I lay fearful in the shell, bound and gagged by the silence I’m used to.
The thought and the realisation hits me slowly. I can’t possibly speak out, because speaking out causes pain for more than just myself.
So I stay there in my shell for years expecting the shell to keep me safe, assuming that he won’t keep getting me but he always does, he breaks through that shell and takes all he can from my innocent youth.
It breaks me, it shatters me and my small unformed personality and I lay there.
My shell smashes to sharp pieces around me and I lie there waiting to die. Death never comes.
I am vulnerable, naked and cold, I don’t know when I will be hidden by the shell again. Its the fear that he’ll come back that gets to me, the fear that I will have no warning because there is no shell there to save me, even though it never does anyway.
I wait patiently for the shell to form back over my body, but this time when it does, I am older, wiser, and I understand the harshness of the world outside my shell.
I know this time that the shell can’t keep me safe and as I grows, so does the shell.
It grows as big as I do 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 my shell now and he shatters it under his uninvited touch.
Once again I am left naked, alone and without my shell, I am scared and don’t know yet again if my shell will re-form. I wait in anxious fear that it won’t.
But it does, and as the shell grows up and around my curled up body, I feel a shift and this time the shell around me grows thicker, stronger and more able to contain my small broken body.
I wait for him to come.
For him to come and destroy me again because I don’t know that I’m safe now, so I stay there, hidden in my shell.
Safe and strong yet so incredibly weak.
No one comes in and not even I want to get out.
Over the years the shell changes colours, red, greens, blues. My body grows stronger inside the shell, as does my underdeveloped personality, I don’t know who I am here in this shell and I start to wonder; Is there more to this?
I lay quietly, curled into myself, with my hair in my face and I begin to weep. I weep because the loneliness is too much to bare.
The more I cry, the more I learn of my pain. Of the things that he did to me. I continue to cry until I have grown and learnt too much for my small mind to bare. I don’t want to be this. This shell isn’t all that I am, it can’t be, this shell can’t be all I will know.
Suddenly the shell starts to crumple around me and I am left outside in the air, bewildered and uncertain.
The pieces of shell lie around me and with tears streaming down my face I stand up proudly, something I have never known.
I look around; emptiness and darkness engulf me and I spiral back down onto the ground, I am helpless and I beg meekly:
“Please come back”
When someone offers me a hand, I reach up and take the hand. And I speak out. Finally.
Eventually I realise that the shell; the shell that contained me for so long is actually within me, and I was just lying there in the cold air waiting for someone all along. I was nothing to myself, because no one had taught me that I was something more. Because all I felt I had was him and the abuse.
I had been waiting for someone who wanted to protect me, someone to really love me like I deserved to be loved. Someone to be there with me through all my pain. Someone who didn’t want to hurt me and I needed someone to make me see that the shell can’t keep me safe, that the shell can only help me learn, even through the tears.
This person who offers his hand, saves me, every day.
She survives for all they create together.
These days the shell still contains my heart for me.
Every time I lose faith in my journey, in myself, the shell contains my pain for me.
I outgrow it every now and then.
And the hand is always there to remind me:
That I learn with the pain and each time I learn the shell becomes bigger and bigger until it can’t hold the pain for me anymore and shatters, over and over. I learn that when it smashes into pieces it is only because I have grown.
It holds my pain like a full river, overflowing when it rains, when I can’t hold it.
I will shatter the shell many many times and I will fall apart each and every single time but each time a new shell will form around me and my heart, but at least now I know that I will grow into it and one day it won’t always need to hold my heart for me.