The good stuff when fear is gone for just a bit.
Cicadas chirped. Birds and butterflies fluttered. Gravel crunched under his Buster Browns. He smelled the perfume sweet honeysuckle smell in the air, and the fresh cut grass of his neighbor’s lawn too. His Spirit sang the happy Song of Being, as the sun shone down on him from an immaculately blue sky, dotted with small fluffy cotton candy-like Cumulus clouds. He was made of Love and smiles, and an equal measure of contentment, excitement, unrestrained giggles and delight. Nothing had shattered his makeup yet. Oh, there was a tentativeness, and uncertainty that wasn’t in him previously, and there had been cuts and bruises, colds and stomach upsets, times of mild admonishment, and other small losses. Of course, to him, every small loss at the time seemed gigantic and forever, and he would cry with all his heart.. But when they were over, though, they were not revisited. He had not learned to do otherwise.
His mother was in the house, doing whatever she always did in there, when she hurried him outside to play. He didn’t really know what she did in there during the day; he did know that she cooked and cleaned and did dishes in their little five room bungalow, but what else, he didn’t know. All he knew was that she didn’t play, because he had asked her to play with him any number of times until he learned not to ask. He learned very quickly, he was very smart.
He had a “well oiled” imagination, rich, vibrant, detailed, and nearly as real to him, as the world he really occupied. His imagination was a wonderful tool, because he spent long hours alone. When he was outside, both his body and his mind were there. When he was playing in his room, that’s where his mind and body were. When he decided to, he used his imagination. He used his imagination to go to places he couldn’t go to, and to do things he couldn’t do, and everything in his imagination made him happy. He had not yet learned to use it in any other manner. His imagination was probably the best toy he owned, although he didn’t even question having it, or using it. It was just a part of him like his arms and feet, and everything else.
He couldn’t tell you how he felt inside, how he felt about himself, and how he felt in the world. But if he could, he might describe feeling smooth and clean and fresh, happy, and a part of everything he saw, and experienced, especially the sunshine and the beautiful soft blue sky that wrapped around his head and body when he was outside. He would tell you that he just felt like himself, how could he feel any other way? He didn’t question his perceptions, his awareness, his feelings. He felt neither strong nor weak, neither good nor bad. This way of being, this way he experienced his world was completely natural to him, and he didn’t know it, but it was his birthright.
© 2011 Ken Scully and Lowcountry Survivors All Rights Reserved
My Heart sings
At the Beauty of the Sunrise.
With great affection, He kisses my forehead
And says “Goodmorning, Son”.
My Heart sings
At the Beauty of the Clouds, white brush strokes
Upon the Canvas of the blue sky.
A touch, She says, “Goodmorning, Son”.
My heart sings
At the Beauty of the Melody of All the Voices of the Earth
They sing together, a chorus, The Beauty of the Earth.
A warm embrace, They say, “Goodmorning, Son”.
My Heart sings.
At the Beauty of My Life.
One part of Many parts.
One Life and many Lives, We sing
The Beauty of this Life.
A mother who loves her children.
-is a mother who beats her children with her fists?
-is a mother who screams like a wild animal while she beats her children?
-is a mother who calls her children “rotten sons of bitches of bastards” while she beats them?
-is a mother who continuously tells her children that “there is something wrong with you”?
-is a mother who tells her children that she wishes they were never born?
-is a mother who continuously tells her children that they are “disgusting”?
-is a mother who tells her children “you make me sick to my stomach”?
-is a mother who beats her son with a metal vacuum cleaner pipe?
-is a mother who ties her children to a chair?
-is a mother who tells her 9 year old son that she’d kill him if she could get away with it?
-is a mother who unleashes her unbridled rage on her children, and blames them for it?
-is a mother who does all these things countless times, while pretending to be the victim?
Honesty demands that we say “No!”
Honesty demands that we acknowledge that a mother, who does all those things to her children, does not truly love her children, perhaps through injury, she cannot.
All those things are Not Love.
I love you as an act of faith and hope
In a world where there seems little of both.I Love you for the safety you provide,
And for that which I can provide you.I Love you for your strength in withstanding immeasurable pain
Even though you sometimes see yourself as weak (we are the same in that).I Love you for your smile,
And for the opportunity to make you smile.I Love you for your tears,
And the opportunity to wipe them from your face.I Love you most of all for your tender Heart,
A Heart I would give my life to protect.I Love you just because I do, Love chooses us,
And for me, Love has chosen You.
