Echoes of My Soul

A sanctuary where my heart’s longings find expression…


Especially for ED

Gently,
You took me by the hand.
When despair, loneliness, pain came crashing in,
You lulled me into the warmth of your presence.
I revelled in the comfort of your embrace.
You became my lover, my shelter, my shield.
You erected walls around me,
So strong, so impregnable were those walls.
No one could penetrate.
No one could reach in.
No one, not even me.
When enemies encroached with daggers,
I crouched behind those defences,
Afraid, isolated, alone.
When the world spun out of control,
You placed the mighty scales in my hands,
Convincing me that in them, stability could be found.
When the punishing weight of guilt descended
Like a million boulders,
You showed that the only way to cleanse
Was to flagellate this filthy body of mine.
In you I placed my entire trust.
For yes, you were suave and charming
And you kept me company every moment of the day
Never leaving, never forsaking
Just like a husband.
I thought you were my faithful confidante
A harbour amidst the turbulent waves.
One who would never fail me
Even when the whole world turned away.
Then suddenly, my paper world came tumbling down.
I saw you morph,
Morph before my very eyes
Into an abuser, a deceiver, a Valerie-hater.
I saw you
You for who you truly are.
I recoiled in repugnance,
Disgust at your ugly monstrosity
Hatred for your manipulative ways
Shame for my own stupidity.
I shook ever so violently
Struggling to loosen the cords of marriage
The mammoth ropes that bound us
So tightly locked together.
You did not want to let go.
You did not grant mercy.
Divorce was non-existent in your dictionary.
I wept in sorrow.
I groaned in anguish.
I pleaded in desperation.
Why? Why such suffering
When all I wanted was love?
Why did I fall into this dungeon
For something everyone else was pursuing with equal passion?
I just didn’t know how to get there.
I just lost my way.
Then I heard a whisper
A voice so tender and loving
“My child, my child,
I have always loved you.
Let me be your lover.
Let me be the one.”
At His command,
The thick chains that strangled my wrists
Fell to the ground like a writhing snake.
My frail body sapped of strength,
Marred with scars from the battle
Crumbled to the ground
I could scarcely take it in
All that had transpired.
Sometimes, even now,
I still hear your voice
Tempting, enticing, coated with sugar
Or taunting, threatening, laden with spears.
Sometimes, even now,
You tell me
I am not free
I am still in your clutches
I will never escape
But I know you
Evil and devious one
You will never conquer
For He is the one
The warrior king
Victory belongs to us,
And us alone.
Him and me, together in combat,
Standing firm against your schemes.
Sometimes, even now,
I still fall,
I still stumble,
I still grow weak and tired.
But I know
Yes I know
Glorious dawn will come to pass
And the darkness of night
Will fade away
Never to return
Never to return.

The Girl in the Mirror

My trembling feet left the solid ledge of the building and my body followed in spinning somersaults. Down, down, down…

My eyes forced open in terror. “Where was I?” I struggled to find my bearings in the shadows of the night. In that instant, millions of brain neurons worked in full gear, sending their electric impulses from one synapse to another like lightning extending its serrated fingers jaggedly across a deep blue canvass. I quickly realized that it was yet another nightmare. With my heart palpitating hard within my ribcage, I took a deep breath, attempting to shove off the deep-ridden anxiety that was so agonizingly discomfiting. I spent a few more moments dwelling on the lingering vestiges of the dream before deciding to go to the washroom to clear my mind.

I flicked the switch and light flooded the room. There I was, peering into the mirror. Standing across me was a girl looking straight back. There was a surreal, dreamlike quality dancing around her that I could not grasp hold of, almost as if she would dissipate into nothingness at any moment. I did a cautious evaluation of this mystical subject. Short hair. Oval-shaped face. Three moles near the mouth. Somewhat emaciated. She looked almost normal now but did I know her? She seemed to be at ease in the mirror. Perhaps she lived inside there. Was she happy? Did she like being two-dimensional and flat. This question surfaced as I observed that she spanned barely a centimeter in width.

Just as I was getting more and more immersed in my thoughts, an inexplicable gravitational force suddenly started tugging me towards the mirror. Closer and closer, closer and closer I inched forward, until I felt as though all the atoms in my body were being filtered right into the hard, reflective surface by osmosis. Just as abruptly, I was back together again the next moment. My hands ran a hasty check over my body to make sure I was all in one piece. To my relief, I was just as I was before, only now I was standing inside the mirror with the girl positioned next to me! She stared at me with a blithe look of insouciance. Why did she look so nonchalant? Did she know me? Did anything matter to her? Was she human, a robot, or just an empty shell? These questions surged back and forth in my mind. This perplexing enigma who presented herself so uninvited in my life filled me with a burning, nearly intolerable desire to pry her open and analyze her thoroughly. Yet at the same time, I was afraid – afraid to reach out and touch her, afraid she would crumble and disintegrate at my approach, afraid of what I would find.

