Pearl has contributed a poem about missing the Arts with Hearts group during lockdown.
Arts With Hearts doesn’t ask: How, When, Where, Why???
Are you sure???
They say: “Come in, have tea,
Sit and watch, express yourself, feel free”.
No, I can’t crochet, even now,
But , no matter, I give myself, my time,
My laughter, I join in, I hear my sound,
Feel safe, feel part of life,
Not numb, feel I could be, even ME.
I’ve noticed colours, CLAY,
Solid, ever-changing stuff,
Smoothness, curves scored into rough.
Textured people in my life are
Tangled, woven, knitted, knotted,
I make solid shapes, smooth, reliant, true,
You might say, “But why, for who?”….
ME, of course,they’re mine , I did that!!
I made that sparkle shine, dull hue, loud voice of colour.
Prettiness trapped inside me
Pours out in liquid, fountain-free,
Art can SHOUT,
Can whisper fear,
Can cry in pain,
Can show : “I’M HERE!!!”.
“The poem is talking about how we say we’re “fine”, when people ask and don’t show how we really feel, for various reasons, and how important it is to find people (like at RSVP) who we can tell how we really feel“
Pearl is fine, Pearl is free
But Pearl is trapped
And Pearl is me.
You only see the one on show, really not the one you know.
Sawn in half each side divides,
Pearl is living in two lives.
Scythed in two by Virus rules, locked at home,
No fun in schools, no friends to play, out of Control,
My head is cut down to my soul.
Isolation ward is home, only help is down a phone,
No touch, no love, no shielding arm,
Alone and scared of any harm,
Rocking, starving,all those things self-abusive harming brings,
Making sense more than the lies, strategies and stingy eyes
From crying. Loss of self, loss of me, controlled, restricted, power-free.
I’m needing help from someone who sees past the mask
And guides me through to overcome the big deride,
My introverted “spoilt” child.
Yet out in life no-one can tell,
Pearl is happy, Pearl is well,
Pearl is fun, she makes you laugh,
But really Pearl is cut in half.
This poem from Pearl is about the impact of Covid on families and children.
I put my hands out, little boy
To dance together, act your play,
But: “What about the germs?” you say.
You child of four,
You precious one
No touch, no contact,
No more fun?
Reminding me who should know more-
Covid rules, Covid law.
What life is this?
Can’t dance my ‘son-
A person’s life barely begun-
Like this !!?
It must be wrong ?
What’s in your head?
What make you of this?
Masked adults, mustn’t kiss
We never had before like this,
Rules on rules
Locked inside out,
Timeless hours, screaming sirens, fallen flowers.
Trembling armies work to save
Children, finance, dying
Patients from their graves,
Screened by plastic PPE,
I feel so helpless,
We never knew, our lives were safe,
We held each other dear and far,
You saw my smile,
My joy in you, life on pause we’re living now,
I pray there’s time for us to see
A different future,
You and me.
This poem by Pearl reflects on the pandemic. Thank you for sharing your words with us Pearl.
No use of armies, bombs or guns,
Invisibly silent, with stealth
It comes, to choke the life from in our lungs.
No shield can stop its mad advance, its leading us a merry dance.
Risk factors out the chance that we will catch this vile bug,
Then pass it on to those we hug
And hold so close within our hearts.
‘Scopic warriors, spiked and deadly
Breeding in us
This is History in the making, if we survive this we are breaking
Worldwide chains of spread,
God knows we need this virus dead.
All ages, stages, Life on pause,
From young to old, direct or indirect, it changes paths of Life,
Cutting through us with its knife.
We must be fierce,
Like those before in other Wars,
Not let its march delete our species,
Wear masks to shield our weakest links,
Wash its bodies down our sinks.
Whatever’s done to us before,
We need our strength now even more,
We’re used to trauma, know the score,
Know what triggers are our flaw,
We have more than fear to mask
Surviving this now is our task.
We matter here, deserve to live,
We ALL have so much more to give.
Right now is History we can make,
How many of us it will take
I do not know,
But Inner Strength to follow rules
Will be our armour from this foe,
We must deplete it
Now, or go.
Many thanks to Mani, a volunteer trustee Board member here at RSVP, for sharing her blog post about her arranged marriage.
A foreword from Mani:
“I spoke about my experience because in my culture we are taught not to talk about anything. I wanted to share my experience for myself and also to help others find a voice. To be a voice for change and to allow us women to be heard.”
“I don’t really remember my wedding day, I remember sections, I remember bits I’ve seen on my photo album but don’t remember actually being there. If there was ever a moment I had an out of body experience it was then. I just remember thinking I looked hideous, my hair was very flyaway in the wind and it was annoying me. I don’t remember the pheere (circles/vows for Sikhs) we do them four times and I can’t remember a single one.”
