I Stopped Fighting Because I Can’t Win

All my life I’ve had to fight.” Sophia, The Color Purple

One year after leaving an abusive cult where we have spent our childhood merely surviving, my sister and I curl up on a second-hand couch in a mobile home sitting on a Tennessee, small-town trailer park, and we weep together as we watch “The Color Purple.”

It will be the below scene that will stick in our minds forever. When we become adults, we will smile together, softly making fun of ourselves, recalling how real the separation anxiety and fear of abandonment was for us.

This movie scene will make my brother’s face come into my view, time and time again, a nine-year-old little boy clinging to my father’s legs as our mother pulls him away. The sheer helplessness in my father’s eyes will never leave my peripheral vision. I will hear my brother’s screams echoing inside of Sophia’s words. I will see the white blonde of his sweaty hair pasted to his forehead, the redness in his cheeks and the shuddering of his heaving shoulders from so many sobs.

This movie scene will remind me of Prins Samuel, a man from India, who came to the cult in the early 80’s and took a liking to my teenage, older sister. Terrified that she would be taken back to India, I write in my memoir, “Cult Child”, about the afternoon Prins and his travel companion come knocking at our cabin door.

“I pick up my book to read for a while when there is suddenly a loud banging on the door. It’s louder than usual, but I ignore it for Leis to answer. The banging continues so I go to the top of the ladder. Leis is at the door with her back pressed up against it. She signals to me with her finger to her lips.

“Ssssshhh…”

“Who is it?” I say in a loud whisper.

“These two guys from India who are here visiting. Prins and Max. Shhhh! I’ll tell you in a minute.” She whispers back.

We stay silent as the men continue to knock, and I lay flat against the floor of the loft peeking down as one of them cups their eyes with their hands to look inside our cabin through the bay window.”

Cult Child” excerpt

Body memories come in waves, signaled by rapid heart beats and sweaty palms. I recall ducking down the cult compound pathways with my sister and avoiding the men from India at every turn. The days they were visiting seemed endless. We worried. We hid. We were terrified of being separated.

So many moments in an abused child’s life are filled with the anxiety of abandonment and separation. As a child, my sister was my only lifeline. If she was taken away, my last strand of feeling any severance of “protection” would have been erased. In abusive situations, when the children are removed from the abuse environment, keeping children together is crucial, unless one of the children is harming the others, of course. Abused children can create a deep bond with one another; a bond which helps them survive. Separating them becomes an additional wound.

In my song, Capable, I write:

See ever since I arrived I’ve been fighting to keep all the pieces alive; from drowning.”

To live a life of fighting is exhausting for a child. I was already exhausted physically, psychologically and emotionally by the time I was a teenager. This is part of why abuse victims struggle so much when they become adults.

Imagine you begin working at three years old. You rise before dawn to do field work. You work all day until you go to bed at night. Your sleep is often interrupted and limited to 4/5 hours a night. Riddled inside of these grueling work days you are also subjected to physical and emotional abuse, neglect, sexual molestation and extreme mind controlling beliefs. Additionally, you witness this same abuse happening to other children.

Imagine spending your whole childhood fighting to process every moment of your day. In later years, I can tell you, that you will want to sleep for hours, days, weeks, months and sometimes years. You will want to somehow rest your mind, but by the time you get to a place in your life where you can rest, your mind won’t be able to sleep anymore due to its inability to expel the insomnia that years of trauma memories create.

If the first eighteen years of your life are filled with fighting to survive, by the time you enter society after high school, when you should be excited about starting your independent life, you are already very tired. When you reach fifty-years-old, the cusp of your life, you feel as if you are seventy-years-old in spirit. That’s the weariness which sets over the mind, body and soul of an abused human being.

No child should ever begin their life fighting through environmental combat battles day in and day out. They fight to protect their mind until adults break it and fill it with their own ideals. Children fight to have just a voice, a choice, an opinion or any respect in their little lives. They are often brushed off by adults and the system and not even considered an actual “person” until they become eighteen.

Yet, they are people. Children are individual little beings, who have entered this planetary dimension with their own unique DNA.

Everything my siblings and I did was a “representation” of our mother, according to her. When I fucked up and became incarcerated at the age of eighteen, she wept embarrassingly in the visiting room…. EVERY TIME SHE CAME!

Where did I go wrong? How can you do this to me?” My mother lamented.

