Wildfires & Daisies

‘Was I made to stumble? Was I made to fall? Was I made for these ashes? And the beauty of it all?’

These were the words that bubbled to the surface of my mind as I was boiling the kettle for an afternoon cuppa. At the time, I had joined a grief recovery program and in the group I had found a safe place for my long suppressed tears to run free. Learning about grief and how to grieve allowed a deeply buried seed of creativity to be watered, a passion for writing rekindled, hope to be refreshed and my faith emboldened.

Knowing how to grieve and how to emotionally process loss in a healthy way, isn’t something that many of us are taught. Instead we hear phrases like, ‘time will heal or mend a broken heart.’ Sometimes we’re encouraged to get busy or to replace the loss. Those who love us may unintentionally minimise the loss or make insensitive comments that are meant to nurture hope, but instead skip over the uncomfortable pain of bearing witness to grief. Some people choose to put on a brave face and focus on appearing strong or may turn to behaviours that help numb the pain of loss.

Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss, where conflicting feelings are often present. Everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace. Grief can look different from one loss to another. For me, I carried childhood grief into my adulthood. Instead of fully processing it, feeling it and releasing it; grief became an invisible cloak that I wore. One moment its weight was light and during the next season of life, it was unbearably heavy and almost impossible to function with.

I could wrap myself in a heavy cloak of mourning and sit with the spirit of despair, but I still didn’t know how to properly grieve and let go. I wanted freedom from it, but couldn’t quite figure out how to heal and move forward. Emotionally I wasn’t able to connect to the loss that I intellectualised like a well-rehearsed news reporter. I knew my story. I could speak it. I wasn’t ashamed. I just couldn’t really feel it, and that continued to plague my life and my relationships. Like a kettle with a plug, the grief was bubbling away, waiting for the day to be seen and heard. Waiting for a safe harbour.

Grief recovery provided me with the space to sit with the feelings for long enough in the right environment, with the right people, to allow those feelings to finally surface in a healthy and natural way. Negative experiences and feelings were no longer locked away in chambers of my heart, body and mind. I wasn’t just angry or unforgiving. For most of my life I had avoided digging deeper into the depths of sadness and had used anger as a shield.

This has been my journey. But grief is apart of all of our journeys through life. No-one can escape loss. No-one can escape grief. But we can learn to embrace grief for what it is, and learn how to grieve in a healthy way.

In the midst of this journey, God was with me every step of the way (even though I didn’t always feel or recognise His hand at work). And He continues to bind and heal my broken heart. He has comforted me and provided abundantly. He bestows a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of despair.

During this time of grief recovery, through a series of interesting events, I was connected with the father of my favourite singer. I had listened to Kasey Chambers sing since I was a teenager and continued to find much comfort and joy in her music. Kasey’s voice had a way of piercing my hardened heart and connecting me to the feelings of love, loss and loneliness that I normally tried desperately to suppress, even if, just for a short while.

Kasey’s music was a safe haven, where I felt welcomed, and in the presence of warm vulnerability. I was allowed to sit with my own broken heart without fear of judgement or concern for how my grief would negatively impact others. I enjoyed Kasey’s songwriting, the relatable stories she would share and the passion that she expressed. I admired her sweet boldness and her authenticity, and still do. She sings because she has something worthy to say and the courage to wear her heart on her sleeve.

It’s been a couple of years down the road now and the intentional work of grief recovery has spilled over into new areas of my life. I now write daily and enjoy making music. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to be mentored and to co-write with Kasey’s Dad, Bill Chambers. A journey way cooler than I ever could have imagined or been bold enough to pray for. If that’s not God at work I don’t know what is.

Turning inwards and sharing outwards was my first step to removing the plug from the boiling kettle of suppressed feelings. Nervous whispers became stories to share, tears to shed and laughs along the way. There’s been pain. There’s been discomfort. There’s been joy. There’s been growth, and amazing new friendships, sweet refreshments to my soul. Words have become poetry, weaved into songs, and then to many songs.

