This I Believe

Janice - The Colony, Texas, Texas
Entered on February 7, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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This I firmly believe: “Shared personal stories offer healing and peace.”

I am a poet, actress, and a volunteer.

My first taste of poetry awoke early in life to the sounds of mother’s songs as we sat in a rocking chair, and the poems read spread out in summer picnics for the mind and Mother Goose rhyme in her melodic voice.

Age five, the feast increased via this saucy crudite’: “Mama caught a chicken thought it was a duck, put him on the table with his tail turned up. Couldn’t keep from laughing to save her soul, to see the grease a-running outta his tail hole.”

Privileged fed, I felt tapped into Honor Society!

In 1945 when my father returned from the Army after WWII, my life changed. Abruptly.

From living with my grandparents in a household of adoring aunts and uncles passing

through, my parents and I moved into a house of our own.

Tension and dysfunction crept in around us and I couldn’t understand why.

I tell you now, this is my story, beliefs, and experiences. Not anyone else’s. They must share their own story.

By my tenth summer, we lived on Oak Street in the South. Hurricane Hazel had yet to come. I often fell asleep in a blue-walled cocoon of Hardy and Drew.

The slammed fist on the table outside startled me. Light pierced my blackened room like a crusading blade slid under the door. My father is home.

From their room, I hear her muffled cry–the closed mouth and teeth whimper of a wounded deer–my wounded mother. Cornered. Primal.

I hear a slap, a thud against the outer wall. The fan oscillates in my room. Back and forth.

Back and forth.

I sit up in bed, pulling my pillow and knees tight to my chest. Tears stream into my silent,

open mouth–survival comes in the eye of the storm: “If I can hurt myself more than anyone, then no one else can ever hurt me.”

Throughout all the checkerboard turmoil in those early years, I never doubted that my parents loved me. I felt their love.

I was asked, however, to remain silent about the painful experiences that went on in our home. I remained silent, loyal, and obedient.

After years of therapy and self re-parenting, I know now that love and loyalty to one’s soul and inner-being supercedes obedience and silence.

Family dysfunction exhibited the ways of wounding and war in the home. Counseling and poetry gave me back my voice to share and to act.

I volunteered time with a women’s shelter for three years. For the past two years, I’ve been a cast member of Eve Ensler’s play, “The Vagina Monologues,” in Plano and Dallas, Texas.

Collectively, from both group’s performances, we earned over $5000 to help stop domestic violence, assault, and rape.

Sharing and listening to personal stories…this I believe…is our best capital asset towards healing and peace.

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