Then on the honeymoon:
“I vaguely remember checking into the little B&B we booked in Ambleside, it was a pretty place, I probably won’t ever return. That day we went for a walk about the town, we returned to our room after dinner, whilst he was showering I fell asleep. I remember waking at 2am, he had set my alarm to wake me up and well we did ‘it’, it wasn’t exactly consensual on my part and whilst I didn’t immediately use the ‘R’ word for what I went through, it left me traumatised. I hadn’t realised what I had gone through until about four years ago (so six years after I was married) that just because you’re married does not entitle your husband to your body.”
To read Mani’s full blog post, please click here.
More amazing work by Mani can be found at manismadness.com and via her social media channels: @ManisMadness
Thank you to Mollie (not her real name) for sharing this amazing poem; her words emphasize the importance of compassion, connection and coming together during these difficult times.
We’re in this together
Let’s hope for joy
Oh boy oh boy we all need some joy
Let’s show the world we can smile
Even if it is for a while
Let’s look after one another
So we can beat this together
As we fight the fight
I am sure we will be alright
Let’s pull together
Now more than ever
– Stay safe please, Mollie
Pearl has written this amazing poem while in lockdown, reflecting on how the current situation has triggered a lot of memories and emotions.
I’m as small as I was-
No escape- because
I have to obey,
Nothing’s my way,
I’m out of control,
I’ve lost my role,
I’m spiralling down
Into the pit
Where the Demons sit
And laugh, so smug
at my innocent cries,
My infant ides
In shrouds of dust,
I know I must
Obey this ‘man’,
This Power, this sham.
I have no say,
No voice to speak,
No sound, too weak.
I must just breathe,
That’s all I can do,
I know if I breathe
It will carry me through
and back into sunlight, where I can be FREE,
Back to my adult self.
Back to be me.
I know I can beat this,
Can rise up and sing,
Its only a trigger
This ‘Lockdown’ thing.
BUT, I’m silent with fear, like a mouse scared to tread,
Frightened of surfaces, scared to be dead.
I feel unclean, unseen…..
Only on screen,
Storing up eye-strain,
Developing Blue brain,
Tapping my life out,
Snipping my hair-
That’s hard- to be fair.
Thank God for Wotsap,
Thank God I’m still
here to clap,
It’s silly I know,
The big fear is outside,
I’m safe in my house,
Being Virtual mouse,
But the Big Fear is in me,
inside my head,
It’s haunting and calling
Me down to be dead.
I have to not listen,
Not fall for their lies,
I have to keep going,
My Phoenix must rise.
P’raps I should learn this,
NOW may be the time,
My jailers are long dead,
The Demons are mine.
Today, instead of sitting with my therapist in person, I had my first session over the phone. I’d known for a while that it was likely we’d need to stop face to face sessions at some point, but I was anxious at the thought of it. I was worried that there would be long, embarrassing pauses, or we’d talk over each other, or I’d get embarrassed and introduce the cat.
But mostly, I was worried that it wouldn’t be… enough, that it would be a poor substitute for seeing her in person and that I would lose the momentum I’d built up in sessions. I’m used to my therapist’s physical presence when we meet, to her calmness and the sense of safety I have when I’m with her. Would this be replicated in a phone call? Could it be?
Twenty minutes prior to the call, I showered and changed out of my social distancing casuals and into something smarter and less comfortable. I have absolutely no idea why I did this. It’s not as if my counsellor has ever enforced a dress code!
Then I sat downstairs, obsessively checking my mobile every few seconds to make sure that the battery really was full, and I hadn’t just imagined it. When she didn’t call the absolute second that we’d arranged, I convinced myself I’d got it all wrong, was a complete loser, nothing would ever go right… then the phone rang. And I jumped.
And: well, the first few minutes were a bit weird. I paced up and down the room whilst we chatted lightly about the week and I tried (for some reason) to imagine where she was sitting. Then, I sat down on the sofa and talked…
And talked. And it was fine, better than fine in fact. I probably said more in that call than I do when I’m sitting in front of her and I surprised myself by telling her about something I’d been wanting to for a while, but hadn’t been able to find the words.
I’m pleased to report too, that her skills in person were replicated, seemingly effortlessly. She knew when to let me be silent and when to gently push. At one point astonishing me by asking what was making me cry when I swear I wasn’t making a sound but just had tears in my eyes.
We’re doing it again next week and the one after and the one after that and so on until this crisis has passed. After which, I will return to seeing her in person. Until then, though- phone appointments are meaningful and supportive and, well… enough.