Ah, the sweet scent of martyrdom, almost confessing before blaming me. In my lowest moments, she somehow succeeded in always making them about her own failures, failures she never really ever identified, though. If she walked the edge of accountability, it was only in private and always to her own advantage, vauge and hollow.

To hear my mother tell it, I was the “wild child“; the “black sheep” of the family. I had always been the difficult one, the loud one. You know, the youngest ones usually are, she’d say. Enter her fake lipsticked smile and an invisible hand to the forehead in angst.

In Rise Of Sila, the totality of my mother’s psychosis emerges, manifesting sad remnants of a cult that starved her and snatched her mind the moment she stepped foot onto their first compound is emerging even more. It’s not easy to examine. Some days I can dig in. Other days, I must rest.

All her life my mother fought. All her life my grandmother fought. Into my Moravian ancestry, women fought to survive, working themselves into death, sick in body and shattered in soul. This is why I decided to stop fighting. I had to break the generational trauma of lives filled with suffering. Why I stopped fighting is a multifaceted thing.

I stopped fighting because I cannot win. I stopped fighting because I don’t want to win.

Who was I fighting? Everyone, including myself.

Why was I fighting? Fear. Fear of abandonment, loss and hurt.

Most humans fight out of sheer fear.

I’m a major Game Of Thrones addict. Arya Stark is one of my favorite characters. The child in me relates to everything about her journey in this series. She was born having to fight. She lived having to fight.

SPOILER ALERT

In one season, Arya finds herself inside of the arena of the faceless man. He teaches her to become no one. She becomes blind so that she can see everything. She spends days, hours, minutes, fighting off her inner demons and rage, and when she is finished, she emerges as a mighty warrior, able to wield her slender sword with exact precisions. She develops the ability to become the very person she must eliminate. She becomes a woman wearing her emotions like a badge of honor, yet still, she understands that being no one is the true way of the warrior.

I am nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefore I am perfect.

All of my childhood and a large part of my adulthood, I felt like a “nobody”, the kind of nobody who was lower than the swamp. My mind battered my own existence in deep ways. My thoughts told me I was destined to be an overweight food addict all of my life. I believed I was a “Jezebel” just like the cult pedophiles had described us young girls. To myself I was not worthy of anything good. I would never “have” anything good. I would never “be” anything good.

Then one day, I just stopped in my tracks. I had no more energy left to keep fighting. I had to make a choice. I turned to myself. I looked at the “nobody” that I am.

I explored her and I learned so much. What was I trying to win at? Being me? Who was I? I had to go faceless. I was fighting no one. I re-defined my understanding of what it truly meant to be “nobody.”

I dove into myself blindly.

Straight into the bottom of my own nothingness I sank. Do you know what is inside of the dark matter of yourself? Let me tell you, loves. There is infinite possibility. You will fight the darkness fiercely at first. That’s what you’re used to. Fighting. Your whole life you’ve done it. You’ve been separated from yourself, trying to win a war with no one.

The truth is, we are actually ever morphing, infite streams of something. I stopped fighting because without me fighting, I had no one to fight with. Everything I projected outward was really about my innards. Faceless, I roamed my own hallways. I left slain apparitions in the dark corners, lighting them on fire as I passed.

It takes two or more to tango, and so I merged every one of my inner enemies into my nothingness. They evaporated inside of me and became one with my existence. Without me fighting, they don’t have to hide. Together we stand in the Light of truth.

When I accepted that I was no one, I realized I am all of me.

I am everything I observe and absorb. Now, I dance with all of it; the fear, the danger, the anger and the evil. I dance it into my own joy and worth. More can be eliminated in synced-together movements, than in the brutality of battles and war. If this isn’t clear to you yet, stop fighting. Stop trying to win. Be still for a while. Observe yourself.

Stand within your nothingness so you can be all of who you are. Inside the nothingness there is no need for validation. Worry dissipates. Fear gets sucked into your self love. Anger expresses its pain, processing itself inside the brilliance of your confidence.

I ceased fighting, and now, standing in the silence of the nothing, I hear everything.

The Moment I Went Invisible Is The Moment I Became Invincible

Traveling within our own beings we find the universe that we were born to be.
You have universes inside of you.

My Mother Didn’t Want Me Calling Boys So I Wouldn’t Look Like a Slut

Cover Only

“Rise of Sila” book cover – coming soon!

As I’m writing “Rise of Sila”, the sequel to “Cult Child“, which details my transition as a teenager from growing up in a cult, to adjusting with American culture, the many ways in which I was conditioned by my child sexual abuse is coming out in deeper ways.

