ellensagh

1. Going Inward

Why a second book? Because I have to. It’s time. You would think a second book would be easier to get started. It’s not. I’ve thought about it for the last 2 years; no, closer to the last five.  Two years ago, I had the first line. “ The difference between this book and the last one is I don’t think the first page is going to sound suicidal.” Today, I feel like if I don’t write this book, a part of me will die.
            In 1995-96, I wrote a book called, Wanted: Someone to Understand.  It was telling what it was like to be an adult woman and get memories back of childhood sexual abuse, what it was like to tell my family of origin when it was members of that family who had abused me; what it was like to tell my then church family that a priest had raped me when I was seven years old; what it was like to go through the court process and desperately look for support; to try and survive financially; to try to work and be a mother to teenagers and finally, to give in to the need for healing and leave everything behind; my job, my support system in Saskatoon and go be on social assistance in a small town in Saskatchewan and what I did there: cry, walk wrote poems that poured out of me, went to the Battered Women’s shelter and the Sexual Assault Centre to be listen to. That book came out of that pain.
      I wrote for 4 months straight. I wrote while moving back to Saskatoon and knew I had made the right move when over 25 people showed up to help unload a U-Haul that minus 39 degree celsius cold January 29, 1996 day. They formed a human chain lugging our furniture up to the third floor apartment I had rented.
            As soon as I was back, I had to do a collage and the following writing came: “It’s as if I’ve been climbing a mountain for years but am now ready to plateau it for awhile. I have discovered a simpler life. I faced a big challenge dealing with the pain and I feel revitalized. My inner child is feeling stunned; kind of scared; not knowing what’s happening next; my adult knows I’m out of the deep darkness and willing to relax for awhile. I have wonderful support systems which help keep me balanced. Now I want some happy dreams, knowing I am always okay. I can spend some time dreaming of the endless possibilities for my life’s work. I can see in the meantime, giving service for one year as welfare makes a bad financial statement. I know there will come a time when I will move on from working with survivors exclusively.
    Because of moving, I had missed out on a conference featuring Marie Fortune, speaking on what churches could do to support a member who had been sexually abused. A friend filled me in. Marie had called it the seven steps to justice.
           Truth telling – survivor is heard and understood and it’s not like an investigation where details are questioned.
         Violation is acknowledged – as in saying, we believe you, it should never have happened, we’re sorry, we will do whatever we can that it doesn’t happen again.
  Compassion – that the church be willing to walk through the pain with the person coming forward and the church becomes a listening presence
     Protection of the vulnerable.
  Accountability – acknowledge who did it and hold perpetrator responsible.
        Restitution by perpetrator and/or the community of faith. Material payment is symbolically important as it signifies the regret for the deep hurt or omission to act.
   Vindication or establishing the truth. Vindication is not the same as vengeance or vindictive which fits with revengeful and inspired by resentment. Vindication would be the survivor getting sufficient response that the burden is lifted and the survivor is set free.

I had not had that support or justice from the Catholic church when I had gone to them; meaning people from my parish or church hierarchy; but I did have a lot of people supporting me; mostly women. I was able to go back to a couple of supports groups I had belonged to before moving to Oiltown; and mostly found I had to keep finding new people to hear me.
      An aboriginal woman invited me to a women’s nurturing party. About 10 women gathered. Many brought blankets and their own dishes. We sat in a circle in a woman’s living room and she, who would be considered an Elder, (although I didn’t know what that really was at the time); initiated a cleansing ceremony with prayers to the four directions, a stone to honour mother earth; a feather for the air we breathe, a candle for fire and water in a glass. She burned sage which was passed around the circle as each woman took her turn using her hands to move the smoke over her head and down the front of her body. I noticed the women all wore skirts and took their glasses and jewellery off before this smudging. The stone was passed around allowing each woman to speak on how they nurture themselves. I spoke about putting myself first for the first time in my life when I had given up my job and gone away to heal; how painful that had been and how that now that I was back, did not want to lose that putting myself first. There was a gifting ceremony in which each woman had brought something that they were ready to pass on and as the basket moved around the circle in time to the chanting, each chose a gift. We each gave ourselves a foot massage and when the circle ended, finished with a fruit and chocolate fondue. I needed all the nurturing I could give myself as I was now divorced for a few years and by moving away, had put distance between myself and my family.
