Dear Friends, Drodzy Przyjaciele, Cari Amici,
As a survivor of severe and sustained physical, sexual and emotional abuse and torture in my childhood, I, like other survivors, have had profoundly wounded experiences and a deeply warped understanding about the concept of “provisions” in daily life.
My daily bread was suffering and terror. My daily drink was poisonous lies about life, about my value and my right to exist.
People who are in survival mode do not have the luxury of preferences or choices and they will resort to whatever they can lay their hands on to keep themselves alive. (Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, Spiritually.) I find it fascinating that in this country there is a great following of television reality shows depicting otherwise sane and well provided for people who voluntarily put themselves in extreme physical situations with other people like themselves and then “play” the Survivor game.
Of course surviving is the most primal instinct in all of us, and we are hard-wired to tap into that tenacious capacity whenever it is required of us.
But when survival is not a game, when your day to day existence is always under threat, and there is no one outside your world who knows how dire your situation is, the long term effects of living from that survival mode can be powerfully damaging, isolating, crazy-making. Being simply a “survivor” can be a dark and dreadful way to be. And when the survival instinct is activated by violence, deprivation and cruelty at a very young age, although it may drag you shattered and tattered (but alive) into adulthood, it can leave you blind and deaf and dumb to such a huge portion of life that you cannot even fathom how great your loss is.
Most of my life I lived in this survival mode and as my healing progressed I began to know that life was more than just survival. I began to think of living on my own, for the first time in my life. I was in my forties and so that was a huge leap to even think of, but I was getting better and better and feeling the urge to take the leap.
I was still living in Canada and seeing Dr. A. twice a week. One day in session with him we were talking about what a life of freedom and independence would look like. He asked me “What do you envision for your life? What would you like your own home to look like”? Truthfully, I was like a deer in the headlights. I felt stunned and my mind went blank.
Due to how deeply wounded and insane I had been most of my life, I really never had a choice about my “home”. I was still just surviving. Now to have someone ask me what kind of home I would like to live in was very startling and I began to cry because I couldn’t think of anything. I didn’t know what my options were, I didn’t know even how to think about something so unrealistic! Dr. A. could see that the question unexpectedly and deeply distressed me and he sat quietly and respectfully with me while I underwent the experience of a benign question turning my world upside down and completely shaking something at my foundation.
I cried so hard. I felt like such a huge failure. I couldn’t picture a home for myself! My mind remained utterly blank. After some time passed he asked if I could picture anything that I would like that I didn’t have at the time.
Suddenly, a plain, rectangular, wooden kitchen cupboard appeared in my mind like a sweet vision. It had clean brass knobs. It was just floating in the space in my mind and I told Dr. A. that what I really would love to have is my very own Kitchen Cupboard! I wanted a cupboard that I got to choose what when into it and I got to take anything out of it that I wanted.
I pictured it with my favorite foods and beverages. And it was mine. And nobody else had control of it and nobody else had access to it without my permission. It was my very own kitchen cupboard. I would find work and do whatever I could do to get hired to a job so I could choose what went into my cupboard.
Truly, this sweet, and most humble kitchen cupboard was the first thought that brought me out of the prison of deprivation, dependency and desperation. It was a far cry from being able to envision a house with rooms and furniture and a vehicle and a yard and relationships and friends and clothing and joy.
That desire for a cupboard was a primal and powerful shift for me in waking up and in growing into consciousness. It was breaking out of a shell into a bigger reality. It was a quantum evolutionary leap for me in my own existence that was moving me from victimhood to freedom, from insanity to sanity, from desperation to independence, from shame to dignity, from death to the right to life.
Now, as I create and recreate homes in places I have lived since then, I always remember how important that first kitchen cupboard was. I look back and I see what a moment of breakthrough it was and I thank God for it.
A kitchen cupboard led to little one room apartment. That led to a bigger apartment with a bedroom, which led to a bigger bed. Eventually I got a better job, and I got a sweet old car which led to so many more possibilities and opportunities. That led me to meeting new people and eventually an even better job, which led to an even nicer apartment!
See how it goes?
And my independence and huge steps in healing in my outer circumstances and daily life began when the moment came when I could envision my own kitchen cupboard.
Now, I always feel great respect and joy and hope and expectation when anyone I know has even the smallest, faintest vision for something beautiful or good, because I know it is the seed that one day will burst through the shell into something greater than can be imagined at the moment!
With Faith in Freedom, Z Wiarą w Wolność, Con la Fede Nella Libertà,
Gabriel Orion Marie
* For those of you who may not know, I have published a series of three books that tell the story of my recovery and healing from profoundly intense physical, sexual and spiritual abuse. These books have dozens of paintings that I did during my process and those paintings are a core form of communication I used in my Healing. These books are available on Amazon. I hope you will read them and pass them on to others!
This White House (Book One), Going Sane (Book Two) and A Spectacular Dawn (Book Three)