her cheek. She wipes it away quickly, scolding herself. It’s too late to mourn that now, she can’t change the past, she didn’t have any control over the events that took place then, but she does (as she so often tries to convince herself) have control over the here and now. The present. Her life, up until now, has been significantly traumatic, the effects of which still play a role in her everyday life. But the ball is in her court now. She suddenly notices that the scene infront of her, the sand, broken by a stream of water and framed by the dark green foliage of trees has colour. She suddenly notices the slight salty smell of the air, combined with the scent of spring – flowers, earth and the almost unnoticable scent of the still water that remains trapped among the rocks. There is colour, there is life – her heart is beating, her chest rises and falls rhythically with her every breath, she puts her fingers to her wrist, just above the butterfly tattoo and feels her pulse beat against them. She is alive. She takes a deep breath and turns her back on the railway. Maybe, just maybe there is hope. Maybe if she can breath through the violent images that invade her mind, the screaming thoughts, maybe if she keeps fighting she can create her own memories. Maybe next time she finds herself sitting at this bridge it will be purely to breathe in the salty air and take in the beauty of the image that is infront of her. She turns, her chest still aching with emotion, and walks to the swings. Another day, another night. She tells herself she will fight, and for now – she’ll swing as hard as she can until the ache is lessened and she’s strong enough to hold on to hope again. 

She kicks both feet out in front of her with every ounce of strength her body can muster, a small sound escapes her lips with the effort. She lets her body go limp and she falls backwards, the wind rushing past her ears as she folds her legs underneath herself and gathers up all her strength once again. Now that she’s upright again and looking ahead, she takes a breath and she kicks both feet out in front of her with every ounce of strength her body can muster, a small sound escapes her lips with the effort. She lets her body go limp and she falls backwards, the wind rushing past her ears as she folds her legs underneath herself and gathers up all her strength once again. She swings, with purpose and emotion to release the pain that’s built up inside her chest. The sun is setting and she can feel the change in the air as evening succumbs to the darkness of night, the sky changes from the almost angelic shades of pink and gold to deep blues. The stars emerge, almost as if prompted by a director. Perfectly timed, rehearsed. She stops kicking and lets the motion of the swing, controlled entirely now by gravity, comfort her. Back & forth. Back & forth. Each time the swing moves with a little less momentum. Eventually she kicks off and lands, gracefully, balletic, on the ground and begins the walk home.

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Candlelight

I watch the flame flicker and the shadows on the walls move around me.  I sit and stare at the flame as it burns, ever so slowly, down the wick. I watch the wax melt, pooling around the wick, sending off the slightest scent. The flame dances, slowly, then flickering as my breath stirs the fire. Watching the flame, I brace my self for the inevitable – that flame will die, the light will be extinguished, the scent will eventually disappear. The wax will set and the wick will cool, almost, if not for the blackened remains, as if it had been untouched. Similar to a secret, one that’s been kept for so long & is finally brought to light. Finally acknowledged and accepted, and the hope that that secret will no longer need to be kept is the light from the flame, the freedom of the flame’s dance. The wax, slowly spreading as it melts is the truth that is being unveiled, piece by excruciating piece. Yet, after the initial furore that surrounds such an emotional revelation, comes the darkness. The cold that washes over you when you feel like the truth will spread no further. The wax has set, the secret will be once again kept within that small circle.

My candle, once again alight, was cold and dark for such a long time. The secret so big that the heat that emanated from the flame would be too overwhelming, too hot, for me to handle. No longer is this that case, I’m stronger, bigger, wiser. I’m in control of the flame, of my candle. The secret, the wick, is mine and I choose when it is to be extinguished, I choose who gets to put boundaries on how far I spread the truth. I’m  in control of my life now and the light and warmth from the flame, the shadows dancing on the walls are exciting, almost enticing. I want to see where this may lead, if I’m open and honest, if  stop running from my past, stop hiding and protecting the things that happened and talk about them, work from them and grow because of them. Will that change the person I am, better the person I could be?

Holding on to a secret is so tiring, pretending and hiding from the truth takes up so much of my energy. The effort that goes into pretending is no longer justified. Speaking, first to my doctor, psychologist and best friend and then to my family about my depression, eating issues and anxiety that are results of years and years of bullying and sexual assault, among other things has been somewhat liberating. Like lighting the candle once again, watching as the flame slowly takes hold of the wick, eventually consuming it’s entire being, then growing and dancing as it feeds from the oxygen around it. I feel like I, myself, am feeding from those around me, my psychologist, GP and youth worker, my incredible friends and family. I feel like as I redirect my feelings to the areas that it’s justified rather than containing them within myself has set me free to breath in all that oxygen and grow, so much. Each time I let go of something that I’ve been keeping inside me for so long and set it out into the universe, share it, speak it, cry about it, let someone else acknowledge my hurt, I realise that even though I feel slightly overwhelmed by the heat from the flame, it’s not impossible to handle, I’m strong enough to withstand the heat.

I’m not keeping secrets any more. I’m not pretending, I’m not hiding. I am lighting the candle to a better, brighter and happier life. Embracing the warmth like a hug from a friend, I smile in the knowledge that even though things are still a little dark and scary and heavy around the edges, the flame will grow and the light from the candle will spread further. The flame will probably be extinguished a few times in before it gets there, but it’s important that I persist, keep relighting that candle and protecting that flame from dark days so that I can allow it to illuminate the way out.

The Messages Behind An Eating Disorder Voice

A friend I’ve been emailing for quite a while shared with me a statement that her counsellor made and I wanted to share it with you. It’s so profound and real. It reminds me that I need to dig deeper, I need to fight and find the reason for my pain so I can work at ways to unpackage them and them put them away into boxes in ways that suits myself so I can move on and enjoy my life.

‎Often we are told by our counsellors, psychologists etc that you tell the voices in your head to ‘shut up’, ‘go away’. We push them down, try to ignore them and of course the voices just scream louder.
The voices of eating disorders and depression however usually have a message to them. What if we listened to the message underneath the yelling voice that says ‘don’t eat that, it’s fat’ or ‘you’re so worthless’? What is the message underneath that our mind, heart and body is trying to tell us? Is it crying out for attention for the kid who was never noticed by their parents?Is it crying out about assault that happened and is still a secret? Is it saying I am sick of being hurt by your anger? If we listen to the message, then we can start to understand the reasons for the depression and eating disorder. We can use this knowledge to go back, acknowledge, learn how to accept and move on from whatever it is that is destroying us inside.