Some days I feel like I am lost.
The Love is gone,
The burden’s tossed Back on my shoulders.
Where has It gone?
Where has Love gone?
I know It’s here,
It’s all around.
It never leaves,
Only hidden by my fears.
How can I feel It?
Oh, how can I feel It?
Then a “Softness” comes
And disolves my fears.
Washed away Through a flood of tears
Is my sorrow.
No more sorrow.
1990 Ken S.
Falling leaves was the most beautiful, vibrant young woman in the Tribe, at least Red Squirrel thought so! They were very much in love; a giving love, not a taking love. He appreciated her spectrum of colors; she appreciated his gentleness, and loftiness. They lived an idyllic life, a few miles inland from the ocean, on a tract of land bordered by woods, fields, and a small river. There was no hiding among the People, everyone met each other’s eyes, whether sad, or happy, or even angry. All eyes sparkled, as well, whether young or old. Their valley, and the bay nearby, provided everything they needed. Small excursions afield provided diversity in both their diet, as well as their social life. They trusted The Great Spirit in all things, and in all situations. Nowhere, ever, was there a happier, heart-filled people! Red Squirrel always looked at Falling Leaves in wonder, when she spent time in play with the children of the tribe, teaching them games that she had learned as a child. She was so comfortable and free with them! When he watched her with their own little one, he thought his heart would burst; mother’s love like a peach colored sunset seemed to envelope them. When he lay with her at night, he felt humbled that The Great Spirit should have chosen him to be with her, and her with him. It was that kind of love which had brought forth their first child. They named her Eagle Feather, a living symbol that their love was so lofty and powerful. The day she was born, Red Squirrel had witnessed the mating flight of two eagles, and watched a feather float to the ground. He knew his daughter from that moment, and knew the love from which she sprung. Red Squirrel did everything he could to make it easier for Falling Leaves, while the baby was so young and tender. The other members of the tribe laughed good-naturedly at him, as he carried huge armfuls of alder wood for the cooking fire, for they remembered themselves doing the same thing, when their mates had given birth. Falling Leaves and Red Squirrel had grown up together, inseparable from the start. Everyone in the tribe seemed to know that they belonged together; such things were not uncommon then. Both had a depth of perception and emotion that was uncommon, and they would go off alone together, even at nine or ten years old. They had a favorite place that they had shared, and vowed that it would be their secret place, for all eternity. A stream ran through the center of their camp. It provided a steady supply of freshwater for their every need, as well as an abundant supply of fresh fish. It also provided transportation to the bay, where they collected clams, muscles, whelk, and saltwater fish at certain times of the year. Overlooking this stream, at the edge of a field, was their secret place. It was a huge pine, with branches all the way down to the ground, and they would disappear just as soon as they climbed the first few branches. They’d sit for hours, in those branches, watching birds, squirrels, and sometimes even deer and moose, if the wind was just right, and didn’t carry their scent to them. Their pine hideaway became a place of kissing and secret rendezvous in their teen years. Even after their Ceremony, they would escape to their secret place, alone, for contemplation and renewal; or together, to relive in amazement, how good their lives had been for so long. Red Squirrel was with Falling Leaves when she gave birth. Doing so was not specifically forbidden, but it was highly unusual. Red Squirrel knew that he could not forgive himself if anything happened to her at the birth. He knew that the midwife, and The Great Spirit had things under control; still, he had to be with her. When Eagle Feather came into the world, Red Squirrel’s head and upper body felt as if they were immersed in liquid sky, so powerful was the Presence of The Great Spirit! His attention shifted from the wondrous new being who was his daughter, to the smile of Falling Leaves, which seemed to fill the room in the same way that The Great Spirit’s love did. Red Squirrel knew that he was on sacred ground. He wondered why more of the men of his tribe refused such an honor, for that is what it is to witness such a