The Art of Taking Up Space

This week has been less work and more yoga; a gentle coming back to myself. Connecting breath to body, body to mind. Being still, and present. Remembering my worth beyond productivity and performance. Working through blockages. Making changes where I can. Finding acceptance and peace where I cannot.

The thing that continued to come up this week was our worth: how we either play small, or strive and compete to be seen. How both of these things are disempowering, and exhausting.

In a world where we are conditioned to remain small, yoga reminds us to take up space. We weren’t created to contain ourselves inside the expectations of others, or inside the walls of our own fears and inadequacies. We do not need to shrink ourselves to be accepted; to remain compliant and submissive to keep those around us comfortable and unthreatened.

However, we also do not need to force our worth upon others; to push and shove and elbow our way through the crowd to be seen. We do not need to yell the loudest to be heard. We do not need to compete with others, to strive to be better than those around us so our worth is seen and acknowledged.

I have always been more inclined to shrink; to believe I am not enough. The last while, I have felt small. So incredibly small. Through yoga, I am reminded to create space — to stretch beyond the limits of what I believe I am capable of.

As I inhale space and exhale surrender, I am reminded this is how we learn to take up more space in the world: every day we breathe a little deeper and stretch a little longer and push a little further against the constraints of our society, of expectations, of ourselves.

We already stand inside the space we have been given. One we do not have to shrink to fit inside. But also one we do not need to be afraid to fill. We learn to take up more space as we learn to stretch into the bold and sure truth of our existence.

Happy weekend x

(Also, someone come clean my windows, thx)

The Silent Retraumatisation of Sexual Abuse Victims We Don’t Talk About Enough

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“There is nothing untoward in his examination yet I am not in control and this touch is not wanted and it’s too much and I am unclothed and vulnerable and overwhelmed with triggers and the only escape I have in that moment is disassociation.
 
The switch flips; in less than one second I am mentally and emotionally no longer present, retraumatised by a simple and routine medical procedure deemed necessary to potentially save my life.
 
It takes me weeks to recover and find my way back to myself again.
 
Two years later, a reminder letter comes in the mail.
 
I throw it in the bin.”
 

I don’t often publish my articles on my blog, but I want to share this one with you today.

Having a Pap smear is an uncomfortable moment for most women. For survivors of childhood sexual abuse, it’s nothing less than traumatic.

There is not enough help or support for those in this situation, with three out of four women denying themselves life-saving care because the fear of being retraumatised is greater than the fear of cervical cancer.

There needs to be more discussion, more awareness, more understanding, and more care for both victims of sexual abuse and violence and the people who care for them.

This article was incredibly difficult to write, but needs to be read.

Full article over at 10 daily today, link below x

Why A Routine Trip To The GP Leaves Me Mentally And Emotionally Shaken

 

Day Twelve #PoemADayFeb – Summer

woman-in-rain-storm.jpgAnd this is how it happens;
months of half-descended skies
dampen our gaze and like greedy children
we clamber to see the first yellow vein
touch the surface of fleshy cloud; we drench
our shadowed bodies with light, careless
to heed the warnings of our youth –
eager gaze prolonged, cells of retina
bleached by sun’s bitter kiss.
Black spots, blind spots.
In a dream,
sky above scorches flesh
while ground below holds frozen
and the air hangs thick with a metaphor
I cannot see, blinded by beams of him
coming through the doorway of my winter.
Black spots, blind spots.
He does not notice how taut my arms
become from holding up the sky for him.
I do not notice how razor-edged the ice
against my flesh until I bleed.
Black spots, blind spots.
Blistered eyelids force my gaze away
from that which I once hungered
and I see what I did not before:
love is only born of the soft soil
beneath our feet.
The scales fall from my eyes.
I am the rain.
And he is so last summer.

