Juliet Mcdonald: Who am I
This story has a trigger warning
This post is written by Juliet Mcdonald who attended the Rotherham Flourish project. The powerful story and poem are Juliet's first attempts to write about her experience of childhood trauma and identity, (un)recovery, and the transformative power of compassion. Trigger warning: childhood abuse.
I wanted to tell you a story. I wanted to tell you about a little girl. I wanted to call her ‘my friend’ or a ‘child’, but she is not my friend. She is not just ‘a child’. She is me. I have to take ownership of her, but that is painful. It makes me very angry when I admit that this child is me.
If it was another child I would feel angry too, but it would not be an anger aimed at a person who was supposed to take care of me, who was supposed to love me and cherish me.
Let me tell you why I feel so much anger. This child was almost two years old. She was not growing and thriving as she should have been. She did not have much hair; she was small and thin. Her teeth were not coming through, so they were going to lance her gums to let that happen. Luckily one little tooth started to come through before her appointment with the Dr came through.
She did not walk, she did not do much of anything, she just sat in a chair for long periods of time, not making a sound. Her mother was not too concerned about this. It made life easier when she had another child only 11 months older and another baby about to be born. And a very abusive husband.
The little girl just got lost in the middle. No one saw or knew her fear. No one knew she didn’t move because she was too afraid to do so. No one knew she didn’t make a sound because she didn’t want to get noticed. No one knew her hair, teeth, and body didn’t grow because she lived in so much fear.
Yes, they knew her father was cruel and abusive but they didn’t know this toddler could be afraid. After all, she didn’t cry; she didn’t scream; she didn’t have tantrums. The only thing she did was hold her breath until she passed out and that was easily dealt with by a quick slap.
Luckily, just before her second birthday she went to live with a foster family. She still didn’t cry but she learnt to walk and started to thrive. She was cared for, given affection and encouragement. She was living in a safe peaceful home. For the first time, she was a lucky little girl!
Then she went back to her mother, her older and younger brother, and a new father. The abuse was gone, never to return. The fear never left.
I am a daisy
small and insignificant
Happy to be one in a field full of daisies
together we are beautiful,
I do not wish to be anything else,
I am content to be a daisy
but maybe it would be magnificent to be a Gerbera,
I need to be noticed for what I am,
I am afraid of not being seen, of being stepped on and destroyed,
it only takes a careless moment [or word].
I am beautiful because nature made me. I am what I am.
I am surrounded by other daisies, never alone, yet profoundly lonely.
The best thing I ever learned was to love myself, even in my insignificance.
The worst thing I ever did was to hate what I am.
My favourite colour is blue, I look up at the sky, see the vastness, see the beauty,
Thank you for picking me!
Now I will die.
See me fly.