This Is Survival. Sometimes It Isn’t Pretty.

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This is survival. Sometimes it isn’t pretty.

I wrote these words to my friend, Antanika, in response to the courageous and honest words she shared on her Facebook page last night.

They haven’t left my mind since.

Antanika is a survivor, and one of the bravest warriors I know. I can’t tell you how in awe of her I am. She takes her pain, her trauma, the things she has suffered, and she looks them square in the eye, unabashed. She says them out loud. She fights them head on. Me? I dance around words like sexual abuse, molestation, rape, violation, assault. The words are too stark, there is nothing to hide behind when I say these words out loud. Instead I find ways to make them sound poetic, romantic even, as if that somehow softens them or lessens the pain and destruction they have caused in my life. When really, I’m just too scared and ashamed to admit how unhealed I actually am.

I don’t know how healed those who have suffered these traumas ever become. Some days I feel more held together than others. Most days I won’t admit how close to unhinged I truly am. I do know the word survivor has been glorified into an image I feel I cannot do justice to. Because unless survival is found in a bottle of wine, then I’m not doing it very well.

Most people drink to forget.

I don’t drink to forget.

I drink to feel.

Because I’m desperate to feel.

Something. Anything.

Because the harsh truth is, I don’t know how to feel anymore. In the stark, sober light of day, there is only numbness. Disassociation. Detachment. I have drifted oceans away from my soul and can no longer recognise the sound of my own heartbeat. I want to feel, and I can’t. I want to submerge in the depth of my emotions, and I don’t know how. My heart is in lockdown, protected by strongholds I once needed but now do not know how to tear down. All I know is only when I drink, do I feel. Only on those nights do I find reprieve from the soul-destroying numbness that falls upon me like a blanket of fog I cannot get out from underneath of. Here, in the night, with alcohol in my veins, I am raw emotion, I am honest truth, I am the uncontained force of grief and loss and love and beauty and desire and hope and anger and hatred that rages through my anaesthetised soul and wakes it from its godforsaken sleep.

There are better ways to make it through. Right now, I am not capable of them. I drink because I cannot survive in the numbness. But I cannot survive in the fullness of my pain either. This is a paradox most cannot understand, except those who walk the path of the survivor.

I like to think that sometimes survival looks beautiful on me, that sometimes it is strength and courage and battle scars etched upon my skin for every war I have fought and won; battle scars that glisten in the sun as I stand upon mountaintops and look back at how far I have climbed along trails I never should have survived with the odds so damn against me.

But I know too, sometimes survival is anything but pretty.

It’s too much alcohol and words haemorrhaged on a page. It’s 3am bloodshed and battle and demons slayed. It’s torrents of rage unleashed upon the things we remember even though we chose to forget. It’s war fought in silence and tears, in fury and defeat. It’s weeping and howling and desiring and longing and seething and wanting and healing and feeling. For God’s sake, feeling.

It’s rebellion against the deadness that blankets our soul.

It’s anarchy against the numbness our hearts cannot escape.

It’s not pretty.

But it’s how we survive, today, until we can survive better tomorrow.

The point is, we’re surviving.

And sometimes that’s all that really matters.

Image courtesy Martin Driver  

Arisen

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“You’re safe with me,” you say
As I gaze at fault lines
Mapped upon your heart
Desperate to believe you
I pretend not to see
And look away

“I love you,” you whisper
And I unpack worn bags
And make you my home
Not yet wise enough to know
Your love would always come
At a cost

I tiptoe around the cracks
Of our distorted foundations
And try not to notice the
Tremors that rattle my bones
As you kiss weak excuses
Upon my lips

The walls close in around us
I suffocate under the weight
Of their intimidating stare
They watch, and follow
And scorn their judgement
Except, the walls are you
Held by mistrust

The air seeps with tension
As cold as your touch
Even though hot anger
Simmers fire in your veins
Tectonic plates shift, and rage
Pours onto me

“Who is he?” you ask
You never did understand me
For there is no other
But you erupt, violent,
The unredeemable earthquake
That destroys us

But I arise the tsunami
Carried on the force
Of my own glorious strength
And all that remains of you
Is the memory I once held
Washed away evermore.

