She was a small papoose when her mother walked out of her life. She had an old soul about her, this one. Riveting gaze, telling of things see that others have gone entire lifetimes without. She kept her eyes on the horizon for surely there would be better days.
As time marched on, she grew from a child into a maiden. The transition was difficult to say the least – growing up in a “spare the rod, spoil the child” Seventh – day Adventist home. Her world held an occasional dandelion where darkness seemed to abound. She had a life she was both terrified and ashamed to confess. Soon, dandelions were replaced with dead roses and cacti.
Under threat, she learned to let her mind wander. She still dreamed of better tomorrows but her clarity was growing shrouded amidst the dark fog of her mind. She held on to hope and treated it like a mighty flower growing and expanding inside her breast—like a sunflower searching for the light. Somehow this made it easier to endure the abuse: the beatings, verbal slurs, the dinner consisting of canned dog food, vomit, and other bodily fluids that met the madness of the dark temptress.
She found comfort in a pretend world all of her own. She would create art through black ink staining pages of white and this would bring calmness and peace. She buried her long, curly locks in books and journals. She created a secret garden, safe and secure within her mind. Here she went when forced to don costume changes, the suckling of an adult’s breast, and a photoshoot to delight the mad. The abuse she endured was the things nightmares are made of.
The day finally came when all light left the land. She found herself trapped in the dark confines of her mind. The water fountain that flowed so vibrant in her dreams—now dried up. The plaster cracked from overgrown roots. The grand castle she once erected had now crumbled and all that stood was a remnant of once was—great columns overgrown with ivy and moss. Her secret garden, now a serpents den, was no longer a safe place to play.
Where she was once able to see the horizon—she now only saw thick fog rolling through a dense, dark forest. Cockroaches and nicotine stained walls. Where she once heard laughter, she now heard a million bats in flight. Holding herself tight, she realized she was alone in this cold, empty, dark world.
The day came when she plucked this flower from her breast, this thing she once called hope. She cried rivers of tears as she realized hope was bullshit and surely God must hate her. She had read her bible since she was but two. She grew to realize that she was a mistake composed of God’s wrath and surely no one would (or could) love her in a way that made her feel safe. Without hesitation, she emptied a bottle of sleeping pills and swallowed them without regret.
This was a desperate act, but she was tired. Oh so very tired. She was done stumbling in the dark without a light switch in sight. She was tired of being bruised. She needed a life-jacket to cling to, but in the swells of life, she slowly followed the tide and let it pull her under.
(20 Years Later)
I heard her heart beating in an animal like panic.
I couldn’t escape.
The candle’s flame seemed to glow brighter—its shadow dancing in anticipation of what was yet to come. Out of the darkness, her eyes resonated within me—perpetuating rage and darting with fear. I could smell her sweat. A feral wild thing about to escape. That which began as a whimper quickly became a guttural scream of madness—raw and familiar—an exorcism of sorts.
The hair on my arms stood on end. My head went light as my heart started to race. In one swift movement, everything came crashing down around me. In agony, I realized I was bleeding—my wrists cut, gauzy flesh exposed. Looking at my reflection, I realized I was alone. I had shattered the mirror and found an odd sort of comfort in the distorted image of myself. She was I and I was her. We were one.
“Right now I want a word that describes the feeling we get—a cold, sick feeling deep down inside—when we know something is happening that will change us—we don’t want it to —but we can’t stop it. And we know, for the first time, that there will now be a before and an after, a once was and a will be. And that we will never again be quite the same person we once were.”
“I imagine it’s the feeling Eve had as she bit into the apple, or Hamlet when he saw his father’s ghost, or Jesus, as a boy, right after someone sat him down and told him his pa wasn’t a carpenter after all.”
For me, this was that moment.
As I gazed at my shattered reflection and homicidal hooded stare, I knew with clarity that there would now be a before and an after, a was and a will be. I have always trudged the line in murky water, but this was an all-consuming darkness.
I was caught in a landslide—my own downward spiral. I was the cracked mirror of my own dreams.
When I was just 17 years old, I was committed to traveling with The African Children’s Choir but during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, all flights were cancelled and I had to come up with a new plan. I began working with animals shortly out of High School and quickly navigated towards humans. I tried my hand at conventional medicine but would often find myself waking to the aroma of ammonia salts. Knowing it was my calling or rather, my destiny, to work with others in a healing capacity, I ended up spending my time working in Medical Administration/Management for almost eighteen years…
In 2014, my biological mother (who I came to know as an adult and who was truly my best friend), passed away. It was exactly a year and a day from when my sweet baby bear died within my womb. And two years before my sweet father would also cross from this realm.
Up until then, I had done a great job of playing hide-and-go seek with the demons in my life. My skeletons were neatly packed and stored in a closet—carefully wrapped, labelled, and tied with pretty bows. The loss of my mom put me in a tailspin and before I could blink, this Pandora’s Box of secrets burst open. I utterly and completely lost my shit.
To quote Brené Brown, “What looked to others as a nervous breakdown to others was actually my own spiritual awakening.”
On the surface, it looked like my entire word fell apart, but really, I was in the midst of a very beautiful and powerful process of rebirth.
I began writing as a way of healing. To speak my story out loud. I had to go into the shadows and sing over the bones–the fragmented pieces of myself to give them voice, give them recognition, bring them to light in order to release them and free myself from the chains that once bound me. I had over 50 articles published with Elephant Journal, Huffington Post, The Tattooed Buddha, The Urban Howl, House of Citrine, Redflag.org, and most notably, The OC87 Recovery Diaries.
I started on my own quest, howling into the night – allowing my heart to follow the ebb and flow of the tide under the waxing and waning moon. I began to heal using my words as my past collided with the present and my entire world collided with reality, unraveling me to the core. And from my once muddy beginnings, this wolf returned home – weaving together new stories untold. Magic, myth, and mystery. Folklore and farytale.
If words were my breath, poetry would line my soul. I have been born anew.