It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here. ~ James Baldwin, Collected Essays
Within each of us lives an Inner Patriarch that continues to carry the old patriarchal rules and values, many of which may have been taught us by our mothers. This Inner Patriarch controls us from the inside, not the outside. We do not necessarily know about him because he operates beyond the edges of our awareness. He rules from the shadows of our unconscious, which is why I sometimes call him the Shadow King. When we do not know about him, this Shadow King is our enemy. ~ Sidra Stone, The Shadow King
A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate. ~ Steven Pressfield, Do the Work
This month is Women’s History Month. To talk about the stories of women inevitably brings us to the difficult stories in our writer’s current experience at CRCF and their experiences in the past. Our work, as writers, is to explore our thinking and our thinking is inextricably tied to our feelings. To think of the old stories is to feel them.
We wandered together this week on the page and through deepening layers of inner landscape. When we examine these layers, we can know what we want. This is difficult but the circle and that page are built to withstand these challenges.
In the pieces below, you will read the stories our writers shared with us and each other this week. They were not written easily but they are as much as part of our history as any headline.
A HAUNTING PAST
The stories holding me back,
are memories of my past,
haunting my inner being,
making me emotional,
leaving me broken down, bleeding, pleading for mercy,
from this agony,
still I remain strong,
standing tall with a smile on my face like nothing,
was ever wrong,
I try so hard to let my past go,
and sometimes I do,
when the person who hurt me is sorry,
true to their word,
unfortunately so few are,
in time we shall see truth and lies.
What’s their story?
You know what i mean,
truth always reveals itself in the ending.
It’s okay. I’ve learned to love myself enough
and that will help me keep my head up.
Through this rough spot in my life,
the walls encasing me.
These bars on my windows.
These chains hanging tightly to my feet.
The people that micromanage me,
I have good things yet to come.
People who love me,
a beautiful boy of three who call me mommy,
love awaits me,
love is what binds us,
and molds us into who we’re meant to be!
LIFE AT THE DOOR
Life knocks at my door beckoning me
across its threshold. Some lines
can only be crossed once. The line
is draw, the door is open ready
or not the time has come. I could
cling to the carpet or be dragged
nails gouging lines of terror into
the floorboards. Kicking and screaming
it will not matter. Life still comes knocking,
the door must be answers.
I can cross this threshold with courage.
Step willingly although somewhat reluctantly
into the next chapter. Let go of the room
that can no longer hold me. If I have to
and I must, I will answer the door.
You cannot take me, I go. It matters.
This matters. My choice. Life knocks
hard at my door. I will walk forward
to meet it with the grace of a woman.
I choose my way forward.
LIVING ON THE INSIDE
Living on the inside,
being controlled in every direction,
order around every corner,
rules barked at us, as if we are nothing.
Living on the inside
a broken existence, ready to snap,
when our tiny being is pushed,
to the limit of no return.
Living on the inside,
a maze with no way out,
rooms with looming odors,
dingy walls, dirty windows, no air.
Living on the inside–
if you haven’t experienced it,
you really don’t have a clue.
This unbelieveable state of condition
grows within us like a cancer diagnosis.
We will stumble many times,
feel tossed like a ping-pong ball.
Our beings deteriorate. We feel small.
That’s the truth of living on the inside.