Enough – OctPoWriMo, Oct. 6

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Enough

When I was small, my father worked overnights,

And would nap on the couch before work.

Once my mother woke him

I would crawl into the nest of blanket and pillow,

Caressing myself with his heat, making his smell

A part of my breath.

I felt safer there.

Safe from notice and rages.

Safe from ridicule while I
Sucked my finger and twisted my hair

My parent-hated self-soothing technique.

But was it enough?

I try to remember a time

When either of my parents snuggled me -

Not a hug or a kiss, but a lingering cuddle

Circled and surrounded by their warm acceptance

Their love, their bigness and strength.

I can remember a time

On their bed, on Valentine’s Day

My mother opening the silky heart box

exclaiming at the chocolates.

I remember how there were other hearts

Gifts from my father, in years I don’t remember

Hanging on the wardrobe doors.

We moved from that house when I was four

But I remember no arms around me.

My parents’ bigness was often unsafe.

Large furious faces screaming into mine

Hot coffee spoon on the back of my small soft hand

Hard big hands clenched into fists

Empty, or around the belt, a dowel, a stick –

And, once, a hammer.

Strong arms to wiled the weapon of

Revenge for childish misdeeds

To deliver the blows

A backhand slap across the face

When I was deemed disrespectful

To knock down, or drag me by hair…

Maybe I didn’t trust snuggles from those arms and hands

Those so-much-bigger-than me people

With the deep poisoned wounds

I could not see, but so often felt.

Or maybe I did see.

Maybe there were cuddles aplenty

Washed from my memory

By tears of betrayal and pain

As my own wounds grew deeper

Pus-festered into a monster

Greedy to inflict what it had suffered.

My security became something

Felt remotely.

The warm nest left behind,

The books where I escaped

Long solitary walks

Playing with clay

Smother-lavishing love

On our yard cats.

But it was not enough.

Not enough to keep me

Whole, unfractured

Able to feel safe and protected.

To be certain, sure, and strong

Of and within myself.

Now, snuggles are a part of

Every day.

Time to breathe each other in,

Soak each other up.

Laugh and cry

Together.

And as I cuddle these children

Grown tall and strong and tender

Who know all people make mistakes

And are forgetting punishment and shame.

Who linger, resting within my safe love

At ages when children often pull away,

The child I was sighs and knows

That, finally, at last -

It is enough.

I remember this photo being taken when I was three, but not snuggles…

4 thoughts on “Enough – OctPoWriMo, Oct. 6

  1. Shah Wharton says:

    Very sad truth Shan. Sending you snuggles. X

    • shanjeniah says:

      Shah – Oh, I DO love sunggles! I get so many these days, and in so many ways.

      It’s sad, but sadder that it is still happening to children.

      Maybe, if I hadn’t lived the life I lived, my children would not be living the lives they are. If so, it’s well worth the trade-off.

      And, the truth is that healing my relationship with Miah and Lise heals me, too…and that heals my marriage, and how I relate to everyone else….

      As dangerous and damaging as abuse is, that is exactly how amazing and curative choosing to break that pattern is.

      Every time you stop by, I smile. =D

  2. Beth Camp says:

    As you said on FB, a very difficult poem, but a healing one. And the photo at the end is so sweet. My poem was not as brave.

    • shanjeniah says:

      Beth –

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Yes, it was a difficulty poem to write, and to share. But there is a terrible conspiracy of silence that surrounds childhoods by mine. My parents and two of three siblings have exerted a great deal of pressure and ridicule in an effort to keep my silent. I am meant to be ashamed for “making them look like monsters”, although I am certain not to use their names or gloss over the fact that they, too, were abused.

      That needs to stop. If people could be open and honest about what they have lived, damage could be healed. Pretending that abuse is OK if it’s not every moment, or no one is visibly scarred, does not help.

      I want to help, not to hide, nor to blame. I want there to be healing for everyone whose story resonates with mine.

      Your last line – though….we are each where we are in life. I was brave when I wrote this poem – but there have been many times when I wasn’t brave. This was a step toward wholeness I needed to make just then.

      The world has need of all types of honesty, I think. Yours no less than anyone else’s. =D

      Again, thank you for your kind words.

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