“We tell ourselves lies to bear the truth.”
Dr. Dan Allender
“Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?”
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Once upon a time, in a land that now seems far, far away, I lived a life of eternal summer—a fairytale that was true. At least, I believed it to be true, and I believed with such sincerity that if belief alone could make something true, it would have become real. If only…My real life was more like The Truman Show. The mirage shattered when memories of complex trauma returned, and my entire world view crumbled to my feet.
Looking at the rubble around me, my head spins with vertigo. I feel bewildered and disoriented. Dust hangs in the air so thickly I put a scarf over my nose and mouth as my lungs begin to reject it with wracking coughs. I fear I might vomit, and indeed, I might. The memories bear such horror and devastation. The very foundation beneath me was false, and it feels as though I no longer know what’s true. Perpetually I feel like I need to sit down, put my head between my knees, and bring the blood back. I wish I could take a leave of absence.
Broken turrets, shattered French crystalline windows, peach silken curtains in shreds, cracked Italian marble patios, the earth beneath convulsing… a life in flames. I sink to my knees in wracking sobs, and cry out my surrender, “Uncle…uncle…uncle…” I long for the earthquake to stop. To find my footing. For comfort. For life to go back to how it was. Yet, I know I cannot unsee the truth. My fairytale must crumble, and I must learn what was true—my path of healing is through the rubble.
Both fairytale and trauma cannot be true–I must let one go–and in that there’s deep mourning. Either my childhood was Disneyland, or a genocide of heart, body, mind, and spirit. It’s been an excruciating wilderness, a journey through the Sahara. Intense culture shock pummels my body, as if my whole life I was a European baroness, only to uncover I’m an orphan on the streets of Rio whose eyes tell a story that haunts you.
The price tag of the truth, for me, is everything and I waver on the edge of sacrificing myself for a semblance of normality.
Over time, I’ve come to understand my fairytale was an extreme to counter the extremity of my real childhood—like two weights in an old-fashioned scale—my childhood so unbearable that my mind hid the memories. I dissociated from the terror by living in my books. I was the 5th Pevensie in the Chronicles of Narnia, and felt the sea spray as the Dawn Treader sailed to the utter East. I dreamed of rescue by my own knight in shining armor, and my own happily ever after.
My childhood was not the Enchanted Forest. It was a Siberian winter without coat, mittens, boots, hat, or scarf. A land that was “always winter and never Christmas,” as C.S. Lewis puts it. I was sent there by people I loved. In my hypothermia, the fairytale gave me a false warmth to cope with the death of my heart and soul as I was trafficked, tortured, and endured unspeakable atrocities. Yet, Father Christmas sometimes made it into Siberia. Sometimes, there were good things in my childhood, and they make my struggle harder than if it had only been darkness. My desire to hold onto the good, and deny the dark, is overwhelming.
Yet, in all of this, there have been blessings. Blessings I would lose if I denied the horror. For the first time the puzzle pieces of my life have fitted, and much I’ve not understood about myself, and my life, now make sense. My intense self-hatred begins to lessen, as I accept I was not to blame. The seeds of kindness begin to sprout as I accept there’s nothing a small child could have done to rescue herself from such violent, heinous crimes. My muscles begin to lessen their iron grip as I grieve how vulnerable and unprotected I was. Gradually, I let go of the noose around my neck that my perpetrators placed in my hands…
The cost of my healing is unspeakably high. The future looks grim, and so alone. But for the first time, the sun is beginning to rise on the far horizon, and as it’s pale rays touch my skin, the shackles begin to fall, and I taste freedom.
Marín has begun a long journey toward healing from complex trauma, and invites you to be a part of her archaeological pilgrimage through the truths she’s only beginning to know herself. Through tears she’s starting to find beauty again in life, writing, artistic expression, adventure, curiosity, community, spirituality, and bringing goodness to her body. More than anything, she treasures her time with her husband and their adored four-footed friend. Marín cherishes being part of the Red Tent community and to free her to share the rawness of her soul with you, she requests anonymity.