Why I Don’t Dance on Graves.

I thought I would happily dance on his grave. I had the quote all ready for this year’s calendar.

“Every step I take for survivors feels like I’m dancing on his grave.”

Jena and I lined up the shot. I was going to walk like a bad ass between some headstones in an old cemetery. The lighting was perfect and I asked Heather to use her hair and makeup artistry to make me look like I wanted to get into a fight.

Whatever that means.

It was in this moment that I realized that I am not the kind of girl that goes dancing on graves. I don’t make a habit of adding insult to injury. I love restoration, healing and connection. I wish the bad guys well in their fight against their personal demons.

Every year, the Soulfire Project brings new revelations. This is why I have decided to honor the stories of survivors through the online collaborative story telling series of Why I told again this year.

RSVP on Facebook!

Last year, many of you shared what inspired you to disclose the sexual trauma you endured. You spread the word across every social media platform. You inspired and encouraged survivors and allies to break the silence.

Let’s do it again!

Where: Share your #WhyItold story on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

When: Midnight on October 20th until Midnight on October 21st.

How: Join me on Sunday, October 18th at 4 p.m. EST in a Google Hangout. Click here to sign up. I’ll be there with ideas, prompts and guidelines. You must be over 18 to participate.

For those of you who have never shared your story before, I’ll be there to encourage you. I’ll also likely have a glass of wine, some light snacks and a comfy place to sit. I suggest you do the same.

Can’t make it? Sign up anyway and I’ll send you some sweet info to get you started.

The Twist: I will be turning this year’s collection into an Anthology! If you’re interested in contributing something you’ve written, you can check a box during sign up and I’ll send you guidelines shortly.

I will be reflecting on why I don’t dance on graves. What will you share?

Sincerely,

PS – Need some inspiration? Check out these powerful images from Soulfire 2015. These 12 Survivors All Battled Sexual Trauma with the Same Secret Weapon

Healing happens in a place of safety.

“Did you hear what you just said?”

I didn’t. I had been rambling about my boys. I leaned back into the chair in my therapist’s office to think. The tree branches behind me snatched at my curls.

Yes. My therapist has a tree in her office that is constantly getting stuck in my hair.

I love it.

“That your boys are physical….”

She paused like a teacher giving the pupil a moment to catch up.

“Yes?” I said with my brow furrowed.

And…you love it.” she said slowly.

My hands shot up to my face. I peered at her between two hands pressed against my cheeks. I repeated the answer.

“And I love it.”

I whispered those words in disbelief and then the tears came. I bowed deeply in my chair and beneath that listening tree with relief. Tears of joy spilled forward and then I wiped my face and said,

“I almost made it through an entire session without crying.” Laughing I continued, “You fucking ruined it.”

She laughed but her eyes were harboring quickly escaping tears too.

You may not remember but there was a time where touch felt like the enemy. Connection and intimacy felt like a cheese grater on my soul. My healing required an end to passive consent. My soul needed some time to seek out it’s true loves. My body needed to learn what is safe, safe, safe…I am safe here.

I am safe here.

The little girl I was, the little girl in need of a constant barrier between her heart and connection is leaning into connection and intimacy. She is letting go of her shield. She is slowly backing away from the tools used to fortify walls. She is coming out to play, love, gaze, connect.

I love this girl. I love how she gazes into the eyes of her children. I love how she understands that criticism doesn’t mean that she is bad, dirty or broken. I love that she listens and can lie under a pile of freshly bathed and pajama dressed boys with wild abandon.

I love that she doesn’t seem to feel trapped anymore or not as much.

I have learned that healing happens in a place of safety.

-You deserve to live in wide open fields

I feared that my trauma was stealing joy from me and my children. Honestly, it did steal joy for a time until something shifted.

The story I told my therapist:

I held one of my sons in my arms. I gazed into his eyes and I simply paused. I didn’t move. I let him bathe in my love for him. It was like a freeze ray. He couldn’t remove himself from my adoration. I felt like I might be staring at him like a creep.

