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The smell of that lethargic stand of great trees, rich and black, filled me with an unfamiliar sense of safety and belonging. Old growth on a lake in northern Michigan was a once-a-year sanctuary for me when I was a little girl. I rowed along the shores to the belly-deep cries of the frogs. As evening descended, the loons called. I had no age or affliction here and there were no blows raining down upon me, nor insults, nor the opressive knowledge that I would "get it" no matter what, even if I begged, even if I kept silent and hid in my toy oven with the muffled sound of my own heart.

The sanctity of this place was all that I had. I stood in the groves where bears and a few remaining wild turkeys passed and breathed in the air where trees grew ancient and died and more trees grew from their carcasses.

Four years old. Five years old. Six, seven, eight.The beatings stopped when we left the man my father but never the sense of oppression, claustrophobia. Then the panic attacks.

I coudn't go back; we were too poor to come anymore.

I could remember, though, I could draw it up through me like a straw. I could squeeze from my memory a love and safety that would never leave me. Bloody nose, ugly, rat-faced fat girl.

Then came the deathwish and the hospitals.

I forgot how to breathe.


I am there again, I can breathe.

The family sells the property. Now I am a woman. I have changed my name to that of my home; my family the forest approves: loam.

I have a little girl of my own now; no blows, no insults, no man greets her. My heart beats loud and gladly. My love ... Oh, sister...

I am home


This is a story from the yOni women's circle
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