           Now that I was back in Saskatoon, every week someone from my family of origin was stopping in. I had had 9 brothers and sisters growing up so there were a few around. My Mom and Dad had been to my place twice in a month and what was really going on in my life was not being discussed. In February I wrote them a letter: “Dear Mom and Dad, When I lived in Oiltown, I was overwhelmed with pain and remembering what it was like growing up; not only the time when I was being abused by the priest; Stretch or Calvin but also the horrible things that were said to me by you two; mainly by you Dad.  The only way I could get them out of my head was by writing them down so I have a page of angry, shaming words: Jesus H. Christ, You should be ashamed of yourself, How many times do I have to tell you; If I want something done around here, I guess I’ll have to do it myself; You’ve got nothing to cry about; You should be happy you have 2 parents.
          The pain was horrible. Poems would come out of the pain, “Family Wounds”, “Finding My Anger at Dad” and “Hurt”. That’s what I went through in Oiltown day after day; month after month. I wanted to come back to Saskatoon and have it all behind me and accept that I didn’t get all I needed when I grew up. I got what you had to give and you have given a lot and are still giving. I want the good that is in our family but I don’t want to pretend that the bad didn’t happen. Inside me there’s still a hurt, little girl that is scared of her Dad. When you came to Oiltown to visit or came to Saskatoon this past week; it’s like I’m still scared or feel silenced about what I can tell you and what I can’t.
   The last year before I moved to Oiltown, I had such fear to do with you Dad; I thought memories were going to come back that you had sexually abused me too. I know that’s not true but the fear of your reactions when I tell you something is still there. I don’t want to live like that. I want to be respected that I am making the best decisions for me that I need to make. I know that parents can’t stop other people from hurting their children but I needed parents that could hear my truth. I’ve been like a 7 year old; a 13 year old and 15 year old wanting someone to hear me. I’m still like that on many days. I am listening to myself so I don’t need as many others. I did make a police statement about Stretch and Calvin. The police have decided there is not enough evidence to proceed so they have closed the file. I can’t close the file on the enormity of what’s happened to me in the past 3 ½ years; my life. There is still a lot of pain inside. In November in Oiltown, I began writing a book out of my 40 journals. It is my book of what it has been like. I hope someday you’ll read it.
          I could not read the letter to them or give it to them. Instead, when they left, I started planning a party. The year before I had a party where I had invited 100 people; 80 came and I had told them what it had been like to go through the 3 ½ years. This time I wanted a party where I could share the pain and the joy, celebrate growth, read my poems and have a time to thank those who were still such a big part of my life.
      I kept writing my book and March 4, 1996 finished; 4 months after starting. I told my brothers I needed a year without them coming to my house because when Stretch came to my house, I went into a rash; as if I’d been laying in insulation all night and for days I was checking every car that I heard outside the apartment building.
    I had connected with a couple again who had been so supportive.Out of the blue they had sent me five $100. bills by courier when I was living in Oiltown and told me to do something nice for myself. I had bought the kids something; took us out for Chinese food and bought an oak rocking chair. They were very Catholic church-going friends and they wanted me to speak to the bishop from their diocese to educate him. I said no, I would feel used, but found it interesting that the next week I sent a copy of the seven steps to justice to them and it came to their house the day the bishop came to visit them.
      I was asked by two social workers to go with them to BigCity to be part of facilitating a workshop on the aftereffects of violence on women’s lives. I did it and it felt right. It validated the need for public education but what I really wanted to do was put my handwritten book into a computer. A woman offered her home and use of the computer during the day so two weeks after finishing, the handwritten form, I was at her house at 8 am on Monday morning and would work for however long I could. Some days an hour, some days six, but what I noticed was it was like reliving the experience again; but I could not stop. I was going to regular counselling once a week and would stop in at the Sexual Assault Centre or a friend’s house to debrief what I was typing into the computer..Emotions were intense.
