Tuesday, July 18, 2006


LADYHAWKE HAS A BABY! If you don't know who the hell ladyhawke is, check out my post called "hawk eggs." The egg she was tending was not "live ammo," so to speak. It is still there, unhatched. But three fledglings were blown out of their nest recently, and the raptor rescue groups have been trying to deal with them. They put one of the babies in with lady's to see if she would take her maternal instinct to the next level. Cross your fingers! So far, so good.

Anyhow, I'll start from the beginning. I had a "play date" scheduled with a eleven-year-old girl that I work with. As "youth educator," I have taken play-therapy seminars and generally don't mind being tugged at, run around, peed on, etc. So I usually get "kid duty." That's how I got to know Kore (obviously can't use her real name), and it was a privilege.

I first "met" her on the telephone when I was covering the night shift on our hotline. Her mother was on the cell, driving through the rain, and I was trying to route them to a hotel. They were fleeing a guy who had prince-charming'ed his way into their lives after the abusive marriage ended, and turned out to be at least as bad, himself. He was a licensed counselor and a complete piece of shit. I could hear the girl screaming bloody murder in the background.

If you know where I get the alias Kore, you know where this story is headed. Persephone, who was dragged to the underworld and raped by Hades, rises again every year while bringing the spring to the land. There are different versions, blah-blah. But those are the basics.

My Kore was severely sexually assaulted by a male family member. I do not just mean "inappropriate touch." I mean the sort of stuff that had the girl sleeping in her closet -- all her furniture piled up to bar the bedroom door. I saw her in court and at school a couple of times. In those contexts, she tended to resemble a stick of firewood. Well -- if not for the terrified, sky-blue eyes that kept darting from side to side -- or the fingers that would nervously grab a pen and start drawing faces with huge, down-turned mouths.

The kid is smart as a whip. She knew that her mom's abusive boyfriend was a counselor, so she hated all counselors. She refused to see one or to verbalize her "problems" (i.e. her experiences and how she was dealing with them). That's why her mom came to us, and I was chosen as the "youth advocate" who would try to work with the little girl, somehow.

When I first began having "sessions" with her, she was nine. She had been sleeping in her closet for a year. She would not verbalize anything to anyone. She would internalize her stress to the point where she would often go home from school and spend an hour vomiting. So I never tried to talk with her. I simply engaged her in play.

We started getting to know each other by playing soccer. Her mom was amazed that Kore was willing to play and be extroverted during our time together. That's actually an understatement. She KICKED MY ASS. After our first "playtime," there were pieces of my posterior scattered to the four directions, and my panting torso was laying somewhere near the equator.

After that first soccer game, she threw her arms around me (meaning my dirt smeared, bent-and-sweaty-remnants). Her mom told me how shocked she was because Kore was very rigid and shy around most people. So we were off and running. Literally.

Over the next year, Kore worked with me and with child services -- as well as her school and, unfortunately, the court. She went through shit that would make a lot of adults check themselves into a "quiet place" -- all the while expected to continue school and normal life (whatever that is). She KICKED ASS, as usual. Her fear-responses and sense of saftely in her daily surroundings gradually improved. She adjusted to school, even if she had a high rate of absence. She stopped sleeping in the closet. Then she stopped barring the door. Then she was down to one butter knife under her pillow. Then her mother got her to sleep without that, as well. Her mother is a real champion, as well. She just never quits.

I only saw Kore every once in a while, but I was her poor-woman's substitute for "counseling" during that time. I have not seen her for a couple of months, lately. Her family is seeing the agency less, and school is out. So I haven't seen her -- until today.

Her mom called and set an appointment for a play-time. She told me that Kore was doing really well -- that she had increased in confidence and had become a lot more active. I knew it was true when I saw her.

Kore's whole physicality had changed. She was assertive and funny in social interactions with people she did and did not know. She had taken up several sports, and had toned her body. More so -- she moved in it with real confidence. It made me really happy to see.

Not that the sexual abuse is "gone." It is a part of her forever. Like the telltale heart in Poe's gory story, it will always be beating underneath the floorboards. It is beautiful even as it is ghastly -- a spirit as well as a spectre. As bloody and depressing as it may seem, it beats "truth-truth." It endures.

Kore has harnessed this brutal power. Like Persephone, rising from the realm of death, she harnesses the heat to grow flowers.

I took Kore to the bird sanctuary and to the pool. When we were at the sanctuary, she spent a long time looking at the fledgling. There was a local artist there, making a pastel of Ladyhawke. She was very nice, and showed Kore "how to draw."

"Bless your heart, Honey," she said, in a soft, southern-earth-goddess sort of way, "you just draw. Just start with something you love, sweet-heart, and go from there. Never stop."

Kore looked at the lady like she was crazy - a look I have seen a time or two before. But I knew she was soaking up every word.

Then she showed me how well she could swim. I sat in a deck chair and waved while she moved down the list - breaking every rule the pool had posted, and probably a few that they were frantically making post-boards of as we drove out of the parking lot. I and the "pool-moms" corrected her from time to time, of course. But she was not beating other children senseless with the noodles (like some of her peers were), or anything. She was just fearless. She dove. She did headstands. She somersaulted over and under the ropes. Her confidence was a symphony to someone who had once heard the screams.

When she came out of the shower room, she was wearing a black dance leotard with a pink ballerina skirt. Her confidence in the pool and in the outfit were amazing. Though still a fledgling -- gangly in her pinfeathers -- she rises out of Hell and brings the Dawn.

1 comment:

Gwen said...

Like the legend of Kore, this young girl has certainly been reborne. The story about her transformation is amazing, like a phoenix rising from the flames. You know exactly how to help because you know first hand how hard her life has been. You are a healer, my friend!!