Wildfires & Daisies is the name of the album I’ve been working on, and will be recording with Bill in January 2023. The ashes of my grief have become the lyrics to songs that Bill has helped me to bring to life with his melodies and arrangements. Bill has been a patient teacher, reviewing the good and many bad attempts at songwriting with kindness, honesty and gentle nudges.

I pray our songs will bless others on their journeys through life, love, loss and grief. And I will be forever grateful for Kasey’s influence on my work, and for the privilege to create music with the ever encouraging, talented and humble, Bill. Recording is my inner child’s daydream and an adventure that I have ahead of me. It’s something that I wish I could whisper into the ear of my teenage self, ‘God will take what the enemy meant for evil and turn it into so much good. Just hold on and trust Him.’

I used to hold the pen so tightly and attempt to write the story of my own life. Make my own plans. Find my own way. Do things in my own strength. But now I choose to hold that pen lightly and write about the life God has planned for me. I write from experience. I write to share about Him. He is a far better author and his plans are far greater than my own.

Bluebird

She sits by the window and looks out. The song, ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ pops to mind and her heart aches. That song has always haunted her. She can hear the longing in the lyrics. Deep down she senses that there truly is a place where happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow. But she has no idea where that place is or what steps to take to get there.

Growing up in domestic violence lends you to spending a lot of time in your bedroom, tucked away in the safety of solitude. It was an escape, a place to plan for a better future and to get lost in your imagination; dreaming of a life outside of what felt like a prison.

As a little girl, she felt that there was no one for her to talk to. Even friends saw only what she dared to reveal. She focused on school, sport and friendship. These things kept her steady, feet planted to the ground and gave her a sense of safety, control and security.

One afternoon, a little bluebird perched itself on her window sill. Her heart leapt but it flew off quickly. The next day she eagerly waited with a handful of seed. The bluebird returned. She scattered the seed and the bluebird tentatively pecked. Each day the bluebird would linger longer and longer, until it sat happily listening to the little girl whisper the secrets of her heart. She shared her troubled mind and layed down her burdens.

To speak up and to share the stories of her household would cause significant pain to everyone involved. It could shatter her family into pieces. Where would everyone live? Would everyone be safe? Where would I go? She wondered. She sat thinking about what adult she could speak to. Maybe a teacher? But then, what would happen? So many unknowns for her young mind to wrestle with. She felt helpless and powerless, and she longed to protect everyone, who she loved dearly. She wanted desperately to stay together but without him in the picture.

She could speak to family but they all lived so far away. And when family did visit, they witnessed the outbursts yet said and did nothing (that she was aware of). Even when visiting family herself, there were times she would crawl up and cry in a fetal position; family would see but still nothing would change. She wrote down her own will and then was in trouble for thinking such dark thoughts. Even Police would visit regularly and nothing would change. No adult seemed to be able to peer through the windows and see what was going on. No adult seemed willing to step into the mess.

Domestic violence is so loud on the inside of a home but deafening in its silence on the outside of the home. Generations have been affected and are often unsure of what to do with the information. I’ve grown up in a large family with the motto, “We don’t talk about that”. “Let the past be the past”. “Chin up, move on, it happened to me too”.

I see the hidden damages. The loss of confidence. The loss of trust. The struggles with healthy boundaries. Relationship dysfunction. Addiction. Mental health issues. The silence costs a lot. And the damages live on; many, many years into the future. Childhoods robbed and dreams squashed. A silent killer of joy and faith.

One day the little bluebird stopped visiting the little girl. She cried. Who would she talk to now? So she started to write. Poems, songs and stories. Along her bumpy journey through life, she discovered that there is indeed a place where skies are blue, where clouds are far behind and where worries melt like lemon drops. The loss of the bluebird brought her to her knees, pleading to know the maker and the dweller of this place over the rainbows. He answered and He whispered, “I will give you a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61 NIV).

Darkness can only heal when it’s brought into the light. I speak out not as a victim but as a person who takes responsibility for what happened, my part in it, my silence and I seek peace and healing for all those involved. That extends to the perpetrator who used his own brokenness as a weapon, rather than seeking the help he desperately needed. My desire is for genuine peace, where truth is spoken in the pursuit of understanding, compassion and forgiveness.

