ellensagh

10. Moving On!

Bought a new journal. Either a picture of a sunrise or sunset, but all a blur. Wrote: Truth obscured; my power overshadowed by emotion and the light hardly peeking through. Clouds on the horizon; clouds of grief.
That’s what life felt like. Had been biting my fingernails for months. Now since book went out, if I saw someone I knew had the book, like I was steeling myself for their reaction. They usually never mentioned it. Now cold sores and canker sores in my mouth from gritting teeth. In the Saturday paper, I saw a clerking job at a drug store. So on Monday morning I applied and Monday afternoon I had it. Was across the street on 20th Street where I was going to be moving in a few weeks. It was $6.00/hr. Wish someone would pay me to write. The manager’s concern was how comfortable would I be in the area; east side versus the west side. Felt lots of fear during those first days of training when they spoke of alarms, times they’ve been robbed. Learn the procedure for shoplifters and robbery but did okay on the training and within days on an alone shift. 
 I heard about a moving co-op; people who had struggled with mental illness had formed their own co-operative. I booked them; $150.00, they move everything, boxes and all. I gave away about five boxes of clothes that had been my makeup party saleswoman clothes. Felt like a different life time.
 Letter came from the lawyer, explaining where we’d been, where we are at. I couldn’t even be bothered. I felt like I was under water and it takes every effort to walk through it.
 It was a different experience in the drug store. One screw up of $182.00 for salmon but was able to fix it. Sweeping off the sidewalk in front of the store on 20th Street, was weird.
My lawyer sends me two letters. One listed the seven documents that had been filed, reviewing that the Examination of Discovery of Allinblack had taken place; the next steps prior to an examination of discovery and when a pre-trial happens; or when it goes to a trial; and that sometimes a settlement takes place, but an assessment is required usually prior to a pre-trial; how witnesses and experts would have to be used. She listed the expenses to date which were under $500.00; saying that liability of Allinblack was clear but enforcing a judgement might not be.
The letter indicated the hope that the Supreme Court decision would make the law clear whether there would be vicarious liability of the church. It was suggested we could go ahead with the assessment but not the examination of discovery until law is clear.
There was also a letter she was going to send to the church lawyer asking if he had any more comments to make about funding a psychological assessment of me.
Collage. July 17, 1998 :Who I’ve Been/Am. Combat. 20/20 vision. At one with nature. At home by myself. Rushing around, totally organized. Many times tired of it all. Enjoying new friends I’ve made. Having fun. Celebrating my victories. Learning to sing new songs. Wondering if its all worth it. The times underwater going through deep emotions. And there are moments when I know it is. I am content with who I am. I can look at the worst and still support myself. The worst has not been easy. Looking back is worth it. So much of it I did on my own; going through the bleakness with hardly a road map and little outside help. My body has been my guide. I am learning to love it more all the time; to fill it, to be in it. My contact/closeness with others allows me to see myself. I can do many things. I can be a fully sensuous woman. Yoga centres me and helps me through the body pain. Mourning with other women has helped me stay clear. Surrounding myself with beauty fills me up. Being comfortable with the woman I’ve been is part of the process now – the career minded me who deserves the best. The best in a relationship as well as the girl inside me who has been war ravaged and needs gentleness for a long time. My eyes are open and I see clearly how much pain has been in my past. I am still bruised. I ache for all those still hurting (societal). I believe change can happen by working together. I no longer have to do it alone. I want to be safe in my relationships with men. I no longer want to be the tough guy, angry at the world. I want gentleness and sexuality. I want to be comfortable in all worlds; the business world, the conservative world, the church world, the 20th Street world. I want to sleep easy knowing I’m taking care of myself. I have what I need.
 I phoned my sister. Mom was being put in day respite care at the villa.

 Continue The Collage
My marriage. I kept my eyes closed through my marriage. I saw the hurt in others but not myself. I wondered where I fit in the world. I was always so tired and looked to God and religion for help. I loved being with the children who expected nothing and were happy with anything I gave. I was the model unhappy person on the inside who looked good on the outside. Pain inside was tearing me apart; like a gaping hole. I wasn’t happy with myself and couldn’t relax without a cigarette. I loved my children and had fun with them as they grew, was there for them when they were sick. I loved being on the farm or trips in the country. In my marriage it was as if I was always looking beyond for something better. As if I had to be Mr. Tough, making all the hard decisions but there were some fun times. Much of it is still a blur as I did too much. I could never get him to understand how important the kids were. There were good sexual times in my marriage. When I wasn’t involved in my career. Taking care of myself came after everyone and everything else. Sometimes I hated myself and everyone around me. I basically raised the kids myself and did a good job. I hurt so much.

