This year has been a slow churning process of self-examination. I have dissected new sections of pain which remain in the hidden spaces of my brain. I am making firmer promises to myself. My boundaries grow thicker, planted with prickly vines, should the uninvited attempt to sneak inside.
I will not stoop to low behaviors or project my pain on others. I own my actions and turn my back on ones who don’t own theirs. I stay rooted in understanding the intricate layers I am seeing. I continue gluing together the pieces.
My love is not to be taken for granted. I defend myself with mature valiance. I speak truth and gather proof. I face myself in the mirror and work on being better.
I am not who I used to be. I am not ashamed of the woman who was once self-abusive, running in circles with those who never cared for their own beings, just like me. That girl grew up and realized that facing herself was far more productive than hiding. Standing still was easier than running.
I walk forward slowly. I will not sink. I will not dance drama tangos with non-healing humans accepting lives of ruin as they reek havoc as a habit.
I let myself trace the footsteps of my past. There are seemingly endless tunnels to travel through. I have walked through fire, storms and attacks with no shields on my back.
Yet, here I stand.
So when you come to me, accept and see that I’m not at all who you assume me to be. I am inside of my own moving cells; listening to the stories they tell. Go forth into your next phase with grace, and be a soft wind, friends.
Don’t let anyone make you cruel. No matter how badly you want to give the world a taste of its own bitter medicine, it is never worth losing yourself.
Skeletons remain in the spaces beneath the pain. My brain becomes a seismograph of moving timelines and opportunities to rewind.
I enter the dark caverns armed. This is no place for charm or niceties. This is a war to be fought by a single army. I am one with what was formed.
I go quiet into the dormant caverns. I chart the patterns. I connect dots and string, creating a weave of evidence and acceptance.
There is no vengeance in this excavation. Only explanations and lain out bones, examined fractures and a puzzle creating a visual of the whole.
I am in the solitary state of self reflection. I have entered the stargate, reading the files stored when I was a child, my own familiar, my brain an elemental releasing brand new truths to process through written language in scrolls that hold secrets.
“When the parent heals, they heal their children’s children.”
The best thing my mother could have done when she was alive was to take accountability for what she took her children into. She never did. She died drowning in the river of denial. Why is this the best thing she could have done? Because it would have healed her. It would have healed my children, because it would have helped me heal long before I actually did.
What’s so hard about owning our own shit? Why do we so adamantly avoid it? What is this fear of accountability and judgment? I would come to realize, that understanding my mother’s refusal to own her behaviors would take me facing and looking at my own. Ouch. That stung to even write out. It’s true, though, and I’m going to tell you why.
“Don’t judge me.”
know people who preface a story with this phrase. I used to sometimes do the
“Ok. I’m gonna tell you what happened but FIRST you gotta promise not to judge me.”
walks around leaving wafts of fear in its wake. Some of us fear judgment because
we care what others think of us and derive our self-worth from the opinion of
others. Some of us use religions as a basis to judge other people. Whatever the
platform it’s performed from, there is one element that is constant across the
board. No one wants to be in the front row when Judgment is on stage.
has been one of the difficult parts of my healing journey; learning to stand
without judgment and see a person exactly where THEY stand and not
finding fault in them just so I could feel better about who I perceive myself
to be. I’ve had to find my own well of confidence which was already bubbling
inside of me. I just had not tapped into my own rich oil. In avoiding
accountability and judgment, I was ignoring myself.
“I had to linearly eliminate my fear of judgment and stop caring about being judged. This was intensive self-work to take on.”
In this conversation on judgment we can rule out criminals. They break laws and must be judged by those laws. I’m talking about judgment that is often blanketed as “opinion”. That’s really what judgment is. It’s our opinion on someone’s life, their actions, behavior, decisions, choices, orientation, gender, skin color or whatever else we choose to focus in on. The point is, that for those skilled at the art of judgment there will always be something they can find to have an opinion about.
I found that step one of this learning curve in eliminating the fear of judgment was to look at why I had this fear. It lived in multiple facets of my life. I feared judgment on:
My parenting skills or lack thereof
My relationship choices
My weight and the state of my body
The way I spoke, or the words I chose
My personal views on life/society
Here’s the kicker. I acted like I didn’t care at ALL what anyone thought. In fact I needed to reinforce that illusion by letting others KNOW every now and then that I didn’t care. I imagine many of you are feeling me on this. We are the skilled mask wearers, where on the outside we appear as if we do not give a stone cold shit. Oh, but I did. I cared very much what others thought of me. Words sunk into my skin like arrows. I was affected. I would ruminate on an opinion and even adjust my life out of that fear.
