ellensagh

3. Feels Like Chapter 3

June 19, 1996 – Finished typing my book on computer.
I’m a girl who sees the truth and had to keep my mouth shut and do what I was told and I never, ever, ever let it go
I held it inside
It’s inside my lungs
I saw the truth
I breathed it in inside
And to hold it in
To keep it in
So part of me wouldn’t die
I smoked
I smoked anything I could find
I had teachers; I had neighbours galore
But when they came and knocked upon the door
They weren’t there for me
They didn’t see how I was hurting inside
I learned well to do what I was supposed to do
To keep everyone happy and to take care of them too
That they never hurt; That they never cried
I had no one who took good care of me
I did get favours and some good things given to me
I deserved better; better than I got
Instead of time; I got approval for what I did
If I followed all their rules in and out of school
But no one listened to me
I learned to keep quiet
To never say a word
I buried it deep inside my lungs
The truth is sitting there just waiting to pour out
Like the alcohol that I heard threatened to be destroyed
Like I was, living inside
I was never heard from again
Until I went within
And heard the music playing in my head
I wasn’t dead. I was denied
Denied time and love
Someone to listen to me
I needed to say how hard it was and what was done to me
I needed to hear
It wasn’t your fault
It wasn’t your fault you were the oldest girl
It wasn’t your fault that you were Daddy’s girl
It wasn’t your fault that I had so many kids
It wasn’t your fault that you needed to lie
It wasn’t your fault that you began to steal
It wasn’t your fault that everything was so unreal
It wasn’t your fault that you had to work so hard
You tried your best to take care of the yard
It wasn’t your fault that nobody cared
Nobody cared about how you fared
It wasn’t your fault you had to carry kids
Till your back hurt and you couldn’t get rid
Of the pain in your back.
One day when my voice was coming back; and it was sounding like I had lung cancer; some people saw my eyes change from green to blue as I talked.
 A memory returns of a miscarriage; a Catholic hospital taking care of me.
I searched and I searched and I finally found the man I was looking for
The man of my dreams – me
Me who treats me with respect,
Who takes care of me; who has compassion for me
Who takes care of me
Who will be there no matter what I say or do
or how I act or what I have to face
The truth that’s coming clearer that until now I couldn’t bear to face
that I was who I was or that I did what I did
but I did those things because I was surviving being a kid
A kid who was hurt over and over again
I was hurt over and over again by words, by actions
and by inactions; by no one being there for me
No one taking my side; so many hating me
Felt like everyone hated me; felt like I had nothing; like I was nothing;
like I wasn’t worth anything.
I sat in church and prayed and prayed
I developed a part that others saw as good
so I developed that part and got lots of recognition
but I also sat in bars and drank a lot
falling down drunk and think I can jump a fence when I’m drunk
And sprained my ankle drunk and then I lied
And people felt sorry for me and I lied to Mom about where I was
and what I was doing
going to bars on school nights but I was going with my teachers
What wonderful teachers I had
A priest who abused children
Teachers who were having affairs
Teachers who took me to bars
A father I was afraid to talk to and a mother who was afraid of her husband
The only one I have compassion for is my mother because she had so many kids like I did but she had that many because the church; the priests; the pope ruled her life
telling her she couldn’t use birth control.
