• Barbara Elk

Beaten Down but Not Forever

Updated: Feb 26, 2019

I haven’t added to the blog since over a week ago. I do plan on adding new posts every week. My excuse for last week was I was under the weather so I had to take some time to feel better. For the first time in my entire life that I have the luxury of actually taking care of myself. Also, I have a spouse who looks out for my well-being.

When I was in my late teens, I lived with an adopted aunt and uncle who were the first to show me what being cared for looked like. Up until that point, I had been switched from house to house, foster parents, to a children's home, and two adoption homes.

I experienced love from my biological mother and aunties. I remember sitting on my mother's lap or my head being stroked by an auntie's loving hand while she conversed with my mom. I had hugs from a favorite sibling and being able to express pure, unbridled peals of laughter with those around me on the Rez.

After we were Taken, the love and closeness I experienced on a daily basis evaporated. I didn't stay in houses long enough to experience that kind of joy or friendship. This kind of cold isolation went on for years. I grew to be a very anxious and sad child. The warm memories of HOME lingered for many, many years. They were especially helpful and therapeutic when I was mistreated in my second adoption home. I didn't experience actual Love at that house. I was told to do chores and clean up after the pets. I did landscaping. All of that is fine for a child to learn and do. The problem was, I wasn't shown Love. I lived in fear. I didn't want to get yelled at or spanked. I endured the hateful glares from my adopted father every single day. Those glares told me I wasn't worthy. He didn't like me being there. I felt guilty eating their food during dinner times because he would sit at the head of the table, staring me down until I learned to keep my head down and eyes on my food. I learned how to chew my food quietly and not ask for seconds, all the while, my heart was pounding in my throat, terrified he would hit me. My vision would sometimes blur and go out of focus because they would brim with tears.. I would quickly look away when they would slide down my cheeks, discreetly wiping them away with the back of my hand.

Their three older biological children didn't have many chores. They moved freely around the home, talked back to each other and to the parents and joked and laughed.

I was just trying to survive another day with a broken heart full of painful loss.

Many nights, after everyone went to bed, I would kneel on my pillow at the end of my metal cot and look out through the open window. I'd cast my eyes upwards and silently scream for my mother.

"Momma! Where are you? Please come get me. I'm so scared. Please save me." And to make myself feel better, I'd pretend she would be driving up the dark, suburban street. She wouldn't be alone in the car though, because I always imagined her with someone like an auntie or perhaps my dad. They would ultimately save me from that cold, cold house.

It never happened.

Ever since I was a young child, I was used to taking care of myself. I never asked for anything because I felt I wasn't worthy enough to even ask for anything. When I was fourteen years old, my adopted mother noticed two open sores on either side of my chest. The wire in my old training bra had worn through the fabric and had rubbed against my skin until my raw skin split open. I didn't know I had to alert anyone. I had been emotionally, physically and mentally beaten down. I had extremely low self-esteem and seldom spoke. My adopted father would make fun of my voice if I did try to speak so I learned it was best to protect myself by not speaking. And on top of that, I didn't care enough for myself to ask for help.

In 2013, I met the man who was to be my husband. It was so easy to fall in love with him. My life, up until that point, was all about taking care of myself. I met kind people in my life but I wasn't ready to accept those types of people into my life because I was jaded and guarded. My spouse broke through those barrier so easily by his consistent kindness. It was the way he spoke, his attention to my every need and attentiveness to my physical well-being. For the first time in my life, I started trusting. He was constant and true to his word. I had neglected so much in my life because I didn't know how to use my voice for myself. This special man truly listened to every word I said and when I didn't use my voice, he would speak the words for me. He knew how to get through to this broken child inside.

I'm not saying he did all the work to break down my walls. I have worked on myself since I was a teenager and I still continue to work through the myriad of issues the 60s Scoop had wrought.

The most powerful tool I have for whenever the voices from the past get too loud, are my grown children. I made certain their voices were strong as they grew up. I told them early on that if I ever act or do something that is uncomfortable for them, or I'm being unfair or a jerk towards them, I gave them the power to tell me. If need be, to yell at me. I needed them to protect themselves because that line was muddied for me. I wanted them to walk in strength and to never take shit from anyone, especially their parent(s). But the one thing I did on a constant basis, was to let them know that they are truly loved.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I want you to remember, that if those voices from your past get too loud and are too much, you need to know what's inside your toolbox. If you don't have a toolbox, it's time to create it. Create it and fill it with all the most special and beautiful things from your life now, the past and the future.

For me, it's my small tribe: Samantha, Jack, Gwen, Jon, Carol and a handful of Sister-Friends.

In the Unseen World, it's: Creator, Ancestors and Spirits

Sage and Prayers are in my toolbox as well. The sage keeps everything smelling sweet and reminds me of my times in the sacred ceremonies.

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