“To understand why I had so much fear of judgment took following the connecting strands into my childhood.”
was surrounded by judgment as a child. Being a kid in Sam Fife’s “The Move
Of God” cult meant walking around with an invisible “judge me!” sign
on many of our backs. Day in and day out. Week after week. Year after year, I
was subjected to judgment in multiple ways.
The ministers told us that God would be judging us. That judgment was so deep it could result in an eternity inside a pit of fire. That one messed with my head. Especially after kerosene exploded in my face at 12-years-old, and I learned firsthand exactly what a second degree burn felt like. I shuddered at the thought of my whole body being engulfed in flames. For a whole eternity, 24/7, I would be a ball of burning pain. I did, however, somehow have a smidgen of critical thinking as a child. I would waver between extreme fear of hell and a doubt that anything these people said was true.
was surrounded by judgmental adults. They judged others together. Then they
judged each other behind each other’s backs while claiming to be friends. There
was no loyalty or trust existent for me to pattern as a child. Growing up in a
cult, I quickly absorbed that no one could be trusted. I was enmeshed inside endless two-faced,
I watched kids lie on other kids to escape judgment. As a child in the cult, I both lied to escape judgment and was also lied about. This environment, which included a deep fear of brutal, physical punishment, was a viscous “Avoid Blame” game. We were all constantly side eyeing each other.
is what prison is like, always watching your back just in case someone comes
after you. This is what living in a domestic violence relationship is like,
always worrying you’ll say or do the wrong thing and get beat. The consequences
of being judged can range from verbal attacks to physical attacks and in some
instances and regions of the planet, even death.
“Fearing judgment is a deep clotted vein in our bodies. It is real, and it is dangerous to our wellbeing.”
out fear of judgment was part of doing intense inner child work. I looked at
every piece of my life, the moments I judged others, and the moments I was
crippled by judgment. It was an extensively long list. There were times I felt
I deserved judgment, when I made mistakes as an adult. It was easy for me to
say that I had the right to judge others because I was tough enough to take it.
No. I wasn’t. That was a big, fat lie. Being judged hurt horribly.
Yet, no one would ever judge me more harshly than I would judge myself. I was my own United States of Vennie’s Supreme Court. I’ve come a very long way, and it’s one I actively work on.
few years ago I was visiting a family member. We were watching a movie.
Suddenly my family member’s husband muted the television and turned to me.
am curious about something. Do you feel successful? I ask this because you
don’t own anything. You don’t own a house. You don’t have assets. What have you
done with your life?”
was blindside and stunned. I looked at my family member, whose eyes were big as
saucers, equally shocked at what her husband had just said to me. I later
realized she might also have been waiting for me to lose my shit on her
husband. I didn’t. I didn’t even have a desire to lose it. All of this happened
in my head in a matter of seconds. I understood clearly that I was dealing with
a truly miserable person who thought it was alright to put me down and verbally
abuse me. I could see the thing for what it was, and it had nothing to do with
I said next would reveal to myself one of the biggest steps forward in my
growth journey. I smiled and kept my voice steady and low.
life is so rich. I have two brilliant sons who are adults making their own way
independently in life. I have amazing friends. I am free to travel. I’m not
tied to anything. I feel the freest than ever in my life. To be free and happy.
That’s what success is to me.” I responded.
His face twisted. It wasn’t the reaction he expected. This time, I didn’t take the bait and go off so he could enjoy watching the show of my negative emotions. I was a bit surprised at myself. He retorted some sideways comment I don’t recall or think I even tried to hear, and then resumed watching television. I realized in that moment that I had conquered a huge auto reactionary habit response which had always flashed when I felt judged. In my head I congratulated myself. Inside my spirit and thinking I didn’t feel affected. I didn’t have the usual body reactions such as warmth spreading over my face or fight/flight heart palpitations as I prepared to release my dragons. None of that happened. There was a calm inside me which felt new and permanent.
had taken a massive step in eliminating my concern over other people’s words in
regard to how my life path had emerged itself or the choices I had made. I
realized I could actually own all of my stuff. I didn’t have to wear a mask
anymore. This began to burst open in many facets of my life as I took
accountability for the places where I actually had failed. I learned that there
was a difference between my actual mistakes and all of my self-perceived “failures”.
leads me back to the quote at the top of this post. Healing my fear of judgment
released the ability for accountability. This helped me become a better mother.
