Turtle is my spirit animal

I would love to say my spirit is a tiger or a mountain lion, an eagle or a hawk, a deer or a horse, but they are not realistic. I am a turtle in pretty much every way. I have carried my home with me everywhere with the baggage as well. I retreat within my walls at the slightest provocation. I am soft and gentle wrapped within a shell that can withstand any force. I survive. I know how to do that.
I have survived by hiding and keeping secrets my whole life. I have hidden the secrets so far within myself that finding the roots of my fears and worries is like going on an archaeological dig Indiana Jones style, only it’s all adrenaline and very little of what most people would call reward. My rewards are tears streaming down my face as I speak words no little girl should ever know. My rewards come in torrents of memories that beat my mind and body and spirit as I trip through my acceptance journey. Rewards are days when I am fully present at an everyday event, and even when I am triggered I do not retreat but allow others to see my reality. Rewards are experiencing the wide variance of emotions and not just the extremes.
I have carried my safety with me since I was little afraid to set aside the thick protection crafted from my survival. There has really never been a person I have allowed past more than a few layers. There are layers upon layers built upon each other until my shell is diamond strength from years of pressure and fire. I cannot even penetrate the depths of my heart. The secrets even hide from me. I seek them out, and pursue them one by one. I chase the roots of my pain to find the end that I may rip out the poison and release a little more of the light shine in the dark. My shell is not as whole as it was once. I have opened many wounds and ripped the roots from deep inside. I still carry my shell, and seek to retreat within whenever my heart or pain is exposed.
I have recently begun sharing my truth. I have told several people I was trained for sex at the age of 4 and trafficked by my Pastor and his wife. I say the words or type them in a forum, and as soon as they react, I must run away. It is not that I am not heard or that they are not supportive. It is that I cannot believe they believe. Why would they believe? How could they believe? How could they say my how that must have been hard? How could they believe it was bad? It couldn’t have been that bad. It wasn’t that bad. I would rather deny my own validation, my own truth than believe it is on par with all survivors truth. I run from it. The more I speak, the more my heart runs wild wanting to escape. Secrets have been my life. But secrets are not easy to hold, and they become heavier with the passing of time.
I am the Turtle inching my way forward in my recovery and my healing. I am slow and steady. I am brave. I walk forward not able to see very far, taking each step in hope and faith that I am going the right way. I am strong from carrying this weight for so long, and I am able to handle the work as hard as it is to face. I still carry my walls with me, but there are fewer than ever before. My journey is continuing with each truth told, and the love I am shown in return, even when I run from that love. There will come a day where I will stand and take that love and accept it as my own. That love will be more worthy of my time than all of the secrets I have carried for too long. That love is lighter than air and relieves the force of what has been holding me down all these years.
My spirit animal is a turtle, and it truly is a thing of beauty.

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