“Children don’t stare. They gaze.”

My therapist interjected that tidbit. Science has proven that when you are making eye contact with an infant and you stop, there is an immediate change in their brain chemistry. That chemical reaction identifies our basic need for attachment.

I held him and gazed at him until he was ready to go. All filled up with love.

My oldest son feels no shame about kissing his mother goodbye. My middle son starts his days by leaning into me with his face tilted upwards for a kiss.

“Good morning, momma.”

My boys are physically affectionate and I love it. It has taken 3 years but I am the mother I always wanted to be.

Fearlessly affectionate, hilariously embarrassing and stingy with the ice cream.12015233_10153641036623588_5375878501296692331_o

But mostly that first one.

Healing up,

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PS – Let’s talk about this more. Join me here.

My mom is a Fireworker

The other day, I allowed my two youngest to take our dog Lucy around the block for a little walk. Armed with the required walkie-talkies, I watched them meander down the street together. They turned the corner and I turned up my walkie-talkie.

I sat on the porch with my laptop and opened my email. *sigh* Peace and quiet.

“MOM, CAN OUR FRIEND COME OVER TO PLAY?”

Isaac always yells into the walkie-talkie. It’s like he’s not sure he can trust the thing to carry his voice.

“Sure, honey.” I said.

In about 2 minutes they came galloping my way with a little boy I’d never seen before. According to my boys (and confirmed later by my guy), they’d met him before during other walks. They arrived happy and ready to play with their new buddy. Levi reached for the door and I stopped him.

“Baby, we’re gonna play on the porch. I don’t know your friend’s parents yet. It’s for safety.”

He complained a little but I offered up Legos on the porch. Challenge accepted!

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The boys began to talk and build. They negotiated for pieces and created storylines. They came over to show me their new creations and to tattle. Eventually, things got personal and Levi told his new friend,

” My mom’s name is Tasha and she’s a Fireworker.”

I giggled a little inside wondering what that translated into in the mind of my little one and his friend. I thought about Firemen and Fire eaters. I thought about jugglers with torches burning bright and welders. And then I thought about my work with The Firecracker Foundation.

A fireworker?

Our first vacation of the summer was spent near Charlevoix at Fisherman’s Island State Park. Some families have Disney, some go to concerts. We go to Fisherman’s Island. While I was there making memories with my boys, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar sat down with Megyn Kelly for an interview.

I read about it and gathered three main points:

  • Consent is not required if your victim doesn’t really remember what happened.
  • The Duggars’ were okay with giving Josh time to get right with God while sacrificing the safety of their daughters and a family friend. Favoritism much?
  • And it’s all fine because forgiveness, you guys. Be cool.

I took a few deep breaths and then set about writing a response to 7 main points in this article. By the time I was finished unleashing the fury, I had nearly 3,000 words. Many edits later and I was ready to offer up 1,000 words to xoJane.

It was published on June 15, 2015 at 5 p.m.

I was really excited to be published on such a wonderful site. But I was over the moon to be able to offer some insights on the appropriate ways to respond to child sexual abuse – especially to communities of faith.

My perpetrator and father was a Christian and even served as a youth pastor for a short time. My faith has been complicated, lost, challenged, found and restored through the process of healing. As I delved deeper into the world of advocacy for child survivors, I witnessed the victim-blaming, slut-shaming and outright protection of perpetrators carried out my so-called houses of faith.

It makes my blood boil.

I don’t expect to agree with ever tenet of the many diverse religions that make up our beautiful world. I do expect that we can agree that no one ever deserves to be assaulted, it is never the victim’s fault and perpetrators should have legal and social consequences for their actions.

I will not lower my expectations. I expect the Godly to raise theirs.

My favorite Bible verse has remained with me throughout my life. It’s actually kind of a violent passage all about the Lord’s vengeance against the wicked. Psalms 10:17-18 declares that the God of the Hebrews ‘defends the fatherless and the oppressed.

