well-meaning friends won’t stop calling: “let go”
eyes shut, free falling, she cannot let go
fists closed, knuckles white, hold tight her terror,
scar tissue recalling, she can’t let go
fresh bruises others named accidental
great lies appalling, she’s forced to let go
written on her body in secret code,
firewalls installing, she won’t let go
she lets go, sleeps, lover’s arms surround her
dreams demons brawling, whispers “don’t let go”
she sleeps violent, wakes to safety,
shaking and bawling, she pleads “don’t let go”
away from danger, through Christina’s World,
paralyzed, crawling, she yearns to let go
I combined the previous two challenges. I’ve written an admittedly bleak Ghazal Sonnet
on the subject of the Letting Go prompt
which I confess stalled me for days.
Yes, I had trouble writing to the “letting go” prompt.
My brain refused words. My fingers refused to type. I missed the deadline. I chose a challenging format so it would feel like a math problem versus a poem.
Ultimately, what was pulled from me is this poem about not being able to let go of the past (quite yet), the difference between letting go and denial, and of redemption found in the safe circle of unconditional love, when we can lay down our shields and shelve the history of our wars, if even for an hour.
“Letting go” is something I am working on in my recovery.
I have Complex PTSD, which means random things in the present trigger bad things in the past, in a neurochemical process I can’t wish or will away (trust me, I’ve tried). The sound of my mother’s voice saying certain words, or at a certain volume, for example, trigger a full fight/flight/freeze/fawn response regardless of being conscious that my adult body is now safe from an old woman too feeble to try if she even wanted to, and she doesn’t. She’s grown.
For childhood abuse survivors, being encouraged to “let go” (which well-meaning friends do all the time) reverberates with our abuser’s
forced denial, of being forbidden to reflect on or acknowledge past events. It can end up feeling like “stop talking about it” or “let’s pretend it never happened,” those years you lived in mortal danger.
We survivors are, ultimately, better served when we can let go the burden, put the burning embers of past trauma down, and walk away.
But first we must take our trauma out of its forced hidden darkness and hold on to it for awhile, remind ourselves it is real, it happened to us, it is truth. We look at it, handle it, burn our fingertips as we dream of it and only then we can decide the right time to finally let it go.
I’m on my way to just such a day, albeit slowly.
The final stanza, pursuant to Ghazal rules, should reveal or suggest the poet. My name is not Christina, but I chose Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting of a woman in struggle as my hint.
xo Wyeth Bailey