Honest Healing

Sometimes it hits me out of nowhere, how truly alone I have felt in my life.

I lean across the window sill in my bedroom to push the window wide before bed, thinking about nothing more sinister than the cool night air and it’s delicious contrast to the warm, soothing sheets while I sleep. My gaze grazes the wooden box that has sat there since moving in day, my bedroom being the least important room in the house to organise.

“Baby Holt’s memory box” is printed across the top. It was a beautiful gift from a beautiful friend that I have lovingly filled with precious things. Hunter’s first clothes, his scan pictures, a lock of his hair.

I feel suddenly like a fraud.

I love this child more than life itself, but being pregnant with him was the lowest I’ve ever felt in my life. And nobody knew. I didn’t even know. I became such an expert at shoving these feelings aside, boxing them up, and covering them over with a pretty throw that even I could not have told you how lonely I was back then.

I see it now though. I feel it now. An echo of my past pain reverberating through me, the cry of woman chained to a life she didn’t get to choose.

I was not safe, and that’s what it boiled down to. I was in a dangerous relationship with a dangerous individual. I was lost to him.

Of course there will be days where I am weighed down by it all. It will continue to rise up and engulf me out of the blue. I may not be that person anymore, the person who was trapped and lost, but I will hold space for her when she comes to visit. Like tonight, while I am writing out this post. She is so very present right now, I can feel her shame and her loneliness. She knew all along what he was, but she stayed with him anyway. It is her fault that she has to endure the terrible things he does to her and her children, because this is what she chose. At least that’s what she believes.

Holding space for that version of me means listening to her, really listening to her. She expresses that guilt, she tells me about feeling so very defeated when she found out she was going to have to have a third child, and how that darkens and shadows her love for him.

I ask her,

Was it the unborn child that you resented, or was it the man who put that child there against your will?

The man, she replies.

Was it the child who let you down in hospital after the birth, and left you there alone all day, bleeding, healing, terrified and desperate? Or was it the man?

The man.

When you feel that rage of being abandoned to motherhood again against your will, is it the child that you hate, or is it the man?

The man.

Do you remember that first moment that you held that baby to your breast, all slippery, and snuffly, his tiny hand curled just above your heart?

Yes, she replies with a smile.

Who do you think of the moment you open your eyes in the morning?

My child.

Who do you love more than life itself, who would you do anything for in this world?

My child.

I hold space for her, and I let her know that it is okay to be angry at the situation he forced her into, and to be angry at him. It is okay to regret having to delay – not give up – your dreams for this third child, who you did not expect to have. You can feel all of that and still love that child more than anything. There is no guilt here, that’s a false emotion designed to keep you trapped in the cycle.

I hold her, and she becomes me. The me that I am now.

No, I did not expect Hunter in my life. I am angry at the person who took my choice away. It is also true that I have loved him since before I even met him. He is my whole world, and more. The circumstances that brought him into the world do not dictate how loved he is, or how wanted he is. I am allowed to feel all of these things and there is no shame in it. The negativity lies solely with the person who abused me, and took my choice away.

Now, I can look at the treasures in that memory box and feel only that loving, tugging nostalgia. I can coo over his tiny socks, crush his very first outfit to my nose, and inhale him. No guilt. No shame. Only love.

And when past me comes to visit again, I’ll soothe her just the same.

© Emma Stead

8 responses to “Honest Healing”

  1. I’m so very sorry you have had to suffer all of this. I admire your strength and bravery and love. Wishing you better days ahead. ♥️♥️♥️

    Liked by 2 people

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