As a fatherless child and one experienced in oppression, it feels good to know that the Judeo-Christian God, the God of the Duggars, is a self-described, violent defender of the abandoned and marginalized.

Don’t mistake me as someone who believes that violence is the answer. I don’t but like most, I enjoy the idea of a God willing to kick a few asses for the children. Similar to how I love Iron Man for being both a hero and a narcissist.

I feel like this section is going to give us both problems so I’m going to move on.

When I told my family about this new milestone for my writing, they decided it would be appropriate to set some things on fire in my honor. Fireworks. They wanted to set off some fireworks.

Lucky for them, I purchased a red lantern while we were on vacation but we never used it. My husband and I walked down to the park holding hands. Lucy came with while the boys biked ahead. It was windier than we expected so we settled the bottom of the lantern into the hollowed out section of a stump and lit it up.

We struggled to hold it down until the heat could fill the inside but the wind kept blowing the sides in. We were afraid it would catch fire before it could get over the trees around us. I realized the problem was our grip. We had to let it go. We had to stop struggling against its need to soar.

My story has resided in the gentle hands of a loving family and then a supportive hometown community. I have always been a little worried awaiting the trolls. Maybe that’s why I’ve never submitted anything before. If I never cross the bridge, the trolls won’t be compelled to attack me.

I’ve been protecting the brave little girl in me from the strangers.

My story, who I am and what I do is important. It’s important and it’s growing faster than I can handle or control. It leaves me breathless and overwhelmingly grateful. It leaves me shaken and filled with sorrow. It leaves me exhilarated and exhausted.

It leaves me like a little red lantern, blazing and ready to soar.

I suppose Levi has given me the most appropriate title of all.

Yours,

The Fireworker

A Chorus of You Are Worthy

Yesterday found me climbing the stairs of the MSU Union with a heavy box and an umbrella. It was raining and I had about 5 minutes to get myself to the room filled with about 25 people who registered for my Militant Self-Care Workshop.

By the time I got there, I was sweaty and breathing heavy. Lord. I burst through the doors at the top of the stairs to see a crowd waiting for me.

“Be cool, FC.”

I was not cool. I was hot as hell. Heat rises and that 3rd floor stairwell was baking. I was on time. Thankfully because in a superior moment of unrealistic expectations, I told everyone else:

“Our time together is precious and irreplaceable. Be on time. You can’t make this up.”

Guys. I am ALWAYS struggling to be on time. What was I even thinking?

I set an intention and I met it but man, that was a serious gamble against my natural tardy inclinations.

Anyhow, I made it and set up with help from some angels. Lydia, Lysne and Miranda – to be exact. I was nervous and shaky. I’d never done this particular workshop before but when have I ever let that stop me? I asked Miranda to open the doors and start checking people in. Lunch was offered because “eating is good self-care.” and we were off.

First of all, let me tell you that my PowerPoint was top notch and hilarious. Check Yourself.

Not only did Ice Cube make an appearance but so did the Phoenix. If people weren’t sure when to laugh, I helped them because I cracked myself up. I am my own laugh track.

Once we got into a groove, we had a beautiful conversation. I could see wheels turning. I could hear in the voices the absolute need for the song I was singin’ and then it happened.

A hand was raised. Timidly. I nodded, smiling. I was ready. Give it to me. Then she hit me with the question.

“What if you are not in a place where you feel like you are worthy of love yet?

Instantly my eyes welled up with tears and my chest tightened up. I knew that question. I’ve asked it before. Haven’t you?

Tell me about it. Join the conversation here.

The answer she was looking for was not one I could give. You can say the words but you can’t make someone feel worthy. I took a deep breath and decided to try anyway.

“You are worthy of love.”

She shrugged and nodded that she knew. It was the kind of knowing that comes without believing. I struggled to find the words. I choked them out.

“I think you are worthy. I can’t make you hear that. I can’t make you believe that. I wish I could but I can’t. You are brave for asking that question. That makes me love you. I can also tell you that there’s a room full of people here that agree with me. You are worthy.”

