I decided to write and share this series of posts—Pulling Threads—to flush out my wounds, to pick at the scabs and expose my scars as best I could. To give them a new voice. To put them through the ringer and squeeze out the good.
Sometimes it feels as though I am the only one. I know I am not. We all have wounds. We all have wounds from trauma, abuse, loses, choices we’ve made. The list goes on. Some of us experienced more than others. Some of us less. Some of us catapulted forward. Some of us got lost. Some of us had support. Some of us were left to cope alone. While all of our stories are different, we all have them. Some of us have been able to share them and talk about them. Some of us have not.
I’ve been reading “Writing as a Way of Healing” by Louise DeSalvo. In it she writes, “We are the accumulation of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are.”
The stories we tell ourselves. Most of my childhood experiences, like the one I shared here, explain the stories I tell myself; I’m worthless, unwanted and unlovable. I didn’t have many people in my life, or other experiences, to tell me otherwise. Does that make the stories I tell myself true? Are they the complete truth? Or is truth like a jig-saw puzzle that only reveals itself when all the pieces have been connected?
In regards to writing, she says, “We must write in a way that links detailed descriptions of what happened with feelings—then and now—about what happened.”
This is what I’m trying to do. To write in more detail than I ever have. This will make some of these writings triggers—for you and me. But something else Louise DeSalvo says, “Writing about difficulties enables us to discover the wholeness of things....we use our writing to shift our perspective.”
Certainly I’ve told these stories to the people who have been closest to me, my BFFs. I think I told my husband about them on our second or third date. Here’s all my baggage. If you don’t want to carry it, here’s your chance to get off the boat. I’ve shared these stories in therapy, but I couldn’t get them to move beyond the walls that made up the room. When I stood up to leave with a bounce of relief in my step, they’d notice that I had walked out and run on their tip toes to catch up with me. Sneaking up on me and giggling in whisper tones. A constant shadow as I walked my path, silently sucking away my energy and light. I just couldn’t shake them. Don’t get me wrong. Therapy has always been beneficial for me. I’m a firm believer in therapy. And I’d probably still be in therapy if my therapist hadn’t suddenly passed away.
As much as I have shared my trauma and abuse, the dark corners of stigma attached to it are still very real for me. There’s still a lot of shame and guilt and energy spent trying to cover up the scars. Anger ripples around the edges of my mind and curses my lips. Abuse and trauma seems to distort everything else and when your childhood is brimming with secrets and lies, it’s hard to know what is true.
I don’t know why, but today I’m feeling called to pan through the mud and the muck of each experience at the bottom of the river, one by one, and find the gold nuggets. And to share them with you.
Including the gold nuggets. Perhaps, especially the gold nuggets. My first gold nugget is a tiny nugget, but it’s one of my most prized nuggets.
My grandparents owned and operated a cafe in the small town I grew up in. The kind of town where everybody knew everybody. The kind of town where when you were all grown up and working at the McDonald’s that finally came to town, the old timers would come in for coffee and ask, “Aren’t you one of the Brown girls?” Well, I was the daughter of one. These old timers had known my grandparents.
My grandfather spent a few years in the Navy and then defected to the Army where he served for twenty years. He passed away just a few weeks after my fourth birthday—cirrhosis of the liver. I don’t remember much about him. In fact, I have only one memory of him. It takes place at the cafe.
I was sitting at a small table near the entrance drinking soda out of a clear glass. My grandfather walked in. As soon as I see him I smile. I snatch up the glass resting on the table and lift it to my lips, making sure I covered my nose. The only thing I remember about my grandfather is our game of “I got your nose.” As he approached, he laughed at my cleverness. I removed the glass from my lips and nose, giggling as Grandpa reached in to take my nose between his fingers.
“I got your nose!”