 Collage Continued
My childhood. I grew up in rage. I liked who I was as a teenager except for not feeling good enough by the time I was eight or nine. I felt really alone. I was content as a baby; had to be because Mom already had too much and one on the way. I never fit in;make up or clothes wise as a teen. I believed the world could be mine when I left high school; that I could be a part of shaping the world. I loved sports and was good. I loved baby-sitting other kids because it got me out of the house and all the little kids. I was scared out of my mind but never let anyone know it. I went to the other side of the world. I wanted so much attention and was resigned I wouldn’t get it. I was lovable and open to new experience and no one knew what was inside. I saw love and caring between my mom and dad. It left me searching for that in the outside world. I had a lot of fun and good while growing up. Everybody needs a place in our world.

I would have ideas like making a card regarding the book and putting it in churches and all over the province. Went out in the country many mornings; fleeting moments; so happy feeling; joy filled and thought maybe that’s all there is; just moments.
 For about four days I cried. As if releasing pain from around my heart but also up and down left leg and back up through the heart line. As if an iceberg melting. What’s been stored in my cells; even past generational pain, as if a woman from 1920’s pain, like Mom’s Mom and yet know it’s me, a child of the world, a little war-ravaged child; as if connected to Aboriginal ancestry. As I release the pain, can I fill it with gentleness, sweetness, good friends, beauty?
 Worked first day at the drug store from 9:00 – 6:00 p.m. and liked it. Be in the moment every moment. Different how the natives talk; how open they are. One says, “How are your wife and kids?” The other one says, “Oh she left me”. Other one listens and the first one says, “Hang on, I’d like to tell you about it. “ And they walk out together just a talking.
Mid July the church lawyer sends the names of two Saskatoon psychologists that they agree to fund for my psychological assessment and tell us to let them know if they can make the arrangemnts saying they are qualified and have no connection to their client.
I moved to 20th Street in Saskatoon. The next morning at 6:00 a.m. I went for a walk. Three different young prostitutes at three different corners in a 6 block radius. I wondered how safe it was for me to walk. A young native girl was picked up at 7:00 a.m. by a man in a brown truck, white cap on back. Found out bus comes by my house at 6:15 a.m. which was reassuring. That afternoon, the landlord mowed the lawn in a speedo bathing suit. It finished me.I lay down. I felt like someone who has been sick a long time and needed time to recover; rest, relax and do nothing.
 Collage August 3, 1998
At a kinder gentler pace as I make all these changes in my life. Still in the ice flow, still on top of frozen parts, melting as I make decisions that support myself. Power of support is big. Do unto others as I would have them do unto me big theme. Feels as if I’m pregnant and it is not an easy pregnancy.
 At work, failed a shoplifters attempt.. Knew it had worked when I found “Fuck you bitch” written on a kleenex box after he was out the door. Day after day I would go in the country and wail. I was seeing magpies, geese, deer as family. Yet I felt so far removed from all that I was seeing. I couldn’t feel connected to people.
 My lawyer writes the church lawyer saying prior to deciding if assessment is acceptable to her client she requires further information and asks for resumes of two psychologists mentioned.
 A book store in Saskatoon asked to carry my book so took five with decision that they will keep 25% commission. At work, a new delivery man shows up and it’s the ex-teacher pedophile from where I used to live and where I did the first workshop. He is just out of jail from the guilty charge of sexually abusing his boy students. I was in rage. We had worked in the same town, different schools. He handed me a clipboard for me to sign for delivery and said hi there, as if nothing had happened. I was speechless. For days I was remembering what the parents of his victims had told me and what his colleagues said at the workshops. Wondered how I would deal with him on my next shift.
 I was asked to do some volunteer training at Tamara’s House. Did two Saturdays. Was asked to do a paid presentation out at a reserve an hour away from Saskatoon. Was debating whether I should be trying to sell my book and put it in book stores, but it didn’t feel right. I was too tired.
 I made a list of people’s comments written to me when they pre-bought my book and kept adding to my list as some wrote comments again after reading. I hung on to them all:

Hope it helps you on your healing journey.
You have given me added inspiration to change things for myself
Congrats on your courage and perseverance.