Then it happened. The room erupted into a symphony of you are worthies. Different voices, different words all formed in a sort of chorus singing to a broken heart.

Darling, you are worthy.

It was one of those moments that breaks one piece of your heart off while stitching another piece together. My spirit just stopped and said, “Yes, girl. This is it.”

There have been a lot of kind things said about me in the past 24 hours but I think the best testimonial I could give you happened in that room. It happened in the symphony I was able to conduct. Can you hear it?

You are worthy.10996165_10153101408618588_3173392778831113365_n

Love and big fences,

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PS – Check out what other people are saying below OR search the hashtag #militantselfcare on Instagram and Twitter.  Get ready to have your heart warmed.

The Girl Who Got Up

Everyone, I’ve been brooding.

It has not been pretty. It’s been days of unwashed hair, regular napping and whining about the things I need to do but haven’t actually done when I should really just admit that I have no intention of accomplishing anything more than this run on sentence.

In an advanced move of mental health, I decided that meditation was a step in the right direction.

I can’t even recall why, other than to say that I have been really working on creating a lovely start to my day. It’s a part of my regimen of self-love.

Oh. You don’t have one of those? Weird.

I work hard. As I am sure you do. I’ve noticed since the launch of The Firecracker Foundation I was born that I have an issue with riding the waves of adrenaline like it’s not a tsunami of disorganization, deprivation and denial. Dishes stack up, bills go unpaid, and relationships suffer because I have the gift of single focus.

If in the first semester of the year I came home with a low grade in a class (Math. It was always in math class.), I would spend the next grading period going to tutoring, studying, taking crazy good notes and not failing. To no one’s surprise but my own, that grade would go up and inevitably, other grades would go down.

Laser focus.

I can rock a set of blinders like no one else.download

On the exterior, things go very well. I meet goals and exceed expectations. I accomplish something I’ve set out to do. I let nothing stand in my way.

Nothing. Not a solid night of much needed sleep. Not a single plate of breakfast food. Not an hour to myself or a clean load of warm laundry. Not a fucking thing because who needs rest, sustenance and good hygiene?

Not a person who’s working on something so STOP INTERRUPTING ME!

If you haven’t noticed yet, this is going to be one of those posts that feels like a rant until about the end when my emotions cool off. If you are not comfortable in the inner sanctum of my brain, I would like to direct you to the upper right hand corner red X. That is your escape hatch. Bon Voyage!

I decided about a month ago to delve into militant self-care. Some may call this discipline and boundaries but I don’t like people who use bad language. I decided that I needed to learn to nurture my laser focus with compassion for my mind, body and spirit.

Things like reading for leisure, midday yoga and meditation.

(A point of personal clarification: Facebook doesn’t count, day drinking is not yoga and napping is not meditation)

I honed in on what I would consider a regimen of self-love for the thing I struggle with the most right now.

Mornings.

They are just the worst. I hate their sunshiny faces. I hate waking up and I hate being woken up. I don’t want to rush off anywhere. I want coffee in bed and a good book to read. I want to write. I want to cuddle. I want quiet.

All things I can have.

With the exception of not waking up – hopefully, because I would be dead if I didn’t – I can make all of these things happen. I can require more quiet in my home. I can have coffee in bed. I can read, write and cuddle with my little dog if I just acknowledge that I need to wake up a little earlier to have it.

I choose. Or not.

I mapped out my office hours and started counting down the hours I was giving to the foundation. I had set out with a goal of 30 hours per week and I was exceeding it by  a few hours every week. I have placed margins around my meetings for preparation and follow through.

I made choices that felt like risks.

If I don’t respond to my constantly dinging notifications, will I still be able to coax success out of the foundation. If I’m not always right there, in the thick of it all, will it still be okay? It comes down to a simple reflection of ego. Do I really believe that I have to be in control of it all and if I do, what does that say about the people who work with me?

There is a culture that I set out to create. Who better to lead by example than me?

