...The land of suffering feels like a land that blessing has never touched
Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong. John O’Donohue.
The past and present walk hand-in-hand with us into our future and, with them, our shadows. Marcella Jayne, cousin of my friend, Marcella Salisbury, shared these memories of her journey...
When I was seven years old, I was in the kitchen of our really old farmhouse/duplex looking for something to eat. There were mice, lots of them. There were those moths that eat pasta and their larvae that crawl on the ceiling. I found a single packet of ramen noodles. I was elated, but then I saw the corner had been chewed open by a mouse. The flavor packet was still intact. It grossed me out but not enough. I pulled a chair to the stove. I pulled a pot of stagnant water from the stove and rinsed it out. I turned the burner on. It was electric. I touched it with the palm of my hand. It burned a spiral into my hand. I had my ramen. I poured it into a mug and ate it in front of the TV.
Last night I ate a $50 pork chop. I drank sixteen-year-old scotch and twenty-year-old wine. I would have been eight years old when the wine was made. My friend treated me. I tasted the best olive oil I have ever tasted. We had great conversations.
I was so angry today and I couldn't figure out why. Everywhere I went they kept fucking up the coffee. I went to a pharmacy to get a prescription fill and the guy was being a jerk. I was so angry. I went home and then it came, that lava in my blood that rages. I can never make what was wrong right. I see myself throughout my life behind soundproof plexiglass. I want to reach in, to help her, to stop something, to give her something, to hug her, to hold her, and to protect her...and I can't. It is through these juxtapositions, when I feel well fed, when I feel safe, when I feel respected, that I am forced to confront the antithesis of each sensation.
There is no soft healing. There is no gentle reconciliation. There is gradual mending. There is a girl with lava for blood. Her skin is molten hot. You cannot touch her. She cannot even touch herself. She is in a white room flipping tables, hurling buckets of red paint against the walls. She has no fear left. She taunts her torturers. She leans into the implementation of pain, whatever it may happen to be, she leans into it. She laughs just to piss them off. No matter how good the food I eat is, it never makes it way to her. She stays starving. She only knows about deprivation. And if I am on a massage table enjoying a benevolent touch, it never gets to her. She only knows about violence and mutilation. If I am dancing in a man's arms and feeling beautiful and free, it never gets to her. She only nows about rape, exploitation, and misogyny. She stays angry and she deserves to be.
The ravages of abuse and poverty are time-travelers, passing ruthlessly from one generation to the next. J. K. Rowling's description of splinching in her Harry Potter novels comes to mind: "Splinching, or the separation of random body parts [in this case, the separation of the self] occurs when the mind is insufficiently determined. You must concentrate upon your destination, and move, without haste, but with deliberation." I give these words to Marcella, words that helped me determine my mind: when bad memories knock on your door, acknowledge them but don't invite them in to spend the afternoon. We acknowledge and we heal, I believe, by helping others.
Part of healing is telling the story. I am grateful for Marcella Jayne's honesty and for her courage. I wish her strength for the journey. And I am grateful that Marcella Salisbury shared her cousin's powerful words.
If this subject touches you, you might be interested in this link:
...the name of the room is Remember
NOTE: "According to Jungian analyst Aniela Jaffe, the shadow is the 'sum of all personal and collective psychic elements which, because of their incompatibility with the chosen conscious attitude, are denied expression in life...the shadow must never be dismissed as merely evil or demonic, for it contains natural, life-giving, under-developed positive potentialities'."