Sometimes it feels impossible to write with a two year old. Or, possibly, what I have to write at the end of that rope is unthinkable to admit.
Earlier today, enforcing a nap, I sat on the captive couch listening to gutteral screams, pleas, the thud of flung toys, and sad whimpers. For an hour. I know what you could be thinking, but I have tried so many alternative solutions to the nap dilemma that, finally, I allow her anger and frustration.
But those screams, in moments of fatigue, haunt me. The way the intonations resound through a small, feathered lung span – I am sent back viscerally to sensations that I hoped never to revisit.
I have not spoken to another mother about the way past traumas are revealed through the voices and gestures of our children. I anticipated the need for diligence, to keep an eye on the blueprint of trauma in my own body as I stepped into motherhood. But I couldn’t know how fast and how deeply the hooks would sink. Cell to cell, faster than any technology I know.
Not so hard to sit in therapy for years and talk it all out. Sexual assault - I have cried a river of tears. Wrath from a beautifully negligent, alcoholic mother – I thought I followed that root to the core. But now there is another River that came from my body, birthed in the rich ash of that phoenix-fire.
She shows me things I cannot bear.
Now she sleeps for the night and I crawl to the page, my foxhole. In the left corner of mind, I run across my old back yard in the dark. Drop to my knees at the edge, where grass ends and bushes hide a cave that housed the undoing of my girlhood. I take cloth from my pocket and unfold four corners one by one, north south east west for the prayer and pledge to return for the part of me that was left here. I take the dirt from a sweat lodge in California, cup it in hand, and disperse it to the night wind to sift across this unholy bed. With soft fingers I reach into the middle and dig. I scrape dirt until breakthrough, penetrating earth until I reach a twenty-year accumulation point, and gather a moist handful for my piece of silk.
I go to the field down the block, wade through overgrown weeds, close my eyes so that my feet can find that desecrated place. I drop, I sift, I reach and dig and gather, then move quickly across concrete and remember how tar bubbles burned my feet. Like this, around the neighborhood, I reclaim lost ground.
I am thirty calling to myself at eight and nine and ten. Down the hills, between houses, along the paths, I stop to greet the trees that watched me grow. Forehead to bark, arms wrapped, thanks and offerings for their Boddhichitta. True to life, they give back what they held for years: pictures of a girl, wind blown hair, sap on the face. Running laughter. Together we take back what was taken away.
A Muslim friend prays five times a day. Twenty times five, I take back what was taken away. And now, I am the one who takes from myself….I even take from daughter, until I halt in the dirt of a footstep, grit my teeth and fight the ghostly habit.
I am the girl with lost files, the raging addict, the wounded predator. And I am two, just beginning, crying out for my mama….I don’t want to go to sleep.
A spider, each leg poised upon the end of a web strand. Eight directions and dimensions. How to weave a different pattern, considering all that attaches to each element from behind? How to extend to open space where I have never been?
How did I know, forsaken so totally, the truth of Love? Therein lies beauty. Therein, faith. Still so forsaken in heart. Still in love with the hope of Love.