My life has begun to resemble that of a quirky, professional adult and I dig it.

Annd then the shoe dropped. Suddenly, the meditation practice I had welcomed into my life began to start grating on me. It itched. I didn’t want to sit. I started avoiding the comfortable spot in the corner of my sectional. I started to let the time slip by. I was having a full on, physical and emotional reaction to the very idea of sitting still and breathing.

What. The. Fuck.

I started to panic. I am trying to accomplish something here. I need peace. Why won’t my body let me have it? What kind of shit is this? What kind of person has an allergic reaction to mediation?

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This person.

I started calling on the friends who knew something about meditation. Friends who teach yoga and meditation in their daily lives started getting messages from me like:

Hi there! I am having an allergic reaction to meditation. Is that a thing?

And then I went to therapy.

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I sat in a comfy chair and regaled my therapist with all of the amazing ways I was taking care of myself. I rambled on and on about how good I was feeling about it even if it wasn’t perfect. I shared that my handy meditation app reports I’ve meditated for 3.5 hours. Even though I didn’t do it every day and I didn’t have a perfect system down, I felt like I was making progress. I told her that I loved the quiet space I was carving out for myself when my boys weren’t home but I hadn’t found a perfect way to protect that peace when they came home.

My boys + Quiet = not a thing.

I then expressed my concern with the physical rejection I felt towards the meditation I had been enjoying. 3.5 hours worth of enjoyment and suddenly my body was all – this is dumb and I don’t want to do it anymore.

After some discussion, she asked me if I noticed how many times I’d used the phrase “not perfect”.

The discussion led me to a memory.

He used to knock me out of my chair. I would be sitting at the table eating dinner and then I wouldn’t be. I’d be on the floor. Sometimes the chair would land next to me and other times, the strike would come so fast the chair would sit unaffected by its loss of me. It was like one of those magic acts where the table cloth is pulled out from underneath all of the dishes with dramatic flare.

I would find myself on the floor with a stinging cheek and hurt pride. The table would be awkwardly silent. Violence has a funny way of inviting silence. I would slowly gather myself up on little legs, right my chair and sit back down at the table.

This time I would be better. This time I would stay focused on what mattered. This time I would chew with my mouth tightly closed and then I would be worthy to stay at the table.

But I would forget. My mind would dance around with the happy thoughts of the day or I’d get squirmy as 7 year olds do. I’d dig my fork into another bite only to find myself on the floor again with a stinging cheek and a fallen chair.

And I would get up again. Usually it only took two solid smacks out of my chair before I remembered that my mouth was meant to be closed.

After my father died, my mother took me to a dentist to have my teeth checked and I was diagnosed with a cross-bite and an overbite. It was a feat of physical control for me to close my mouth when I ate.

Single goddamned focus.

I was reminded by my therapist that meditation is creating new neurological pathways in a brain told a violently reinforced lesson: You are not worthy to sit at this table.

And every time I settle into my couch for meditation, it is the equivalent of me getting up off the floor and saying, “Yes, I fucking am.”

Love from the girl who got up,

PS – I’ll have more on what I’ve learned about mediation in my next Open Letter.

PPS – Click here to Vote for The Firecracker Foundation in the Big Bang-quet Challenge!

This is my difficult.

My grandmother approached the topic like an airplane coming in for a landing. She circled the point with a story about a talk show episode she’d seen. As I listened, I met a friend at the door and silently motioned for her to come in.

Fridays have become an experiment of accountability at my place.

I’ve created a writers group of sorts. I’ve set aside a large window of time and offered an open invitation to some friends that I deem “writerly”. I’ve promised free wifi, hot water for tea, coffee and at least one clean bathroom. Aside from the recent string of snow days to have hit the Torok household, it is going well. I use the time to write and when necessary, to do some research.

On this day, I had called my grandmother to ask her about who my father was. This month is all about building his personality profile.