         JOURNAL Excerpt: (one day after leaving my counsellor’s office)
“I am angry I was sexually abused by 3 different abusers in my childhood. I am angry that every time I open the paper, that’s what I read about. Listen to the news – that’s what I hear about. I was totally frustrated in the counsellor’s office; no tools to do anger work; little girl playing and laughing outside the door. Does she need to listen to my anger? I’m angry there’s nothing in place. I have been asking for 3 years – over 3 years for a rage room. Where can I go in this city when I am angry? I don’t want to go home and take it out on my kids. I don’t want to hold it in my muscles. I’m angry I didn’t have support when my memories came back. I’m angry that few understand what long term support means. Everyone’s first question, ‘Have you seen a counsellor? Makes me angry. Where can I be angry? Where can I cry without someone ushering me into a closed room away from everyone else? I’m angry I’m in pain all the time. I’m angry I’m now on Social Assistance. I’m angry I can’t work. I’m angry all the anger is stored in my muscles and my back goes into spasms I’m angry I have to go to a Dr. When there is no medical problem; have physiotherapy; time and money goes into that when I just want to get the anger out and my muscles will be fine. Physiotherapy releases the anger from my muscles and then what do I do with it at 5:00 in the afternoon or 2:00 in the middle of the night? I’m angry that everyone says, “have you tried this, have you tried that? I walk, I drive in the country and scream, I hit my couch with a baseball bat, I write, I kick on my bed, I scream in to a pillow, I’ve read all the books, I’ve done those things, I’m doing those things. It’s not enough. I am angry that I have to do all the work to get what I need. I am angry that I am paying for what my abuser did to me. I’m angry that I know what works for me and I don’t know if that is anywhere in the city. I want a sound proof room; it can be the size of a small bedroom or office with about 8” matting on the floors and walls where I can stomp my feet, scream and yell as loud as I want; I can lay on the floor and beat my fists and kick the walls and I can cry and I can laugh and I can get rid of the knots in my back; the ropes in my muscles, the tension in my neck and in my jaw and the vibrating in my body and I won’t have the pounding headaches and pain shooting down my legs and my arm muscles so tight I can hardly use my left arm. And I won’t get sick and have down feelings, the darkness, the depression, the anger turned inward where I wonder if I will be a suicide statistic.
       I was realizing that much of my life had been a do, do, do and now I was running out of things to do and was feeling the emotions instead.  It’s probably why I was still planning the party; had made invitations and was on the bus travelling all over Saskatoon dropping them off. Easter was coming and it was 4 years since my memories had returned and I was not looking forward to it. Mom and Dad stopped at my house again and when I opened my mail while they were there, out of this plain envelope dropped a $100.00 bill and a note saying, “You have more courage than anyone I know. Your feminist fairy godmother.” I said out loud in my apartment hallway as I opened it, “Fuck!Unbelievable.” I wouldn’t say that in front of my mom and dad. I did read it to them. Dad used to comment on what he thought of feminists, which wasn’t very good and from that day on, I never heard him comment about feminists again. As we had lunch later that morning, I kept thinking about whether I could read the letter to them. I couldn’t. I was able to talk to them a bit about it and say I had been really angry. Mom asked,“with us?” and I said, “ there were times.” That’s the closest I got to saying anything real.
 I told them I was having a party. I signed papers later that day at Legal Aid trying to get $200. Maintenance money from my ex-husband. In order to get that, I had to sign papers arranging to go to court for custody. That sent me into fear. A woman who had been sexually abused by the same priest who had abused me; had been phoning me a few times a week as she was deciding right then whether to accept a settlement from the Catholic Church. We had the same lawyer and I hadn’t heard anything from the lawyer since June of 1995. As far as I knew, the civil suit against the priest and the church had not been filed yet even though I had retained the lawyer for that express purpose in April 1993. This is three years later. I was having trouble functioning. I lost my car keys. The toilet plugged in my apartment.
            Something that helped me stay sane was doing some exercises a woman had shared with me to keep the chakras or energy centres in my body balanced.
        Chakra at base of spine: I sat on my bum and softly bounced 8 times; then took turns putting one heal under my spine while stretching my forehead to my knee for ½ minute each.
        Chakra in groin area: I’d kneel on the floor like a cat and then arch my back like a cat; rounding my back for 1 minute and then lay on the floor with my fists in groin area and lift my legs off the floor for ½ minute.
    Chakra in abdomen area: I’d move my fist to under my stomach and breathe for 1 minute and then sit on my heels and breathe out as I slumped my forehead to the floor and inhaled as I arched back up for the next minute.
   Chakra in heart area: Standing, with my arms out straight in front of me, I’d inhale as I opened my arms wide and exhale as I brought them back. I’d sit in the yoga position and imagine my heart open for one minute and then lay down, inhale and exhale saying a long “Yahhmmm’
    Chakra in throat area: I’d lay down, inhale and then exhale turning my head to the left and inhale coming back to centre; exhaling to the right for one minute. Then I would inhale; moving my arms up over my head; arch pelvis up and exhale as I came back down and brought my arms back down. Sometimes I would do the shoulder stand with deep breathing.