~ © Kathy Parker \\ Paul Kohn ~

Image courtesy www.ransomedheart.com

Freedom


I will hurl expectation to the oceans of burden you drown beneath 

I will untie my hands from the duty you enslave your heart to 

I will dance upon graves of the buried obligation you die below

I will howl truths upon the mountains you lack courage to tread 

I will sprint breathless toward the deliverance you turn away from 

I will tear apart the walls of the prison you call protection 

I will revel in the abundance of life you deny yourself 

The life you denied me

For I understand now it was not 

My freedom you so feared

But your own. 

~ © Kathy Parker ~ 

Image courtesy deviantart.com

I Want You To Wake With Me

I want you to wake with me

In the place where salt air

Floats through our open window

And soaks into our thirsty skin

The place where our minds

Are as tangled together

As our bodies

Beneath the worn sheets

Where I find refuge in 

The tremble of your breath

Against mine

 
I want you to wake with me 

In the place where clocks

Do not exist, and time

Steals naught away

 
The place where fear

Loses grip on my heart

With each moment 

Your ravenous hands

Take grip of my flesh 

No longer falling away

But complete

 
I want you to wake with me 

In the place where the pieces 

Of our glorious madness

At once  make perfect sense

 
The place where you

Will trace gentle lines 

Over the scars I hide 

And I will kiss healing

Into the wounds you deny

And our skin will weep 

No more

 
I want you to wake with me

In the place we will never leave  

And here we will make our home

Here we will stay. 

~ © Kathy Parker ~

 
Image courtesy of theproblemwithdating.com 

Dear Man Who Loves The Woman Who Has Been To Hell And Back

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Dear Man Who Loves The Woman Who Has Been To Hell and Back,

Last year I published the article, How To Love A Woman Who Has Been To Hell and Back. This article has since been republished on more websites than I could even tell you. It has been shared hundreds of thousands of times all around the world, and has received millions of views. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of messages I’ve received from women who have thanked me for giving them the words they could never say.

But in the last while, my inbox has also been filled with messages from men such as you. Men who are trying to love the woman who has been to hell and back, but are struggling. Men who are doing the best they can, but are hurting. Men who are trying to understand more, do better, love harder, but aren’t sure if it’s worth the pain and exhaustion. Men who are confused, unsure, lost, and in need of answers.

Dear man, the fact that you love your woman so much that you are willing to read an article to understand her more is a truly wonderful thing. That you would message me in the hope of knowing how to love her better is admirable. Men like you are rare, precious, and so appreciated. The world needs more men like you. Men who are strong, brave, resilient, determined, loyal, and willing to love at a high cost because you understand the worth of the woman you hold in your arms. You are a testament to the masculine heart that encompasses both strength and gentleness, fierceness and kindness. Hearts like yours are worthy of respect, and I give thanks that you have chosen to love the woman in your life with such determination, commitment and resolve.

I understand how hard it is to love a woman who has been to hell and back.

Because the thing is, this woman carries in her heart a lifetime of pain that you didn’t cause. You didn’t inflict this pain on her. You didn’t hurt her. You didn’t damage her heart. You aren’t the reason she cannot fully love or trust.

But you are the one she pushes away. You are the one who tries to get close to her, to love her, but fails. You are the one she won’t turn to when she’s in pain, the one she won’t talk to when she feels alone, the one she won’t draw near to when she needs someone the most.

You are the one she hurts, because she is hurting.

And you don’t deserve that.

I know what that does to your heart. I know of the times you are so damn frustrated at not knowing what to do. I know you feel like no matter how much you love her, it will never be enough. I know you are exhausted at times, and are not sure how much more you can take of this storm. I know you feel confused and sometimes none of it makes sense and you lay awake at night and wonder if it’s worth it.

But the thing is, you’re still there.

You’re still there because something tells you this is worth it.

It’s difficult for me to tell you how to best love the woman who has been to hell and back. No situation is ever the same, and I have not the mind and heart of a man in your shoes.

But this is what I can tell you.