COLLAGE June 19&20, 1996
 “The pictures I cut out for my collage are me finally taking off another mask of holding it inside and although I like and respect who I have become; it’s like I’m choked and silenced about what my early life at home was like – the good and the bad – the flowers I picked got me through, the cigarettes I rolled from my Dad’s pipe tobacco, the reading I did, the good things about school – I love reading and learning and music and doing things for teachers. I was always looking forward to growing up and being just like them but I had to grow up too fast and become a very young mother at the age of ten – I was doing what adults would have a hard time doing and I had to bow to all the pressure I got from everyone around me – I dreamed of being free and loved if I did good. I did a lot of bad things trying to be careful that no one caught me but wanting someone to say what’s the matter and I could tell them how hard it is – I don’t want to work; I want to play.It’s all buried inside me; how hard it was and how nobody talked to me and I did what I was expected to do but I also fought all my life not to lose me – and I didn’t but I became like a robot – a rigid but beautiful on the outside – lifeless on the inside and I couldn’t sustain life within me and when I had some time to myself – the feelings that were buried and stored came to the surface and I used alcohol and sex to try and keep them down. I got pregnant but the years and years of abuse prevented me from being able to nurture life and I lost my children. They returned to the earth beside a beautiful lake to die and grow again. I have pages of truth inside that right now are a blank to me but as I allow the safety, love and nurturing of myself to happen; the ten year old will tell all she knows to the tired, exhausted me who can write it and as I renew and reorganize who I am and what I know through the art of relaxation with laughter, with friends, with treats for the feminine me, I will be able to look below the surface of what I see and see the beauty and lusciousness inside and when I’m ready I’ll be able to proclaim my truth, the steps I’ve taken to get to the top of a pulpit and overcome the power men held over me. Right now I feel little compared to all I’ve been through but know I have the answers inside for a cruelty free world.
 This is a way to teach the world to sing – by starting with me – by speaking of my experience – of how I woke up singing a song of joy in my head and it was the beginning of connecting my mind, body and spirit but also connecting the present to the past and to the future and knowing I can speak my truth to anyone I want and I won’t only be a child of the night but I’ll be a child that is sun-kissed as well and I’ll be able to fly – not constrained by the foul things I had to breathe and smoke in order to survive. I’ll be grounded by my truth. I am unique and what I have to say is elementary but profoundly touches everyone and everything I’m connected to.”
Later that day, memory of being nineteen or twenty in that Catholic hospital; nuns taking me down to the basement, them showing me the dead babies; I think they were trying to be kind; they were trying to help me face the truth; I kept saying to them I never slept with anyone; then I remember me in a small room, tin medical cabinets; as if someone helping me concoct a story; writing out something else that didn’t happen to me; as if I can see the paper they wrote on; something about gastrointestinal infection; and it’s like I built on that; that’s what went back to the community I was living in; why I couldn’t go back to school; like a medical cover up; all the infections I had all through the years; it’s not only me; all the women; the medical profession knows all this shit is going on and doing nothing. By that night I had cold sore blisters on my lips.
I went into bad space; like I was at the beginning of memories coming back but this time as if I was going to have a baby. I was smoking all over the house. Memories of my uncle buying me an ice cream when he showed me the ocean; memories of the day I heard he shot himself; thinking of my aunt hanging herself and my job that day to go tell my sister. Memories of my ex-husband. On the bus and wrote another song…
I think the day is coming when I can finally say
There are special moments in both night and day
Special, special times when I was loved by you
Special times when you were true
But also those times when I was really hurt
When you treated me like I was dirt
When I believed that was all I was worth it’s true
And I wasn’t able to say I was hurt by you
I loved the times when we shared real deep
I love the times before we went to sleep
I know those are gone; won’t happen again
I have to cry and say good-bye again
Maybe I can accept that I wasn’t all bad
Neither were you and that’s why it’s sad
I’ve hung on to hope we can recapture again
All that was special and I can help you reframe
But that is still me wanting you to change
Who you are and who you’ve become
Instead of accepting just where you’re at
And not looking as if it’s something I lack
I’m okay and I always was
I did things just because
It was the thing to do at the time
To feel accepted and be just fine
They weren’t ugly and they weren’t bad
Now I see them as really sad.
SAD can stand for sex, alcohol and death.
Dad phoned that night and I told him I had written 40 songs and he said, “You’ll have to find a publisher” and I thought if you only knew but said I haven’t been able to play the organ for four years and maybe it’s coming back; told him I thought things were better and I’d be able to have a job. I’m hoping someday I can tell them I wrote a book.
Wrote my friend from England.