Please don’t remain silent if you are aware of domestic violence. The consequences are far reaching. My silence not only cost me but also cost others a lot, and still has deep impacts to this very day.

Nothing Is Ever Good Enough

“You’ve shown high scores for self sacrifice, emotional deprivation, unrelenting standards/perfectionism and a fear of losing control”. I stare back blankly. “That’s a solid effort,” I laugh. “Is that why I’m depressed or is it the whole chemical imbalance thing? What came first – the chicken or the egg?”

We spend the next few sessions exploring these areas but I purposely avoid some topics. The idea of lowering my personal standards makes me want to vomit. All of my rules. All of my methods to organise and maintain control. I love bringing order to chaos. I love my diary and you guessed it, stationary. I love the unrealistic goals that I set in order to then fail, and then beat myself up about. Press repeat. Again and again and again. Let’s not go there. Not yet.

I’m 14 and it’s the last day of year 10. It’s time to receive our report cards. I’ve tried really hard. I’ve studied. I’ve chatted to my teachers to keep on track. I made sure all of my assignments had drafts, and were handed in on time. I did everything I could. It takes me a while to understand and process things; so I know that I need to work harder and I have done just that.

With my classmates, we all sit, waiting. I’m nervous, almost holding my breath and can barely focus on the chatter around me. My report card is handed to me. I look down and I see.

Maths – A

English – A

Science – A

Health & Physical Education – A

History – A

Business Communication Technology – A

Drama – A

Film & Television – A 

My heart is pounding. I’m excited and I sit quietly staring at the page of As. Maybe this will be something to celebrate. And then my eyes catch the bottom of the page. Absent days – 10. Yikes! I don’t think I’ve actually missed a day. Have I?

My heart sank in that moment. I hadn’t missed any days. School was my sanctuary but I wasn’t allowed a lift to school. I had to walk. We didn’t have enough seats in our car and I was the oldest. Most mornings, I would get the kids up. I loved singing to them “It’s time to get up. It’s time to get ready. Ya gotta go to school today. You’re round and you’re fuzzy. I love it because it’s a school day. A school day” (Insert Winnie the Pooh melody). 

Despite my merry tune, the kids hate it. And despite my cheerful attempt to start the day, it usually takes a turn pretty quickly. Mum is up making lunches. He’s also up. He usually takes longer to come out but then he begins. Right on time. Name calling. Stirring. Teasing. Things get louder. More name calling. Anger building and building, and yep, here we go again. Tears, cries, smash, yelling. More yelling. Alright, here I go. I yell back. Everyone is crying. I’m going to be late again. I can’t leave the house with all of this going on. I’m too embarrassed to step out our front door. Eventually it calms down. Eventually I can slip out and walk to school.

I walk everywhere. Walk to and from school. Walk to and from work. I walk to and from my friend’s houses. My Dad sends me a bike. I start to ride everywhere. At some point, he hocks my bike. So I walk again. I usually rock up to school just on time or 10-15 minutes late. I always go straight to class. I’m too ashamed to go to the office to sign in and I don’t want to answer any questions. I might cry. I usually miss only the home class but I’ve been marked as absent anyway. That’s why I have 10 absent days. My friends on either side of me congratulate me for my efforts. It feels good but they don’t notice the 10 absent days. Maybe they won’t either? I doubt it.

Home time. I walk in proudly with my report card. Initially there’s some nice words but very quickly it turns ugly. “Who will ever employ you?” “You won’t get a job with 10 sick days”. “Your As mean nothing in a workplace if you don’t show up”. He knows I go to school. I don’t understand. And he continues to rave on like a lunatic. I take one last look at my report card, the marks that I worked for. In anger, I scrunch the paper into a ball and throw it at him. I cry. I go to my room, like I often do and I sit. I daydream. I write. I read. I keep my distance.