© Kathy Parker 2019

Day Twelve #PoemADayFeb – Summer

Day Eleven #PoemADayFeb – First

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I lost my voice when I was seven;
buried in an unmarked grave
where all untold stories go to die.
I learned it’s quite a skill to hold
a lifetime of words beneath your tongue
and not choke on the debris of letters
that fester in the back of your throat;
to swallow truth like a hungry dog with
bared teeth;
willing another to not come close enough
to taste such foul feast upon their lips.
It turns out there is no minute of silence
for silence;
no funeral for people to dress in black
and eat jelly cakes
and cluck tongues over the tragic loss
of life taken too soon.
Innocence taken too soon.
There is only the sound of applause; let a
woman learn silently with all submissiveness.
I am thirty-four when I find my voice again,
yet it is not the first time I speak
which brings me to my knees,
but the first time I am heard.

© Kathy Parker 2019

Day Eleven #PoemADayFeb – First

She Might Be Beautiful, But She Will Never Compare To You

And she’s beautiful, the girl in the Instagram posts. All perfect smile and perfect tan and perfect proportions. You wonder what it would take to look like her.

If he would notice you more if you did.

In your head, you begin to calculate how many less calories you would need to become that thin. The amount of sit-ups it would take to get abs that defined. The cost of laser hair removal and breast enhancements and anti-wrinkle injections and teeth whitening.

Filled with inadequacy, your heart sinks. You know how much it would take to even come close to comparison; how much it would take to grasp a standard of beauty you know you’ll never measure up to. One you’re not sure you even want to try and measure up to.

Dear woman, you forget.

You forget she may be all those things.

But she isn’t you.

She isn’t the strength of your body that has brought forth life and risen above death; battle-scarred and weary but held together with the resilience and determination of the warrior spirit that blazes beneath your bones.

She isn’t the complexity of your mind, the paint strokes of colour and swirl like the starry night of Van Gogh’s imagination; the intelligence, the creativity, the emotion, but also the tangled knots of questions and doubts and fears; the blisters on your fingers from how much it has taken to unravel the distorted lies of your foundation to uncover the truth that now radiates from your existence.

She isn’t the beads of light behind your eyes that glimmer with the hidden mysteries of your soul. The quick wit you carry inside the cadence of your laughter. The words of courage you fearlessly speak to those who need them. The helpless tears that overflow from your heart for those who suffer around you.

She isn’t the love that rushes through your blood or the passion that douses your veins; the untamed wildfire that aches to be set alight by the strike of his fingers against your skin.

She isn’t vulnerability disguised as bravery.

She isn’t the taste of hope mingled with quiet apprehension as she learns to lean on trust once more.

She isn’t you.

And maybe he’ll never see that. Maybe he’ll never see beyond the surface of a woman’s skin; beyond an image on a screen, beyond a superficial ideal, beyond an unrealistic standard.

But maybe you deserve better anyway.

Because she might be beautiful.

But she will never compare to you.

And the only person who needs to see that, is you.

– ©️ Kathy Parker 2018 –

And I’m Not Sorry For Choosing Me

The more I begin to heal the less I find myself apologising for it.

It would be easy to say sorry.

Sorry for the ways I have pulled away.

Sorry for the ways I have let you down.

Sorry for the messages I have not replied to.

Sorry for the calls I have not answered.

Sorry for my absence.

Sorry for my silence.

Sorry I can no longer meet your expectations.

Sorry I can no longer meet your needs.

Sorry I can no longer put your needs above my own.

Except, I’m not sorry.

Because, the thing is, it isn’t me that needs to heal.

It’s the little girl within me; the wounded child that nobody protected. Or stood up for. Or put first. Or made to feel mattered.

The girl who was not heard, or seen.

The girl who grew up believing the needs of others were more important than her own.

That her body was not her own.

That her voice would never be heard.

That she wasn’t worth the respect of others.

That love was something to be earned.

That boundaries could be crossed by whoever so pleased.

That her value was not in what she could give, but only in what others could take.

