A Letter to Someone Who Listened to Me

by | Aug 30, 2021 | Letters | 0 comments

Letter 12: To Someone who Listened to Me

TW: Abuse, graphic self-harm, suicide.

Your eyes, ice blue, scanned like a vulture’s. Saw the abuse already in my life and knew how to draw the poison out with sweet words and small favours. You promised to keep my secrets first, so later I would keep yours. You saw what no other could, listened where no other would. You were cool. Funny. A woman. A would-be big sister or mother figure.

And you were clever. You drew eight of us in, like a cloak, around you. Had us play with one another so our mutual shames and obligations would obscure you until it was too late. Always there, pulling the strings in the centre of everything.

There are too many first things and worst things that happened with you, to go through them all. Too many moments of singular and unique pain to choose. I pick this one because I see the scar every day. I can see it now.

It was night. September. The seasons were changing fast, and I was changing too. Shifting from 13 to 14. My first period had finally arrived, years after everyone else’s. That evening, you were “playing” with K and I at my house. I’ll never be able to fathom how my parents could think an adult woman with a career and a car coming round to hang out with their kid was normal.

We were playing at cutting ourselves. You taught us how to take apart disposable razors to create blades we could use. Faltering with breaking the plastic guard off, I somehow wound up with the blade stuck half-way into my thumb. It was so sharp, I didn’t really feel it go in. There was something exquisite and awful about it. I felt how wrong it was. How dangerous.

K cut words into her skin.

And you slit your arm open.

The familiar calm of a child grown up to please and meet other’s needs descended over me. Compelled me to deal with it sensibly. But I’d never seen anything like the blood that poured forth from your arm.

It was more than you’d intended. You said so, and I believed you.

You knew exactly what you were doing. There was barely a spare inch of skin on your body that wasn’t latticed from years of deep cutting. Rationally, I already knew that. I’d seen your body before. But I was young and lies were as easy to swallow as candies. Thousands had already passed between the three of us. Thousands more would follow.

The cut necessitated stitches. Politely, you asked my parents if I could accompany you to the hospital, to apply pressure while you drove. My parents were drinking wine. I’m not sure they really noticed.

After the stitches, you insisted I stay with you. Said you were frightened to sleep alone, after all what if you bled in the night? Or couldn’t trust yourself not to cut more and more? You lived with your parents, but they were in respite. I’d already learned from my parents that it’s better to choose to hurt me, rather than risk hurting someone dangerous like you,

That was the first, but not the last time that I stayed overnight. That I stayed there alone. I woke up with your blood spilled over me, sticking my fine body hairs to the sheets. I fought hard and won, not to cry peeling it off. Just like I was always told – put the crying face away, put on the happy face. There were too many firsts that night. But none of it was the worst.

I blamed my mum for a portion of everything. That she never listened; never warned me; never held me; never fought for me; never looked closely; never showed patience; never protected me; never thought; never questioned; never loved. I hated her unwillingness to see my pain – how even when I threw it in her face, it would slip right off like water against glass.

Something changed when I started healing the relationship with her. She had cancer, and I moved back home to help take care of everyone and everything. I was also doing my final two years of my degree and going through a horrible divorce. It was a perfect storm.

In the eye of that storm, I saw my mum for her, for the first time. Daughter of a violent, mostly orphaned mum who never learned to love until her children had children. Who fused bones with her batterings and split hearts with her words. Daughter of a father who was as bad or worse. A girl who couldn’t love or listen, more than she’d been loved or listened to. I started loving her. I chose to listen.

The gift in doing so, was that I finally saw you for the first time. Instead of the violent monster, I found I could see the wounds.

A child carer from the age of two, tending to the two most profoundly physically and learning disabled couple I have ever met.

An unwanted gift, born against all medical advice, unsupported by family and generally deeply unwished.

A thousand scars stitched together into a body all made of pain, sharp edges, bitterness and hard, hard things.

An only one, with no idea what sisterhood or friendship was, or how to have it. No parent could have let their child come to your house. I suspect no child would have wanted to come either. Children can be so cruel in the face of difference.

A patient who had spent most of the decade between ten and twenty in and out of residential psychiatric care.

Abused. I have no evidence but what my heart tells me. Your models for connection were so damaged. When you saw my pain, you knew too much not to know it as your truth. You replicated how people first connected with you.

Drugs, alcohol, sex, self-harm, and more came into my life through you, but you didn’t create them. We lived the smaller replication of a much bigger pattern.

I would never wish the terrible damage you did on anyone. But I no longer believe you consciously did all of it because you were evil. You were born into the hardest life I’ve ever witnessed. That heavily modified home, birthplace of so many of my nightmares, was created to accommodate your parents’ needs. There was no way – short of their deaths or yours – that you could ever leave it.

I don’t condone your actions. You brought me into a world of pain, with landmarks on my body, in my heart and mind, and in any physical space we ever walked, or talked, or did anything that you called “play.” The woods. The worst was in the woods.

But my anger is spent. I see how the system let you and your family down, and how systemic healing and change is required to create a better reality for everyone. Without big change, patterns continue to repeat over and over. If ever there was a time for healers and seers to serve, it’s now.

I made big changes in my life, to break the patterns in my family. I help others build healing and positive-change-focused businesses. I’d like to think you’ve done your work too.

However, deep in my bones, I believe you’re already gone from this world. Your parents are definitely long dead now. Maybe that’s a figment of my imagination. An artefact of having so fully released everything now, that there’s not a single thread left to cut. Or maybe it’s the truth.

Either way, the power you had over me is long gone, and even the aftershocks of it have passed. i’ve found a way into gratitude, of a sort, and it serves me. My path, good and bad, has brought me where I am, and I love it. I don’t have to hate you anymore. Hating you would give you power, and I’ve learned not to give my power away. I listen to me now. It was always me who I needed to listen to.


The past draws so much of our power away, even when it doesn’t feel like any kind of ‘trauma’ because it’s full of unintentional connections and ones we don’t know how to sever. Any negative attention directed back there creates loops that become like a short leash, somehow always bringing you back to where you started again. Changing how you relate to the past changes everything: the act of finally listening to yourself creates the space for new interpretations, insights and creativity to flood in.

Dr. Morgana McCabe Allan


There’s always more to LEARN

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Coach for Artisans

Morgana McCabe Allan is incredibly wise yet personable, revolutionary yet relational, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be coached through mindset calls with her. I will be hearing her words in my head for years to come!

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