I could look at my children and accept the times I made choices which
negatively affected them. I could say this to them without feeling like a
horrible failure of a mother. I could hold accountability without excuse.
didn’t make the right choice, and for that, I am sorry.”
shit! Do you know the power of healing these words hold? Oh, my friends, let me
A few years ago I was in a very stressful situation. I had a dear friend who was also going through stress. In the process of that friendship, I projected my stress out into a conversation my friend and I had. I literally screamed into a voice note that my friend was “dead to me”.
you just said, “What the hell??” you’re a better person than I was being
at the time. Exactly! Who says that to their friend? Someone who needs to grow.
That’s who. I could have said, “Hey, I can’t deal with this right now
because I’m overloaded.” Right? No. I was reactive, and I projected my
personal stress into someone who didn’t deserve it. Bad behavior!
I justified the way I acted for a long time, until I had personal growth, and it began to bother me how I had spoken to them. I really loved this person and had promised never to betray them. Yet, I had horribly emotionally betrayed them. When we realize we have wronged someone it does not end there. This is where I have a perspective on the forgiveness concept.
“Forgiveness involves two steps. The first one is the most crucial and must happen if forgiveness is to be the end result.”
I had to contact the person I had been cruel to and apologize. I had to detail my behavior, so they understood I recognized it. I had to say, “I’m sorry.” without expectations.
They got to make the choice on how to receive my apology or if they even wished to accept it.
Accountability should not have expectations. I didn’t apologize with an expectation of acceptance. I did it because it was the right thing to do. Our accountability cannot be self-serving. It must stand with truth and the purpose of making a wrong behavior right again.
There is an inner freedom which comes with accountability. That does not mean we get to keep acting badly just because we own it. No. Accountability comes with change of our behavioral patterns. It means we look at ourselves and, through that examination, we create elimination of the rotten parts of our behavior and thought processes.
I found that as I worked on my self-accountability and my own fear of judgment something else happened. I judged others less. I didn’t have to work very hard at that. It came automatically. When we can connect how bad it feels to BE stabbed with the fact that’s exactly how it feels for someone else when we stab them, it helps us put the knife down.
Accountability is part of processing for me. It’s not just about actions either. I am accountable for how I speak to myself; how I self-care and how I conduct my life in as such as it relates to ensure that I am maintaining personal health; physically, mentally and emotionally.
While I no longer fear the judgment of others and don’t feel an urge to have opinions on other people’s lives, per-say, I am still working on self-judgment. I work on my body image. I work on how I speak to myself and about myself. Sometimes the people who appear the most confident can have some of the most self-destructive inner conversations.
Self-accountability takes a lot of work. One thing I want to leave you with is remembering this. We do not have full control over how others choose to see us. We have 100% control over how we view ourselves and others. We have 100% control over how we behave and process our own emotions. When I began to actively practice this self-control, many triggers naturally fell away.
When you have moments of self-judgment, apologize to yourself. Be accountable to your own being. You will immediately heal the wound you just created in yourself. Our relationship with our own mind and body is completely within our own choices. Forgive yourself for the past if you self-harmed with bad behavior, food, drugs, alcohol or whatever it may be. Tomorrow is a new day, and you get to choose. That is a freedom no one can ever take from us.
“Fear of accountability and fear of judgment often hold hands. What I can promise you from experience is that self-accountability will help heal your fear of judgment.”
This life has taught me To tow the line quiet Surrendering into time, Because incidents rewind With a mind of their own.
And so sturdy, we row the Rapid patterns of the Foreword movement. We stay in tune with each Separate quest. Observance. Steady. Doing the work That leans against the Thick breath of the herd.
We are divergent, ominous, Everything formed in us, Powered by a self love so Infinite that it becomes a Hurricane of pounding rain. Pay the penance. Confess The wicked deeds, on your Knees, in Biblical instruction.
