She moved silently through life. Never questioning, never speaking up, even throughout the pain, she always obeyed.
Obeyed those that hurt her.
Those that wore a mask of love that hid a vile monster beneath. In her mind, she would always hear their disappointed voices that quickly became rage. So, she stayed silent.
It was easier this way, she’d tell herself daily pretending to believe it.
At night she’d lay staring at the ceiling, holding her breath, listening, waiting. Waiting to see if she’d be called upon again, waiting to hear footsteps to her room. Nothing.
She was free in those moments.
She would turn music on low and ever so gently move across the tattered carpet of her room, dancing with everything she was. Tightly closing her eyes holding back the salty tears that threatened to flow.
She would never let them flow.
Imagining she was being held in a loving embrace, wrapped in arms that never hurt her, arms that accepted her.
She’d hold onto that moments with a strength she didn’t know she had, refusing to let them go, afraid to let them go.
Then a familiar voice calling her name would bring her crashing back to her heart sickening reality. He was younger than her, innocent and weak and he needed her.
She wasn’t his mother but raised him the best a sibling six years his elder could, yet still a child herself.
She’d warm his milk, lay beside him and tell him stories, stories of a life without the chaos they knew all too well, a dream life, until his eyes drifted him to a better place.
Taking one last listen to the quiet house before her, only then could she actually breathe, allow her body to relax.
Collapsing in bed with an exhaustion so great it took her over instantly, only to wake and do it all again come sunrise.
Survival, that was her mindset.
Survive one day at a time. One pain at a time. Only allowing herself those small escapes to dance alone in her room with a quiet fierceness that came from somewhere deep inside her. A place she yet understood.
It wasn’t until she sat freshly bruised on that God forsaken bedroom floor, completely broken inside, unable to dance anymore that the tears came and they came with such a force she couldn’t contain them.
They screamed down her face with a cry that took her breath away.
It was in that moment she realized that those tears weren’t weakness like she had been so violently conditioned to believe, they were strength.
They cleansed all the pain she had endured, washed over the scars past and present with love, a love she didn’t know she had, a love she didn’t know existed. They told her of the power she held, a power she had all along.
It was those tears, the ones she held back her entire childhood that gave her the strength to speak, stand up tall, be seen, to no longer be afraid. To not just dream of a different life but to go and live it.
It wasn’t until years later that she understood the loving embrace she believed to be imaginary, the one she held onto so tightly dancing with silently across that tattered floor. She understood it was her along. The love within herself.
The woman she had yet to become was embracing her, wrapping her in love, giving her strength to survive, softly whispering “we will be ok” as they danced together as one.
Even now as grey hairs slowly start to leave silvery kisses across my head I still think of that scared little girl, the one who felt broken, worthless, weak and sometimes the emotion is too much and the tears start to swell.
I let them flow freely now, cleansing my soul as they gently kiss my cheeks giving me strength. I wrap my arms around myself in a loving embrace and softly whisper “we’re ok now” and then I dance with her with a love so fierce, a love I had all along.
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