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.
Was it really? The absolute worst day you’ve ever experienced in your whole entire life? No day has ever been worse than this one?
“I have the WORST headache!”
The worst? So bad it’s not preventing you from staring at
your glaring phone screen and lamenting about it online instead of treating
your headache and resting your eyes?
“Life is NEVER going to get better!”
Never ever? For the rest of your life you have seen all of
your future days ahead and have resolved to yourself that life will never
“I just CAN’T take another day!”
But you’re here the next day, still saying you won’t be able to take the next day either… or the next… or the next. So really, you actually can take another day.
“My life is OVER!”
Is it? Over? You’re dying because your mate left you or you lost that job or you’re having a high anxiety or pain day? That’s it? Life just ends? You see no possible solution available? Not even the ones being offered to you that you’re finding reasons not to try?
This may not be a popular post. I might piss some folks off. That’s okay. I get to speak on this subject. Why? I have been on this journey. I’m talking to you from experience. I’m speaking from days, weeks, months and years of crawling through the muck of my catastrophic victimhood into some harsh realizations that changed my life for the better.
Catastrophizing our language is extremely damaging to our mental health. The above statements were often heard leaving my lips as I was writing “Cult Child“. The process was brutal. There were times I really believed I might die from grief.
Yet, here I am. I didn’t die. How might I have made my healing process slightly softer had I known what I am about to share with you?
In order to understand the biology of how our language affects our lives, we should take a brief look at the scientific connection between linguists and neuroscience.
“This effect of framing or filtering is the main effect
we can expect—regarding language—from perception and thought. Languages do not
limit our ability to perceive the world or to think about the world, but they
focus our perception, attention, and thought on specific aspects of the world.
In summary, language functions as a filter of perception, memory, and
attention. Whenever we construct or interpret a linguistic statement, we need
to focus on specific aspects of the situation that the statement describes.
Interestingly, some brain imaging facilities are now allowing us to examine
these effects from a neurobiological perspective. For example, in one study,
authors prove that language affects the categorical perception of color—and
that this effect is stronger in the right visual field than in the left visual
field. Discrimination of colors encoded by different words also provokes
stronger and faster responses in the left hemisphere language regions than
discrimination of colors encoded by the same word. The authors conclude that
the left posterior temporoparietal language region may serve as a top-down
control source that modulates the activation of the visual cortex.
This is a nice example of current biolinguistics research
(in a broader sense) helping to achieve a better and more balanced
understanding of classic questions in linguistics—like the relationship between
language and thought.”
Are you thinking, “What the hell did I just read?” Alright, let me break it down simply. When you read your favorite author, as they describe a room in detail, can you see that room in your head? If you nodded yes, they have done their job.
They’ve used language to create an image in your mind.
We see this in our mental activity when we create scenarios which have not happened yet, for instance. Have you ever thought of the worst that could happen in a situation, finding yourself falling down a visual rabbit hole where you actually see it happening in your mind? You’ve just created your own visuals with your thoughts. That thumping heart you feel? You’ve just manipulated your own emotional state as you created that mental visual.
We can take this a step further by looking at great speakers and story tellers. They use their skill of language to create a picture in your mind.
Here, David JP Phillips rolls out an excellent TEDx talk in which he explains how media is used to manipulate your emotions to the point you will spend your money excessively or search endlessly for a love which has been unrealistically described to you.
All of the above are examples of how language influences your thoughts, your own words, your behavior, your buying and voting patterns and the simple ways in which you think and see situations and the community around you. More importantly, it influences how you view yourself.
This brings me back to being inside of our own minds, our thoughts and being aware of how we speak in general. Speaking negatively to a child or AROUND a child blocks them from building healthy self-esteem.
Someone I know had a decent childhood. They had everything they wanted. They weren’t abused or neglected. However, the one thing they did deal with was a mother who consistently spoke bad about herself. Because of this, my associate developed body dysphoria, something they fight every day, a lowered self image simply from being exposed to someone else’s lowered self image.
Alternatively, speaking positive to or around a child helps them develop a good sense of self. So then, imagine what you could do for yourself, if you focused in on changing your language.
I used to joke about myself when I was very overweight. I would hurry up and call myself fat, because that’s what I assumed everyone was thinking anyway. Then, I’d feel horrible and eat to soothe myself. When I changed my lifestyle and took pride in being healthy, I stopped speaking so poorly of myself. I have occasional moments I fight self-deprecating thoughts. The difference is that now, I catch myself. “No. Stop that. You are who you are.”
As children, many of us were left ignored and un-cared for as we suffered with pain in silence. This left an imprint on us, an illusion that we needed to inflate the seriousness of our struggles out of fear of being unnoticed.
