abuse · creativity · poetry · recovery · writing

Treading Trauma

Treading water
where barracudas swarm,
inject a drop of kindness
incite a ravenous threat

Quick the decision to bail,
shed contamination,
resulting terror –
shame exposed.

Now tread slough
longing floored
robed in foreboding
trembling in shadows.

(I have made poor choices in my life, which still haunt my dreams.  My therapist says to focus on the “quick departure”, honour myself for making the right decision in the moment.  Still, guilt lives on.  Such is the nature of trauma.  It lingers in our psyche.  Image from personal collection.)

 

abuse · poetry · writing

Inside, I Scream

(Warning:  trigger)

It wasn’t for want of terror –
inexplicable horror
caused me to quake

There was no one to hear –
a remote lair, boarded
ensured the perfect crime

Even in the aftermath –
self erased, movement
adrenalin automaton

Even then, no sound,
voice stifled by guilt
certainty blame was mine

Art of dissociation
keeps me now, surface
calm – shame numbed

The scream a silent
reverberation
tearing at my soul.

(For Ragtag Community’s daily prompt:  scream.)

 

abuse · Family · Love · poetry · recovery · relationships · writing

Keep Learning

Tyrannical,  my father’s reign; the ensuing understanding of relationship dynamics twisted.  Violence and threats peppered with “I love you”, as if one was synonymous with the other.  I cowered with the rest, shame a heavy weight.

Oppression dictates
warped sense of love, intimate
nightmare – relearning.

(For Reena’s Exploration challenge #89.  Relationships have been the theme of my dreams lately – thus the reversal to childhood.)

abuse · Family · life · poetry

Money

Daddy yelled
and Mommy cried
and new dresses appeared.

A pattern
my young heart
vowed to break.

Chose a man,
reticent in nature,
pursued a career.

Then babies came
and I stayed home
and he withheld cash.

Pendulum swings
left to right – money
holds the key to powers.

Patterns, it seems,
twist and morph,
leave me impoverished.

abuse · change · Family · life · relationships · writing

Talk

Mother said: “Look after your sister!”
What she meant was: Take these
burdens off my shoulders, I am
no longer able to cope.

Father said: “Do as I say, not as I do!”
What he meant was:  I don’t have
the wherewithal to deal with my own
problems, so don’t bring me yours.

Sister said:  “Be a good auntie!”
What she meant was: I am too
young to be a mother, and you are so
much more responsible, please take on
the consequences of my poor choices.

So I ran away to build my own life.
Met a man and married, bought a house,
had children and hopes and dreams
for a future that would erase the past.

Husband said: “If you really loved me
you’d try harder to lose weight, be less
effusive in public, control your temper,
and be more supportive of my choices.

What he meant was:  I’m going to grind
you so far into the ground and then I’m
going to cheat and cheat and you’ll have
nothing left inside to do anything about it.

And without a word, I left, and
what I meant was: I am a real person
with needs and faults and limitations
and it’s about time I honour me.

abuse · Family · poetry · writing

The Art Of Survival

Learned the art of survival
from father, a commando-
trained warrior, never able
to leave the battles behind

A sharp-shooter, whose
expert eye tracked our
every fault, with sniper
precision, shot us down.

Innocence has no place
when the enemy resides
within; when trigger lines
are camouflaged by wall-

to-wall carpets, and young
minds, craving exploration,
are imprisoned by acts of
terror; the only conclusion

survival’s impermanence –
hostility lurking in every
shadow, caution instilled
by the omnipotent legacy

of father. Tried to reach
him in the end, touch his
humanity; his shell-shocked
glaze paused for a moment,

he focused, broke through
the fury, seemed to remember
we were his daughters – was
that compassion lighting

his expression? Take cover,
he cried, get as far away as
you can, save yourselves, I
cannot sway my path, too

committed to this private war,
there is no mercy for me – but
you, you can be saved, save
your children.  I turn and run

with all the certainty that this
is life and death and embrace
the little ones, praying to lift
them out of the ashes, give

them new life, but it seems
they learned the art of survival
from the daughter of a father,
conditioned to the state of war.

(Submitted for dVerse pub Open Link Night.  This poem first appeared November 2016.  Video is a reading by yours truly at an Open Mic night.)