Scars upon scars

by Elouise

Scars upon scars
cover futile attempts
to distance pain
of yet another blow
to my body, soul, dreams
or soothing denial

It’s nothing
I can take this
I don’t need to talk about it
I dealt with that long ago
Didn’t I?

And how can I help you today?
I have plenty of time.
I can proofread that if you’d like.
It’s nothing. Really. Nothing at all.
No problem. It won’t take long.
No need to apologize
for anything, really.
We all make mistakes.

Time passes
skin thickens
spine goes rigid
demeanor tentative
neutral eyes scan
from the periphery
avoid other eyes
awkward at best
antennae soar heavenward
nothing and nobody is
safe but this last remnant of
body-soul on alert
not to be lulled into

It wasn’t being born female that scarred me. It was overtime, double duty hyper-vigilance plastered layer upon layer with each attempt to control, use or fix me.

Over time petrified limbs of my body and soul cowered whether I wanted them to or not. I fell into protective behaviors that stifled every hint of unhappiness or, God forbid, revulsion. I was physically and emotionally exhausted.

Each woman is different. Internal scars from child abuse, and sexual harassment or unjust workplace practices that disadvantage women are not the same as external scars or physical challenges. Sometimes the best way to begin healing is to find a trusted friend or referral service to suggest next steps that might work for you.

I was initially helped by a twelve-step group of over 20 women meeting weekly in a church basement. It didn’t cost me anything but my pride plus $1 a week (optional) in the basket. For 5 years I showed up 2 or 3 times each week for this and other twelve-step meetings. All while I was teaching full-time at a seminary. It took me that long to realize I needed professional help. By then I was in my late 40s.

I began blogging four years ago to break silence about my childhood and teenage years. Today it’s about more than that—though dealing with my past helped free me to write as I do today.

When we women invest wisely in our emotional, spiritual and physical health, we do the most important work of our lives. We don’t deserve to carry heavy layers of scars. Some can be laid aside. Others we get to keep. They connect us to sisters and brothers, and can, from time to time, add to our beauty and wisdom.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 January 2018
Photo taken by my father, 1954/55, my youngest sister and I, Savannah, Georgia