Born Crazy: A Video Poem

You’re crazy.”

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**

Born Crazy

Hourglass

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
Too loud

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

No
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
Become awkward
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.

©VennieKocsis

Do Trauma Survivors Really Hold Onto the Past?

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

A Letter To the Defense

In this assignment, let’s write a letter to our defendant/s. There may be one. There may be many. The Defendants are the people who should stand trial for hurting us as children. Write this letter in the voice of you as a child, saying what you want to say to them now.”  The Artist’s Way

Dear Abusers in Sam Fife’s Move of God Cult:

I wish you cared about how much you hurt me. Sometimes I sit in contemplation trying to bring out understanding of how you people can be so wicked, sadistic and cold.

Why don’t you think you did anything wrong? Do you know you were wrong and you’re too scared to admit the truth? Why? You don’t want to be judged? But you deserve to be judged.

What do you think your God’s final ruling will be when you stand in front of him? I am confused sometimes when you say “what is done to the least of us you do to God.” Why do you beat God? Why do you molest him? Why do you tell him that he is nothing but sin? Why do you say he is worthless? Why do you withhold his meals to make him comply? Do you think God will love you for what you do to him?

Maybe I’m not the least among you just because I’m a kid. What does the least among you mean to you?

I never trust you to keep me safe because I am never safe. My heart beats really hard when I’m scared of getting in trouble. Sometimes I think I’m floating halfway in the air and halfway in my body.

Mom, sometimes I look at you, and I think you are pretty. But sometimes you feel scary. I wish I could tell you that I only see demons in mean people. It’s in their eyes. Do you know that’s where evil can never hide, Mama? That’s why evil people wear sunglasses a lot, unless they have eye problems, maybe.

Do days feel this long to all the people in the world? They feel like forever to me. Mom, and how come we never get to talk to our Dad? Why do you hate him so much? Does he really not want us like you say? And please don’t marry Leis off to that man from India. He smells weird and then I’ll be all alone and you will make ME do all the cleaning in the cabin.

Mom, Brother Ray did a lot of dirty things to my body when we were living in the Tabernacle. And I am more than a sinner now. I can never tell you because then you will hate me for being a whore of Babylon. I didn’t know that little kids could be whores, but maybe I am what everyone says girls are.

I want to tell you all, how long this will follow me. It will tear apart my teenage years, leaving me void of an identity. It will send me to jail. It will make me choose boyfriends who abuse me. It will take all of my trust. I will trust the wrong people so many times I will stop trusting anyone at all. I will have months of not leaving the house. I will fail my children. I will have night terrors. I will have flashbacks of your torture. I will meet others like me, and I will despise your existence more. I will attack my own body with food and cigarettes.

I will dig my way out of your rubble. And I will find the real me. I will cease continuing your abuse by abusing myself.  You will stop owning me.  And then I will find you. I will spend lifetimes following you, haunting you, and I will tell all of your secrets. I will destroy your core and rip open your lies. I will survive.

I think you hate me because you can’t break me.

I have more to say, and I will keep writing you letters. And you will listen. Maybe we should tie you all to chairs, beating the truth out of you like you tried to beat fake demons out of us kids. Isn’t that what the Bible says? An eye for an eye?

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and other publications.  She is a also a poet and hostess of the podcast Survivor Voices Show.

Child Abusers Rarely Take Ownership of Their Crimes

If my mother were alive, and you were to ask her if she allowed her children to be abused or if she abused her children, her answer would most likely be (with Bible in hand), “Absolutely NOT!”

She would then most likely go on to tell you what difficult children my siblings and I were to raise, along with a myriad of other excuses to support the gross denial covering the guilt she couldn’t face.   This is what abusers do; blame the child, and all too often, naive adults actually believe it.

A couple of years ago, a friend who grew up in the same cult as me had a conversation with a woman who knew me when I was a child. My friend asked the woman about my time as a child at the second compound I was taken to in Alaska, and the woman said this:

Well, she was quite a boisterous child and was always in trouble a lot.”

She victim blamed a child who she witnessed be abused and yet still, thirty plus years later, the denial runs as deep as the ocean. What should we have expected? That our abusers would admit to their crimes? What a ridiculous notion. Child abusers rarely admit to their crimes unless they’re caught. Given the chance, they will quickly blame the child.  Witnessing child abuse and doing nothing is just as criminal as participating.

Victim blame a child abuse survivor, and that’s where my patience, kindness and association ends.

I do not ever condone a child abuse survivor having to defend themselves against the abuse they suffered. My fellow child abuse survivors, we’re not mentally ill. Our abusers are. Those who would attack your abuse are in serious need of psychological help themselves.

They lack empathy and understanding. Attacking someone’s child abuse is an extremely apathetic action. I feel we must use our voices to stand against those who would deny the atrocities that we endured as children and that children still endure. We have to stand our ground and not allow children to ever be blamed for the neglect and/or abuse they endure.

Tonight I sit in contemplation, knowing where my passions are, and what makes me feel in a space of forward movement.   I am aware of where I put my time and my energy, for my goal is to always be focused on believing and supporting child abuse survivors.

Life Is Serious

I do so love to laugh. I love cynical, dry humor. I’m your “Running With Scissors” or “Mary and Max” type gal. Give me a dysfunction giggle any day. I get it all the way.

In the midst of laughter I feel a seriousness settled into me. I don’t have time to play around. That is not to be confused with not having time to play. I just don’t have time to waste.

There is no available brain space for saucy bullshit dramas, games or power struggles, wars with others or anything less than true seriousness in regards to life changes I have made and where I intend to go.

To know where I come from even as an adult, is to understand the totality of the word change for me.

I am engaged in news which matters to me, as parents continue to abuse and indoctrinate. I can’t turn my eyes away from the children. They linger. They will be in power when I am aged. What a thrill it would be to pass dimensions with knowing a group of them have their shit together.

I don’t feel passive.
Time is passing.
Life feels serious.

They are hurting. They own my heart.

and maybe that’s why its never fully available to give away to anyone else.

A Startling Recovery

Yesterday while heading home from an appointment, my head was swirling. Things are changing in my life so quickly, and not all of it is “bad”, per say. It’s just that change in general takes some time for me to balance into.

I’m a planner.
I like lists.
I need schedules and reminders.

These changes happening are not allowing for any of that. I am forced into a space of waiting things out without any surety of what the future holds.

Back to yesterday. Moderate freak out. My mind went into victim mentality immediately. Shut down. It sounds something like this:

“Fuck it. I am exhausted. My emotional body can’t take another blow or another surfing wave.”. and on and on letting myself just feel the emotion of it all.

Then I spiraled down into thoughts of why really, I’ve pretty much accomplished what I’ve come to do. “I’ll be famous when I’m dead.” grandious kind of thoughts.

Critical thinking (I call her Knowing) stepped in. She whispered in my left ear as she always does.

“Come on, Ven. Gratitude.”

And so it was that I found myself verbally, out loud, listing all of the things and people I am blessed to have in my life.

By the time I arrived home, my emotions had made a startlingly quick recovery.

I ended up soending the evening finishing posts to submit as a guest blogger for two blogs. AND I worked on a painting that I have not touched in over a year.

I believe in two parts of therapy with fervor:

Gratitude
Creativity

Today I woke up feeling charged and focused, knowing that the next couple of months will be a great emerging; morphing more into my future.

http://venniekocsis.com
“Cult Child” – the novel
“Becoming Gratitude” – the journal
“Dusted Shelves” – the poetry