 “Thank you for keeping the writing up even when I haven’t been able to write to you. I’ve tried. I wrote songs instead. I don’t know when I last wrote or what was going on … I just know I’m in the middle of something BIG again that’s been coming on for months. It is making a little more sense every day but as always.. it’s kind of tough too. I’ll start with Mother’s Day. I woke up at 5 a.m. with a chant going on in my head so I wrote it down – pages of it – like “Hear me cry, hear me cry, Part of me wants to die, there I was living in fear, living in fear, year after year, and it ended, Listen to me please I have something to tell you” and from Mother’s Day to June 16th Father’s Day – songs or chants came out of my head – there’s over 40 I think …
 In the songs there were things that didn’t make sense to me and when I sang them it was in a beautiful voice I’ve never heard before and at the same time I was triggered big time by a number of things, one , meeting a woman who looked and talked and had a history very similar to Louise’s – and the next day; I was at the Sexual Assault Centre here in Saskatoon which is right across the street from the Saskatoon Funeral Home where Louise’s body was taken from the hospital until she was cremated. I tried to tell a woman about how hard it was to remember this and for weeks it was as if Louise had just died that day…not 11 years before. It still feels like that and this letter is so hard to write. For the first time I guess I connected with my feelings of what I went through, making the funeral arrangements and the meals right after she died. I have no memories of her except seeing her sitting on the priest’s knee and I connected with that; feeling like it was my fault because I saw and didn’t say anything; another memory of her partner putting her down and her looking at me; her eyes saying, “Please understand.” Another of my taking a note into the bank where she worked and her having bruises all over her face and me not saying anything; just handing her the note that said I would be there for her anytime and my last memory is of her laying on whatever she was laying on in the funeral home. It really bothers me that she didn’t even have a coffin. I want to tell you the years leading up to her death were a nightmare. Now I remember Dad fell apart the day after her death and he was yelling at me and I didn’t know why. Now years later, I find out from another sister that Mom and him had met the ambulance at the hospital; identifying her and the next day when he realized he’d forgot to call a priest to give her the last rites, he fell apart and that’s what I have to come to terms with; that what I believed when I was 29 years old and she died; at that time it was so important to me that she have the full Catholic resurrection Mass and I had to fight with the Catholic Church to give her one; at that time I believed in heaven and hell; now it nearly drove me when these memories came back … of not knowing where she went and I couldn’t stop crying. I tried to talk to a woman about it and she said; well her soul is at peace and I said how can it be.. mine isn’t and her life was horrible till the minute she died….
It’s taken me weeks to come to terms with some of this and I still haven’t but I know that if she were alive, she would deserve to be in a beautiful field of flowers and for now I’m okay that her soul returned to the universe and in some way I’m still connected to her.
Just towards the end of these songs coming out, a woman interviewed me for a project she’s doing about women and the Catholic Church. That was 2 hours of me saying from the time I was 3 or 4 years old right through my growing up, my marriage and these last 4 years; what my experiences with the Catholic Church were; what I had believed and now I see how radical the shift has been to what I believe now. I’m steadily getting more memories back; Mom sprinkling holy water all over during a storm; us all kneeling down saying the rosary every night during Lent. This was when we were growing up; the priest was everything… what a crock of shit. I will be so happy when I get some good memories back and when I can remember the kids ( my younger sisters). What is happening is I’ll remember something and about two weeks later, my emotions will connect with the memory and it’s pretty heavy… that is the biggest understatement I’ve ever written. There is some more heavy stuff but I’m having a hard time writing about it. Everything these days is making me remember things — my son sneezing and I remember us being sent out of the room to blow our nose; we could never burp, fart ; be heard – and were shamed for it if we did; all in the name of being polite; the other day I used the bathroom at a friend’s house; flushed the toilet before I went so I wouldn’t be heard.
For a month about; I don’t know how I knew but I knew on June 17th something would be all over and something would be different. Well it happened. My last song came out on the Sunday – Father’s Day and on Monday, when I spoke something to my son; my voice was totally different – Tuesday it happened with a friend and Wednesday it was like that all day; it came out real heavy, laboured as if someone was choking me or I was strangling and it was an effort; an enormous effort to get one word out; or to be able to say what I wanted to say; it’s like I know what is happening but it is hard to get that across to other people
It’s a part of me that saw the horror, saw the truth and never spoke about it and breathed it in and it’s been there all along; stored inside my lungs; so it sounds like I have lung cancer or something as I labour to get the words out; as I speak things I am finally connected to and remember for the first time; but as I speak of these things to safe people; it gets easier ; it is an interesting process to experience in a way; there is not a lot of body pain with it; as in physical pain; although anyone hearing me thinks there has to be…it sounds as if there is pain.
