Screams from Childhood - Walls

Biography Barbara Rogers
Foreword: A Hero Child
Chapter 1
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written in Chicago, 1982

walls, nothing but walls—dark, impenetrable, threatening
they surround me—they have sapped my strength
they rise high in front of me, huge, steep, invincible
they stand between me and other people
between me and my children—me and my husband
between me and being alive

built of fear and pain
they separate me from freedom and being my Self
they consist of a long struggle with anxiety, only tamed by Valium
I have not taken this drug for the three months I've been
in therapy—thirty-two years old

a storm of unknown feelings overwhelms me
I have pneumonia and high fever
I also have my first dream in therapy
the first dream I can remember in my whole life


I am cuddled with a blanket into a corner of my therapist's couch
when three furious black figures enter his office
my therapist gets up and argues with them
I am surprised how angry
my gentle, patient and kind therapist has become
outside in the hallway I hear many, many children screaming
I remove the blanket and put on my shoes
with the hopeless feeling that I have to leave this room
--where I feel safer and more secure than I ever felt in my life--
to go back to these screaming children

alone at home the dream frightens me
anxiety, despair and loneliness crush me
only once a week can I see the doctor
with whom can I share this chaos inside of me?

I look for a pen and a piece of paper—and I write
it is the first time that I give a name to my feelings
that I try to put them into words
suddenly they become visible on the paper in front of me
but I don't understand what I am reading

the paper is patient and not afraid—it listens
I can entrust my thoughts to it—I can ask questions
why are there walls? who built them?
how can I tear them down? why is life such a burden?
how I wish I could walk with more ease and confidence
how tired am I of dragging my leaden legs

I have had glimpses of the other side of these walls—moments
when I felt alive—experienced colors, diversity, challenge
not this snarl of fear, pain and confusion
my desire to get to the other side is strong and wild
but the other side seems too distant—too far away
like another planet, another solar system—inaccessible to me

the doctor is not afraid of my feelings—can he help me?
it took so much courage to enter therapy—to say—I need help
I am the eldest of six children
I must support, hold and guide the people around me

once the doctor said to me—can you not talk about yourself here
because you don't want to be a problem for me?
the first tears in therapy rolled down my cheeks
—the source of a great stream—as I answered
no, I cannot be a problem—I have always tried to be perfect
the doctor turned around and handed me a box of Kleenex
with a little serious smile he said—this is for all the perfect people

that evening at home I was lying in the darkness of a room
I listened to music—he had touched me deep inside
I felt as if I was filled with a black, heavy, viscous mass
like sticky tar—the doctor enabled me to feel it
this day, this session gave me hope—I want to find a way out


© Barbara Rogers

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Screams from Childhood

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