It happened yet again, suddenly, without any warning. I was innocently going through some pictures on an old memory card. My finger was on the forward key, while the pictures to were sliding by one after the next. When suddenly my finger froze. Staring right at me were pictures I’ve taken during some of the darkest periods in my life. The times when I wasn’t a human being. The days that my physical and emotional being, belonged to my abuser.
I relived all the feelings of back then. The sadness and desperation filled my heart, as tears welled in my eyes. Tears that aren’t foreign these days. I felt the loneliness and confusion. The pain and suffering of being a human shell, with a hollow core.
I sat there emotionally paralyzed. Glued to my chair, not knowing what to do with this all. I felt it so deeply and it hurt more than ever. Like the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, here were photos that seemed so innocent to others, yet to myself, they held enormous emotional powers. I cried and mourned over the many years that were robbed from me. Over the innocence and purity that was tainted in the most horrific ways.
After crying it out, I knew what I needed to do. Simply deleting them will be nice but it won’t do justice as they are still etched in my memory. And so instead, I printed them out in small, with many fitting on one page. I filled up two full pages and went straight to my BBQ grill. Turning on the flames, I was about to throw them in, yet I needed to take one last look.
Looking at them one last time, I saw the pure and innocent young boy, being held captive, all alone. He wasn’t wearing an orange jumpsuit nor was he tied up in chains. He was wearing black pants and a regular shirt just like everyone else. He was doing what everyone else was doing, all while being in complete captivity of a horrible and evil prison guard. He had no mind of his own. No voice. No opinion. No arsenal to fight back.
I saw a helpless young boy, broken and confused. There was no visible wounds on him, yet his eyes spoke volumes. Those eyes held so much pain and I broke down seeing that. Seeing it from an outside view, as an adult was so different than what the young voices inside of me were saying. Seeing his pure face, there was simply no room for guilt or shame. This poor prisoner, so young and innocent, tried his very best to escape the walls of prison, yet his captors were always one step ahead of him.
I felt the pain slowly leaving me as anger was taking its place. Anger and disbelief how a human being can devour a soul with such extreme selfishness and cruelty. Anger and disgust at this “him” for destroying me for so many years and then placing the heavy burden of shame and guilt deep inside of me. Anger at the many people that should have seen the pain in those eyes. There were so many clues, yet I was being ignored.
The heat of the grill brought me back to reality. It was over 500 degrees in there and was ready to devour those memories and emotions. Throwing those papers in, watching it slowly catch fire was so soothing yet empowering at the same time. Watching the flames angrily burning up those pages, was reminding me of you, angrily burning me up. Yet, there I was, bruised but still alive. There I was, watching your actions go up in flames. It was so healing. So empowering. I stood there and took it all in. Watching the small flames, smelling the fire, listening to the crackling of the paper being burned.
You were a fire. You were angry and powerful like a fire, and now I was using the same source, fire, to declare victory. When the papers turned to ash, I spray some water, so as not to cause a fire with the burning ash beginning to fly away. Although fire is so powerful, water is stronger. Nothing other than water, can put out fire. So perhaps you are fire, but I am water. You’ve implanted so much shame and guilt in me. It’s hard as rock and so very difficult to break through. Fire can’t break through rock, yet a steady stream of water can do it. I’ve been steadily chipping away at that rock and it’s beginning to break. It’s been years of work, but tonight was proof that the rock is beginning to crack.
P.S. below is an actual photo of the flames burning my papers.
One thought on “A fiery victory!”
Y, this piece is so strong! I could feel you seeing each picture, reliving each memory of that time. Feeling the guilt and shame that you felt…… the guilt and shame THAT WAS NOT YOURS TO TAKE ON.. It belonged to your abuser, NOT YOU!!
Y, your heart and soul are so loving and pure! I don’t think that he could have penetrated the strength that is yours, your tenacity, your kindness your everything!!
The burning of these pictures of memories had to have been sooo cleansing!!