She lies fearful in the shell, bound and gagged by the silence she’s used to.
The thought and the realisation hits her slowly. She can’t possibly speak out, because speaking out causes pain for more than just herself.
So she stays there in her shell for years expecting the shell to keep her safe, assuming that he won’t keep getting her but he always does, he breaks through that shell and takes all he can from her innocent youth.
It breaks her, it shatters her small unformed personality and she lies there.
Her shell smashed to sharp pieces around her and she lies there waiting to die.
She is vulnerable, naked and cold, she doesn’t know when she will be hidden by the shell again. Its the fear that he’ll come back that gets to her, the fear that she will have no warning because there is no shell there to save her, even though it never does anyway.
She waits patiently for the shell to form back over her body, but this time when it does, she is older, wiser, and understands the harshness of the world outside her shell.
She knows this time the shell can’t keep her safe and as she grows, so does the shell.
It grows as big as she does and the colour of the shell lightens, it becomes thin and transparent. Easily breakable.
He breaks through again for the last time. He knows the weakest points of her shell now and he shatters it under his uninvited touch.
Once again she is left naked, alone and without her shell, she is scared and doesn’t know yet again if her shell will re-form. She waits in anxious fear that it won’t.
But it does, and as the shell grows up and around her curled up body, she feels a shift and this time the shell around her grows thicker, stronger and more able to contain her small broken body.
She waits for him to come.
For him to come and destroy her again because she doesn’t know that she’s safe now, so she stays there, hidden in her shell.
Safe and strong yet so incredibly weak.
No one comes in and not even she wants to get out.
Over the years the shell changes colours, red, greens, blues. Her body grows stronger inside the shell, as does her underdeveloped personality, she doesn’t know who she is here in this shell and she starts to wonder; Is there more to this?
She lies quietly, curled into herself, with her hair in her face when she begins to weep. She weeps because the loneliness is too much to bare.
The more she cries, the more she learns of her pain. Of the things that he did to her. She continues to cry until she has grown and learnt too much for her small mind to bare. She doesn’t want to be this, this shell isn’t all that she is, it can’t be, this shell can’t be all she will know.
Suddenly the shell starts to crumple around her and she is left outside in the air, bewildered and uncertain.
The pieces of shell lie around her and with tears streaming down her face she stands up proudly, something she has never known.
She looks around; emptiness and darkness engulf her and she spirals back down onto the ground, she is helpless and she begs meekly:
“Please come back”
Until someone offers her a hand, she reaches up and takes the warm hand.
In time she realises that the shell; the shell that contained her for so long is actually within her, and she was just lying there in the cold air waiting for someone all along because she was nothing to herself, because no one had taught her she was something. Because all she had was him and the abuse.
She was waiting for someone who wanted to protect her, someone to really love her like she deserved to be loved. Someone to be there with her through all her pain. Someone who didn’t want to hurt her and she needed someone to make her see that the shell can’t keep her safe, that the shell can only help her learn, even through the tears.
This person who offers his hand, saves her, every day.
She survives for all they create together.
These days the shell still contains her heart for her.
Every time she loses faith in her journey, in herself, the shell contains her pain for her. She outgrows it every now and then.
And the hand is always there to remind her:
That she learns with the pain and each time she learns the shell becomes bigger and bigger until it can’t hold the pain for her anymore and shatters, over and over.
That she learns that when it smashes into pieces it is only because she has grown.
It holds her pain like a full river, overflowing when it rains, when she can’t hold it.
She will shatter the shell many many times and she will fall apart each and every single time but each time a new shell will form around her and her heart, but at least now she knows that she will grow into it and one day it won’t always need to hold her heart for her.