Nothing I do is ever good enough. I did the best I could and I still failed. What’s the point in trying? I can’t ever please him. Why do I even care? Maybe next year I’ll do better. Maybe next year we can celebrate. Maybe next year I will be perfect and worthy of praise.

I wasn’t raised by my father. I was raised by someone who I now have no contact with. He also didn’t allow my Mum the space to raise me, as she wished. He didn’t allow my Dad access either. He, in many ways, stole my childhood and wrecked havoc in my relationships. He was in control. I, alongside my family members, were his prisoners. Unfortunately, he shaped much of how I viewed God as a child and then as an adult.

Looking back I can see why it took me so many years to believe in a good and loving Father God. I am still learning that I don’t need to earn God’s love. I don’t need to come to Him perfect and in order. I can come as I am. I don’t need to be good enough to receive his affection. God sees me through the filter of Jesus, in his Holy perfection and because of His sacrifice. This man wasn’t a reflection of God. He chose to again and again reflect the cold, hard heart of the one who slithered into the garden that was not his own; to disturb and destroy the lives of God’s children.

Still, he isn’t my enemy. He was merely a broken vessel that the enemy worked through to break my spirit. Oh, how lost and cruel we can become when we choose to walk in darkness with our own moral compass and brokenness. I pray that one day this man seeks redemption and falls into the loving arms of his Savior. Somewhere in him is a very hurt little boy who grew up and hurt others. I have a son now and every little boy deserves love and kindness. To feel as if he matters and is worthy of love. May God bless his soul.

Unwise Words Became My Weapons

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” Psalm 19:14 ESV.

8 years of silence. 8 years of shame. 8 years of hatred building in the core of my heart. When will I escape this horrible man? Soon. I just need to hold on for a little bit longer. I’m graduating today. I’m wearing topaz blue. It’s my birthstone colour. I think I’ll look nice. I have a small tiara for my hair. My name means princess, so maybe today I can feel like one.

It’s time to get my hair done. The appointment is booked for the hairdresser down the road. Mum can’t drive the car but we can walk together and she can help me decide what to do with my hair. The answer is no. She’s not allowed to leave and spend time with me. Fine, I’ll go on my own. I can do this.

I’m back. I’ve got my hair done. My dress is hanging up. Mum and Grandma have gifted me with dainty silver and blue accessories. I look at them, lying next to each other, excited to wear them tonight.

Time for Mum to do my make up. We sit at the kitchen table, hopeful but fear reflecting back at each other. Pay no attention to him. Don’t let him spoil this moment too. He’s hovering. He hates Mum paying me attention. Just stay quiet. Ignore him.

Spit bubbles at the corner of his mouth. He’s pacing. He’s angry. What the hell happened to this man to make him this mean? The words, here they come. “Look at you. And that big nose of yours. Your flat, boring hair. You’re fat. You’re the town bike”. Don’t fight back this time Sara. Just keep your mouth shut. For once, keep quiet. Mum is focusing on me and blocking him out too. We’re playing quiet mouse. Say nothing just gently proceed. Gentle, gentle. His filthy words aiming at my heart. I won’t let you penetrate this heart. It’s hard and angry and full of hatred for you.

But I really want to have a nice night and look pretty for once. This is hard. Please just stop. Look at Mum. Focus there. I love Mum looking at my face. She’s telling me about the make up and what would suit me. She picks blue for my eyes. She’s so good with her hands. She can draw, sew, cook and everything she touches becomes beautiful. Maybe it’ll be my turn to be beautiful.

He loves to call me fat. That one always stings. I don’t think my nose is that big and my hair is okay. “You have small eyes”. Yeah, yeah, all the better for not seeing your big ugly head. I can do this. There he goes with the town bike again. Man that one annoys me. I’m a virgin. I hate how he calls me that, especially after what he did. Don’t think about it Sara. Keep that locked away. Don’t think. Just look at Mum. Gentle mouse.