No one deserves what you have gone through.
Thank you for inviting us to be a part of you
You have shown remarkable strength.
Glad you didn’t give up, you are a lady to be admired. Hope enough people care.
You bring inspiration to those who have experienced sexual abuse but haven’t been able to bring it out into the open.
Your book helps me face some bad experiences that I’ve had and haven’t been able to tell anyone.
I came out of an alcoholic abusive marriage so can relate.
What terrible psychological and physical trauma you have to work through.
As a woman that also suffered abuse as a child, I’m glad you have come forward. You will open doors for many other women to be able to come forward or be able to acknowledge their pain and suffering. I admire your courage and strength.
You are taking steps to renew faith in yourself.
Hope our support will help you have happier days.
Hope this whole process has been a healing and cleansing one for you.
Proud to be included in such an awesome feat.
I have respect for your courage and fortitude. Keep up the great work Kiddie.
I admire what you are doing a great deal. I know it takes a lot of strength and courage. No one can hope to understand what you have gone through and will probably continue to go through the rest of your life.
I know you will achieve whatever you set out to do.
Honoured and glad to know you. So proud of you for writing a book. Takes courage, faith and hard work.
Have no doubt this book will help a lot of people young or old.
Agree that sexual abuse, all abuse should come out in the open.
If there was ever a worthwhile project, this is it.
I hope that your message may help the injured and prompt all in positions of authority in the family, parish, diocese and universe of church to deal fairly with the whole issue of womens rights and of abuse that has been levelled against women and against youth of both sexes. (a priest from Prairietown wrote)
Hope this book helps
Proud that you have been brave enough to go through the backlash of inner pain that comes from abuse.
Hope you get all the support you need because you deserve it.
I agree with your belief that breaking the silence stops the abuse. I want to honour your courage in writing this book.
I want the book.
Thrilled that you’re publishing this book.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I read the first paragraph and I was in tears. You could not have chosen a more suitable title than “Wanted: Someone To Understand”. Don’t all of us know that at some point in out lives. It is an honour for me to be a part of this – somewhere/somehow, people have to know the hell and emotional annihilation that this does to victims.
You go girl, you do what your voice inside is telling you, . . . whatever I can do.
You are a strong woman and have touched so many people’s lives.
You deserve a ton of praise for doing something positive with the abuse you suffered. I admire your courage. There is so much pressure for a woman to be “good” – that is, quiet. Taking back your voice takes guts. Good for you.
Congrats on taking on the difficult journey toward your healing.
So glad you have found a way to express your feelings about sexual abuse. There is so much of it going on its time for it to stop.
Congrats on making your dream a reality. My heart and my wallet are with you.
Your book sounds interesting and worthwhile.
I am privileged to help in a small way. Many people are abused in various ways and decide to remain silent. I applaud your courage. I believe as you do that it is in breaking silence that abuse will be stopped. I can identify with your pain as I have been a victim of abuse and have found release in sharing with trusted friends.
What a brave lady you are. There should be more like you who have the intestinal fortitude to try and DO something about child abuse. Good luck in your book and future ventures.
Congrats on your book and your healing journey. You are a brave and remarkable woman. I have a lot of admiration and respect for you. Many other victims will now have hope in their healing process because of your voice.
No doubt your publishing your personal experience of abuse and recovery will be valuable both in your life as well as in others lives who have endured similar.
Wish you success in this phenomenal endeavour.
So proud of your accomplishment to get this far.
I know the success is within yourself and not how many you sell. I’m sure it has been an incredible healing experience for you.
Your efforts will benefit someone else who has gone through similar to what you have.
Congratulations for the tremendous accomplishment in completing your book as well as all the other accomplishments you’ve made in your life over the last few years. I am proud of you as I’m sure you are of yourself.
I think it is important to put our stories on paper. They heal, they inspire, they teach. I’m so proud of you.
Thank you for coming forward with your story and having the courage to continue on your healing journey.
Feel privileged to be a part of your life journey.
I hope that the breaking of silence by you and others has dispelled the shocking ignorance of numerous members of the church and society in general, from judges to doctors, to politicians.
Thanks for sharing and being you. You have power. It takes a lot of courage and determination to speak out about things that happen to you in secret.
Thank you for having the courage to follow through.
It is great that you have had the courage to share your experience with others so they can be helped with the struggle they face.
I will continue to share and find more people who will join in our efforts of education and healing.
The time has come for your voice to be heard.
