Because so afraid to break the silence, we become it #WhyDidntIReport
Spoken Word Poem © Kathy Parker 2018
When will we learn
there is nothing ugly
about the stories of
mapped upon our skin.
~ ©️ Kathy Parker // Scars ~
Day Seven #poemadayfeb: Ugly
And no-one ever told me how
healing was supposed to feel.
That it would be an anguish
that claws along my ribcage
before it tears me wide open
and lays bare all my ugliness.
That it would be scarves of
pain weaved around my neck
like hands that grip my throat
and leave me fighting for life.
That it would be a wilted body,
exhausted from the relentless
fight against the demons that
wage war upon my beaten soul.
That it would be bloody hands,
blistered and raw from clinging
so tightly to the addictions that
deaden this goddamn torment.
No, no-one ever told me how
healing was supposed to feel.
I didn’t know it would hurt like
barbwire dragged over my skin,
and knives gouged in my heart.
Yet all I know is before I’m able
to full heal, I must allow myself
to fully break.
Image courtesy yourtango.com
It wasn’t your fault.
It wasn’t your fault you weren’t protected from getting hurt when you were younger.
It wasn’t your fault you weren’t told how much you mattered, how much you were worth.
It wasn’t your fault you had no voice, that you were powerless and not taught to say no.
It wasn’t your fault you didn’t know how to draw the line around your heart, mind and body to protect yourself from being hurt by others.
It wasn’t your fault the people who should have shown you where to draw that line instead made you feel you weren’t important enough to keep safe.
You grew up with no lines and no boundaries and you didn’t know the difference between love and abuse, and because of that, you allowed others to hurt you, when all you really wanted was for others to love you.
And that isn’t your fault.
Let yourself be angry. Let yourself be angry that you were never told how much you were worth. That you never protected yourself because nobody ever protected you. That you allowed people to violate the lines that should have been there but never were because you weren’t told how to put those lines in place.
Because you weren’t told how important you were, and how much it mattered.
How much you mattered.
Let the anger rise within you. Allow yourself to cry tears of rage and grief for all you have lost. For all others have taken from you – not what you have given away – but what others have taken from you, that you can no longer get back.
Use that anger to fight for yourself in the way you should have been fought for. Use it to reclaim all that has been taken, to reclaim your heart. Let the anger become a fire that rages in your soul and burns away the tarnish that others have left upon you. Let the flames consume you, let them purify you, let them cleanse you and refine you until all that is left is the beauty of who you really are.
Your worth is great. You were created by the same hands that created the galaxies and the stars and the oceans and the storms and the wind that rages across the four corners of the earth. You were breathed into existence, not by accident, but with purpose, with promise. The entire universe listens just to hear the beating of your heart and the whisper of your breath. You were meant to be here. You were supposed to be here.
You were wanted here.
And you are worthy of the kind of love that nurtures your soul and heals your heart. A love that sees your value and worth and believes in you. A love that is strong and kind, loyal and true. A love that brushes the hair from your eyes and kisses your forehead and gives you its jacket when you are cold and holds your hand when you are scared and draws you into its arms and doesn’t let go until it stops hurting. You are worthy of someone whose feet are anchored; who loves you when you radiate with the light of the moon and stars, and loves you even harder when you are cast in the shadow of your own cold sorrow.
You are worthy of a love that will never, ever hurt you.
Draw your lines, dear woman, for within these lines lies the truth of all that you are worth.
And the moment you come to know this truth, is the moment nobody can ever take that away from you again.
~ Kathy Parker ~
Image courtesy kolyan.net
You turn away from the world because you believe the mistakes you have made are tattooed all over your body and that is all the world can see; marks of shame you cannot wipe clean no matter how many years you scrub your skin until no more blood can seep from your pores still stained with filth and sin.
You turn away from the world because you believe you are defined by your past, by the choices you made when there were no other choices; that you are bound to the girl you once were by the invisible ropes still tied around your hands and feet, held in place by words of shame that will never deliver you from their grasp.
You turn away from the world because you believe you are not deserving to hold your head high and look it in the eye; that you carry a scarlet letter upon your forehead that will blind those who dare to look your way, and you cannot stand to see the way they turn their face from your tainted humanity.
You forget, foolish girl.
You forget what you have survived.
You forget you fought alone against the world when your hands were too small to defeat the weight of it, and so you took it on as your own even though it almost crushed you.
You forget you were betrayed by those who should have protected you and so you barricaded yourself behind hard edges and sharp corners and promised to never trust or need another again.
You forget the way love was shown as abuse and abuse was shown as love and the shame you were forced to carry because of the way you longed to be loved even when that looked like abuse.
You forget you sat alone in a room filled with despair as your hands shook and blood trailed down your wrist and in that moment when you could have chosen death, you chose life.
You forget you have every reason to be hard, but you choose to remain soft. You have every reason to hate, but you choose to show mercy. You have every reason to cast judgment, but you choose to speak grace. You have every reason to fuck this world the way it has fucked you, but you choose to heal it instead.
