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My Mother’s Abuse and the Two Things That Have Helped Me Heal

“I love when people that have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.” ~Stephanie Sparkles

I have a tattoo on my back of Charles Bukowski’s quote “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” It spoke to me as I had been walking, often crawling, through a fire for much of my life.

At times, I took different paths, skipping through fields of flowers, but eventually I would find my way back to what I knew, which gave me a strange sense of comfort—the fire whose roots had begun in childhood, with my .

I used to be consumed by this fire. I have another tattoo on my foot that reads “Breathe.” For years I lived with a very dysregulated nervous system, constantly alerting me to the threats of the flames forming around me, and breath was something that eluded me.

How could I breathe when at any moment she could walk up the stairs and find something to lash out at me over?

How could I breathe when no one wanted to hear how I felt, and my emotions were something I did not understand, nor know how to handle?

How could I breathe when everything was so frightening?

How could I breathe when no one ever showed me how?

Those entrusted to my care were in their own fires that they had never learned to come out of. So of course, as I grew, I felt unsafe and uneasy. And I learned to ignore my breath, ignore that others were able to feel it move through their body, and learned to see only flames everywhere. 

I grew up in a traditional home as a child of immigrants who had come to the USA for work and to give their children a better life. I went to Catholic school, where I threw myself into academics as a way to be seen, and excelled. My parents were excellent cooks

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Charles Bukowski

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