This is an article that I have clung onto for years, and in times of deep depression, despair and hopelessness, has brought me comfort. Thank you K, whoever you are…. Your words have helped me for years.
MERCY (for me and my Best Friend and for every other survivor of torture) By K.
What if you put up your tortured eyelids one more time and brought your full palms towards yourself towards your heart that limps and stutters as if it too barely survived maleficent torment – and it did, the blue crackle scorching its rhythm, the blood seeping out faster than its faithful milkmaid self could churn and replace into the gouged vessel, the oxygen stolen in fistfuls as your head stormed frantically under water two large implacable hands pushing on the back of your neck – and what if the fullness of your palms was mercy?
What if you took your own trembling hand and walked yourself away from the rack and chains and needles and flame and knife and whip and broomstick and penis and cattle prod, walked yourself away from believing that you belong on that cold slab of a table where they once stopped your heart and your child soul wandered the universe terrified by being dead and alone until they brought you back, the table where the blood seeped and stained and ran like money into their greedy hands, what if you heard your own voice telling you that you deserve a warm whole weltless skin, knitted bones, unburnt neurons, muscles healed of swelling and ruptures, blood humming in vessels not pooling under the skin rotting turning purple then yellow, what if you gave the creature of your body kisses and blankets and feathers and bandages and an unstitched mouth?
What if you held your body while it spoke, what if you believed its every word, what if you helped it wash using its tears as soap, what if you watched it dress and promised that this time it would be allowed to keep its clothes? What if you slid a safe hand along your muscles and were kind to the quivering that would come sure as shale and as loud, what if you held your terrified breath in your ears and owned it owned it even as you carefully unwrinkled a memory of hands around your throat rolling up your lungs like an old camping mattress, what if you gentled your timorous feathers with a wise finger and warm air and time like bread-giving yeast, what if you let your body make blood and then hold on to every red ounce?
What if you told your body it was precious, what if you actually believed it, what if you loved its clenched shoulders and compressed lungs during a routine visit to the chiropractor the allergist the hairdresser, what if you listened when it said I don’t want to undress in front of strangers, what if you gave it mangos and nut milk and soft covers and songs and walks in the park and encounters with trees and blueberries and poetry because that’s what made your muscle fibers unfurl from coils tight as anchor ropes and gulp in air, what if you cried with it and stroked its hunched disappointed back when your poverty stripped you of the only means to give it enough nourishment, what if you patiently soothed it into clothes rather than yanking them on with the harshness of manacles, what if you loved it even when it stood before you damaged: scarred twisted hurting weak bruised gasping ill fragile some of its nerves crushed or eaten away and the damage stopped you from doing daily tasks, like a rusted car that wouldn’t go, what if you didn’t shout at and shame your courageous corroded body, what if you told it that it wasn’t useless that it didn’t fail you that you still wanted to live, what if you felt its dog devotion gratitude for your acceptance, pouring in like rainwater and just as jobless, what if you resisted the urge to call it pathetic and push its shaggy head off your feet, what if you just held it through the pain and the tremors and the loss of strength and the numbness like cold sea tide, knowing it might not ever heal? What if you loved your body in/through/with its catastrophic damage because what happened to you was nothing short of catastrophe, because two decades of torture leaves bite marks on your bones and corrosion in your nerves and shreds your muscles, because it’s a fucking wonder you made it and your body was so brave and good and caretaking throughout it all and it needs you now when the stains of damage spread and widen as they must after a cataclysm, when its weakness is not failure but simply inevitability like the kiss of gravity, when its courage is courage no less even when it cannot alter the truth waking in your tissues?
What if you loved your body fiercely and without reservation loved its every hurt fiber, every scar every cracked bone, and what if you decided to love all of you and make no mistake it would be a decision hard and sweaty and gritty like gravel, what if you threw yourself into loving you your soul your heart your mind your all? What if you let the love make you tender and generous and kind and painstaking and forgiving to yourself? What if you gently scooped up memories when they come in ragged shoes and smelly clothes, what if you held them against your warmth till they stopped trembling and settled into you and showed you the details and maggots and bloody gashes and piss of your past, and you still held their gory smelly selves because they’re yours and they brought you your truth had held onto its sharp secret for you all this time? What if through remembering you slowly put your jigsaw self together the gore and stains and smell side by side with the lavender blossom and sparkle and your singing mathematical mind and ticklish feet and pretty bellybutton and lily-shape hips and uneven back and scarred lip and merciful soul and curly hair and bulging discs in your spine? What if you saw that there was enough of you rescued from the rubble, that you had a human shape that you belonged here and now, that you took up space, your space, that you had a presence a voice a motion a shadow? What if – breath in breath out heart squeeze release – you lived?
What if you helped another victim of torture live? What if you started an epidemic of living, what if all those whose tired animal skins were working on giving up, whose mortally bruised hearts spoke only suffering and despair, slowly drew sap into their dying trunks feeling green dizzily chlorophylled hope spread itself ubiquitously like dust to every cell every crevice, what if we released our stranglehold on our own throat and let our eyelids clamber up once more let our heart abandon syncope for a clear steadfast entitled rhythm sweet like bicycle wheels let our mouth talk and kiss and eat and breathe: such a pink-red triumph! What if you lived, what if we all made it, what if you were there lending a hand like a lifejacket, lending words to hold, lending your breath? What if you lived, what if we all made it, what if you living helped us make it, what if your life had meaning, made a difference, was unexpendible?