        Chakra for third eye in my forehead area: I’d sit with the palms of my hand behind my back and head back, I would meditate on that 3rd eye for one minute.
        Chakra centre on top of my head: Sitting yogi style, I’d place the ring finger and thumb on my nose, lift ring finger and inhale 4 short breaths, close nostril with ring finger and lift thumb exhaling and then do it the opposite 4 short breaths through the other nostril. I’d end visualizing golden white energy flowing into me.

I went to Mom and Dad’s for Easter and even though my brother’s weren’t there, I was full of anger and pain. I went to a restaurant early one morning and wrote a letter in my journal, “Dear whoever, Because of past abuse/ violence in my life, I need a place to express pain and anger/rage safely. I am asking for your assistance in obtaining what I need. I haven’t been able to find what I need in my home, neighborhood or in Saskatoon.
       I want a small, equipped anger/pain room where I can express my past anger/pain without hurting myself or anyone else. The reverse of this letter contains excerpts from my journal which explains what I need, when I need it and why I need it.
      I have managed my anger/pain all my life through working, education, the justice system, the health system, doctors, physiotherapy, counselling, social services and financial assistance. Now I am feeling my pain and anger and want to express it. I no longer want to bury it or to come to that point where so many in society are at – that I would violate someone else.
     I believe much of the violence, depressions, illness, etc in my life and in society is the result of buried pain and anger.
       I believe if I could constructively release the anger and pain I’ve stored from the past, I would have the energy to live and work in the present.
      If you know of a place where I can express past anger/pain safely; please let me know. I am also asking what you or who you represent can do to assist me in getting what I need as soon as possible.
 That you for your time and consideration. I’d appreciate a written response and look forward to hearing from you soon. If we all get creative, we can have anger/pain rooms all over this city and a lot less violence. Sincerely Sharon
            CC: to whoever will assist me including members of the justice, medical, city, education and social services community.

I was still in this restaurant; had just finished the letter and heard on the restaurant’s radio that an estranged husband from Vernon, B.C. had just murdered 9 people.
    When I got back to Saskatoon, I went to the Sexual Assault Centre and asked if they could find a volunteer for me to meet with once a week so I could have someone listen to me cry. They did . As in the past, underneath the anger was the pain. A few times in the past month, when I had been with someone safe, I wasn’t just crying anymore. I was wailing. One woman told me it was called a widow’s wail. Another called it keening. My kids heard me once and said I sounded like a wounded animal.
    I was volunteering a lot. I was part of a research group on women and poverty. I was part of the child abuse prevention committee meetings going on. I was trying to sort out being on social services; telling the social services worker I would try to be working part-time by July. The kids couldn’t understand and said if I could work on my book and go all over; why couldn’t I work.
    I had my party; putting my poems up on the wall with orange bows on them and celebrated that I had made it through the year. The best part of it for me was handing out the above letter to everyone that came and I had put the Excerpts from my Journal on the back of the letter. I sent copies of the letter out to members of the counselling community, social services, justice and anyone I knew that might do something about it.
        I received about 20 responses; some people photocopied it and passed it on. I was asked to read it to about 20 counsellors and did. Their responses were interesting; heard my need for community; when I talked about the padded room, they said psychiatric community had been there; violence begets violence; need places to keen and wail; letter was passed on to the executive of the service organizations; another group sent a letter of support with it to the top hierarchy in mental health; saw the value in use of personal truth in education; some saw the need for space; could use it for working with families where child protection is involved; a psychiatrist wrote me and encouraged me to keep speaking out. The Saskatoon Child Centre; a new program designed to facilitate child abuse investigations; a collaborative approach between police, social services and prosecutions wrote saying couldn’t help adult survivors but suggest I see a counsellor. A woman wrote, “moved by my letter; had tears at the end. Does not make sense that there is not somewhere to go to release anger in a constructive way. I felt everything you said to the core of my being. There are so many people experiencing so much pain and there is nowhere to go. I see you nurturing yourself by validating your right to be angry. You are a truly lovely person, Sharon.” Another woman phoned and said she still had my letter and couldn’t respond because didn’t know what to do with it.