“The day you have sex and walk through the door, I will know” pops to my mind. Just one of the things he likes to regularly say to me. I don’t want to have sex. I definitely don’t want you thinking of me having sex and then yelling at me for it. I don’t belong to you. You’ve stolen so much. Don’t think about it Sara! Just stay quiet and don’t think.

For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).

I try to block his words out. They’re escalating. Why does Mum put up with him? In the background, there’s my 5 beautiful siblings floating about as if nothing unusual is happening. That’s why. If I opened my mouth earlier, I wouldn’t have them and they are the best. They are worth it. I love having so many siblings. I can endure him and his words for them. Poor darlings are probably relieved it’s my turn again. It seems to be my turn all of the time. I fight a lot. I step in. I help to blow the house up so that it can calm back down again. No-one there to defend me. That’s my job.

Thoughts start to rush again as Mum continues with my make up. I hate this man. I’ve seen his violence towards others. I’ve seen his cruelty. I’ve witnessed him laugh with glee, as he has spiritually, emotionally and physically crushed those vulnerable and in his care. He destroys property, especially items that are deeply valued. I’ve stood in to fight him physically. That’s been happening more and more lately. My 56kg frame against his 100kg. But I have since learnt that it’s my words that are my most effective weapon against him.

I look down at my baby sister. She is the youngest and so precious. At least I can keep her safe. I keep her on my hip, nice and close. I love her fiercely. I suck at being a sister to my other sisters but this time I won’t fail. I’ll protect her. Memories and thoughts flooding into my mind. I’m trying to block him out. He’s not making it easy.

Damn it. I’m crying. Mum can fix it. Just a few tears escaped. No more tears Sara. Fight back. “I don’t want you coming tonight Johnny”. “You’re not welcome”. It escalates. I look at Mum and plead for him not to come. Our family are visiting and he has to come. If only they knew. He seems to be backing down. He has to put on a show tonight. Good, he is leaving me alone now.

It’s almost time to leave. Mum takes some photos. My lift will be here soon to pick me up and then I can forget about all of this. I’m graduating. I’ve got great friends. I need to do a speech tonight. School Captain, what a joke. Hardly a captain of anything. My friends and I are singing tonight. That’ll be fun. I can’t wait to see them. The house is calming down. It’s time for me to leave.

Before I leave, I turn to look at him, “I don’t want you to come tonight Johnny and if you’re there, please remember you are not welcome. Sit there if you must but remember that I hate you and always will”. Words are my weapons and I am sharpening them. I know how to strike his heart now. It’s taken years of unwise training.

A wise man’s heart guides his mouth (Proverbs 16:23).

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV.

(Names have been changed. These words contain my account of events and may not reflect each individual’s account of events. I have written from my heart, my memories and my understanding of what I believe to be true. My words are no longer intentionally used as weapons. My intention is to heal, share my life story, to raise awareness, to be a voice for others and to honour my faith in Jesus).

I Was Nine

Today, I am 36 and I planted daisies at my front door. They’re sitting proudly in a bright, teal green pot with gold trimming. I was going to pick white daisies but spotted a mixture of yellow, pink and white. I couldn’t resist the fun splash of colour. They made me smile. To me, a daisy reminds me of innocence and purity. The simple bright petals stand boldly and don’t seem to mind that someone may think they’re rather plain. Other flowers seem more grown up and glamorous. The daisy is simple, sweet and pure. It inspires hope in my heart. I also love the way the petals close at night and then open up to the sun.

I was nine. I remember floating about the home without too many cares or worries. Spinning, singing and twirling about. Mum and Dad weren’t together anymore but they never really were together, in my memories anyway. Dad wasn’t at home with us but that wasn’t that strange. He was barely at home before. He liked to work. Mum seemed happier and a new baby brother was on his way. I was excited.

I didn’t overly like having another man in our home but I had much bigger fish to fry. To be honest, I didn’t take much notice of him. I had more wonderful and important things on my mind. I was busy dreaming, doing and playing. One day I might sing. One day I might teach. Hmmmm… maybe I will be an actor. Maybe I’ll write a story. Maybe I’ll write lots of stories. Maybe I’ll write songs. That would be amazing! Imagine if I sang my own songs? What would my album be called? I wonder.

