NOTE: This post deals with animal cruelty. Please do not read if this is a trigger for you. I sincerely hope that most of you won’t read it, but if you’ve experienced something similar, my intention is to let you know that you are not alone.
Maybe you’ve noticed that it’s been a few days since my last post. I got hung up on this story – should I tell it or not? It’s not a pretty story, and it won’t have a happy ending. It would certainly be easiest just to tell all of the fun stories, but that wouldn’t really show the full picture of who I am or what life is for most of us. So in the hope to be authentic – and not to seek pity or to place blame – I offer this story to bear witness to the preciousness of all life.
In my desire to share some of my life stories, I’ve started with my childhood – somewhat in a chronological order. I think this event happened when I was about 7 or 8 years old. Some of the details may be fuzzy since I’ve tried to block it out.
Our family was on vacation, visiting a relative. We were either visiting my aunt in Denver or possibly my grandparents (dad’s parents) in Manchester, Tennessee. I remember it was a beautiful spring day. I have a sense that my dad was doing some yard work. I remember heading out to the yard to see what was going on; my older brother was outside too.
I walked outside to find my dad and brother standing over a bird’s nest on the ground. It had fallen from a nearby tree. And there will little baby birds chirping away! It was amazing to see them up close! They barely had any feathers, and their little mouths were open and wanting to be fed.
I had just fixed my gaze in wonder at this incredible newness of life, when my brother began to stomp the birds to death. He smashed them all under his feet quite immediately and brutally. I was horrified and ran into the house, heaving with uncontrollable tears.
He believed that the momma bird would not return to the nest if it had the scent of human hands, if we had returned the nest to the tree. He believed that the birds would have suffered anyway, and he was putting them out of their misery, so to speak. While I could hear that rationale, I certainly could not understand it at that age.
What I’ve come to know about pain is that you can’t ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist. It will only fester and get worse. I’ve learned that you have to own it, to witness it, and it helps to have others who can hold space for you when you go through a tragedy. You have to feel it to heal it, or you risk going numb and wind up creating even more detours in your life that carry you further away from a life of love. You have to honor the scars that are part of the human experience, and in so doing, you honor and love and begin to heal yourself.
For me, turning pain into art helps to heal the broken heart. Today I’m an avid bird watcher; it brings me great joy. Thanks for holding space for me and for the birds.
Did you suffer any early trauma? If so, you can simply say yes below without sharing any painful details. I know many of you have suffered so much worse. We can honor the memory with love and gratitude for life and for the lessons learned.
This post is part of a personal writing series for 2020, Owning My Story
© January 29, 2020