My Survivor Story

I post this from time to time — it is my story. I am not my story, but I have overcome so much to get where I am, which is something worth honouring.


Singing with the Robins

Here’s some of my singing attempts…

’cause I haven’t seen Barbados, so I must get out of this

Holocene (Bon Iver) Cover


Me and a Gun (Tori Amos) Cover


Pissing in a River (Patti Smith) Cover


Professional Widow (Tori Amos) Cover


Blood Roses (Tori Amos) Cover

Kassie’s Strength (Poem)

Acorn babe says

maybe this is the afterlife,

because she’s awakened

to the Earth; she knows

she’s always been an oak.

Here Kassie babe reigns

as the lollipop queen, owning

her land, herself

as if there is no separation between

us and us and us.

There is only freedom,

full like a vast land that knows

no emptiness

though there’s no trees in sight.





Choosing Warriorship

Warriorship is something we choose, but it is a necessity for any healing. Survivors become warriors when they take up the fight against the fear self within. The fear self perpetuates the messages from the past, plays on our insecurities, and tells us that we can’t heal. There is nothing I disrespect more than the statement “I can’t” with regard to healing.

You are the only person with all the capacity to fight your own fear self. You know what your insecurities are, and you can learn to understand yourself and your fear self at a level that no other human being can. This is why no one else can do the work of healing for you. Support and guidance from others is extra fuel for your war-fire, but you have to be front and centre at your post to win the fight.

Choosing warriorship means choosing to fight for yourself, to parent yourself, to love and respect yourself, to protect yourself, and to heal yourself. It means living in the present, not in the past or in dissociation. It means being alert to recognize the fear self when it attacks. It means knowing your truth, so you can understand how to heal from it. When you know your truth, your story and yourself, the fear self is no longer a formidable enemy but a prisoner of war, kept securely and humanely.

Warriorship is a discipline that gets stronger through practice. The first step is recognizing the difference between reality and what the fear self tells you. Be mindful of negativity and question it. If you can trace your negativity back to a place of fear, then you can recognize the fear self and choose to fight against it. Knowing your fear self is half the battle.


Being Raw

Today I feel raw, all veneer cut to the quick, exposing nerves.

I remember being 13, obsessed with The Shawshank Redemption, the story of an innocent man in prison. He was described as having an “invisible coat” that shielded him from the horrors around him, protecting something within him so that it could never be touched.

I remember being 14, writing tomes about ancient Roman stoicism, because it let me emotionless and strong, untouchable.

I was 15 and writing quotes on the wall to let my family know they couldn’t break me.

I don’t know where I got this attitude of strength from, but it’s what saved me. No matter what was done to me, no matter what they made me do, they couldn’t get to my soul. I knew right from wrong and they couldn’t corrupt that.

Now I have peace, and beautiful people around me who amaze me with their kindness. Now it is time to do the good that I knew all along was right.

Honouring the Truth

I want so much to be eloquent.

I greatly prefer to express my fury and pain in poetry, because simpler expressions and standard phrases just don’t feel like they carry any weight. Like they can’t possibly pack the punch I want to throw.

I had the second part of my psychiatric assessment this afternoon, but there wasn’t time (or much reason) to tell the fullness of my story. The psychiatrist caught on very quickly that my story was overwhelmingly intense and complicated, so she took care to ask only for the most basic information. What I said could probably all be summed up in a single sentence.

It didn’t do us justice. In hindsight I don’t know how I could have said it better, and yes, the psychiatrist’s eyes widened and she lost a bit of her professional edge. She faltered, uttering things like “Really?” in a quiet, astonished tone. I guess she was at a loss for words too. 

I like poetry because my story isn’t a bullet list of facts. It’s visceral.  Writing poetry based on my abuse is not about presenting pretty words and metaphorical insights. It’s about getting this feeling that’s in my chest out into the air, and maybe — just maybe — into someone else’s mind. Not to shock anyone and not to spread negativity or distress, mind you. All I want is to bring to being my truth, which had been so violently silenced all my life, and give it a little space to unravel, the way an apple seed opens to the earth and is nurtured into something much stronger.


Child of secrets, your world confounds

you as a test, laid out

without truths or falsehoods. They’ve drawn

gaping blanks for you to fill,

and the possibilities haunt

your every hour, because this is trial and error,

this is life and death.

You keep learning

how wrong the answers can be, how true

the nightmares are

of monsters and the unknown,

which has always proved worthy of fear.