i struggled with this one. because it felt ugly to put the two things i thought about in proximity to each other. in any case, i couldn’t think of anything better so i published it anyway.
- the innocence of how our daughter used to run to a tree at the park, cover her eyes and lean into the bark of the tree, in full view, entirely convinced she was hidden; also, how she used to call i’m over heeeeeere! when we ‘looked’ for her
- how it feels like i have this massive massive secret these days; that i am hiding this huge thing about me and my identity. that i have been dirty, violated, used. that i am hiding part of my true self, the part who now, fully believes the little one who lived it first. that i exist in this multiplicitous (is that a word?) matrix, where i am a capable professional, a mother, a wife, a friend, and at my core, a survivor of horrific gross things that were done to me when i was half the age of my daughter. in my darker moments i hate myself for keeping this secret. but i can’t risk telling it, you see. because no matter how much shame i feel for keeping her to myself, for guarding her, for keeping her tucked in, i am not bulletproof enough yet. all the #metoo and the media stories and the pain in the faces of fellow survivors still bring me to my knees, still make me tremble in awe and with grief. i am stronger than i ever thought possible but i am not strong enough, yet, to resist tearing them apart with my teeth if they were to hurt her again. we’re not ready. i’m not ready.
When I was a kid we had this ‘tree house’ that was in one of the fields where we lived. It wasn’t much of a tree house… It was on an oak tree whose roots were in a stream and that had fallen over but still grew. There were a few planks that had been nailed in creating a frame and some planks to create something resembling a floor, but that was pretty much it. Where the roots where where it had fallen over, they met with the stream and went up vertically creating a sort of vertical wall (only maybe 3 or 4 feet high) a few feet away from the bank of the steam which was parallel to it. Over the top we’d put some more wood, and created a bit of a den. A small space enclosed by tree roots and a muddy bank. Full of leaves and bugs and with a wooden roof. The trickling sound of the steam right next by.
That steam led into a large pond, and on the side further away, slightly difficult to get to, was a rope swing hanging from a tree right next to the pond. A thick branch with rope wrapped around the middle of it and tied up in the top of the tree.
I’d hide out there. Take food and drink and books and stuff to draw and id hide out. Id play and make up stories. Id swing and swing for hours, sometimes being lucky enough to watch 8 beautiful little ducklings swim by.
Nobody normally cared to notice I was missing. Id used to wait, hoping and expecting someone to come down and see where i was…never really had any luck with that.
I’d hide away in my brain. Space out, dissociate. Id hide away from the experiences happening to my body.
I once ran away and hid down in our orchard. I never ran away, but one of my brothers did it frequently at the time and got a lot of attention. He’d get picked up by the police, he’d be worried about, and asked what was going on. They never even knew I was gone. So, I never did that again, I was so ashamed.
Id create tents in my bedroom all the time for a bit. Blankets over the bedposts, my own little den. Somewhere id do homework and spend my evening and try to feel safe. Somewhere I could hide from my life.