Hot tea, infused with sugar white, granular, swallowed-up. Powdered creamer swirls, slips inside, a marriage of “Good Morning” and “Wake up” to me, sleepy on the couch.
Pungent warmth to tongue, to throat, to the insides…a dissipation to soothe the memories away. Some days they come.
A survivor, me? The multi-syllabic mess of me?
You have so much to offer, she said, with a genuine smile. She was a nice lady, put-together well-dressed, dignified, attractive, walking in heels up steps. Grace on stilts with a syrupy lure, to share myself…to share me?
My input, my experience my story, my chrysalis shed, to empower other women who shift in bruised realities, someone stealing their right to just be without a price tag on their needs.
Those women are the me I used to be.
I don’t feel very empowered Sitting here sipping tea. The past rises, even if you swallow it whole again and again. Insufficient distance between us for my Soul to rise up and fly free.
Twenty years ago today was the worst day of my life.
Three days later as I stood in church with my children I remember very clearly a few things:
My throat was damaged from being choked and I could not sing the hymns. I could barely speak in a hoarse voice.
My children, two small boys, were wearing their suits; I do not remember who got their suits out of the closet, ironed them, or got them dressed.
My hair was very short; I always cut my hair when I got upset or had been abused to the point of hating myself and wanting to punish myself.
Strange things were happening; people appeared in front of me and it surprised or frightened me. I suddenly would realize where I was without knowing I was there. Blocks of time seemed to be missing. I learned later at the hospital that I had a concussion. When the kind doctor tried to feel my neck I completely freaked out and had to be sedated.
The events of the abuse that night before Good Friday are so fresh in my mind that I could recount them to you in great detail even now, 20 years later. 20 years ago today I went to work in a dazed, traumatized stupor and took my lunch break to drive to the courthouse to get a 50-B restraining order against my husband (now ex-husband.)
“I need to have my husband removed from my home and get a restraining order. (insert details of attack here.)” said a devastated and nearly destroyed me.
“But where will he live?” the lady asked me.
–things you should NEVER say to an abuse victim.
I have been diagnosed with PTSD.
The diagnosis came 18 years later.
Enough about the worst day of my life, the details of which I carry inside my gut like shards of glass…I want to share with you the poem I wrote about that day in church 20 years ago, with my two boys, both also traumatized, standing next to me. I have sometimes used poetry as a healing force in my life and this was perhaps the most important poem I have ever written. I very rarely share it. But with Easter Day looming, my memories get the better of me and I find myself wrestling with the inner turmoil all over again, no matter how much distance is put between me and that day. Here is the poem:
Three Days After
Three days ago I heard you screaming.
I crawled through darkness to find you.
Today I heard you singing hymns that save and lift me off the floor.
I don’t have to crawl anymore.
I stand in the rising of my Savior.
Lift your eyes my son, flowers grow from crosses everyday.