The Voices Of & For Parenting Surivors

The Body Remembers

the_body_remembersThe Body Remembers


Just get over it.

Why can’t you just get let it go?

Because it has not gone anywhere. It is still here.


The first time I did yoga I cried.

And every time after that for six months.

At the mat, I came face to face

with my self hatred.

At the mat, I discovered the way

I hold my trauma in the space between my pelvic bones.


Some people brought towels to class

to wipe away their sweat.

My towel wiped away my snot and tears,

as a lifetime of holding trauma was released,

in sudden waves that washed over me,

salty memories licking my skin.


The body remembers.


I have a safe home now.

I have a gentle, loving husband who adores me

and would do anything to protect me from harm.


But I still have to ask him not to stand in doorways

that block my exit from a room,

because blind panic crawls up my spine

like a thousand tiny spiders.


The body remembers.                                   (Even if the mind does not.)


Because the truth is,

I really don’t remember much of what happened.

I do remember the aftermath.

The fall out.

The shame and blame.


But of the initial acts, I recall a game of pretend,

played out under covers.

Memory has kindly laid a fog around the specifics

of how my vulva became rubbed so raw as to require

antibiotic ointment.

I guess it must have hurt at some point.

I don’t recall the pain.

At least, not the physical pain.


But the body remembers.


Yesterday a toddler

full of joy and cheerful abandon

ran full tilt into my back

and shockwaves echoed my trauma.


No. Please stop that.


The body remembers.


And no, I do not want to hear about your magic therapy

or 12-step program that will “cure” me so I can be “normal like you.

And no, I do not want your pity either.


What I want is for you to see me.

To see my scars like you would see the scars of a burn victim.

As proof of my will to live and love

through un-imaginable pain.


Because my body remembers.


And these scars show the world that I survived.


© Joyelle Brandt 2016

This poem is part of a series of works Joyelle is creating called Written on the Body that explore how our bodies contain and reflect our lived experiences, and the map that trauma leaves on the body.

3 thoughts on “The Body Remembers

  1. This is so powerful, Joyelle. I used to think there was something with me for the way I reacted during yoga. I stayed away from yoga for a long time because of the emotions it would bring up. I’ve come a long way but I still panic when my kids playfully grab onto me in the pool. It’s been such a major part in my healing to recognize when my body is being triggered.


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