I am fighting for her, because no one else ever did.

I am putting her first, because no one else ever did.

I am standing between her and the world; honouring her, protecting her, nurturing her, allowing her the time and space to mend the brokenness without more being taken when there is nothing left to give; without more of the world pulling her in every direction with its demands and expectations.

Because she matters. Because I matter.

I am choosing to heal the way I need to; my time, my way.

I am choosing me.

And I will no longer apologise for that.

– ©️ Kathy Parker 2018 –

Thank You for Teaching Me I Was Worth More Than You: An Open Letter to the One Who Nearly Broke Me, But Not Quite

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“You didn’t love her. You just didn’t want to be alone. Or maybe, maybe she was good for your ego. Or maybe she made you feel better about your miserable life. But you didn’t love her, because you don’t destroy the person that you love” (Grey’s Anatomy)

When I look back now, it’s hard to believe I ever thought you loved me. How desperate I must have been to call that love when in your hands I became so small; crushed by the heaviness of your fingers as they pressed into my skin, the imprint faded but still visible after all this time. How eroded my worth became with each crash of furious words that washed against the already worn breakwaters of my heart. How afraid I became of not just you, but of everything I once was that I no longer trusted myself to be, for fear I would take a wrong step and set off another landmine beneath the surface of your skin.

You left that day, stopping only to push the knife in a little deeper on your way out the door. The pain was so great I hoped to bleed out, right there on the floor where you left me. I wondered if I could survive what you had done to me; if I even wanted to. But resilience has always coursed through my veins faster than sorrow and though weak, I found the courage to pick myself up from the floor that day.

It all seems so long ago now. How far I have come since these pale scars were once open wounds. How distant the taste of bitterness upon my tongue now seems. I’ve long since stopped wanting to call, to write, to tell you of all the ways you nearly broke me, but not quite. Instead, I have come to realise should I ever pass by you on the street, there is only two words I would need to say.

Thank you.

Thank you for teaching me I will never again settle for someone who can destroy a woman and call that love; who can not only justify their abuse through victim-blaming, but make a woman believe they actually deserved such abuse.

Thank you for teaching me I will never again be controlled by another in a relationship; that I am the keeper of my own life, my own choices and my own relationships and I’m entitled to live my life with freedom, and not be imprisoned by another person’s power over me.

Thank you for teaching me I need not compromise who I am and all I believe in order to be loved; that I do not need to scrape my knees on the ground of another’s approval, nor ever apologise for who I am to those who choose not to accept me regardless.

Thank you for teaching me I do not need another to complete me; that I am better off being alone than ever being with someone who does not love me with respect, kindness, thoughtfulness, gentleness, acceptance.

Thank you for teaching me never to look back; for all the apologies that didn’t reach your eyes, for all the promises spoken through lying teeth, for all the times I did come back only to end up more shattered by you each time.

Thank you for helping me understand men like you never change.

Thank you for teaching me I deserve more than you.

Thank you for teaching me about love.

The kind of love you could never give.

The kind of love I am worth.

The kind of love I will only ever accept from another so long as they can love me the way I have finally learned to love myself.

Second Chances

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And it never really changes.
 
The words look different. The way they form a line this time that seems straight and stable; so well-crafted, so precise. There seems to be no faults, no cracks, no frayed edges, and you feel yourself drawn to the letters that fall seamlessly from his mouth and land without effort in the aperture of your heart.
 
But it never really changes.
 
You said there would be no more chances. That the last time was enough. You look down at the scars that had just started to blend into your skin, barely noticeable now. You try and remember what every one of those scars cost you. Except, this time the words look different, and you can’t.
 
He forces his way closer, and somewhere deep inside, you still believe in second chances. You weaken. After all, the words look different. This time will be different.
 
It never changes.
 
It doesn’t take long before the words begin to reshape; after all, he’s an expert in manipulation. They become familiar threads of anger, blame, guilt and shame that he weaves around you; a web of abuse he seeks to trap you inside so he can satiate his need for power and control.
 
