She wasn’t sure how long she’d been screaming, and she couldn’t fathom why no one responded to her screams. Until she woke up, and realized no sound was coming from her open mouth. She opened her eyes, but it was too dark to see. She didn’t know how long she’d been unable to see. There was something constraining her, so that she was unable to move to the right or left, as if she were wrapped in layer after layer of some impenetrable shroud.
Choked by fear, she longed for sleep, but the memories flooded her mind; she could not quiet the voices.
-How could you be so stupid?
-I only do this because I love you.
-You’re too sensitive.
-Just wait until your father gets home.
Blood was running from her side—she didn’t remember that wound. She had several open wounds on her body, but she wasn’t sure where all of them came from. Her father had a wound just like the one on her side. When she gingerly touched it, she saw her father wince as his daddy’s belt came down on him. Another place, on her thigh, and she heard her grandmother’s cries in the darkness. A wound near her breast, that of every woman she’d known who felt pushed down, trying always to prove themselves, but never considered good enough.
There were bruises on her feet, her arms, her cheeks. These bruises she remembered on the man she married, in the hope that he would dress her open wounds, but he had too many of his own.
Then there was the ache in her heart, the crushing feeling on her chest, so she felt she couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t stand it anymore, couldn’t move even enough to dress her own wounds; she had to get out. So she started pushing, clawing, scooting. So closed in and so dark, yet there was the faintest hint of light ahead. A desire to see what was out there.
The bindings scraped at her wounds, stuck to her skin. Sometimes she would stop to weep, unsure whether she could go on. But the harder she pushed upward, the more light she could see, and the looser the binds became. Small shafts of light started coming in, and if the light touched a wound, she felt the bleeding stop. The wound was still there, but not as raw.
Sometimes the light got so bright it burned her eyes, and she scooted back down into the darkness, to the comfort of her pain. The rawness of her wounds returned, but it was familiar to her. The salty taste of her tears was comfort food.
But then she’d feel the weight on her chest and, fearing suffocation, she’d start back up, curious to see what the light would reveal. The air became lighter, and smelled fragrant. As the light grew brighter, she felt herself drawn to it, and lifted somehow towards it.
Suddenly, her binding fell loose, and she blinked at the radiance. She had never seen such color or breathed such freshness! The wind came and picked her up, and she found she had wings. She opened them, and drifted along, but her heart started beating faster, frightening her, so she settled on a quiet place, looking for her bindings. Unable to find them, she contemplated making new ones, but the wind came again, and she couldn’t resist it.
Swallowing her fear, she let herself glide, and she was overwhelmed by the bliss of freedom. Looking down at her wounds, she saw only scars, felt only dull pangs where the raw bleeding had once been. Indeed, her whole being was transformed, and she smiled, laughed even, letting the wind lift her and carry her to new and greater heights than she had ever achieved.
Written for a Domestic Violence Awareness worship service