       I was still typing my first book into the computer and knew it was for those that didn’t have a clue of what a survivor goes through; including myself. I wrote in my journal it was to know myself. I did a collage. It was full of colors and then I wrote about it. “Loves you, loves you not. Everything should be new, shining; not covered up, smeared by abuse, smoking, anger, pain. No one being there for you turns you into an angry woman, screaming, let’s stop all this bullshit or a scared little girl in physical body pain all the time who blames herself for the shoplifting, stealing and smoking. No one had time for me. Good-bye shit. Behind the makeup is a love story. A woman who is learning to love herself. Good-bye panic – searching for love in all the wrong places. Yellow. Hello freedom, sexuality, power, light. From grey to great. I want inside blackness gone. I need support to find growth, truth, spirituality. When I’ve gained power over the blackness and have won the war, I can show my orange stripes. I’ll find my confidence and feel alive, designing my life. Green. I want this to be a transplant summer of fun. I can do it. If I work hard, I can have a shot a life. Successful times. Maybe I can find some contract work to spread the word. My book can educate people and if I have to go fiction to do it, I will. Playing on the edge of magenta. Love. The women who take risks. Life bursts for them. Everybody loves a happy ending. Black is very scary for me.
 I knew I was dealing with teenage years when I had such a greasy face in the present, felt dirty in my clothes, hating my hair; looking for old people who would listen to me.
     Court day was coming to do with my ex-husband and I had to meet with family law to decide if mediation was an alternative. Biggest thing I learned there was the line, “Court can be a way of balancing POWER. I wrote it big in my journal. The person I met with said my case was an exemption from mediation but I picked up the pamphlet “Rules for Fighting Fair.” 1.Identify the problem 2. Focus on the problem 3. Attack the problem, not the person 4. Listen with an open mind 5. Treat a person’s feelings with respect. 6. Take responsibility for your actions. No-no’s were blaming, name-calling, threats, put downs, bossing, making excuses, not listening, getting even, bringing up the past, sneering, not taking responsibility or hitting.
   Another letter came from my Feminist Fairy Godmother. I didn’t see the money right away but the note said, ‘You are so brave and courageous. I have seen you at your worst and at your best and I still think you have more courage than anyone I know. Please, please take this and spend it on yourself. You deserve it a hundred times over. FFG “and the $50.00 was awesome.

Wrote in my journal, “Would have been okay with no money but that is so nice. Can’t even think of something I’m dying to have. Maybe pen refills. Loved the quote on the back, ‘Under your tears and fears, you are stronger than you ever imagined, and that strength will see you through to better days.” Had an idea to write a thank you to my FFG in the newspaper but didn’t. Next idea was to buy a drum but didn’t.
        One of the women settled for $27000 from the church, signing the release saying she or her heirs would not hold the church responsible. She faxed me a copy and I went into fear for having it in my possession.
   I was doing volunteer work; meeting with psychiatrists and nurses at the Psychiatric unit of one of the hospitals to talk about what a survivor goes through. I had my first tour of the unit which many survivors had referred to as the dungeon; it was underground; locked like a prison and I felt like the people were caged. I found out they were still doing electroshock therapy I was angry that I felt like I was educating people that should know but it was weird what was happening. I was still typing my book into the computer and what I said to the people at the meeting was that I was scared of being labelled, medicated and I would talk about the long term effects, the costs and the next day, that would be the exact part of the book I was typing into the computer.

When I had originally written my journals, there were 6 black journals and it was a time when I was most in the horror of it all. The book was hard going at that time; maybe could type 3 pages at the most in a day. I knew I was meeting with the psychiatric community as I was scared I was going to end up there. I was also meeting with a physiotherapist who was researching what survivors needed to be safe while having physiotherapy. I was going to Physio twice a week at that time to try and release the pain from my body.

A friend asked me, as a social worker, to counsel her 18 year old son who had been sexually abused by his father. I said no. I had been contacted to facilitate a second workshop similar to one I had previously done on violence against women. I woke up one morning with the question, ‘Who am I killing myself for’ and then ‘Who am I killing?’ I said no. Two months after losing my keys I found them.
         The volunteer from the Sexual Assault Centre was still meeting with me once a week even though the second time we met, she thanked me for telling her my story, and I responded with, “I don’t want it called a story. It wasn’t.” She listened and listened and listened. She’d listen when I was feeling too little to make coffee, when I’d be in torment and say, “This is fucking awful. Disgusting. Days I could hardly walk, could hardly breathe, would fall down walking down a stairs. Would want out of the house before the kids saw me; would get in the car thinking I’d go scream in the country; but would scream like an animal in pain and knew I couldn’t drive. Where do you go at 5 a.m. I hadn’t been able to wear a dress in a year.
       A woman gave me a book on how to get published. I could have cared less.
