I want to write. I want so intensely to write.
Actually I want to live my life. My own life. I’ve never had the chance to do that before. I’m — dare I admit it — very much into middle age, and this is the first time I’ve been able to claim my own life, even my own personhood.*
I want to return to making things. I’m a potter; I work at the level of a professional craftsperson though I was forced to avoid selling my work for many years.
I design clay bodies for various uses. I design glaze recipes. I’m experienced in working on a potter’s wheel, but my great love has been discovering the ancient traditional hand-building techniques of the Americas.
There are other things. I want to bake bread again. I want to return to my work with fiber, my spinning and knitting projects. I want to create.
I love to use the ancient crafts because through them I feel, and have always felt, that I share a human identity across the ages. For someone who was deliberately kept isolated and made a social outcast, such a sense of human connection has been unutterably precious.
Right now I can’t even begin to return to all these loves. A little bit of writing, just a little bit, not every day, though I am slowly building up the frequency… I can write on my phone while sitting, resting…
It’s all about resting and recovery right now.
It’s all about resting and recovery right now. What else can be done when one is free for the very first time in their life? When the daily mental processing may include anything from memories of early childhood to admissions of how narrow the escape was.
For the first time I can admit how horrifying my mother’s touch was to me as a tiny child; even when not actually painful, there was hostility in the very feel of her hands. They were (and still are) hard yet clinging, manipulative hands. As for the narrow escape, I realize time and again, each time a little more deeply, that if things had gone just a little differently, our mother might finally have directly attempted to kill either my sister or myself, or both of us.
It’s too much to process all at once, even with a lot of help from our therapist. She tells us we are progressing at warp speed, and I don’t doubt she is right. But even as everything gradually shakes loose, after all the years of being pent up for safety’s sake, there is no full sense of rest or release. There is always the next thing. And there is still always the pain.
And now there is also intense fatigue, whether because of the huge effort it is taking to process and make a full escape mentally, or because so much effort was expended simply getting away from a woman who planned to keep us under her control and outlive us at the last. Or because we were in flight or fight mode so continuously through our lives that there really isn’t anything left to go on with… Probably each of the three, to one extent or another.
I dream of the days when I can finally wake up free of pain, physical and mental. When I can do all the things I’ve dreamed of doing in my daily life. Many of them I have worked toward; I already have some grasp on the doing of them, but I could never before fill my life with them. I could not by any means build a life on my own terms under those hateful eyes.
I had so looked forward to everything I would do once I could live my own life. And now I have spent nine months on my own, and the dreamed-of days seem as elusive as ever. In my mind I know it is only a matter of time, but my heart is heavy with the wait.
It is like a gradual recovery from illness or injury, the kind where the healing process is just as painful as the original problem.
Someday I will be sitting in the sunshine, writing
But I am healing. Someday, perhaps soon, I will have my hands in clay again, feel that responding pressure as I swipe a wet finger up its smooth side. I will be able to return to my beautiful wools with their rich warmth and colors.
And that long, epic novel that I always wanted to write? Someday I will be sitting in the sunshine, typing away on it. I only dare to promise this to myself in a whisper. So many dreams have been postponed for so many years. But I have not lost those visions. And now I am free. They will come.
As soon as I can heal enough, I hope that life will be mine for the making.
Please pardon this long, highly personal statement. I needed to make it, let it unwind from deep inside my soul; but I hope perhaps it can touch others who have struggled or are struggling. The most wonderful thing I have gained in all this time is connection. The days of isolation are over.
Each of us has the right to build our own lives, and through that to make a better world. For so long I simply adapted to the demands placed on me, which demands were that I should not have my own life or even my own identity. I could not safely have done otherwise than adapt, so I am not apologizing much, not to myself nor to anyone else. But it is through each individual revealing the beauties of their own worlds that we build the future.
I am looking forward to building. And to being part of what others are building.
But it is through each individual revealing the beauties of their own worlds that we build the future.
*For those who know little about my background, I recently escaped with my sister from a lifelong abusive relationship with our mother. She used many different techniques on us, including brainwashing and gaslighting, as well as various other forms of psychological, physical and financial abuse, to keep us under her direct control. We are recovering, but it is proving a long and difficult process.