My original article was not written to condone abuse of any kind. Our society is vocal when it comes to domestic violence where women are the victims, but far less vocal to speak of men who are abused by women. It’s real, and it happens, and I understand how my article may have been interpreted in this respect and how that may have confused and upset you. But abuse is never okay, no matter from a man to a woman, or a woman to a man.

There is a difference between a woman who is hurting and inadvertently hurts others as she works through her pain, and a woman who justifies hurting others because she has been hurt, so that makes it okay. There is a difference between a woman who is willing to acknowledge that she has hurt others, who seeks forgiveness and redemption, and who strives to do better, and a woman who plays the victim card, blames others, and does not seek to change her ways but expects others to be her punching bag. There is a difference between a woman who struggles to love but does her best to give all she can to the relationship, and one who merely expects, takes, and gives nothing in return.

I know sometimes the lines can seem blurred, and because of this you struggle to know whether to stay or leave. But you are not obligated or responsible to stay there in the face of abuse. You must still, always, protect your heart. The woman who has been to hell and back needs to be responsible for her own healing. It’s not an easy journey, nor a fast one. There are many hard days, many times she will get stuck and not know the way forward. But the important thing to consider is that she is trying – for herself, for you, for your relationship.

No-one can tell you whether to stay or leave, only you can determine what you see in her heart, whether you see growth and change and promise, or whether you merely feel like her doormat. To love a woman who has been to hell and back is not easy. But it should never mean abuse, lack of respect, lack of boundaries, or that you become a scapegoat for someone who is unwilling to heal. This is something you must be able to understand the difference between in order to answer the question of whether you should stay or leave.

I can tell you that you are not responsible for fixing her, nor does she want you to. Men are fixers, and I understand it’s in your nature to want to make this better; make her better. But this is her journey. This is her pain. Her healing will not be pretty. At times she will be the hurricane and you will need to be the storm shelter – let her rage, let her anger and her fury and her pain unleash from her heart, let the weight of the trauma she has stored in her body for so many years come undone. Don’t fight it, don’t stop it, don’t fix it. Just be that safe place for her to come home to when the storm ends and the tears begin. You cannot fix her, you can only love her.

I can tell you the woman who has been to hell and back has a story written on her heart. A story which says everyone who should have protected her, didn’t. Everyone she trusted, hurt her. Everyone she loved, left her. She waits for you to continue the story, to be the next person to reject her, abandon her, hurt her. She expects it. She thinks it’s only a matter of time. And this is why she pushes you away, hurts you, leaves you, when you have only ever loved her. She doesn’t believe she is worthy of a love like yours, and believes it’s only a matter of time until you realise this too.

You asked me what it means to love harder.

It means you will need to be better than anyone else at love. It means you will need to love with more strength, more patience, more grace, more determination, more understanding, more perseverance. It means you will need to love her more than anyone else has before or will again. It means you will need to love her until she understands what love is, and believes in a love she’s never known.

It means you will need to love her hard enough to be the one to re-write the story on her heart.

But dear man, you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t everything she needs, and didn’t have everything it takes, to love the woman who has been to hell and back.

Image via mustbethistalltoride.com

Meet Me On Roads Not Travelled 

Meet me not on roads

Already gone before 

But find me where 

The bridal creeper 

Tangles its stem 

Around fallen limbs 

And the sun 

Scarcely dapples light 

Through the dense canopy 

Of leaves that surround

With their secrets untold 

Where above and below

The heavens echo

With the same cry

Our hearts make 

As they beat wild inside 

Our drunken chests 

Take my hand in yours 

And run with me, my love 

So even the wind

In all her delicate fury 

Cannot compare to the breath

Inside our eager lungs 

Let us laugh 

And kiss 

With careless abandon 

As we run along tracks 

Dense with bracken and weed 

Where ground is untouched 

And our spirits untamed

Let us not be like them 

For you and I do not belong 

On well-worn trails

And familiar paths

We are born of dust and skies 

Of constellation and earth 

And the purpose that aches

Inside our unbridled veins 

Will lead us together 

Along the road less travelled

To the place 

Where freedom is found. 

~ © Kathy Parker ~

 
Image by The Love Whisperer via Tumblr