If my lumbago is having a flare up, I don’t head to social media to lament about it. In fact, I put social media away, purposely keeping my mind in a very clean state. I go into self-care mode. I rest. I do what needs to be done to soothe the flare up. I don’t allow phone calls. I don’t allow stress. I listen to my body’s needs.
If I am in an off emotional mood, maybe having a day where I feel like I may be easily irritated, for instance, I bring my self-awareness higher. I don’t want to lash out or project those emotions toward anyone else or any slight situation. I try and avoid spaces where controversy might trigger me. Occasionally, I fall prey. I have an alpha tone to begin with. Imagine when I’m irritated. I do what’s right for myself. I sit with the emotions and process them.
What if you chose to look beyond the pain? What would your language look like?
If my hips are aching, I thank my legs for still working. I stretch slowly. I say to myself, “Alright, it’s one of those days.” If my heart is sad, I find gratitude in the fact I get to choose self-soothing. I have the freedom to write it out in my private journal.
I could have died as a tortured child. I survived. I triumphed. I fought my way through the rubble of Sam Fife’s sick, sadistic cult. I refuse to fall prey to their misery. So what worked for me? How did I flip my catastrophic language into uplifting ways of speaking to others, about others and most importantly, to and about myself?
I first designed my journal “Becoming Gratitude” in a notebook I used for myself. The sole purpose of taking that journey was to re-program all of my senses away from catastrophic and negative thinking. It absolutely worked. I decided to share this extremely inexpensive, simple, five-week gratitude course with the world because it worked for me. Consistency with the daily five minute task was absolutely the key for my success. Within as short as a week, I was saying to myself, “Okay, this feels good. I’m onto something here.”
“Becoming Gratitude” even worked for one of my most hard-headed and dearest friends! She left a hilarious and super real review about why she did not think it would work for her, which you can read here.
You can choose to exercise gratitude in your life in many differing arenas. The key word here is choice. Ending catastrophic thinking and speaking and beginning forward-moving, solutions-based thinking and speaking takes active self awareness and work until it becomes natural. Your change will happen quickly.
You’re going to get addicted to feeling good inside.
Choose your words in a way which creates a positive image in your own mind. As I am constantly working on growth in regard to my mental and physical health, I visualize myself where I want to be, how I will be living, my environment and joy. As I continue to speak good about myself, the better I feel and the better I become.
You deserve your good. Speak kindly to yourself. Speak highly about yourself. Accept your abilities. Accept compliments. Embrace the positive parts of yourself. It’s okay. You can be a Thriver and still speak about the wounds you have endured. Healing doesn’t erase what happened to you. It just makes living a lot easier.
The journey into the realm of thriving really does begin with a first step. Choose Gratitude.
“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.
For eighteen years, I was the one. I was the woman who two growing boys adored and then eventually, most likely, stared at times, thinking, “This is one creepy adult.” Yes, they all think that at some point in their growth adventure.
One thing doesn’t waver. Their love. In the moments I stood with my morning hair askew every which way and a cup of coffee in my hand, barking orders to get us out of the house for the day, they still loved me. In the times as teenagers I morphed into mirages of my own projection-riddled mother, they still loved me. When I ran and fled situations I could not handle, they still loved me.
That’s what love looks like. It looks like the child who loves you no matter what. This love you feel when they’re little, can change as they grow older. It will manifest itself in different ways.
Then one day, they become adults. It happens just like that. They arrive into your arms, swaddled and beautiful. You snap your fingers, and they’re an adult having an opinion about the world.
Wait. What? What just happened here?
Who is this person, unique and with their own personality, now counter conversing me with all of this knowledge? What the hell do I do with this? More chips fell off the mother pedestal, and it began to tip.
But that’s not all. This is when the pedestal crumbles, and life changes. They fall in love. Yep. Now, you have four adults to figure out how to fit in with. Oh, you thought “parenting” ends when your kiddo becomes 18? Bless your heart! I feel your pain. I thought the same damn thing. Boy, was I wrong.
It all becomes complicated. Your kiddo will have their own way of seeing situations, and you will have yours. You’ll think about the mistakes you made, and start to do that silly shame/blame thing. Don’t do that. It’s counter-productive and useless. It creates battles and sometimes full on wars. You have to approach this situation from a space of accountability secured with boundaries.
I am not going to feed you parenting tips. I don’t know your family dynamic. I can only share my experiences, and what I learned through them. My sons are strong willed and opinionated men. They chose strong willed and opinionated women. My role as leader of the pack ended.
I was wandering the desert alone.
Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. I wasn’t shunned or made to walk the plank. Imagine you have to meet your closest friend’s new boyfriend/girlfriend, and you now have to figure out how to balance friendship while also respecting the space of your friend’s relationship.
What if you don’t like your friend’s love? What if they don’t like you? What if?
All of these questions and more will run through your mind. You will make one of the biggest mistakes a parent can ever make with their adult child. You’ll let those thoughts and opinions actually slip from your lips. If you do this, you have just dropped an atom bomb into your relationship with your adult child.
Our kids will dip and dive. They will make choices that will shock us. They’ll do amazing things we want to gush over, as if they’re still five. They’ll make decisions we think they could have made more wisely. The truth is this. They aren’t five anymore, and frankly, unless their safety and well-being is at high risk, it’s none of our business.
OUCH. You’re thinking this. “Whatever you say lady. I brought that kid into this world and he/she will be my kid until the day I die!”
That is true. You’ll always be the parent, but if you want to keep them in your life, you may want to consider some mental changes.
I became a grandparent, and another layer was added to the now mountainous terrain of my family dynamics, which was once just an island consisting of my sons and me. On which ledge was I supposed to set up my camp?
I began to learn as I explored the side of the mountain and have long, fruitful conversations with my wondrous therapist. I finally came to rest on a ledge towards the mountain top looking down. I built my own little observatory. I planted gardens inside of it so that when my family members choose to walk through it, there will be peace for them, if they choose to see it.
Becoming an observatory in my family involved cleaning out space inside myself to build it. I first completely cleaned out the piles of opinions. That took a few truckloads. I knocked down the ego walls and cleared the rubble. I swept out the cobwebs of guilt and regret and replaced it with solid accountability pillars.
I have put up some Observatory rules for myself. As the observatory curator, I will not:
infuse my opinion upon their culture but instead learn, listen and understand
jump into their political discussions with my own input. They really don’t care much what we think. That’s okay. They have their own minds.
have opinions on parenting or give unsolicited advice even when asked. Trust me. I tried it. No matter what you say, you’ll most likely be told you’re wrong. “I know you’ll figure this out.” is my go to phrase now, and guess what? They do.
While I am always a work in progress, once I established my personal rules, I built a mental zen space where I could sit with myself, observing the happenings of my sons and family, while learning to live in non-interference or opinion. I became a space holder. I also live my own life with my own goals, dreams and career.
I let my ego go. My sons will always love me. They will also love others, their children, their friends. Our children’s love does not belong to us. It is something we are gifted by them. I hold no more expectations from my adult sons beyond the same I hold for anyone else in regard to not allowing anyone to overstep my own personal boundaries.
Instead, I live my own life. Imagine that! Some grandparents enjoy living their life for their families. Others enjoy the freedom which arrives with our children becoming adults and no longer need support. Neither are wrong nor right, only different! I am enjoying the freedom.
Parenting adult children comes with acceptance and allowance. Entering this space with ego will undoubtedly leave you extremely shattered. Attempting to maintain any relationship through control is a recipe for your child to walk away from you.
Parents, we hope our children love us in spite of our failures, and we are thankful when they do! Craft your own way in life and let your adult kids chart theirs. You need not paddle your boat beside them, hollering instructions, even if that boat tips. One of the hardest things you’ll do is force yourself to sit in silence watching as they continue to scramble back into their boat. Stay silent. That is how they learn. After all, I tipped many a boat alone through my life to be here now, having grown as a person through a myriad of lessons.
Be the laughter for your children and descendants. Be the parent they will remember loving them and reminding them how great they are. It is never too late for these bonds to strengthen. A healing parent, who releases ego, can be an inspiration for our adult children.
All in all, once we are parents of adult children, we begin our own exploration of life again, life on our own, returning to our personal passions, separate from our children, who are doing the same for themselves.
They don’t forget who we were when they were little. They hold onto the deepest parts of their memories just like we do. Sometimes that hurts when we know we had moments of failing them, but most times, it creates a massive spark of love and pride in your heart when you observe them cooking some of the things you once cooked or utilizing some of the parenting tools they once complained about.
A while ago, my eldest son borrowed my truck. After he returned it, I was out driving and flipping through my CD player when I landed upon a CD he left in it. It was filled with songs he had heard me playing around the house when he was young. When it landed on “Cat’s In the Cradle” by Harry Chaplin, nostalgia took me over. They really don’t forget. I know why this song is special to him, and my heart smarted. I also smiled that he’s amazingly eccentric in his musical choices. We’re never too far away.
To all the motherless children and adults, know that you are never forgotten.
“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.