As a British Algerian Queer disabled woman, Roann's writing often speaks to the conflict or revelations that exist within her life experiences. Writing conversation pieces, sketches, shorts and features that are representative and value unheard stories and voices is the throughline in Roann's written work. Most recently being published in LGBTQ arts review's Debut Zine.
THESE ARE MY SCARS.
They say that trauma leaves us with emotional scars.
The skin is never the same again. The once open wound heals the best it can. What is left, reminds us of what happened; perhaps our body’s way of saying, ‘Whatever happens to you I will do everything I can to make a semblance of what was before.’
I have experienced sexual abuse & violence. I spent a decade open-wounded, self-medicating and distracting myself from feelings or memories and it took that same amount of time to be able to express what I had experienced out loud.
July 2018, I went on a 3-day course. One exercise on the first day, was to tell a story that we had been ‘suffering with’ to the person next to us. When it was my turn, it took a while, but then I finally found a voice, cracked, sodden and meek but a voice nonetheless; and I told my story. I heard my story, outside the four walls of my head, for the first time.
If you have ever been in a room and witnessed a trapped fly, buzzing around without a clue, circulating ahead, trying to find an opening to escape to; bumping itself against the walls that trap it. The angrier it gets the louder it buzzes and buzzes, louder and louder, circulating constantly.
This is the only way I can describe what not sharing my story of suffering for a decade felt like. The fly was in my brain and the buzzing was relentless; ‘If that happened to me, I must be worthless - Buzz’, ‘If that happened to me, I must have asked for it - Buzz’, ‘If that happened to me, I am nothing – Buzz.’
It will never cease to amaze me that telling someone about the fly and all it’s buzzing allows my mouth to be the open window it was looking for.
October 2018, I wrote an autobiographical one-woman show about sex, including that story. 42 performances and not once did I cry. I am healed, I thought quietly.
Healed – Sorted out – Great! - Dealt with – Processed - Done and dusted.
I was surprised to find that my scars could bleed. I think this is what distinguishes the emotional from the physical, metaphorical from the literal.
My scars bleed, when I least expect it. I can never be ready or set. It feels out of my control and often the lack of control alone can leave me feeling helpless.
I cannot erase the past, I know this. I don’t know what the future holds, if I did, I would monetise it. So all I can do is be in the present. But when the past hurls itself crashing into my present, I can’t breathe. I can’t think clearly, if at all, and all my scars feel as if someone has picked them apart with a seam ripper. Leaving me swimming, drowning, fighting for my life in a pool of blood.
So now I know. These scars are a different kind.
When they open, I know I have to focus on keeping my head above blood, just trying to stay afloat, trusting the the pool will drain out for cleaning and I’ll be dry and safe again. Just wait.
Over the last year, practising treading blood is an important muscle I continue to work on. The more I practise, the easier it should get.
Reading books that sooth my mind. Allowing tears to fall and not equating them to weakness. Having someone who sees me for all of my tenses and will love me even when I do not love myself. Trusting someone to listen so that I can set the fly momentarily free. And choosing to forgive, instead of blaming myself each day.
But mostly, it is the acceptance of not being able to change the past and that, without a doubt, is the hardest to achieve.
So many womxn have these scars. So many are experiencing the turbulence of what it is to heal. Together we are bound by trauma, each case unique, both in its actuality and aftereffects. Whether we feel it or not, whether we like it or not, we are united.
We have been stolen from and yet we have been left richer. I promise.
So, I choose to kiss my scars each night.
Thank them for having healed. Rub the metaphorical vitamin E oil on them.
The acknowledgment of them may bring a tear, but not the usual tears of pain and rage and resentment and sadness. Not when I choose to kiss.
I did not choose to have you, but I can choose to accept you. And love you. For I am the only one that can. And you deserve to be loved, every day.
They say that trauma leaves us with emotional scars. I believe it to be true.