Nothing will ever "fix" it, or make it go away - but it haunts me a little less now. It isn't something I have to hide any more. It's lost some of it's power over me.
I thought that in light of all of that, I would share where that experience took me in the days immediately following - parts of this story those who know me well have heard, but the parts that made me stronger, the parts that helped me survive, I've kept to myself all these years. Hidden from all but a very select few ears (I could count them on one hand in fact). Why? I guess it was so deeply personal - so precious - so... mine... that I didn't want anyone else to have it. It was one beautiful thing that I could keep inside and nobody could ever take away from me; because this story is about how I became not just a priestess - but a daughter - of the Morrigan.
It was only three days since I'd been...raped. I was alone in my suffering, a little girl, lost in a sea of darkness. It happened to be Sunday morning, and we headed off to church. I was clad in my usual attire of a button up white shirt, denim skirt, and keds with white socks. I'd been reminded by my mother that I needed to pray at the altar and ask forgiveness for what happened when the altar call happened at the end of the service. I was told that it was possible that I wasn't saved and that I should think about that. That I wouldn't want to not get to go to heaven. I was reminded that I was dirty now.
But something interesting happened on that particular day.
For whatever reason, the pastor of our church decided to preach a message on the sin of suicide. He talked about how it was the worst thing that you could do, and that if you did it, you could never go to heaven. That you'd go to hell. And then he said something that changed my worldview - you wouldn't be able to spend eternity with your loved ones. Your family.
Now, it had never occurred to my little girl mind that I had the power to change my situation until just that moment. And I recall thinking that going to hell was the most wonderful thing I could imagine. That perhaps the "devil" wasn't a villain after all. That he was saving broken people from the unforgiving eyes of the saved. That he took them somewhere that the "good" people would never want to go.
No matter the price, in that moment, I was willing to pay it.
Later that night after everyone in the house had gone to bed, I snuck across the hall into my parents room and found what I was looking for - The little bottle of heart pills that my father kept in the pocket of his pants. I remember on many occasions being told that they weren't candy, and that if I ate them, I would die. My father, being the type of person that he is, did not keep them in a child safe bottle. He would keep them poured in a trial size Tylenol bottle with the lable torn off for easy access. I suppose it was smaller in his pocket - but for me, it made the job easy. I sat down in the hall, feeling like a hallway was somewhere that people died... or traveled... or... something... and I ate the contents of the bottle.
In the morning I was found in the hallway unresponsive.
I was rushed to the hospital where I lay in a coma for four days. At the end of that four days, I opened my eyes and saw a bald doctor leaning over me, he pulled out his belt and said if I ever did anything like that again, he'd personally give me a spanking. I was reminded that pills aren't candy. Nobody asked why I ate it, nobody noticed how hurt I was. Nobody asked.
What's important though, happened in the inbetween.
As for my part of that story, I remember getting sleepy. My body was so heavy, and warm. I laid down in the hall and I remember the floor becoming softer and softer until I slipped through it and began floating down... down... down.
Many people report that when they die, they see a light - a tunnel - something to move toward. Not me. I recall feeling like I was in a lake of dark water, floating down. I could see a light above me, like the sun shining on the surface of the water; but I was eternally moving away from it. The water was warm, and comforting, and I have never in my life felt so assured that the darkness was there to hold me like the arms of a loved one. The darkness knew me in ways that no one had, and I felt safe.
I remember floating softly down into the darkness for ages with nothing but the occasional fluttering of wings interrupting the silence, until at long last, I could no longer see the light above me. Eventually, I landed as soft as a feather on what seemed to me to be a pile of furs as soft as a rabbit. I was enveloped in darkness.
I laid there on those furs, sleeping, for days. I was always refreshed. Never hungry. Never angry. My only feelings were of love, and comfort. And I slept the kind of sleep that only children can have. Healing and dreamless.
I laid there until I felt that my wounds, internal and external, were healed.
A time came when I knew that I could no longer stay in that place, and I stood, walking in a direction known only to my feet. I recall feeling cool stones beneath me, and thinking that I must be in a castle, or a cave, or maybe... a tomb. Eventually, my eyes found a light in the darkness.
This, however, was no longer the fading light of the sun. This was a cold light, cool and blue. Like a candle in a vast darkness. I walked toward it.
After a long long time, I found myself seeing a woman in the distance, and she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She glowed with a kind of light that nothing else has, excepting perhaps, the moon. Her hair, a rich black, her eyes, a glowing green. Her robes, richly made, but well worn. Her scent, earthy and sweet, like the forest after a rainstorm. A knife at her hip. When I approached, she wrapped her arms around me in a hug. I had only ever been hugged by my grandmother before, and this - this was something different. She held me forever.
Sometimes, when things are tough, or I'm frightened in the dead of night, I can still feel those arms around me. Finally, at long last, she pulled back. Her hands still firmly on my shoulders, she knelt to eye level with me.
I will keep her exact words to me private, but what she told me was this:
That I was her daughter now, born again in the darkness, and that her daughters were warriors. I could survive anything, and my trials would only make me stronger.
It was time to wake up.
I awoke to a doctor brandying threats over me, and I thought he looked silly. Weak.
I went home and was beaten for wasting time and money. I wasn't afraid. I didn't cry.
I knew that everything from that moment forward was to make her proud.
It was a long time before I knew her name. But I saw her in the ruddy harvest moon. I could feel her when the sky was dark. I knew her face when I saw the crows in our garden, or found a black feather on my path. I didn't need her name to know that she loved me, and I was hers.
I hear people talking about the fearful nature of the Morrigans call to them. About how she's raising an army, how something is coming, and about how tough she is to those she calls on. Never have I known her to be that fearful creature that people speak of. She is wise, and kind. I still don't know why she chose that broken little girl, and why she came to her in a hour of need and claimed her as her own.
She is my mother.