When I write about the different trials and tribulations in my life, I have to wait until I get a feeling about what I should write. Once the feeling comes, then the thoughts start to take on a meaning for me in so far as what to say to you, my readers. I know that not every reader will have gone through the same things that I have gone through, but there is always a chance that some of my readers will have gone through something similar. It is this reasoning that makes it possible for me to write about the things that I have been through and the things that I have to go through even today. Then again, even if no one has gone through anything even near what I have gone through, you will be able to see that it it possible to go through really hard things and come out victorious on the other side. You may even realize that just maybe whatever you are going through isn’t as bad as you first thought it was to begin with. In other words, like I have always heard people say, “Just look around and you can always see someone going through something even worse than what you are going through, or in worse shape than what you are in.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that what I have been through is worse than what you are going through. I am saying that just maybe it is, and that by reading about me, you will be able to get the strength necessary to get through whatever it is that you are going through. At least this is my prayer. I pray that my readers can draw strength from reading how I was able to get through my hard times.
This post is about how I got through the hardest part of my therapy when all of the memories of my abuse were coming back with a vengeance on an almost daily basis. Once the volcano erupted, I thought the lava would never stop flowing. It seemed like there was nothing that I could do that didn’t remind me of some abuse or another that I went through. I would see something on television that would remind me of abuse from some of the neighborhood men. Maybe the next day I would hear people talking about a little girl that was hospitalized from a beating from her father and it would remind me of the beatings that my first step-father used to give me.
As if the memories weren’t bad enough, my therapist would assign me different things to read or shows to watch to make the memories come back. He knew that if I did not process the memories and how they made me feel that I would never be able to get better. It seemed like I was on a never ending roller coaster. The memories would even come back in my dreams as nightmares. It seemed that no sooner would I start feeling better about what I had been through and what had happened to me than more and even worse memories would come back. During this time, I wrote many, many poems. My writing the poems seemed to help me tremendously with getting my feelings out. Every poem that I wrote, I would let my therapist read. Before too long, he would even assign me topics to write poems about.
During the time in between my therapy sessions, I wrote many poems on topics that he assigned me. He wanted to make sure that I got in touch with all of the topics necessary to deal with the main types of memories that abused patients would go through. For a period of about two years, I was in the mental hospital every two or three months for ten days to two weeks at a time. During my hospital stays, my therapist would assign me one or two topics to write poems on everyday. We would go over them the next day when he would come for my sessions.
The poem that follows was written during this initial hard time of memories flooding back. When reading the poem, some people have thought that I was talking about Jesus in the poem. I have reread it several times and I can see where that is possible. But at the time that I wrote the poem, I was talking about my therapist. When all the memories came flooding back, I felt like I was too dirty, because of all of the things that had happened to me, for God or Jesus to care about me at all, let alone for them to love me. During that time, I did do a lot of praying, but I felt like I was too bad for them to even be heard, let alone to be answered. Of course I know that if it weren’t for God and Jesus, that I never would have made it through everything that I went through. When you read the poem, if you want to substitute God or Jesus for the places where I am talking about the person, it is fine with me. I guess that at that time, in a way, I felt like my therapist was my savior since I was too bad for God or Jesus to love me or forgive me for what had happened. This is a common feeling for people that have been so severely abused as I was, especially when the abusers tell their victims that it is because they (the child) are so bad that what is happening to them has to happen and for them not to tell. I hope the poem is helpful for you when you read it.
A TUB AT SEA
My life is like being in a tub at sea,
And there”s no one around as far as the eye can see.
All of a sudden, from nowhere there appears some big boats,
But me in my tub so small, they don’t even see me afloat.
The little tub rocks with every wave,
As I hope and pray that I’ll be saved.
Then I see land, like a beautiful picture so large,
But my excitement leaves me, when I realize it was only a mirage.
So when the next time I see a little boat,
I try not to build up too much hope.
But he sees me out there, giving it my best,
Like when students take a very hard test.
He sees that I’m starting to take on water fast,
And he knows I’ve got to start bailing it out, if I’m going to last.
I look in his direction, at his outstretched hand,
And there I see he’s holding a little pan.
I take it and turn, but he says,”wait, there’s more.”
So once again I look, and he’s holding out some oars.
I am very surprised and don’t quite know what to do.
This is all too good, it can’t really be true.
Then he tells me there’s nothing that I can do or say,
That will ever make him turn and go away.
So I bail out the water and i pick up the oars,
But before he can tell me how to use them, the water has come in more.
But he is very patient, as again I bail the water out.
He doesn’t put me down, or get angry and shout.
He just silently sits there until I’m through,
And says he’d help if he could, but it’s all what I myself have to do.
So once again I’m finished and I’m ready for my class,
And once again I start taking on water fast.
But this water isn’t coming from an outside force,
it’s coming from the bottom, inside, with a tremendous force.
It seems as fast as I can bail it out, it comes gushing right back in,
And the little boat stays, with him saying, “Don’t lose hope. Someday you will win.”
I keep trying to tell him, that doing all this work, to keep my little tub a float,
Is taking all my strength and there’s nothing left with which to hope.
But he just continues to stay there, right by my side,
To help me to come through all the waves, no matter how high.
May 3, 1989