Thanks to Nisha (not her real name) for writing a 3 part blog & choosing to share her journey in the hope that it would help other people subjected to sexual abuse. Here she talks about her nerves about counselling but how it helped her take steps forward too.
Part 3-Freeing the Prisoner in My Mind. Reflecting and Looking Forward.
I still remember my first session at RSVP. I was so nervous, my mind was racing, heart was pounding, and palms were sweating. To add to the emotions, being Asian myself and having an Asian counsellor made me anxious. I felt I would be judged but this was far from the truth, there was no judgement. In fact I think as I’d been honest and open from the start with my counsellor, it helped to clear any fears I had and put my mind at ease. It also helped to build a better relationship between myself and my counsellor. Each week I looked forward to my session, even though at times it was challenging. I had come to realise I didn’t know myself enough and that was hard for me to accept. I guess it was also difficult as I was trying to deal with so much of my past but also my current circumstances at the same time.
Thankfully, my counsellor took time listening to me and allowing me to let out my tears and frustration. Talking helped and felt like a weight off my shoulders. I was finally taking positive steps forward. No matter how small the steps, they were still steps in the right direction.
Despite all the challenges, the journey was teaching me so much. I learnt it was ok to reach out and accept support and professional help; it was just too much to deal with mentally by myself. I learnt how important it is to make time for myself; to hear myself think, to reflect, to feel, to understand and to release. I learnt the feelings I felt during this whole process are normal; the fear, the pain, the nerves, the anger, the self-doubting and confusion. Yup, all normal. I learnt the different strategies that helped me; RSVP social support groups, various counselling therapists, holistic therapies, listening and following inspirational people, opening up to close friends, journaling and daily affirmations. I also learnt a great tool for helping with my anxiety; the scare scale – placing current anxiety on a scale of 0 – 100 (100 being the worst thing that could ever happen).
One important lesson I also learnt was to never give up and to trust the journey. I am still on my journey but I am many steps ahead to when I first started. I am learning so much along the way and I will continue my journey to freeing the prisoner in my mind.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you RSVP for all your support.
Thank you to Nisha (not her real name) for writing a 3 part blog and choosing to share her journey in the hope that it would help other people subjected to sexual abuse. If you’ve missed part 1, click here.
Part 2: Reliving moments to take steps forward
(Written just after the abuse)
It seems as though I have everything
But truthfully all is hidden within
Nobody can see or feel my inner pain
The fake smiles and cheerful front is all a game
My mind is now full of blight
And the sorrows come from behind like light
Only when it’s dark
Peace is at the heart
Could sleeping permanently be the answer?
As life just feels like cancer
A slow dying process
But with great sorrows causing mess
I feel so empty
I have nobody
Nobody cares and nor do I
All is not visible
I have nothing
The months at RSVP were a rollercoaster for me. The abuse I’d once boxed, locked, thrown away the key and built a brick wall around was starting to come down and unlock. So easily came the old familiar sting of how lost, alone and hurt I once felt. Flashbacks and nightmares started to become regular again, filling my mind and body with rage and fear. Muscles ached from the memories of being held down tight. Mirrors became unbearable again as the reflection stared back at me in disgust. Confusion, doubt and self-blame sickened me to my core. The hurt, the tears, this man had taken away my self-worth. I felt anger and resentment for not getting justice but also disappointment that I’d allowed this abuse to affect me many years later. The once bubbly, confident girl had disappeared. The once social butterfly had retracted and hidden away, becoming untrusting of others, especially men. I needed to truly find myself again. At times it felt like I was on a downwards spiral. Moments of reliving my pain, to moments of my behaviour being out of character. Dealing with these memories and emotions created a sense of turmoil but I was not alone anymore. My counsellor listened to me without judgement and helped me to see where I was going. I felt safe and supported. I started to understand and somewhat accept what had happened to me.
Rape, sexual abuse; it’s something a lot of people do not like to talk about. But I wasn’t ashamed anymore. RSVP had taught me to love and accept myself, to believe in me. The flashbacks slowly started to settle and mirrors became acceptable with time. A glimmer of hope now stared back at me in the reflection. The social groups at RSVP also helped me tremendously, I was able to confidently socialise with others in the group and made some lovely friends. With a fellow survivor, I took pride in being part of a skydive fundraiser for RSVP, raising over £1400. Jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet high I felt the cold air rushing against my face as I was free falling. For a few moments I closed my eyes feeling so grateful for all the support RSVP had given me. I was now able to tell myself how proud I was of my progress and that I would never stop moving forward.
RSVP for me really was an eye opener, realising there is hope, no matter how hard the journey.