            I would go to my counselling session and leave vibrating, walking down back alleys not wanting anyone to see me. I told my counsellor I know I have to go through this alone but I want help. I phoned ahead once and said I need to make noise so if they wanted to warn people in the waiting room, etc. The director of the agency told me later she thought the telephone call was warning them I was bringing the media to listen. I knew people used to wear black armbands to do with something. I thought I should wear one around my whole body. I was into Louise Hay’s book, “HEAL YOUR BODY”,and could see it happening. Bad breath – backed up experiences.”

I met a woman on the bus; who had put an ad in the paper; met a man and fallen in love; all in three weeks and nearly every day, I’d meet her on the bus and hear the next development. I registered for computer class. No idea why. My son wanted me to go to a Jazz concert. I couldn’t. Social services gave me a letter of reference for me to try to get a gym sponsorship at the Y for the kids.
         COLLAGE:“Taking stock of where I’m at right now. I feel like I’m going through a rite of passage and it will be a breakthrough of unbelievable proportions where I can look back and find the true essence of me. I was a wanted child and was loved by a couple who were happy in their marriage. What follows is a true story about loving and living. The first rule was obey and respect your elders and I was given over to the care of Allinblack where I left his care with blood dripping down my legs; changed forever and felt I had no one; felt marooned; all alone; I became old overnight; didn’t like being a girl; felt cheap as a teenager; washed up; life blood had run out of me; who played at being a girl on the outside to fit in but developed the qualities of a man to survive. A very unhappy teenager used and abused who met a man and had periods of feeling loved and honored to periods of feeling like a cheap slut. Mostly periods of unending exhaustion where I dreampt of being taken away from my life and taken care of. Full of veiled hostility and totally unaware of it. Memories return. I jumped on my fiery steed; was going to rope in all the bad guys; was charging along with my eyes closed to what was trying to emerge; an unhappy girl wanting to be loved. It’s been a double life of mystery. Both sides were me. Both were unawakened to what was really happening. As I found the little girl and started to care for her, I found the sad teenager and the angry teenager and life was moving too fast for them so I took a break. Like a race backwards; as I allow the fear, anger and pain to release, my eyes begin to open more and more and I’m beginning to feel less broken, a body that is soft and smooth on the outside but broken thru and thru. But my tears are washing away the hurts and bringing me together. The angry hero inside me who is mad at the world is growing up and listening to the older, wiser woman inside who knows that I have enough love for the scared, wounded little girl because I’ve had a lot of practice giving and receiving love. Whether or not I am ready the clouds are leaving and my eyes are wide open seeing the horror my little girl went thru. No matter how I look at it, it’s there. The blood red is going down. I don’t have to worry. I am strong enough; no matter how deep it is; it is ready to come out. I am ready to be heard. I am ready to listen when I am ready to tell. When it’s time to break the silence I am ready. Change is forever. I don’t have to worry about the last resort – suicide. I am not going to die hearing me. I am not going to let me die. I am going to be heard. Letting the pain that’s gurgling under the surface burst forth like a volcano ready to erupt. Holding it in creates exhaustion. I’m tired of carrying it inside and ready to let it go. I know my gentle, wise spirit inside that has been trapped will be free and able to take its place. I will be comfortable both day and night, with my masculinity and femininity, with the sun and the moon, with the light and the darkness of my life. I’m waiting no longer. I am not alone. I can see ahead to better days of light, balance and truth with some pain and where sensuality and sexuality can be a part of my life. I have the tools; determination and desire to break through the clouds with the light of the universe helping me; with my children and all the people supporting me who are gifts to me and give me purpose. I have my love of nature, love of walking, playing like a kitty, massage that is bringing my body and mind together; meditation where I can not try to figure it out but just sit in the pain and my dreams that figure it out and let me be heard by night. I can git mellow and will be able to laugh with sheer exhileration sometime soon  A marriage to myself; a celebration of laughter, love and intense happiness.”
         A few days later, I asked my counsellor if she would tape one session so I could try to figure out what was happening. I transcribed the tape putting a wavy ^^^^^^^ in my journal every time I was crying and some &&&&& when I was blowing my nose.
