The space just right to add the symbol and imagery, subtle bet scary to me.
I was scared to make this body of work. It stayed in me like rot. I got a little out, I reacted, badly, thankfully I was in therapy at the time. That is the only reason the work exists as it dose. Without the therapy I would have staid in behavioural loops. I was learning to lean in to discomfort and talk.
A series of paintings, an aggressive body of work most private, confined to the edges of my studio. I feared how I would react if I started painting those images, the mere hint of a male figure. I feared how my mind would react, knowing how powerful it was, how it shaped me, talking, over coming so much. Just talking when I finally could say a few words out loud; gave me the strongest fight or flight response I have ever experienced. Sitting in a chair shacking all over, drenched in cold sweat, followed by an intense head ache, exhaustion and an early night, where dreams re-wrote and savagely screamed all the feels at me. I ran, I hid, I watched, I began to understand, accept and move on. Slowly.
A succession of small resent events, studio work, sleep, research backed by the original trauma and all the hard work and change I have made to live beyond it lead me to this post.
Why didn’t you tell? I laugh, a joke, surely? Tell and have my entire world fall around me? No, it took some serious back up and 18 years for me to have the power to wield my axe. My axe destroyed my sham of a marriage 6 months in, it subsequently destroyed my family relationships and one good long term relationship. This was before I even got to the point where I could talk about my abuse with some kind of ownership. My axe was merely my gut reaction and conditioning by my up bringing to make problems go away. Smash and run.
Why didn’t you tell me?
Why didn’t you tell her?
These questions are painful. My reality was painful and I was scared of what would happen if I did, so much so that it didn’t even think about doing it while it was happening and after until now, I didn’t think I was worth it.
I did tell. I told many, just not the ones I thought could do any thing about it, Grooming makes you savvy in the most self destructive ways. In my 30’s, to my therapist, the person these things are meant to matter to, my mother and one sister. It was physically difficult, I shook in my body, I sweat, I try to laugh off the tears. I had the power to do that, survived it and swallowed the miss understanding , loved ones avoiding my reality. It hurts, though still worth it, to be more free. I recently told my youngest sister, she was beginning to question a few things. that was a far more easy process. Still need to tell my brother, the time will never be right, he will be angry and hurt. It will be painful, I have learnt that I that I am worth that pain, those who mater are worth it to me. My reality is worth telling. I’m not protecting myself by denying my right to speak, be heard be seen, My truth is ugly, it makes the people who are meant to love me the most look away.
Being abused by a friend of the family is so over told I thought. I can’t pin down when the grooming started, I don’t think he was the first. I do know that I was 11 when what I remember most started, I was 14 when I could avoid it, I was 30 when I realised I was still malleable and at risk of him. It took every fibre of my being, every hope to be good and healthy to reject him.
I had a friend in one school was still in it, I would joyfully listen as she told me stories just like my own, that special feeling, being a secret, the feeling of power and adrenaline, what we knew as love and affection, grown up and other. I told countless friends in all the different schools and towns we lived, until I told a friend, who happened to be a boy. His disgust,his pain, I had never experienced that before, I say experienced, I didn’t feel much till I was 30. One of the many quirks of having an emotionally illiterate mother and being groomed from a young age, feelings are a burden I didn’t live with. I felt a select few.
I have given myself permission to finish this body of work and to sign it. That doesn’t mean it’s done, it will re-surface because it is so complex. I gave myself permission to be ugly in these terms. While reading becoming ugly and I could hear my self chanting in the back ground. You have the power to be ugly! You’re WORTH THE SPACE TO BE HEARD. Be ugly so that another child need not be. Be ugly until Rape culture is no longer the accepted social norm. You have the strength. Not everyday, not always but the fight is worth a punt.
becoming ugly Madeline Davies on Jezebel was a big part of me writing this Post. Just this week I found this absolute GEM why-arent-trauma-survivors-warned-that-parenthood-may-be-a-ptsd-trigger