miracle! Miracles were accepted in just the same way as one would accept a sunny day. Such was life in Red Squirrel’s tribe. In fact, when they were younger, Red Squirrel and Falling Leaves felt that they should wait until a sign from The Great Spirit told them that what they felt, could be consummated in Ceremony. They waited together each day for the sign, not knowing in what form it would appear. It was the most difficult wait that young Red Squirrel ever remembered. He loved Falling Leaves so much, that for the first time, he was having trouble keeping an attitude of acceptance in The Great Spirit’s plans, whatever they might be. He thought he would burst by the time the answer came, but come it did. The wait had taken its toll, not only on Red Squirrel, but on Falling Leaves as well. Both, without the other’s knowledge, had decided to slip off to their secret place, in Grandfather Pine, to raise their spirits. They met each other about half way. Falling Leaves looked sad and vulnerable, like a scared little girl. Red Squirrel’s heart went out to her; he hated seeing her hurting or afraid. He was very protective of the little girl that he saw in her eyes and heart. As they neared their special place, they discovered that they both were interested in seeing whether the eggs had hatched in a nest, high up in their tree. They had each noticed the nest on different occasions, having come to their tree separately. Suddenly, having spotted two intruders, Mother Sparrow Hawk took off in obvious resentment. Red Squirrel looked high up into the tree on the North side, while Falling leaves stared up on the South. In unison, they realized that there were two nests, one for each of them, but together in one tree! They didn’t have to question the meaning of this great and powerful sign. Together, in The Great Spirit they were one! Their Marriage Ceremony was magnificent! The sound of water gently flowing over a small rock falls, the little chirping noises of the chickadees as they chased each other through the woods, and the noise of small children playing quietly, all blended to create a mood that took one back to times of deep contentment. Deep golden sunshine, the reflection of white billowy clouds and turquoise sky on the rippling stream, and the flickering of sky and sun behind Spring-new oak leaves, all added a feeling of reverance and timelessness. Marriage Ceremonies were always held under the double oak – a single base and root system, but complementary trunks and crowns. It stood here, at the junction of Earth, Sky, and Water, as did Falling Leaves and Red Squirrel. Screeching Owl, their Medicine Man, stood before them, the stream to his left, the place of the rising sun behind him. Neither Falling Leaves, nor Red Squirrel were nervous, so powerful was the Presence of The Great Spirit, warmth and vibration in everyone’s chest. The very air sparkled! Silence decended upon their valley, as the words of the Ceremony were pronounced. Even the birds seemed to follow the Power that was called forth, only the stream kept moving; hearts beat to its rhythm. And so it was that they came to be joined.
Lately I have been dealing with a number of health issues that have been adding more stress (fear and uncertainty) to my life. Actually, if the truth be known, I seem to have more of these at one time than ever before in my life, and they are serious as well as numerous. Individually, I have been handling them head-on, with both courage and perseverance, and by asking for God’s help, and relying on Him to guide me through the morass of decisions and behavior changes that I’ve had to make. My health issues are a bad thing, but God is using them for good, and is helping me to rely on Him more. He doesn’t want me sick, and He never did. He loves me, and in that love, he allows me to lead my life, to make decisions, even bad ones sometimes. And no matter what, He keeps on loving me. He doesn’t do bad things to me. He doesn’t cause my health problems. He lets me live my life, and waits for me to ask for His help, or His guidance. He doesn’t just push me aside, and take over, because He is so much bigger and more powerful than me. Sometimes, He might put something in my way to keep me safe, just as a shepherd might have a fence near a steep ravine, to keep his sheep from falling, and hurting themselves. But His Power and Love are gentle, and quiet, and he waits for me to ask. You might say His love is polite, and respectful, and I believe firmly that he delights in our abilities to overcome the obstacles that we face. He is a good parent.