Excerpt from “Rise of Sila”:I feel confused and lost.  Boys come to school all the time with “love marks”, as everyone calls them, on their necks.   Why does that make me bad?  When it comes to boys, things aren’t so different in this world than they were back on the farm.  Boys get treated better out here too. Girls? We’re dumped if we say no when they want to have sex with us and sluts if we say yes.  My second lesson is that because I am a girl, even in this new world, I will still never be right.

Eventually Mama does ask me where Russ is; why he doesn’t call anymore.  I tell her he met another girl and doesn’t want to talk to me anymore.  Mama spends the next hour telling me that men are shit.  They’re all shit.  They take and take. That’s it.  So, I should expect it.  I should never trust a man as far as I can throw him.  If I carry one thing into my adult life I better take this one, Mama rants on.   Her voice fades into the distance as it has come to do when she begins to lecture.

I won’t listen. I will grow up to become battered and bruised by the men I would choose.  I will also become hardened.   She’s right about one thing, though.  Right now, as I sit here listening to her, I know I’ll never be able to trust a boy.”

My mother reinforced in me an ideal that males can never be trusted.  She did so any time a boy I liked didn’t like me back.  While she had strict rules about boys, so I wouldn’t look like a “slut“, such as not allowing me to call them because a “lady” always lets a boy call her, she also projected her own hate for men out through my coming of age experiences.

The layers of aftermath created by the abuse of Sam Fife’s Move of God did not end the day we boarded a plane at the Fairbanks, AK airport in 1984 and flew off to Tennessee.  It would settle into my skin and dominate how I experienced every aspect of my life in regard to relationships.

Writing this sequel is, at times, daunting.  Stories I once told as funny, in short, cryptic and satirical form, now take on a different perspective as I re-live the experiences.  They’re not so humorous anymore.  They are painful and raw.  They are a direct look into my own reality.

Most of all, they are making their way out of my DNA, through my fingertips, and into the pages of a book, which continues to tell my true story through the eyes of a girl named Sila.

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Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show and her live Sunday broadcast Off the Cuff. She is an advocate, poet and artist.

If We Have Rules Are We Free?

The first time I wore a two piece bathing suit I was fourteen years old. I recall the nakedness my stomach felt as it met sun and warmth. My skin tingled. I was shy. Yet, the more I fed my body with the light of the sun’s reflection, the more I embraced its glow.

I imagine this is how the woman feels who, for the first time, removes the hijab, or the long skirt, or the bonnet, or the many array of coverings that have been required for a woman to cover herself with, passed down through multiple years of differing doctrines and laws telling her how she must dress and behave in order to be desirable to a man and appropriate to others’ standards.

I imagine them all with their hair blowing in the wind, skin soaking in the kiss of breeze, free and respected in the true nature of her natural glory. She is me, once disallowed to feel sky on my thighs, told how to dress and what would make me wife material. Chained by my appearance to someone else’s ideal of what was proper, I drowned inside my clothing layers.

I’ll spend eternity alone if it means being free to be me, tattoos and dimension colored hair, making my own way, whatever that looks like. I dream of a day when women are honored for the uniqueness of who we are, not who people think we should be. When that day comes, and it is, I will hold hands with a long line of women, throwing off their chains and running, laughing, into the sea.

Vennie Kocsis
author, Cult Child

She Is Rising

Writing out trauma comes with hurdles.  Sometimes I plow through.  

Sometimes I avoid.  I avoid the smells, sounds and feelings of the memory.  There is hurt in there.  There’s a scared little girl in there. She doesn’t want to have to feel it, but we do.  To bring our story to life, we gotta feel it. 

We jumped a hurdle tonight, plowing through a memory which triggered abandonment and shunning.   This memory triggered the aftermath of sexual abuse, and the compliance holding its hand. 

I wrote it.  I felt it.  I handled it.   I tackled it and re-visited this space, remotely viewing from outside, writing from inside, a duality of conquering memories.   

