I am near the ocean now, I reluctantly step inside.
I have dreamt of water so many times.
Whales, orcas, and dolphins swimming deep—I enter their world.
Sometimes a guest, sometimes a target, sometimes I am one of them.
The water rises as I breathe shallow. The tide will pull me deep
if I don’t catch this coming wave right.
I should have known better than to explore this unpredictable, unforgivable, and vast ocean.
How can I escape? Will I drown all by myself?
Flashback: I offer him my soul if he will spare my life.
I bargain with the shadows of men in nightmares daily.
I make promises and search for an escape, but my body is not my own,
and now my body is on its own.
My spirit seeks refuge and weeps helplessly high in sympathetic trees.
I call out loud and hear my voice echo as it disappears into the vast blue open sky.
I can sense this man has no heart.
But my life will be spared by a breeze through the trees.
A fawn splinters a stick.
An angel exhales.
And he is gone.
I lay stunned and fragmented.
Tears and cells distorted on the forest floor.
My most sacred spaces mixed with dirt, and bugs, and blood, and bent grass.
I have to run, I have to escape.
I do not dare look back.
I gather what is left and leave most everything behind.
Inside there is a shallow nothingness, like the pool in early fall—dying leaves, hollow ground—memories of another life.
I begin to remember a future I will never feel.
How do you bring yourself back inside yourself?
What magic will make this inner space safe?
I attempt to make sense.
I try to use words, but 2 languages are not nearly enough.
I make art and sing songs. I try to create. I try to believe.
I try to be here now…
I flow with the current, too tired to resist.
Acceptance is my survival, and I choose to let go.
I surrender and soften into the dark ocean.
Deep water reflects my swirling brain and pulls on my leg with insatiable sadness.
It holds dreams and danger and, it decides when.
Floating in salty liquid, my fear seeps to the surface of my skin.
I ask the Atlantic the question that I know I must not ask:
Why me? Why me? Why me?
A wave surges, and I expand, stretch my whole self out across the crest…
Coughing in shallow water, sandy rocks slide beneath my flesh.
My body bobs and bends gently with the rising tide.
I breathe deeply into a new life and wait…
Hours pass before the sea begins to settle, and I can see clearly.
A smooth fin sends a ripple of circles across a still surface, and dissolves back
into the void without a trace.
A secret kept, a mystery too profound for our minds to contain.
Acceptance is my survival, and I choose to let it go.
Molly Boeder Harris is the Founder of The Breathe Network, a non-profit organization that connects survivors of sexual violence to holistic healing arts practitioners who provide trauma-informed, sliding-scale, mind-body-spirit oriented treatments to support embodied healing. Learn more at www.thebreathenetwork.org