  • Who did my family think he was?
  • What does it mean to be a pedophile vs. a perpetrator? Which was he?
  • Was I his only victim?
  • What did he like to do?
  • Where did he like to go?

You get it.

To tell a better story, to understand him, I need to think about who he was beyond my abuser.

Yes, to answer the questions rolling around in your head, this is creepy. No, it is not fun. Yes, I do think it’s necessary. My mother says my dad* is worried about me, which in our family is a sign that you may be going to far. I’ve added some #militantselfcare to my life and I’m okay.

Dad, if you’re reading this, I promise.

My grandmother told me that she had been watching Maury Povich the other day. Their was a little girl on the show talking about a man who touched her private area. I wasn’t sure where this was going and then she landed.

“I’ve never asked because I didn’t want to bring it up,” she said. ” But is that what your father did to you? Did he just touch you or what happened?”

This is what happened in my head.

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Shit just got real. I turned on my heel to head upstairs and away from my guests. In that moment, I realized we’d never talked about this before. When I was 21 years old, I told her that my father had sexually abused me. Most people who knew me, knew this to be true but because of distance and a bit of a strain on our relationship since my father died, she didn’t know and neither did any of my father’s family.

If you were to ask me now, I would tell you that using terms like sexually abused or molested are correct and socially acceptable but they don’t define an experience. Those terms don’t tell the whole story. How could they?

When I was 21, I chose to tell my grandmother because I realized that I could never be fully me if she didn’t know. I realized that if I truly believed that the abuse was not my fault then I deserved to live shame free and in the truth.

CAN I LIVE?

Damn straight I can.

So sitting on my little stoop, sunning my legs, I nervously told her the truth. Only after she very directly told me to get on with it. She knew something terrible was on its way and she wanted me to let her face it head on.

Once the words tumbled out, she was sorry for me. She told me that she wished that she could have been there for me. There were probably more words that I can’t recall now and then I quickly got off the phone to escape the awkwardness of telling your father’s mother that he was a child molester. Because good times, am I right?

Now she asked for the details and I found myself saying, “Grandma, he raped me. Often and repeatedly.”

She said, “Didn’t he hurt you? How could that have happened? Weren’t you such a little girl?”

“Yes, grandma. I was six. The only thing I can say is that it must’ve happened so often that it didn’t hurt anymore. I think it probably started happening before I could remember.”

I was reporting. These were facts. The hard kind but the kind I know as my past. This is my story and I am, not comfortable but accustomed to the truth of it.

She is not. This was the first time she’d heard it. These truths were landing around her for the first time and I could almost hear them shatter as they hit her skin and fell to the ground. There was the sound of anger and pain in her voice.

“He would have gone to jail,” she raged. “Grandma would’ve seen to it.”

And it was those words, spoken to me as if I were still a little girl that broke my heart again.

Just this week, I spoke to a class of sociology students at Michigan State University and one of them asked me if I had forgiven my father. This topic comes up a lot. We know that forgiveness can offer healing. We are told that it is about you not the person who hurt you. I believe those things to be true.

However, painful, brokenhearted moments like this one is why I also believe that forgiveness is not a one act play. It’s a long running series. Forgiveness is kind of like the never-ending run of those tragic daytime soap operas that we have only recently given up.

Unless you have the Soap Opera Network. In which case, #neverforget.

Forgiveness for me has had to be approached with the acceptance that it is a process for repeated, long term injuries.

When my children offer to include my father in the list of the dead they want to pray for, forgiveness prevents me from screaming that he doesn’t deserve their prayers. It allows me to sit back and recognize that if there’s any one soul in need of prayer in the afterlife, it’s probably my father’s. I can’t imagine there’s much peace or rest for him.

Forgiveness is not pity or absolution. It does not mean there are no consequences. It just means that I forgive. Rage, sorrow, relief – everything else is still on the table.

Grandma, cannot see to anything in the past. I can tell you that her assurances that she would have seen to it if given the opportunity, spoke such kindness to the little girl in me. There’s some comfort in the idea of my grandmother pursuing justice on my behalf.