I also loved playing Barbies. I would play with my sisters and dream about adult things. One day I would be all grown up, do the things I like, go where I please, have lots of friends, meet my husband and build a home of my own. One day I would even have my own babies. I was nine.

I spent the early parts of my day at school. I loved school. I was good at it. I enjoyed learning and memorising. I had just moved to a new school, in a new town and I was doing okay. I made a friend on my very first day and she lived just around the corner. How lucky was I! She invited me to stay for a night during the school holidays and I ended up staying lots of nights. Her Mum and Dad liked me. They made me pancakes with lemon and sugar. They were delicious. My friend’s name was Zoe and she liked me too, so I got to stay lots and I loved being in her home. Zoe was my best friend and we were busy little dreamers.

Back at my house, my afternoons were for rollerblading, shooting hoops, jumping into our pool, dancing, playing games with our neighbours, patting their pet mice, making cubby houses, finding hiding spots and organising concerts and shows. That’s what I loved most. Putting on a good show. I enjoyed the costumes. I loved to sing and dance. I liked stepping into character. I was nine.

Little did I know that this little girl would become a stranger to herself. A stranger to me. With a handful of crushed daisies, she was about to race into a chamber of her own heart, close and lock the door. She would swallow the key. She would become silent and her silence was where shame took root. That’s when an older and wiser version of herself had to step up and take over. She would stay on guard. She would never fail. She would keep everyone safe. She would never be that stupid again.

“Sara, Johnny is calling you”. My Mum was in the kitchen. It was a weekend. My weekend mornings were normally spent watching Rage and playing tennis. I was busy being; being present, being engaged and exploring my environment. I was busy having fun. “What does he want?” I thought. Better listen to Mum. Off I go.

He wanted me to jump into bed with him. Well, that’s strange. I don’t even hug or kiss this man. He’s not my Dad. I don’t really like being close to him. I prefer not to even think about him to be honest. In my mind, he’s like a weird intruder that Mum must love, I think. I guess I don’t mind him living with us. He’s not really a bother but he’s not my Dad. I would prefer my Dad to live here. Why does he want me to get into bed with him?

I used to jump into bed with Dad. Now that was fun. He’d tell me stories. I’d tell him stories. My sisters would be there too. We would all laugh and cuddle. I remember the belly and back tickles. They were the best. “Dad, I want you to tickle my belly until I fall asleep and when I wake up, you better still be tickling” is what I’d say. The only downside, my Dad would fart and then trap us under the doona. That was gross but it was funny too. My Dad always laughed the loudest when farts were involved. Dad’s are fun. I miss my Dad.

I climbed under the doona not knowing what to expect. I was lying there very still. I wonder why Mum sent me in here? This feels weird and strange. I can smell alcohol and smoke. This is where it gets blurry. I don’t remember talking but he started to tickle me. Hmmm…okay, maybe he’s trying to be my Dad. I don’t like this. It doesn’t feel good. I miss my Dad. Why is he tickling my chest? That feels strange. No one tickles me there. I don’t think he should touch me there. Why is he touching my underwear? I’m stuck. I can’t breathe. I’m scared. What is he doing? This isn’t right. Why did Mum send me in here? Why is he touching me there? No one touches me there.

I remember the sensation of my Dad tickling my belly. It was soft and gentle. It made me sleepy. I loved snuggling into Dad and I loved the fun stories. I was never scared. I was never stuck. I don’t even remember thinking that much. I just enjoyed being next to my Dad. I loved him. Now here I was and I could barely feel a thing. Every part of me had raced into my head and was screaming at me. His gross fingers creeped under my underwear and began to touch. “Run. Get out. Don’t stay. Move Sara. Now!”. Finally the screaming in my head called me to action and I leapt out of bed. I don’t remember any talking. There weren’t any stories. It was like being in a prison. Little did I know that those few moments would create a prison in my own mind and declare me a foreigner in my own body.