Stream Of Consciousness | 5.4

the dream / recurrent / dark planet of / cliffs and crevices we / leapt / trained / fought in / total darkness / only scent to / guide so / we became / adept to / aloneness and / the smell of / predators / repeat / through cycles / same space / similar jumps / morphing body / twisting limbs / solid / then liquid and / back again / whatever form / chosen / was / golden for / the moment / have you / ever smelled / complete / lack of light / it reeks of / coal / sulphur / emaculite / lit on fire / what a / morbid place / no food or / rest we / fed / on the loneliness / just a few / years ago / bath night / candlelight / meditation / we go quiet / in the water / i / her daughter / she / we / went flying / so high / i was / eyes closed / had / followed the / spinning hole / the one / you run from / in we go / clear water sky / dimensions high / there are spaces / then the flat / color emerge / below our float / darkened patch / i spin back / retract / familiar ground i / look down / shoot forward / the maze / walls high / human miles wide / there / she says / the dark place / where you / faced the worst / of hellish / hurt i / felt confused / at first / then remembered / we laughed /i had/ thought it was / a planet / see we / planned this / earth / science who / deems us / human we / smile / sometimes shyly / why label we / yet it has / always been me / molecules and / star dust / formed and / unformed / look away / disinformation / mind control station / she / the seven / says the / human heaven / description so bare / doesn’t even compare / to the beauty / shining there / close my / eyes tight to / take in / all the sights / where colors / are felt and / spirit is / held in / revere / the most / precious gem it / is not / stone nor / rock / these illusions / you are taught / I breathe / in blue / exhale purple / heal you / feel me / tears so / beautiful you are / free this / mission is / not complete / i came to / understand the / reality of / delusion / refusing / confusion / become fusion / step through them / over fear like / under thrown spears / it is finished / when you / make the decision / back into liquid / my body lifted / soak in / the lesson what / i see / me / we / molecular hearts / torn apart / it’s just a / fraction of / what can happen / when / we mend / fly again / become wind / ascend / let go / no pretend / face the masses / without / care of judgment / recall your fall / if this / isn’t familiar it / isn’t for you / my truth / can only / be accepted / nothing expected / unpredictable / stay courses / we / ride the horses / become their skin / go back to / the memories again / each time deeper / layers are / thick / strength for this / one free mind / at a time / the goal to / be whole / fly beyond realms / i am / the helm / gaseous flame / i light worlds / but to you / i’m just / that girl / to a few / i am the sea / the ones who / see me / freely / go back inside / we / suck in air and / prepare to dive

When Writing Out Trauma Is Crippling

A wise person once said, “There are three things you should never share; your relationship, your finances and your next move.”

It has become a mantra for my life.   Years of being both vulnerable and held back at the wrong times have left me speculating my own judgment.  Being alone is safer, away from the possibility of re-victimization.

I learned harsh lessons as I grew up. With no boundaries to define danger or relationships I was tossed out of a childhood that had been riddled with abuse straight into the very society I had been trained to fear, hate and one day even war against in the name of God.

With blinders on, I ran towards everything I’d been taught was sin.  I bathed in it.  I dove inside of it like it was a swimming pool.  I became prey, a seal pup in an ocean full of sharks.

A couple of nights ago, while working on “Rise of Sila“, the sequel to “Cult Child“, I had to write a trauma memory.  I had to get into the details of it, part of them being a time my sister wore long sleeves to hide the bruises her rapist left on her upper arms.    When I was finished with the section, nausea swept through me quickly, suddenly and filled my mouth with water to the point I had to curl up on my bed and do focus breathing until it passed.

Fuck.”  I thought.  “It’s starting.”

This is what happened while I was writing “Cult Child“.  The trauma surfaced in waves, and with it came years of sporadic vomiting, night terrors, migraines, days in bed weeping, high peaks of anxiety and agoraphobia and a lot of deep isolation.

I smiled in selfies to post on the Internet. I spun on the positivity pole as if I was the poster child of survival, and I hid the reality of how crippling writing trauma is for me.

I thought I would feel some kind of relief after getting “Cult Child” out.   Yet, I didn’t.  I felt incredibly proud of myself that I had accomplished the project.  I also felt an extreme exhaustion that still lingers as I continue on.   I feel weakened.  I feel that I have only spilled out a sliver of the truth about the reality that was my childhood.

Last night I had a dream which rocked me. When I woke up this morning, the emotions of the dream came hazily with it bringing short, flash images of children milling about, a lot of confusion and an inability to grasp the rest of the images.  There are no worse dreams for me to have, than the ones which involve children.  They take the longest to shake from my eyes and the hardest to re-balance my heart from.   [Click here to visit my Dreamscape category where I document them.]

I am pushing myself, because this story must be told.  It has to be left behind so my sons and lineage will have documentation of their ancestral life.  I have to tell the truth for myself, hoping that maybe, just maybe, after I am finished, there will be some reprieve.

But, right now, in this moment, I just feel like avoiding.