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CHILD/SELF by Margaret Vidale

One reason I started writing about my own experiences of being abused was to give a voice to those who are still afraid to speak out…

I was one of them for most of my life.  It was not until I reached my sixties that my outrage overcame my fears. It took me a long time to reach the point where I could tell my truth, and poetry is the only vehicle I have been able to use to reach the larger world.

Child/Self is my one and only prose poem.  It is a perspective on the lifelong damage of child abuse, an attempt to show how survivors can become emotionally stuck in one part of their development and continue to grow in others.  I am in my seventies now, and am still impacted by my childhood abuse every day.

I know the subject of child abuse is a tough one, but it is so prevalent and damaging in our society. I very much hope my words will help other survivors to speak out in their own ways. 

by Margaret Vidale

Two daughters followed tradition’s path,
leading to grownup lives in the outside
world.  My third child, however, refuses to
leave home.  Her fear and neediness  
exhaust me.  She stopped growing around
age three, when she let herself realize
no one was going to protect her. That’s when
she melded to me, insisting I carry her
for the rest  of our lives.  It’s a daily struggle
to pull myself away, inch by resistant
inch.  Sometimes I just give up and read her
poetry; she likes Anne Sexton and Chase
Twichell.  When we’re having bad dreams,
Brahms’ Lullaby soothes us back to sleep. 
Over the years I’ve managed to increase
the distance between us.  Recently I’ve let
her float on her own for hours.  I’m trying
to convince her that by freeing me, she also
frees herself.  She doesn’t buy it, though. 
She scrunches up her small, pale face and
wails, a shrill and forlorn plea.  So I pick
her up and kiss the soft part on top of her
head.  What else can I do?  I’m all she’s got.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: If you, or someone you know, is recovering from sexual abuse and trauma, I highly recommend my friend Kylie Dasi's new book 'Recovering The Spirit From Sexual Trauma: From the Traumatic to the Ecstatic' available here.

Margaret Vidale returned to her childhood love of writing poetry when she retired from teaching in 2001.  Growing up, reading and writing poetry were ways of escaping severe child abuse.  Many of her early adults poems were efforts to break the silence she carried for most of her life.  Writing  those poems was healing and liberating, which enabled Margaret to branch out into a wider range of subjects.  She feels fortunate and grateful that some of her work has appeared In Pearl, Solstice, Sol-Lit, The Whirlwind Review, Avocet, The  Caribbean Writer, Still Crazy and other small press publications.

~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~ 


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