It's been 10 years since the release of She's Facing Me: An Autobiographical Book of Poetry. That's 10 years that I've been a published author. I have learned a lot in that time, but all that's for another blog. I want to talk about the significance of the book She's Facing Me in the world today.
That book was my #metoo story, but way before the metoo movement. Many of my family and friends were not aware of the things that happened in our house when I was a little girl. This book is their only window in. Some cried when they read it, some apologized. That's not the reaction that I was looking for when I wrote it. I was simply wanting to tell a story of emotions. From the darkness and into the light. I don't fault anyone for anything in my past. Sometimes I have to deal with self-hatred, self-loathing, and push myself to keep going, but that's normal in these situations. I have some days where I take strength from my past and instead of a warrior fighting a battle, I feel like the triumphant queen that has conquered a new kingdom of a fulfilling future. This is what I was trying to put in the book. Something to give others in similar situations hope. Hope that you can take control of your own destiny. No matter what our past was like, we can soldier on to new territory. We can take our pain and turn it into power. We can empower others. We might not forget, but we can forgive. After all, we are only energy and matter. When our matter is gone, there is only energy. What do we want that energy to be? Hatred and fear that try to dominate others, or a forgiving nature that nurtures the world? I chose the forgiving nature.
It's been thirty something years since some of the things that I wrote about in the book happened. Thirty long years of re-living nightmares of reality, sometimes daily. I decided when I wrote the book that it would only be written in poetry. To write it in prose would almost be too painful and too graphic. I've tried and it never really worked out.
Another reason is that when I write in poetry, I'm writing from my own, internal self. If I were to write it in prose, then I would have to tell things that happened to other people around me. As much as I would like to write it and rid myself of the burden, it is not simply my story. Others around me were also affected, so I can't do that. I cannot speak for them. That is for them to do. I reflect often on some of the things that I published. I have days where I regret publishing some of the things, but then I remember the reason I did it. Somewhere, there is a little girl that needs to read this book. Somewhere, there is a girl in a similar situation that I was in. She needs to read this. She needs to know that there can be forgiveness and a better tomorrow. As for my mother, I know that it would break her heart that I published it at all. I know it, but I can't let that stop me. I love her still, and she's gone on to a better place and I'm the one that is left on the earth. I have the negative energy that I have to turn positive.
Another point I want to make in this post is that it is relevant in many ways to news stories of sexual assault. I see so many people on social media slamming women for waiting years to come forward. I waited years, and I still have not named anyone. I probably never will. They are probably a father or grandfather to someone now, and what good would it do? I would be forced to pay money to a lawyer that I don't have, I would probably have my reputation smeared, be called a liar, and destroy my own life. That is why women don't speak. I know it because I am one of those women who has been silent for thirty years. I barely spoke when I was a child anyway, and was threatened daily about speaking to anyone about what happened. So yes, as a fearful child, I remained silent...until this book. I will not name the people (I don't actually know all of their names anyway). But they know who they are. They know, and that is their own burden to bear. I sometimes hope that they are haunted by their actions as much as I am. I am haunted. But I take that fear, and I create things that hopefully, inspire others. So, before you blame someone for not coming forward, think to yourself what it costs them. Sometimes it's more than it's worth. Don't wait. Don't be me, but also don't blame someone for staying silent. Sometimes, the memory itself is so traumatic that we can't speak. We can't put that kind of emotion into words. We re-live it many times, but speaking, even when there is nothing to lose, is still a fight in itself.
Until next time...sending my love!