A deathly silence reigned and the frigid cold started to bite into me. Then she spoke.

“Valerie…” Her voice trailed off. It was soft and tentative, yet something about it told me that she was waiting – she had always been waiting – but for what? “You took so very long to get here.”

“So very long? You mean you have been here all the while. Why can’t you get out? Why wait for me?” My questions gushed out in a torrent.

“I can’t get out. I’m trapped. No one came. I have been forgotten. I lie right inside you, Valerie, in the deepest strata of your heart and mind. You may not have known of my existence, but I have always been there. Whenever you hurt, I suffered the pain and the bulwarks of this mirror that held me in grew thicker. When you were seven and those cruel boys bullied you on the bus, I cowered in fear. I knew not how to protect you and I felt weak and useless. I realized the world was a dangerous place, as violent as the gun-wielding baddies in the television set. When you were ten and hiding in the shadows of your best friend, unnoticed and unpopular, I felt your shame. There and then, I knew who I was – the girl destined to be invisible, the perpetual follower destined to be second-best. When you were 17 and hijacked in a relationship you didn’t want to be in, the guilt and grief piled on me. All at once, I transformed into a “bad girl”, unworthy of love, sick of myself. When you were 21 in London, loneliness enshrouded me. Everything became cold, dark and meaningless. Now I am afraid, Valerie. I am afraid to step out into the world. I think there are many hungry wolves out there lying in ambush. They are just waiting for the perfect opportunity to laid their filthy claws on me. They want to devour me. And no one, absolutely no one, would want to see me. No one cares. I have shrunk myself, smaller and smaller, over all these years because I know I look hideous and irksome. I almost wish I could just fade away. I don’t deserve anything, Valerie. I really don’t…”

By this time, she was sobbing uncontrollably. Big droplets of tears glistened on her sunken cheeks. I reached over and held her in my arms. She felt like a tiny child, so lost, so fragile. “It’s ok, dear one. I know you do want to be free, don’t you? You do want to experience the world out there, don’t you? Follow me. Let me guide you. Laugh with me. Cry with me. Grow with me. Don’t hide in the mirror anymore. You can be a real girl. Being real means being human. Being real means having feelings – feelings of sorrow but also feelings of joy. Being real means facing the tempest but also experiencing the warm sunshine. Being real means seeing the ugliness of mankind but also beholding the beauty of God’s creation. Being real means having your own foibles, but also your own unique strengths. And God doesn’t make trash. You are a royal diadem, a crown of splendour, a sparkling jewel. No one can take away that worth, no one at all. I know you are afraid. It must be real scary for you, isn’t it… after all these years of incarceration. That’s ok. Fear is normal. Take your time. I will be here. Together, we will step out of the mirror, into the real world out there, when you are ready.”

We stood there for what seemed like eons. I couldn’t see her face as her head was bowed down. I didn’t know what she would choose. But one thing I did know – I would be waiting for her, just as she had been waiting for me all these twenty years. I sensed a tiny nudge and then, I felt her hands slip timidly into mine. It was almost like witnessing the miraculous birth of a precious new life. She lifted her head and gazed expectantly at me. In her tears, I saw fear, but I also saw wonder and hope. I smiled. I held her hand tightly. And together we took that first step, towards the mirror and out.

Who’s That Girl?

Who’s that girl?
Crouching behind the curtains,
Afraid to step out onto the big stage of life,
Afraid to recite her own lonely soliloquy.

Who’s that girl?
Huddling, naked, in the bleak winter,
No fire to warm her frost-bitten fingers,
No food to ease her aching hunger pangs.

Who’s that girl?
Fumbling, lost and forlorn, in the deep, dark forest,
Seeking and searching, screaming and weeping,
Yet still no compass to lead the way out.

Who’s that girl?
Lying limp in the sweltering heat of the desert,
Her lips, cracked from the dearth of water,
Hungry vulcans swoop around waiting to devour.

Who’s that girl?
Staring longingly back at me,
Begging for release from her prison,
Yearning to feel sunshine’s soft caress on her skin.

She’s right there in the mirror.
She’s holding out her hand.
She’s ready to step forth.
Out of the cold glass and into the world.

I want to lead her and show her the way.
I want to stroke her head and tell her she needn’t be afraid.
I want to care for her and protect her from all the crashing waves.
Because, yes, that girl is me.

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Responses

  1. Writing is such a fantastic way of expressing yourself through recovery. I am a poet myself and a writer of other things besides just my blogs, and I really think your stuff is good. 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing more, and I just started following your blog in general. Take care, Valerie!

  2. HI Valerie, your writings, poetry were very inspiring!! Im glad for you valerie, you are getting stronger and stronger!

  3. Valerie, your writing is a gift — beautiful, deep and filled with a passion for life. Thank you for sharing it with the world. People need to read what you write.

    Blessings!


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