"I am your moon and your moonlight too
I am your flower garden and your water too.
I have come all this way eager for you,
without shoes or shawl.
I want you to laugh, to kill all your worries, to love you, to nourish you.
Oh sweet bitterness, I will soothe you and heal you.
I will bring you roses. I too have been covered with thorns."
Many of us have deep wounds from childhood. This poem and the image of a rose was exactly what I needed this morning. Like a rose I learned to protect myself from predators with thorns. This coming Thursday I start a writing class at The Loft Literary Center. It's a class titled Healing Memoir:
"Addiction. Loss. Poverty. Trauma. Dysfunctional family. Heartbreak. Illness. Hunger. Betrayal. Secrets. Chaos. As writers we are called to create art out of the human tragedy by sharing our story and divulging the gritty details in order to impart wisdom and insight, and to inspire others toward their own healing path (to benefit others). As writers of creative nonfiction, we meet the challenge of revealing our pain and suffering in writing and facing ourselves on the written page, while simultaneously crafting that pathos into a compelling story. How do we know where to take the story once the confession is on the page? In this class we’ll discuss what distinguishes the successful healing memoir from those often referred to as "self-indulgent” or exposé. We’ll explore the differences between personal (private) healing writing and public (publishable, sharable) writing. We’ll look at the role of voice in memoir, distinguishing the voice of experience from the voice of innocence and how each fits into the memoir as a whole...."
In my last class at The Loft I wrote a piece titled 'The Rosary' ... I reflect more on the class and how I chose the word rosary in a blog posting. The somewhat finished piece touches on many of what is listed in the description above: addiction, loss, trauma/sexual abuse, heartbreak, betrayal, secrets ..... In my piece I also reference the rose:
"The rose is a perennial flower shrub of the genus Rosa. The sharp objects along a rose stem are commonly called “thorns” – they are in fact, “prickles”, outgrowths of the epidermis. Thorns, on the other hand, are modified branches and deeply embedded in the woody structure of the plant. Both prickles and thorns protect the plant from predators. Historically, the rose has been a symbol of love, beauty, war and politics. According to fossil evidence they are 35 million years old. Red roses hold the ideal of love and also represent courage. Red and white roses combined are a symbol of love and unity.
My father’s life was like a garden of roses. The cross of the rosary broke free leaving only the beads in the palm of his hand. The beads, a garden of roses. His death brought pain to those left behind. Like a rose protecting itself from predators, those of us left behind grew more prickles, more sharp objects and ways to protect our bleeding heart.
Leo was the cross that fell to the floor. Masked behind the garment and a rosary, he was supposed to be my protector. Decades later, I saw him for what he was - Judas Iscariot. I wonder if my father did too, the day he dropped the cross."
Writing for me has become an integral part of my healing. It's amazing to me how at 46 years old I continue to discover the level of pain and hurt buried deep within me from childhood hurts and trauma. I write for myself and for my own healing ... I have also learned that as I share my pieces in my writing classes that I am not alone, and that in my willingness to share my journey and my healing process that I open up the door for others in their journey. And as others share their journey with me they help me in my healing process.
Excerpts from The Courage to Heal: A Tribute (by Ellen Bass):
"... Deciding to heal was a choice. The first one
we ever clearly made. We didn't decide.
The alternatives just became too painful.
We cried every day. We only cried once
but it went on for a year. We never cried ...
... Our hearts aching in our hollowed-out chests
and down our empty arms.
We thought we would not survive.
Like stroke patients, we had to learn everything anew.
We saw how it had seeped into the corners of our lives likes smoke.
Nothing was untainted, except the tough kernel we were born with,
the seed of who we could have been, could still be.
We reclaimed our bodies, inch by precious inch.
Feeling our own skin, astonished, like touching a newborn.
We tried our trust, like experimenting with drugs.
We went back to school. We took a vacation.
We spoke the truth. We did what we wanted.
We learned to sleep. We ate when we were hungry.
We woke in the morning, willing. We wanted
to be alive. We were hungry for all we'd missed.
We took it with eager, patient, or tentative hands
but we took it. We made a cup of tea
in our own kitchen and drank it at a blue table
on which we'd set a small bouquet of daffodils."