 “My very first journal entry in 1992 – 5:00 mornings ^^^^^^^^ Always there ^^^^feeling good at 5 this morning ^^^^^Fragmented- a woman called me fragmented ^^^^^^^ I didn’t want to be called fragmented ^^^^^^^it’s me^^^^It’s pain (Counsellor said -Did you say it’s fate?) I didn’t say fate. It wasn’t fucking fate. It’s pain. It’s so much pain.^^^^^^^^Oh Fuck^^^^^ I said I felt like a witch and a bitch and I’m okay if I’m a witch and a bitch. That’s what has helped me survive. ^^^^^^^^^I’m not angry. That’s not what this is about. I thought I was when I wore red this morning.  I thought I was going to come in here and deal with Stretch ^^^^^ and what he did to me ^^^^ and maybe part of this is to do with that ^^^^^ the other night I looked at a photo album I made of pictures of me ^^^^^^baby to 40 – when looking at my grade 9 picture ^^^^^^I feel old^^^^^^^and when I look at my gr 10 picture – I don’t know who she is ^^^^^^^but today I do^^^^^^^^and my gr 11 picture^^^^^^like I didn’t know her – didn’t feel any connection to her. I have a graduation picture and I don’t remember that either ^^^^^^^ and then there’s a picture of when I’m 18 and it’s the picture on my passport; and it’s like I don’t know her either; have no connection to her. Today I don’t feel any connection to her and I just think that’s really sad. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ And that makes me angry and I know that’s an accumulation of Allinblack abusing me, Calvin abusing me, Stretch abusing me ^^^^^^^, &&&&&&No wonder I felt so old and the last few days I wore this necklace because I know it’s really really old and I wanted it to symbolize how old I felt and that’s how old I felt ^^^^^^^ Last night I was wearing blue jeans ^^^^^ jeans that say authentic on them ^^^^^^^ I just love those blue jeans because I want to be real ^^^^^^Last night I was wearing navy socks and navy to me means TO BE CLEAR & I wore white yesterday – a white sweater and it has a feminine collar and I LOVE IT ^^^^^^^^^^^^^and for a year I’ve been feeling unfeminine^^^^^^^ and I haven’t been able to wear a dress^^^^^^^^^I wear pants ^^^^^^^^they might protect me^^^^^^^^^^&&&&&&On Sunday, I was going to a party, and I was in such bad, bad shape^^^^^^^^I wanted to wear all black but I didn’t want to spoil the party for my friend so I wore black pants and I couldn’t find my black turtleneck so I wore my purple turtleneck and that was OK because purple to me means spirituality and that’s what I got out of that party when someone like my friend, who has survived torture and is able to move through it and celebrate herself.
         Yesterday I was wearing baggy clothes and I thought I’d be coming in here today and be working on reclaiming my body but that’s not what I’m working on. What time is it. I need a drink of water. It’s not gone. The pain in my back is not gone. It’s better I think. Not much and I thought I’d come in here and finish what I started in here a year and ½ ago; when I knew I had to work on reclaiming my sexuality; and couldn’t deal with it. I thought I’d come in here; lay on the floor; on the pillows and have an orgasm and that prevented me from coming; no; it prevented me from working on it; (saw a quote on her wall) Just read that thing – part of me wants to surrender; to give up trying to become. I don’t agree with that. Like I don’t want to surrender. A few weeks ago I wanted to die big time; a part of me wanted to die but I don’t feel like that anymore either and I know I’m getting through this. I will get through this but it shocks me ^^^^^^^^What is happening here?^^^^^^^^^^^
I can tell myself but I don’t know if I can speak it out loud yet because I’m not used to it yet; like I’m thinking it’s just coming to me now and yet know it’s been coming for 2 or 3 years; it’s to do with being up at 5 and it’s to do with my Dad; the first page of my journal in 1992 it says, “I can hear your alarm clock, why can’t you hear me?” or something like that. I’d have to look in my journal to see what else it says but I know what I’m going through has something to do with my Dad and I always want to believe that it’s because of the way he was. I felt silenced around him and he didn’t protect me and I couldn’t go to him and it would be wonderful it that’s how it was but I have this – you know, I told you about my passport photo when I was 18. I don’t feel connected to her; when I’m 19; I have this picture of me when I was teaching up north on a Native reserve. I feel connected to her and I’d don’t know whether I’ve always felt connected to me in that. I don’t know if I’ve always known this or it’s a new memory but last week; I don’t know but I remember slapping a girl and I’ve told people that and I remember doing it and I remember the girl and her mom coming back and I still want to find that girl and talk to her about it and I know I was in the wrong and I’ll say I’m sorry but I also have been dreaming for the last few years about slapping a girl or slapping my kids or have a memory about being slapped but its not me or I would have flashes of being hit with a belt but that didn’t seem like it’s me either and today I showed this photo album to a woman. I kept saying I was okay at 5; I was okay at 5 ^^^^^ so I was okay at 5 and I wasn’t at 7 when Allinblack got me.  ^^^^^^^^^^^I had a dream.  The girl in the dream is about 5-7 and someone had put her in ice water ^^^^^^ I was telling her I’d never let anyone hurt her again and I will take care of her ;and I couldn’t hold her enough and she was just looking at me in bewilderment; like its okay, its okay, its okay and then there’s another person in the dream who is an unfeeling older person; ^^^^^^^could be like my Dad; how he would talk to me when I was young. He would say, okay, that’s enough; you have nothing to cry about; and that’s what that person was doing in the dream; saying okay that’s enough but was saying that to the adult me that was comforting the little girl; Okay enough and you know that stuff and I know that’s a part of me that is that Grade 10,11,12; that I couldn’t connect to and she had to say things like that like okay stop it, enough; to shut herself up; to silence herself; to survive. I mean in that hellhole; so I understand why in the dream; why in real life; part of me has been on my case to forget about it; but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m the one whose in pain.