In a song it says; can be easy; doesn’t have to be tough; and I find that if I just give myself the time and keep validating myself that it’s okay to speak and it isn’t my fault that I didn’t speak up when Louise was being abused; when everything was too much at home; when Mom had her 10th kid and I had to do the work at home and I was only 12 and there were 12 of us and Calvin was abusing me and Mom said, “wait till Dad finds out” and then she went away the summer I was 13; I had to be a housekeeper for 2 months; at a neighbours place and cook meals and take care of 5 kids under 5 years old and everything was too much – Mom was gone to Ontario for a month to visit her sister and while she was gone I think Stretch sexually abused me and I don’t know if that was then or when I was older or both times and it is so hard when all these memories are coming back and for awhile they don’t make total sense but I know if I give myself the time, they will.
Last week was a real shock for me. I had always known I had gone away for a year after grade 12 and been to Malaysia and when I came back I taught school for a year on a native reserve up north. I taught Grade 7 & 8 to 27 students and I know I did a good job but know it was too much. Last week I remembered that I had been pregnant by a Native guy from the reserve and in May of that year I lost the babies; I know they were twins and it’s not all clear to me yet; it’s like I am in shock from all these memories; It’s as if I remember sleeping with the guy but I really don’t; don’t know how it all happened; but the loss I’m feeling right now is really close to unbearable when I’m connected to it – when I remember what it was like to be in that hospital and I never told anybody – no wonder my voice gets really hard to get the words out…
 I know this is a heavy letter… but I want to write you and I can’t write about chit chat and I appreciate that I can tell you what is really happening. I missed Mom and Dad’s phone call last night and just as well; I would like to say to Mom and Dad, ‘ What kind of family did we have that no one could say what really was happening for them?’ to them,so I think it’s good that maybe I’ll have some time to sort it out; put some perspective on what happened; in the family context of the time and not blame them and not blame myself for everything. The kids are going through such rough times…My son nearly quit school in May and dropped some classes to try and get through.. will need to take another year now but I’m okay with that.. I’d rather they dealt with their pain now instead of storing it in their body for years … They are so angry right now … with me… that our lives are how they are …
I finished my book …I see it now as a Life Saving Book .. it saved me from going into the total darkness and allowed me to process and deal with stuff at a slower pace, I think. I think I’d better end this letter and I’ll write again when I’m clearer.. am going to act as if I’m on holiday right now. I know there are many tears locked up inside that I hope can be let out a little bit at a time. I wish you all the best in every day and thank you from my mind, body and spirit for listening to me. Love, Sharon
Those three months as I typed my book at a friend’s house, the sexual assault centre had paired me up with a woman. She volunteered to get together a few times a week to listen as I read the book; debriefing as I was writing it. The woman who lent me her home and computer and this woman allowed that book to become a book.
June 27,1996
I trust in the universal light
It connects me with my body, mind and soul
It brings me energy and peace
It allows me to reach my goal
That who I am is more than enough
That I am okay just because
I am me and I am okay
I deserve the best, the best today
Here comes the universal light
I feel it in my heart and in my soul
I’ll have all the energy I need
And that’s why I’m feeling so whole
June 28,1996
This is the dawn and the dusk of my life
When all of the darkness comes into the light
When all things come clear and really make sense
And I learn to believe that life wasn’t meant
To be worked at so hard; I can take it easy and rest
To care for me first, I deserve the very best
Sunshine and flowers, laughter and rain
Gentleness and sweetness make up for the pain
That I have endured through most of my life
It’s time for me to have the most in life.