Friday night, just before dinner, my wife and I were working on our computers. I had barbeque chicken on the grill outside, homemade “baked” beans in the crock pot, and fresh garden string beans boiling on the stove. I had written to my son a few days ago, telling him about all my recent activities, as well as my health issues, and had just checked my email to see if he had replied, and he hadn’t. I had also written to another relative a few days before, trying to bring her up to date on what was going on in my life – both good and bad, because I am trying to develop an honest full relationship with her, not just the shallow, “how’s the weather?” type of relationship that we’ve had in the past. In other words, I am letting her get to know the “real” me. I told her about our gardening, and all the fresh veggies we were getting, the changes that we had made to become healthier, and also some of my fears and struggles that had to do with my health issues. She did email me back, but it was a reply that did not acknowledge even one thing I had told her in my letter to her. It was like she hadn’t heard a thing I said. Her letter was nothing but a litany of all the bad things happening to her in her life. Her letter reminded me of my attempts to develop even a rudimentary honest relationship with my mother. I felt disappointed by my sister’s response, and my son’s lack of response. Between you and me, my son will write back. I love him, and I am proud of him, and he almost always does the “right” thing. He has no problem “taking the high road”. But at that moment, I did feel disappointed, and a little more of the emotional “wind” got knocked out of me.I swung my chair around in our little office, to check the messages on our answering machine. Our office is in our home, and is about eight feet by twelve, so almost everything is within reach, whether it is the answering machine, the printer, the filing cabinet, or our dog Goldie, who is usually right in the middle of the floor. She has no problem being in the middle of things, or being part of our family. She knows we love her, and she loves us, and her “job” is just being herself. One of the messages on our machine was from Beaufort Hospital, asking me to please call them. I wondered (aloud, to my wife Susan) if it was their billing department wanting to ask me how I was going to pay the latest emergency room visit, or whether it had something to do with the MRI that I was scheduled to have on the following Monday. I was scared that it had to do with billing. I have no health insurance, like many folks in our community. It was 6pm, and the message was from earlier that afternoon. Susan handed me the phone and said “call them”. My fear rose (about it being about money for the emergency room visit), and I said something like “I’ll call tomorrow”. Susan continued to hand me the phone, and said much more insistently “Call them!” My response was intense anger. I said, “Why do you always make me do things that I don’t think are the best things to do?” I called the number that had been left on our machine, and, of course, got an answering machine, not a live person. My anger grew. I noticed that I was much angrier than the situation warranted, but my anger was so big, that I didn’t know much more than that, and left the room. I was feeling rage.
In the living room, I sat in a chair with a big bowl of string beans from our garden, a pot, and a pair of scissors. These beans were for the freezer. Later they’d become things from the past, to feed us in the present. My rage slowly subsided. Sadness grew along with a different feeling, more a state of being than a feeling. Something I hadn’t consciously felt for a long, long time. I felt despair. As I snipped the ends off, and cut the beans into smaller, more manageable pieces, the thought of suicide crossed my mind. I didn’t consider doing it. I didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t planning to do it. But nevertheless, here is this stray thought that passes across the screen of my awareness. I realized it was something from the past, thawing in the present, allowing me a window into what I had felt as a child. My reaction to my wife telling me what to do, triggered this reaction from the past. My anger at “being controlled” provided the fuel to “thaw” this part of my history. I had wanted to kill myself when I was a child.
As a child, my parents controlled every part of my life, and they did it out of their own fears, and insecurities. They didn’t trust the future. They didn’t trust me to become who I needed to become. They didn’t trust God, to guide me or them, or to complete his creation in me to become me. I was not allowed to be a child, to be less than perfect, and to make the numerous mistakes that we all make as children. This control was unrelenting, and it was severe. It was absolute. Even at age 18, I was told what I was going to do in my later life. What school I would go to. What I would study. There was no area in my life, where I could make my own decisions, so that I could start to learn how to live my life. That unrelenting control for so many years, filled me with despair, because my spirit wanted me to become the person I was meant to become, and to be the person I was at that moment wherever I was along that path of “becoming”. Their control taught me to never listen to my spirit, to only look outside myself, never inside. Their control tore my ability to know what I truly felt about anything out of me. A person who loses his ability to connect to his feelings, to connect to who he truly is, has only despair, a despair that is enormous, all consuming, and so lonely, that I just don’t have words to describe it. That despair had made me want to kill myself for much of my childhood. Later, even though their control was gone, the despair remained, and fueled the addictions I used to quell the despair that was left in place of the connection I should have had to everything that makes me who I am, and guides me to become who I will be. By paying attention to what I am feeling in the present, I can connect with how I was in the past. By re-experiencing the past, I have learned empathy for the kid I was, and judge myself less harshly in the present. Self acceptance brings more peace into my life. I learn to trust that my feelings will lead me into deeper and deeper healing.