Make a list, to remind you Of your confession. This is Your way. You must ask For forgiveness. It is not For us to be freely giving.
Reckoning has many faces, Unexpected veils and illusions That become intrusions Appearing in most leaving Unprepared affected, the Egoist off kilter, inside the Self righteous fodder of an Imaginary, sadistic Father.
Fear the fray that is sewn Back together, for it is able To bear the weight of many Lives. It turns swiftly, gaining Strength and paving ways.
When this thing is unleashed Like water slathered on polished Floors it is impossible to cross, Breaking bones in the falls, we Will shatter lies like falling logs, Because we are The Walk, In our own Body, always on The Move, distantly watching you.
With un-shattered minds We will fully rewind time.
“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.
“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.”
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.
“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
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.
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.
There are ghosts in my view. I am traveling hallways. We are coming back for you. Your breath quickens as you wait. Will your heart give in to the ache; the secrets you hold? They rot your insides, you know.
We are your shadow self.
Every deed, word, blow and theft of innocence lurks inside the remnants of your biological cells. You never considered that hell would come from those you desecrated.
When we come, we are a pack without a leader.
We have no need to follow, holding hands side by side, we yell, “Red Rover, Red Rover, come on over!”, and we smile. You taught us to rip at each other’s wrists, remember? Danger as an entertainer. That was your pleasure.
There were the games we played in secret, away from your judging eyes, sneaking moments with quiet giggles. We reserved our spirits from your shattering, scattering into life, struggling through its mores as we held ourselves in fetal positions to survive. Now, we rise.
We have gathered the ashes of our pasts, reconstructed our wings, and we are prepared to fly.
We are the children of your terror. We are the outcasts and sinners, scar bearers and wayward waifs. We are the tattooed tyrants, birthed from your horror, walking our own paths against your wrath. We color our hair bright. We carry ourselves Light. We know each step with precision as we enter this fight.
We are not mercy. We are strength. We are not bitterness. We are valiance.
We are turning your worlds inside out, releasing the doubt you preach from pulpits and podiums and classrooms to children and vulnerable humans. We are Dragons, gathering in the night.
We have been watching you a very long time. You see, you taught us well, but you failed to keep the tide from turning. Now we take everything you forced us to absorb, the intel and verbal hell, battered bones and dissociated minds, childhoods left behind, never to be relived, and create a mighty hurricane, gathering speed every time another survivor speaks their abuser’s name.
We release shame. It is not ours. It belongs to you. Your time to be burdened with your own deeds is long overdue.
I am a lurker in the darkness, mystic of the floated corners where the view is clear up here. I see the past and futures merging. I see the sadness and the pain purging. I feel every heart hurting, from the wicked to the wounded and my eyes can only focus on the cries of the affected, injected by decades of apathetic sociopathy using human flesh in the deadliest fashions.
For those who have a passion for hurting others, it is you I watch, even those who cloak themselves in the mask of mirrored goodness. We are keenly keeping our eyes focused. We are passed hoping. We are ready for war. Are you? How fast will your knees buckle when the first blows come? How long before your run?
No more will we be ruled, organized or contained. No more will we remain silent or compliant.
Associations and organizations meant to capitalize on those who’ve almost died inside and outside are crumbling at their feet. Too long you have preyed on the weak. Your time has come to an end, and no matter how much you pretend, keeping an illusion of control, you are quickly slipping into a sinkhole.
Even as your wrinkled fingers hold the purse strings, we sing.
Even as you watch us still, spinning tales of the ones who tell truths on you, we laugh as your ropes fray. It is your day. Your reckoning has arrived. We have been released from the hive, a swarm, marching with precision. Welcome to your new religion.
One must wonder about the abusive adult whose mind is so oblivious it cannot rationalize, that what you forced us to internalize would return to watch you burn. Yet, into the flames you will run, because the thought of combusting will feel less painful than the torture we will enact. Every item accounted for. Every brick will be removed. Each stone you drove home to build your wall will fall, and in the end what will be left, are more humans, free from your invisible chains, living in happiness.
For now, you shake beneath the hands of a mighty earthquake. In this surge, graves are unearthed and after years of holding still, we now run swiftly, legs strong, to destroy the villainous ones.
You will relax, forget to watch your back, and we will attack, because you deserve to be fought. You deserve to be tested with unrest.