You forget you have survived what most people never could.
Foolish girl, you are not foolish at all.
You are a warrior.
You are strength. You are bravery. You are courage. You are hope. You are light. You are truth. You are love. You are survival. You are kindness. You are wisdom. You are redemption. You are transformation. You are revolution.
And most of all, you are worthy.
To love, and to be loved.
You just need to believe it.
~ © Kathy Parker ~
Image courtesy usadress.info
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.
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
Let me tell you about this time I crossed the road. I didn’t have to cross the road, but I wanted to. I was warned against it, told it was dangerous, told I could get hit by a car. But I didn’t heed the warnings. I wanted to live, unafraid. I wanted to trust in the goodness of the drivers, the goodness of humanity. I wanted to believe that just because I walked across the road didn’t mean I would get hit by a car.
Except, I did get hit by a car.
I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I wasn’t standing in the middle of the road. But even if I was, it didn’t have to hit me. But the driver hit me anyway. He chose to hurt me. He saw me there, and he didn’t wait while I crossed. He didn’t help me, or make sure I was safe. He hit me.
And then he told me it was my fault, because I crossed the road even though I knew it was dangerous. If I hadn’t crossed the road, then he never would have hit me.
Sounds ridiculous, right?
Yet, this was the argument put across this week by a renowned Christian blogger in response to Brock Turner and the Stanford rape case.
As I sat and read the gut-wrenching letter the victim wrote to her attacker, my heart cracked open in my chest. Grief flooded my body, puddles of tears gathered on the table in front of me for the way this woman suffered.
And then I read this tweet, written by this blogger, whose claims to write only Absolute Truths:
“Drunken hook up culture is the problem, not “rape culture”. Women can protect themselves by not participating in hook up culture.”
And no longer was I filled with grief, but instead, rage. Rage that a white, privileged, Christian, male blogger would dare insinuate that this woman, or any woman, is responsible for being raped simply because she went to a party, drank too much and mingled amongst a drunken hook up culture, to quote his words.
At what point did it ever become okay to place the responsibility of rape upon a woman? To point the finger at how much she chose to drink, the length of skirt she chose to wear, the party she chose to attend, the time of night she chose to walk home? To make her somehow feel it was her fault because of the choices she made?
Alcohol doesn’t equal rape. A short skirt doesn’t equal rape. Nor does a party, an empty street or a consensual hook up. What equals rape is lack of consent. And when a woman is unconscious behind a dumpster, nearly naked, being raped by some pretty boy swimmer, there is no consent. In fact, when a woman is fully conscious and being raped, there is no consent. When a child is raped by a trusted family member, there is no consent. When a wife is raped by her abusive husband, there is no consent. Rape is not something that only happens in hook up cultures, when there is alcohol and loss of inhibition.
And this is exactly what enables a rape culture. Men who hold women accountable. Men who condemn women for their lack of modesty, who claim this is the reason they sin. Men like Turner, who said he rationalized that “since we had been making out where each of us fell to the ground, that it would be a good idea to take things a step further.” Yes, she fell to the ground. Unconscious. And then he took it a step further, without her consent, or even her awareness. And then claimed he was the victim.
To insinuate a rape victim responsible for her victimization because of a choice she made or didn’t make is perhaps the most shameful words ever written by a male.
Because here’s the thing. I don’t deny hook up culture is a problem. But rather than condemn women who choose to drink too much and hook up, I choose to look beyond the action and see the cause. To realise what we are seeing is the result of a broken generation, a generation of women desperate to be noticed, to be seen, to be loved. Because regardless of the façade of hook ups and casual sex and friends with benefits, nothing has changed. Girls are still just looking to be loved. Not raped.
The problem doesn’t lie with hook up culture, it never has. The problem lies with the foundations of our society being built upon male privilege, boys not being taught to respect and value women, men being taught through porn industries and the like that women are nothing more than objects of no value to be used for their gratification.
And yes, even through biblical teaching that places men in the position of authority, which women must submit unto. Cue said blogger, who also quoted, “We can’t end rape culture if we don’t end hook up culture.”
No, we can’t end rape culture if men continue to rape.
But this is how we can end rape culture.
Teach our sons what it means to be real men. That real men respect women. Remind them they are here because they were carried by a woman, birthed by a woman, nurtured at the breast of a woman. They were rocked to sleep in the arms of a woman, cared for by the hands of a woman, taught of life by the wisdom of a woman.
Teach our sons to value women, cherish them, love them. To uphold them. Never to hurt them. To honour the strength of their manhood through the protection of women, not through the dominance of them.
But mostly, teach our sons that real men don’t rape a girl who has blacked out a party. They pick her up and carry her home to safety.
Because drunken hook up culture is not the problem. Women not protecting themselves is not the problem.
Men who believe they are entitled to rape is the problem.
And that, right there, is the Absolute Truth.