I commend you on your book.
I have learned a great deal from you through the sharing of your experiences. I believe your book will help others to learn and grow as well.
Thank you for allowing me the honour to be part of this process. I was very moved.
We support you and your healing and serenity.
Well done. I’m proud to be a friend of someone who can have the courage and conviction to write such a heart-rendering and brave book. None of this was easy, it was a sheer hard, work and much soul-searching. You have opened wide a window letting in fresh air and made everyone face up to the squalid, evil life that has gone on for years behind apparent respectability and honesty. So much trust that was and is abused.
The strength it takes to allow people to see one as vulnerable, is very profound.
Knowing that I’m not alone. Knowing that another person has come through gives me hope.
Thank you for not giving up on yourself, thank you for writing your journals, thank you for putting them in a book for me to read. Your journey helps me to remember that there are others walking along side of me. That there are others who wear shoes similar to my own.
So professionally done. Maybe your book would qualify for Sask. Book award.
Hope that your breaking the silence, your searching for truth and justice, your struggle to get the pain out will truly set you free.
It is an important book containing the soul of someone whose been to hell and back, it should be read by every parent and every troubled teenager as well. You are showing others the way through the emotional horror of sexual abuse.
Your book was very well done and goes along way to helping people “Understand”.
Welcome addition to our resource library.
I finished your book this evening. It was impossible to put it down. Not only could I feel your pain on every page, but also your strength. You continued to fight to persevere, to grow. I applaud you and thank you for sharing your story. I urge you to educate those around us who continue to wear blinders – at how young females socialize in this way – poems Re Dad. I urge you to share your story in other provinces. I wonder if your publishing, teaching and counselling has just begun.
How brilliant and courageous you are.
I recognize the sacrifice and trepidation in such an undertaking. May your efforts bring healing to many.
I continue to be in awe of all you do and who you are.
Let’s keep working to heal broken wings so more of us can fly. “You have taught me so much. Thank you.”
Your courageous story is out there to shine light, day and night. You are an inspiration and a friend.
I am full of admiration and awe at the invincibility of you. Thank you for allowing me to witness your journey.
Through all the tears, pain and struggle, you are and have been a warrioress. Courageous, creative and victorious.
Sharon Speaks – writer, poet, lyricist, workshop co-ordinator, volunteer, mom, life-long learner, educator, visionary spirit, My friend.
As you distribute your first book, you take your place in herstory on the March for Women. Your book is both a personal and political service to help make visible sexual crimes to you and countless other women and children around the world.
Your book will stand out as an act of courage and defiance to a society that does not understand child sexual abuse.
I want you to know that this book means the world to me. It makes us as Survivors that much stronger.
I enjoy the truth and yours is well presented. I really enjoyed your book.
Thank you.
Your book is a masterpiece, your poetry is so touching, so outstanding it makes a person think she knows you personally and it brought many a tear to my eyes.
You have the love and respect of thousands of people you have helped.
Your book is wore out. All in the office have read it – most work with people who have this issue in their past.
At work I was always forgetting to write my time down. As if I was losing my voice. Seeing the young native girls picked up by white men and I couldn’t say anything to anyone. That teacher, the delivery person came in while I was on my shift, alone at the front of the store. I told him how much it affected me, him showing up there; was glad I said it and appreciated myself that it took guts to do that and glad that I’m in a society where I can say what I want. He stared without comment as I signed for the delivery and handed back the clipboard.
 A woman from the Sexual Assault Centre gave me information on grants from Canada Council. The newspaper from where my parents were from wanted to interview me. I suggested they read my book, they could get it from my sister and then let me know if they still wanted to.
 Working at the store gave me peace of mind but not peace of heart. Trying to figure out what to say where, what to do about abuse I see in the store – woman slapped child across the face, man crunched little boys arm. I would practice in my head, saying over and over; It’s not okay to hurt a child. I didn’t say anything, felt too volatile, didn’t know what to do.
 The next Saturday, the teacher delivery person appeared on my shift saying he appreciated what I said to him, understood I wrote a book and would like to buy it. I said I’d bring it next shift.
 Had a meeting with a Tamara’s House Board Member. She wanted me to either plan a gathering for two to three hundred women or a retreat out in the country somewhere for ten to twenty women. Planning a retreat I felt I could do. Was given a contract of $4500.00 budget. Was told I could not do my healing work at Tamara’s House if I was going to work for them. I agreed t; even though I didn’t agree with that philosophy; but said I would find somewhere else to do my own healing work.