I am so fortunate. Against all odds I am connected to myself and my feelings. I know who I am, and I listen for directions within myself that help me become who I will be. Sometimes they tell me stories about where I have been, and release frozen pieces of my past, in small manageable pieces, so that I can heal. God made us this way, so that no matter what people do to us when we are children, we have the ability to heal, and to get back on the path of becoming who he wants us to be. We are partners in this, and as I said before, I can imagine that he delights in our becoming who he wants us to be, and the roadmap is inside ourselves. By the way, my son did call today, and acknowledged everything I had written to him. I am so proud of him.
(first appeared in the Downeast Coastal Press on Oct. 17, 1989)
- This child is inside of me, part of me. This child demands to be heard by me, the adult, and by other adults who also have a child within themselves. This child cries out, not only for itself, but for all children. This child cries out for children who still ride bikes and use swingsets and slides, and still look at the world with wonder and magic in their eyes. This child also cries out for the internalized child within all adults. The child within, is that part of ourselves, which we were taught to deny. It is the spontaneous, creative, intuitive, adventurous, feeling, and magical part of ourselves, which seems to have no place of it’s own in the world; no place that is safe, except to remain in hiding, deep inside of us, never acknowledged, always abandoned. With the voice of this child, I will try to describe an experience that I had, here in my own town, as seen through the eyes of a “child”.
- I felt a deep sadness, almost as if it were permeating the air around me, and decided to take a walk with my youngest son. At the edge of our property, I spotted a few young children fishing with makeshift poles. Two sisters shared a pole. These two children, (ten years old, and six years old), had just been separated from their mother. Their mother had just been returned to the hospital for the “nth” time, suffering from an acute emotional distress.
- How can the world be a safe enough place for these two little ones to allow their True Selves to develop and mature? How can they avoid becoming the roles that they have to play, in order to survive in this world? I watched as the ten year old helped her little sister brush off and straighten her dress, and lead her off, hand on shoulder. They returned to a home where no one waited, as their dad was off, attending to the necessary and painful duties of the present crisis. I said a silent prayer for the ten year old surrogate mother, and her six year old surrogate daughter, lost in the confusion of a home without Mommy. Both were playing their roles. To anyone on the outside, all was well.
- A few minutes passed, and a young boy rode up on his bike. He said hello to my son, and then to myself. He got off his bike, and stared out over the river. Then he turned to me, and told me that his Mom had dropped him off at a neighbor’s. He told me, also, that the neighbor had gone and left him on his own. He was about seven years old. His voice wavered, and his forehead creased with concern, as he told me. Then, as if noticing the other children for the first time, he proceeded to tell me in a haughty voice-“It’s no big deal, I just found somebody who was home, just like before.”! I knew this wasn’t the first time he had been left alone, and probably wouldn’t be his last. His role was becoming solidified. Soon, to anyone on the outside, all would appear well. He would become the role he has to play in order to survive!
- All three of these children have been abandoned. The chances are very high that they will suffer as adults, in some way, because of abandonment trauma.
- Abandonment, (either physical, or emotional), is usually present in most dysfunctional homes. In a dysfunctional home, most family members end up playing a “role” and continue to play that role unconsciously as adults. Children can be, and are, extraordinarily creative in their coping mechanisms. Even at seven or eight, they can take on the roles of an adult, in order to fill what is missing in the family. But they do this at the cost of their childhood! They can play the roles of Little Daddy, Little Mommy, Rescuer, Scapegoat, or any number of other roles, until they become the role, losing their sense of identity in the process. All spontaneity, creativity, awe, and wonder go out the window, along with their deepest feelings and intuitions! These young children become pseudo-adults, always calculating their next move, trying to control the hostile adult world that they are saddled with. They have no time to grieve their very real losses, nor anyone to validate their fears, grief, or outrage over the loss of a safe, protected environment, in which it is safe to be a child!
- The “voice” within me, the voice of the child within me, is not a voice of authority. It is the voice of experience. It is the voice of a child who’s been there, and survived against impossible odds.
- As an adult, I could minimize the pain I endured as a child, and continue to abandon that child within me, as he was abandoned in so many ways growing up- but I will not! It is that part of me which can embrace the pain of others; that part of me which sees the world with gentle eyes, not with the eyes that are blinded by the pain of injuries never acknowledged! I embrace that child within me- that spontaneous, creative, intuitive, adventurous, magical part of myself, that experiences the world through feeling! It is that part of myself which speaks to you, now, of the plight of children around us, and within us, and it beckons, gently, to that child within you, to awaken!