I wrote this poem many years ago but have tried to ‘tidy’ it up a bit to put on here. I haven’t written this to shock or upset anyone but to use this as a way of showing how I learned about some of my fears. Before I understood what effect the abuse had on me I used to be unable to lie in bed on a Saturday or Sunday and hear my mother in the kitchen making breakfast or clinking cutlery or the sound of crockery but I would be unable to move and would pull the sheets and blankets over my head and cry, but not understand why. Later I would get up and be angry and full of rage and that night go out and get drunk and have sex with any man who showed interest in me. When I was married, if I heard my husband downstairs making breakfast and I heard the kitchen noises and perhaps smelled toast, I would wait for him to bring me a cup of tea and I would make him have sex with me because I felt powerful and desirable. I always felt terrible afterwards but convinced myself it was because I was a passionate sexual being and again would get up full of rage and destruction. Obviously this didn’t happen every time he brought me a cup of tea nor was I always the one having a lie-in, but always when I heard the noises. When I began to learn about sexual abuse and the effects it had on a child I related many of these feelings I had to it and in particular the kitchen noises. I’m not saying that all sex I had made me feel terrible, just when it happened on particular days and at particular times. I realised that the noises linked directly to the sound of my mother downstairs in the kitchen with my two young brothers, and me in bed with my father and being abused by him. The relief and release I felt when I connected these noises and smells to the abuse was more than I can adequately describe here, but it was life-changing for me. I no longer am affected by kitchen noises and I no longer get angry and full of rage like that, but it took a long time and a lot of talking and challenging myself. So I wrote this little poem about those Saturday and Sunday mornings. I wish sometimes I could have actually asked my father these questions. I also related some of my sense of ‘waiting’ to the abuse, as if the world was standing still. There’s also the feeling I have of silence and of everything being muffled and separate. I still have great fear in my life but it’s about different things and I am still working out where they come from. I have solved a few but not all.
Did you ever think when we lay there
in that front bedroom
window to the right of the bed
I remember the window because I lay on my right side
with my back to you
some of the times
I remember your hands quietly carefully
so as not to disturb me I was asleep you see
Pulling inch by inch my nightdress
Up past my knees.
Up past my ……
Carefully and oh so gently
Did you know that I was awake?
Did you ever stop
ever consider what you were doing to me
A little girl?
My eyes were screwed up tightly
Like my body like my ……
Still I cannot say some things
You knew I was not asleep
The careful quiet oh-so-gentle pulling up of the nightdress
was part of it