 The lawyer sent me resumes of two psychologists.
Dad said wasn’t coming to Saskatoon for something as it would be a waste of time and I took it so personally. My body went rigid with pain and I was having a hard time. I phoned the Sexual Assault Centre and was telling a woman how painful it was, and she suggested I let my heart break and the wailing came and body pain subsided.
 I phoned the lawyer and asked what are we assessing, and what is excluded. She said she’d let me know. A song came:

What do you want from me Universe
That I feel so lost and alone
I don’t know what I’m looking for
Don’t feel I have a home
A place of deep belonging
A place that I can share
The energy that’s building
That wants to say I care
I care that the hurting
Doesn’t go on and on
And comes to a resolution
That won’t be like I won
In caring for each other
We find our deepest selves
And listening in the moment
We take us off the shelves
To find out what really matters
The way out is through and in
And speaking from that deep deep place
That used to be about sin
It was called a conscience
Which I never understood
was all about guilt instead
Of honouring the welling from within
I went from that to being so angry and I wrote “I listened, I always did what I was fucking told. I am so sick of this I hurt. I hurt. I hurt. I hurt. I hurt. I hurt so bad inside and no one gives a fucking shit. Who cares what people think. I don’t. I have a right to live in this world. Once more you open the door and then you slam it in my face. I’m so angry. I don’t like what is happening to me. I’ve done everything I can to get through this. I don’t want to blame, blame, blame for the rest of my life. I want a life, want caring and gentle touch and peace and forgiveness and joy and anger if I have a right to be angry. I am so tired. My body is so tired. I loved my friends. I love what I have built around me. I love me and I want to keep me. I don’t want to be sick – sick at heart. My heart hurts. My heart aches from what I see around me and trying to figure out what is best for me. What is the meaning of life; is there a God; a universal plan; where is the light, why is my throat closing. Where is the pain coming from, what are the tears about, what is this deep deep grief about. I spend my nights alone and don’t know how to give myself comfort. I think this is the key – to let my emotions flow; let the tears run down my face, let my heart break. It’s so long since I’ve been clear about anything. I am a valuable human being who has a lot to give the world. I don’t have to give anything. I can just be myself and that’s a lot.”
 But the darkness continued. I still went to the donut shop every morning to write. Questioning is that my sacred space? Sometimes I drove to the other side of the city where there was a beautiful park; green grass for blocks and blocks, new thousands of dollars steel flower things spraying water and there was hardly any people around. I thought of the park behind my house on 20th Street, lots of kids, black dirt, needles, condoms, overflowing garbage in all the alleys around because of the amount of people in the houses. On the east side you hardly see the garbage can unless its the deluxe ones each home owner rolls out to the side walk. Why are the sidewalks crumbling all over on the west side?
Was still going for counselling. She suggested a need for fun, maybe nature and affirmed that I give myself permission to do what I need to do
 The ex-teacher now delivery person bought my book.
 My sister and parents would phone to see how we were and as if nothing to say to them. They’d ask about my job. I’d say, It’s a job. Adult me was so lonely. For days would go out in country and rage like a mad bull and then try to get the pain out of body, as if stored in my back. What is stored there? It was related to the right side of my face. The right side of my face was wrinkles down it; none on the left.
 My sister and I sat in a car and talked. We were at a catholic monastery which was close to where I grew up. Before we left there, we had a tour of the new chapel at the beautiful monastery. Someone told me the money for the stained glass had been raised in Brazil. I question that as wasn’t that a third world country? Nothing was making sense to me. My sister told me she gave the book to the newspaper editor who phoned her and they both bawled talking about it. She told me a neighbour from where we grew up burned my book. Before I left Prairietown, I stopped in at the local politician’s office and asked if she’d come for a tour of Tamara’s House. Tamara’s House had no money, no core funding and hardly surviving.
 Back in Saskatoon, an old man who looked homeless and coughing with emphysema all the time had bought my book. He passed it on to a Lutheran College. This day he gave me a book mark from the Canadian Bible Society with a bible quotation about, “I am the light of the world”. I thanked him and he said, “ Light is Truth and men do their dastardly deeds in the dark.”
 I said I need beauty and light and he added “and space” and the tears wanted to run down my face. In the next breath, he told me a fire chief, assistant police chief and a church minister got dinged for buying sex. What to believe? I didn’t know.


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