You’ve been here before.
 
Nothing changes.
 
Except for you.
 
You changed.
 
You realise you don’t need this anymore. You have become wiser, braver, stronger in the places he once broke you. You have become sure, resilient, steady. You pulled yourself from the ground where he said you belonged and rose – a fighter, a warrior, a survivor.
 
You forgot. Just for a moment, you forgot. But now you take one last look over your shoulder and turn your face toward the sun and remember who you are.
 
You are fire, and you blaze with the fury of all you are worth.
 
And you are worth so much more than a love that was only ever abuse in disguise.
 
In honour of Domestic Violence Awareness Month ❤️
 
Butterfly Illustration courtesy https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals

And They Will Always Try And Make You Feel Inadequate

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And they will always try and make you feel inadequate.

They will grab you by the hand and drag you down your alleyway of imperfections and show you the walls lined with your failures. They will claw their hands deep inside the pit of your stomach and search out your insecurities and place them behind your eyelids where even in sleep there will be no escape from your deepest fear of scarcity. They will barrage your mind with taunted whispers of all you should be; with ridicules of all you are not. They will wear down the resistance of your heart with arrows of rejection and dismissal and ostracism and abandonment for every moment you attempt to stand firm upon the truth of your own heart.

This is how they crush your bones so you fit inside their box where they will always be able to shape you into who they want you to be.

This is how they throw a blanket on your fire until your flames are no more and you become only the ashes and dust of who you were created to be.

This is how they wrap their cords around your throat until your skin is raw and the power of your voice is silenced by the fear of speaking out loud.

This is how they keep you small. This is how they keep you quiet.

This is how they keep you from being more than they will ever be.

And when they have almost succeeded, and you have forgotten the sound of your own name, let me remind you, my love.

Let me remind you that you have been created beyond compare. That every breath you take is the heartbeat of an answered prayer. You are perfect in your flaws; made more beautiful by the broken pieces you stitched together with your threads of courage and hope; threads that glimmer in the sunlight and warm the darkest shadows of those around you. You are a heart made of soft wool that wraps its compassion around others when the world gets too cold for them. You are the strength and resilience of an oak tree that others clamber beneath when the wind blows and the storm rages. You are the force of the night as it triumphs over the day; the softness of the tide as it surrenders to the moon.

You are incomparable fingerprints and remarkable thoughts imminent inside the beauty of your mind. Your eyes are colours of marbles not yet named and your laughter is made of music never heard before and your toes beckon upon winded paths not yet imprinted by others.

They will always try and make you feel inadequate.

And some days you will believe them. You will believe you are nothing more than the mistakes you live to regret, nothing more than the times you have failed, fallen short, the sum of your deficiencies. You will believe you are only deserving of love and acceptance if you comply, conform, make yourself less than so you do not overshadow or intimidate or threaten them with the fury of your flames. But you are born of the galaxies and made from the fire of the stars they contain.

You are here to burn for all that sets your heart on fire and watch it turn to gold.

They will always try and make you feel inadequate.

Don’t let them. Listen for the sound of your own name. For here lies everything you are. Everything they are afraid of. Everything they will never be.

And everything the world is waiting for.

And This Is How I Love

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This is how I love
I am like a wildfire in February
Propelled by the north winds
That rage with the same fury
As my breath upon your neck

I burn with chaos
I am madness that consumes
I hurl my passion at your skin
You are like sun-baked grass
My fingers catch you ablaze

My lips are ruthless
There is nowhere untouched
Every edge of your landscape
Ravaged in violent destruction
Til your bones are only embers

But you remain cool
You are frost under August sky
Damp wood upon a forest floor
You wince as my urgent flames
Burn against your faltered heart

You pull away
And I remember I am too much
That I am supposed to be meek
And in your distance I am wiser
But in your apathy I am left cold.