Shortly after this I am in my counsellor’s office; and wonder if I will ever be able to describe what happened in there. I know I went in with the belief that energy comes to me from a universal consciousness and that I am ready for whatever comes up; know that I can go into the darkness and release it; the separate parts; bring them together; bring the light into me…
The counsellor put music on.. I laid on pillows. In two breaths I could feel energy coming in. As I went into deep relaxation, my back was tensed up really bad; knew it was on the bunk bed; like my body was there when I was 15; poem came into my head; His hand was under the blankets, all I want to do is scream but I lay there as his hands are on my breast; my mind sort of left me while he did all the rest…..I could feel the energy from my back move to my heart; then to my solar plexus and all of a sudden I was crying and saying to my counsellor…”I allowed him to ..I allowed my body to react..No my body reacted…no wonder it reacted… all that came before..I thought that I allowed my body to react but my body just was… my mind didn’t leave me… I left… the real me and I knew I was in the wall…. My mind was still in my body talking to my counsellor and through this all, I was crying and scared; when I knew I was in the wall, I knew my job was to tell myself it was okay to come back into my body. I was scared; laying in a fetal position; finger in my mouth; teeth chattering; body vibrating; was first time I ever felt or realized I had a choice; told myself had to figure out what fear was; that if I came back into my body; my whole body would relive the abuse; thrash around; I’d hurt myself; feared there wasn’t enough time; song line came into my mind, can be easy doesn’t have to be tough; and told myself that it would be okay; there was enough time; asked my counsellor and she said there was enough time and as she was finishing saying it, I could feel myself coming back into my body from the wall; came in through my feet and could feel the energy in between my feet and my solar plexus; wasn’t feeling connected between my waist and my feet but my feet were dancing around; the crying changed; intensified and felt like it could go on forever; it was like then I made a choice; that was all I could do today and sat up; telling my counsellor; my spirit is back in my feet.
Walked out of the counsellor’s office feeling vulnerable and that night in bed; asked the conscious people of the universe to come in; meaning like in a visualization and there was a blinding white light and as if a figure in golden but so white figure; similar to pictures I might have seen describing the resurrection. A few minutes later as if I was drawing a picture in my mind and whatever way it was turned it created another picture; picture of an eye; then girl’s face with black hair and it kept going on and on inside my mind.
The next day went to friends where I had finished typing book and with no problems, put chapter headings on book;…. Shock, Outrage, Now What, Keep Going, The Horror, Going again, Back into It, Striving for Change, Change Needed, Pain, More Pain, Moving Through It. It happened again… when I was working on the chapter of the black journals which was the horror.. a bird would come outside the window; making noises of pain; yesterday it even pecked the window when I was reading the poem, Hurt.
Was like I was going through a reprieve; felt like so much good happening; like I had a really strong faith in something bigger than me; that as I allow the darkness into the light, I am reclaiming parts of my soul that were buried; can only describe it as part of my soul that could not stand the abuse and left to stay safe; this is the first time in 4 years I felt like I had a choice; that it is safe enough to allow the parts back into my body. What happened in the counsellor’s office lasted about an hour but ever since; parts of my body still feel dead but where that part came in; my body feels alive. I know lots of people in our society; like dr’s, psychiatrists; therapists, want to call what I have multiple personality disorder, manic depression or dissociative identity disorder but I don’t want to be called anything.
I want to accept all the parts of me as okay, and that when I am raging and grieving ; that it is a normal response for what I’ve experienced. I have such gratitude and appreciation for the people in my life for their belief in me; their validation; their deep empathy; some of their wise, wise words they said to me, I am now able to adopt as my own as in that I deserve good things, etc.
Had about an hour of clarity where as if I was really clear on the paradoxes in life; how people hurt out of their hurting and how I wanted to obtain a safe home for adult survivors which is still needed…what I believe now is needed in our world is that every room is safe; if every person in our world strove to make and keep each room safe; where every person, animal, tree was respected and heard; what a wonderful world we would live in… I guess that is what I will make for myself and my kids; sounds simple; even for myself… every room; part inside myself… I will make safe; respected; and heard and keep allowing the darkness out.

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