Nearly twenty years ago he left his legacy, quietly lurking in the darkest shadows under the scars where I spent years slowly stitching my heart and faith back together.
Sometimes, when my emotions dip unexpectedly and exceptionally low, the whispers slither out of the darkness and into my mind. I’ve spent years learning how to cope, trauma techniques, all of it. There’s no training for the whispers in the shadows.
Long ago he’d mete out a “lesson” and at the end was a whisper that he knew would hurt deeper than any punch or kick. He figured out what meant the most to me and he’d attack that. A few words at a time. Then add a few more, a few more. They build up to create this huge injury that so many work to fix and most of it is beautiful in its scars and stitches, because every stitch is a healing moment or regaining power. I don’t know if anyone can ever quiet the whispers when I hurt the most.
When I learned this morning that the girl who’d inspired our going national with the adoption, the one whose case worker responded so quickly, was going to be adopted the ground dropped out from under me. I know there are the others, with two responses that I’m waiting on info from our SW to give to them, but she was the one I could actually picture in our lives. While grasping that tiny flame of hope, I had to cope in the only way that I do. I work myself until I collapse. My doctors hate it, and it’s not exactly pleasant, but it’s what keeps me sane.
As I sat praying and crying yet again I felt too sore to keep praying. It’s hard to explain. And I don’t handle complicated emotion well. I’m the first to admit that. So I got my gloves on and intended to just get a few hits out to let loose of the anger of it happening and taking away that happy moment. With the first uppercut I heard the whisper, so clearly, and was trembling in front of him again. Eddie, my boxing buddy, is named after Bastard and maybe that wasn’t as therapeutic as I thought it would be…because, with my arm pulled back and ready, that whisper cut through me. “You’re not good enough to ever be a mother. You couldn’t even keep Sierra through one hit. You never even got past a month with the others. You’ll never be a mother. God knows you failed Sierra.”
Absolutely shattered I tore into him and hit so hard I was holding myself up with my forehead on his chest, so I could keep hitting his stomach and sides. It took a few minutes to realize that the strange noise I heard was coming from me. A deranged mixture of sobbing and screaming.
I had meant to stay quiet so that I wouldn’t disturb L, since he was trying to sleep for tonight’s shift. Apparently creepy howls are difficult for him to sleep through. If only I’d known that when he was snoring…*small smile*
I just kept hearing those whispers, even as L pulled me against him so that I’d stop hurting myself by trying to hit anymore. I’d rather have physical pain than emotional. One of the few “lessons” that actually became a coping mechanism that is debatably healthy. I’m lucky that L knows what it means when I say that it’s just like “his whispers…they’re coming true…” And he gentled the worst of the storm. He’s the first guy I ever met that could handle, even before he understood them, those dark shadows and he’s the one who helped stitch me up. Despite it all, he can’t always quiet the whispers.
So I worked. I keep the house clean enough that it’s still healthy to live in, but on an average day there’s a lot that is left to be desired. And until I grow wings I will never care about the dust on the ceiling fan blades. Sorry, not sorry. But today I threw myself into it from one room to the next like it was the old days, before I became disabled. (Yeah, I know you other Spoonies are shaking your head, knowing the storm that’s edging in.) I have one room to really organize, which I couldn’t, since it’s where he was sleeping. Eight hours in and two doses of my anxiety med, and the whispers are finally getting quieter.
Tomorrow, if I can move my arms, I may sketch in his scars lightly. Immersion therapy. I just don’t know if the actual therapy can work until I truly believe we have a chance at one of the girls we want not getting adopted when we show interest. It’s getting a bit excessive now, with it happening out of state even. I think at one point I screamed at Eddie that they shouldn’t be marked as available if the foster parents may want to adopt if someone else is interested. It’s like saying today’s special is rocky road ice cream, but sorry, we don’t sell that. So I’ll have to text my therapist and ask about which is the best coping technique for this.
The whispers don’t usually last this long. They’re cut into my soul, but thankfully I can usually keep them buried in the shadows. I’ve succeeded a bit with “being the Ice Queen that can’t give or be loved”, although that was a rocky recovery and somehow L found the one thing that silenced that whisper (our vow renewal tattoos). I’d never have thought of it honestly.
I don’t know how to quiet these whispers for good. I’m going to work on meditation to start building the wall around the damaged area, yet again, because at some point I unthinkingly stopped messing with meditating about reinforcing the damaged zones. We have two other responses in the meantime, although we can’t act on them until we get the info from Kansas, and maybe with time one of them will feel more right. Or maybe one of the others’ case workers will like us. While we wait to get the information and see what the future holds on the others, it’s time to find a way to quiet the whispers. I know that my trauma would be mostly fixed by becoming a parent, and getting rid of that deep seated fear of never having the one goal I ever set in life, but it’s still trauma that I need to work on now.
The legacy of abuse. You will never see the bite marks, the scars in my hair, the broken vessels that the doctors say won’t heal, and you might not even notice that I have problems hearing certain pitches from being hit in the ears so often. You’ll only know about the broken nose, because I need to get a second septoplasty done soon. You won’t understand why some words instantly make me shut down; you won’t understand why someone who talks a lot about limitations is doing an insane amount of cleaning and packing things away for “maybe someday”. The legacy of true evil is to tear someone apart so completely that they may stop watching for you, but they can’t get rid of your cursed whispers. We can quiet them. They’re still in there though. Back in the shadows like a lurking vampire.
I’m angry that he has a legacy. I’m angry that he has children he left behind all over the place. I’m angry that I hear his voice sometimes, instead of the smooth, sarcastic, amusing voice of an amazing man who loves me even when I don’t feel like there are enough pieces left of ME to be worthy of love. But I don’t hate him, even though I want to. I look forward to my next boxing session when I’m more in control and can land better hits, and with each hit I can shatter another bad memory. The whispers are still in those shadows because my own heart still has those shadows; he didn’t put them there. He just verbalized them. He stepped in and did what abusers do. They find your deepest fears and make them a living, breathing, part of you. My fear of ever being good enough, of being enough to be loved, and of ever getting to be a mother, especially once I lost Sierra and carried that guilt for so long; those were mine. His legacy is the worst of my fears.
And please do not take this post as a desire for sympathy or comfort. Putting it out in the wild binary code is therapeutic. Plus, I sincerely hope that maybe someone who needs to will come across this and learn that they’re not so messed up that leaving it all behind is the only option. I’ve known that feeling and you, the survivor, can slowly heal. Just imagine yourself as Sally, from The Nightmare Before Christmas (TM- on app so no handy symbol lol). It’s taken me a lot of healing and a lot of years, but it’s the first time I’ve ever formally acknowledged that his whispers stayed because they’re my deepest fears. Trauma is a lifelong project to work through. It’s why I empathize with foster and adoptive kids so much. We’re a work in progress. Everyone is. Ours just takes a little more work behind the scenes. I believe in us both.