  I don’t know where I’m at. You know I don’t want to go home and take this pain home with me but I also know I have done a hell of a lot of work in here and it’s interesting how much the word fragmented hurt me and the woman who said it, is the same one who gave me the idea to tape this session. I thought of taping a session a few weeks ago when I was screaming my head off – get the fuck out of here; get the hell out of here and that was to do with my older brother and this is the kind of work I do when I go with that group of women into the country; kicking and screaming; I was going through the memory of my oldest brother abusing me and the women there I really trust; I asked one woman to come close to me; and when I was in memory; it seemed like she was my older bother coming up right beside my bed and I had to stop and ask her to move. I knew I was dealing with him but something else was jumping in and getting mixed up with it and I thought it had something to do with my Dad and all I could see in my head were pictures of penises and so I told them I had to quit; I’d been doing it for an hour anyway and it wasn’t only screaming; it was something coming from somewhere oh so deep; but it was getting mixed up and I didn’t know what it was and I quit but right away I want to say NO; it was Calvin that had me fondling his penis and masturbating him and that’s what it had to be about. It couldn’t be about my Dad so there I go again; wanting to believe that this is all going to have a happy ending. That I really was dealing with my older brother right now but I know that’s not true. I know that it has something to do with what I want to call the lost years; the lost years I’m talking about between 5 & 7. This is what I know; I don’t know if I feel comfortable saying it out loud; that this morning as I was typing I don’t know what part it is and I don’t know what it was about but it was as if I am in bed with my Mom and Dad; No; it’s as if I’m in bed; OH FUCK; I am in my mom and dad’s bed. I don’t know. It’s something to do with a bed and I know either; It’s something to do with Dad not being there or Dad always there. I don’t know; it was just freaky for me, came in my mind. It went out of my mind. I don’t know what it was but I know that’s tied in with the little girl ^^^^^^^ I just know I want to get rid of this pain and I know it will come when I’m ready to deal with it and the only time I cried this morning was when I was typing what when I was standing in my Mom and Dad’s entrance 2 years ago and Dad and Mom were asking me if I had enough money and I said I’m okay and I start crying. They can’t say anything about the crying. I’m leaving and they say, well thanks a lot for coming and take care of yourself and they always say that every time I go and that’s when I wrote; It’s as if they understand how hard it is but they don’t have a clue; and I just cry as I write that ^^^^^^^^^^ and it’s like I can’t quit crying anymore ^^^^^^^^^I’ve been silenced too long. I stand in the bus shelter and I scream. Wherever I go I am making noise; down the street; I don’t care anymore who hears me and I just know this was fucking hard.
   (Counsellor says hears the pain I’ve been carrying.) Yea for 36 or 37 years. That’s quite something and I don’t even know what I’m carrying. I’m sure I will find out what’s connected to my oldest brother and my oldest brother is a person who would never hurt a little child and he takes after my father and everyone said to me all my life; You’re just like your Dad and I wrote big in my journal. I am not my Father. I am not my Mother either. I did a collage the other day. Maybe I’ll read it to you and that will be it for today.” Did.
      A few days later, I went to a theatre performance called, ‘Reclaiming Women’s Sexuality’ and during intermission; a woman who lives in the boreal forest played songs on a mandolin.  I woke up the next morning at 5 am – Mother’s Day – with a chant in my head – music and all – and it wouldn’t go away until I wrote it down. For the next few months this is what came out with the music.

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