I never imagined that she would choose me over her son. Before I told her my story, it was the burden that weighed the heaviest on my heart.

Why would my father’s family trust me? Why would they choose me?

As we begin to end our phone call, I headed down the stairs and towards my friends.

“You call me anytime. I know that what happened was horrible but I love you. Please don’t shut me out.”

And there is the answer to it all.

The answer to who I am, how I have survived and why anyone would believe me. The answer to why I do what I do and go where I go is in those words.

I am tremendously loved.

I have called her anytime. I have chosen not to shut her out. I have chosen to pull the tentacles of darkness that have seeped from my father’s legacy out of the relationship that I have with his family because to forget him, I have to forget them. That would be my easy. To remember him, is to remember where he came from. That is my difficult.

“Goodbye, Grandma. I won’t. I love you.”

I sat down at my desk, turned to my friends and said, “Guys. My grandmother just asked me what happened for the first time.”

Stunned I murmured, “I guess I’m not the only one asking the difficult questions around here.”10996165_10153101408618588_3173392778831113365_n

Sincerely,

PS – I know I opened lots of room for discussion in this one. It’s only going to get deeper. Hit me up in the comments.

* For clarity here, I will admit that the man I call dad now is my stepfather. He will hate reading this. (Hi dad. I know I’m your baby girl. Pretend like you didn’t see this!)

I am a dream.

Today I told my therapist something I’ve never shared with anyone.

I didn’t even tell her that I’d never told anyone. I just left the information there. I stepped over it like a crack in the sidewalk. I hugged my therapist and she kissed me on the cheek. Before I could let her go, she turned her head and whispered into my ear, “I am so sorry.”

The pain sunk in. It sat in my stomach, crept into my body and filled me with exhaustion. I thanked her wholeheartedly, paid my bill and left. Climbing into my car, I paused and then I didn’t move. I just sat there buckled into the seat and breathing. I looked at my phone and tried to think who I should call.

This was not a panic attack. I wasn’t crying. There was no emergency. I was just in pain.

Just. 

Right.

Just a little pain. 

As I mentioned last time, I’ve been taking notice of my memories of my father’s funeral. I’ve been trying to nail down the timeline and remember who was there. Part of this process is like time travel. Or maybe it’s more like a possession.

I sit down and I ask my 8 year old self what it was like.

What was it like to stand over your father’s body? What did it feel like?

I sink my mind into my little self and I open my eyes. I look around. I sniff the air and feel the weight of my feet on that thick, funeral home carpet. I remember the kiss on my father’s cold cheek and the delicate white rose I was given for my grandmother. I remember the things that were stolen.

Today, I admitted something. That’s what it felt like; an admission. I felt guilty. I felt ashamed and the secret made me want to curl into a ball and disappear. I came home nauseous and nearly lost my dinner.

I rarely vomit. I’m not exaggerating. I have a very strong stomach. This tidbit is to explain to you that I don’t do this. I don’t get sick from memories. This one, this horror I lived came back swinging knives.

It was the kind of moment that made me want to get into a bathtub with a large cheese pizza and a six pack of beer.

I decided who to call. Somehow, it was decided for me. I looked down at my phone and my keypad came up with a name. The right name. The person who would ask me a simple question: “If you were the friend of that little girl and she told you the same story, what would you do for her.”

I answered:
Tell her I love her.
Give her a big hug.
Buy her an ice cream cone.
Make sure she has everything she needs to heal.
Give her a nap.

I later added a bubble bath and a glass of wine because I’m an adult and the boss of myself. #amiright

I am still in pain. As I write this, my body is still in turmoil. Trauma is a formidable, haunting beast. This has been a rough night but I’ve spent it huddled up with my beloveds. I looked at them and celebrated that if my father was a nightmare (and he was), I am a dream.

Every day my planner prompts me to finish the statement ‘I am grateful for…’.

Today I am grateful for the fact that monsters can give life to Firecrackers.

Ever defiant,