I got out of the bedroom. I didn’t speak a word. I didn’t look back. I walked to my sister’s room next door. My sisters were playing Barbies. I sat down to play too but it wasn’t fun this time. Cross legged in my big, baggy t-shirt and knickers. I was very angry and sad. I felt myself slipping to somewhere else. My mind was racing off and then it just disappeared. I was numb, like a zombie. Sitting, going through the motions, I don’t remember talking. Barbie in hand but no story, no words and no smiles. I wasn’t dreaming anymore. I was nine. My sister’s felt safe. I love my sisters. I’ll just stay here with them and that’s all I can remember of that day.

🌸 Little girl, little girl, it’s okay to weep

I know the secrets that you keep

Give me the petals that you hold

And in my hands, they will become as precious as gold

Blessed are those who mourn

For they shall be comforted

Not a single tear unseen or ever wasted

What was taken will never be lost, when you lay it down, before my cross 🌸

(Names have been changed. Charges were never made but events were reported to Police when I was 17. My account of the story was denied entirely by ‘Johnny’ who contacted my Dad and advised him of his perceptions of my character. ‘Johnny’ advised my Dad that I was a liar and manipulative, and encouraged my Dad to be cautious around me. My Dad believes my account of events. Months later ‘Johnny’ wrote a letter addressed to me, filled with lovely words and a request for ongoing contact. I never responded.)

The Poet Was Born

A little girl stumbled across a beautiful tree. She had been walking in the heat of the day. The sea of leaves offered her shade. An invitation and a place to hideaway from the sun. No one knew where she was and she kind of liked it that way.

She began to climb. She enjoyed the labour of it. Stretching and reaching. Holding on and bracing. Careful. Step by step. It was fun. It made her smile, even though she was breathing harder and slowly tiring. Eventually, it was time to stop. Time to rest. 

As she looked out into the fields, she saw colour. She saw life. Her imagination skipped along. Memories of good times and sad times too. People she loved. People she had lost. Love dipping, dancing and twirling within her mind and heart.

Suddenly a stranger came along. He began to shake the tree. “How dare you climb this tree”, he spat. “This tree belongs to me”, he lied. “You should do as I say and get down from there”. He dragged her down by her feet and she was put where he believed she belonged; under his nose, under his toes and beneath the weight of his guilt and shame. And this is where she remained. Until another day.

From the cage he had built with the wicked words of his dark, wounded and decrepit heart; she could just see the outline of her faithful tree. And she still had hope. It was a glimmer. It was enough. She waited and waited. One day, she planned her escape and when the time was right, she ran like the wind. Never looking back.

There the tree stood. Not nearly as grand as she recalled. It had withered. The ground was dry. The leaves offered no shade. The branches could no longer hold her weight. So she sat. It was quiet. She was alone. It was pleasant for a moment, until his words began to circle in her mind like the beasts they were but now they were hers to tame. 

She walked away from the tree. She walked away from the memories. She looked ahead. On a peaceful day she decided to garden. She liked the way the soil felt underneath her fingernails, the smell of the earth as she dug and the sound of the water as she sprayed the land. She planted seeds and prayed for them to grow. Flowers of every colour. Fruit of every kind. She invited the birds to visit and they did. It was homely. The flicker of hope became a flame. She started to believe. She started to sing.

Another soul, on his own journey, stopped to visit her garden. Unannounced but somewhat expected. He trampled on the flowers and criticised how the fruit tasted. He sat with no sweat upon his brow. He spoke so fast that his words barely reached his own ears. His tongue flicked like a snake, as he inspected the environment that he cursed with his words. She was no gardener. She belonged elsewhere. And quicker than a flash, he stormed away. 

She sat in the tear stained dirt. She reviewed the damage. Her heart had endured this before but beneath her were now seeds. Surrounding her was still colour; scattered in fallen and crushed petals. There was beauty within the mess, softness in what had been broken and the sweet fragrance of hope was still present. Birdsong filled the air. Melodies swirled and whirled in her mind and they lifted her spirit, as she dug her fingers into the soil and prayed for the courage to labour in her beloved garden again.