A retrospective look at Bianca's incredible journey.
|She stood in front of the mirror; long golden locks sculpted her pretty face. Green eyes brimmed with tears; her brows furrowed in self-contemplation. If only she saw what the mirror saw, a beautiful girl, with an inquisitive mind and insatiable appetite for social justice. But she did not, she saw the shattered reflection of a lost lonely soul, ugly, and invisible. She saw the viciousness of what her brothers had incessantly called her. The ongoing abuse tearing the fabric of her innocence and self-belief. How could two images be so juxtaposed? How could someone so young be so wounded and broken? Who could hurt this girl, so deeply and so completely? And why? She did not know it at the time, nor would it have made any sense, but the vicious words and actions were just spiteful lies, her brothers' projections of their own self-hatred, shame, and guilt. They too were carrying their own burdens. But that was not her fault.
As she stood emotionally exposed in the cool morning light, the reflection in the mirror echoed her vulnerability and had she looked closer still she would have witnessed the flecks of resilience, courage, and boldness in her eyes. She would have noticed that she stood a little taller, casting a slightly longer shadow. Finally, summoning the courage, she met her own eyes in the mirror. The honesty and vulnerability too much for an 8-year-old to bear, so once again she turned away and hid in her own shadow. What purpose did it serve to hurt and wound someone, especially an innocent young girl? What chance did she stand? How could her invisible scars heal? Would they heal? She did the only thing she knew she could, she learned to compartmentalise.
That way life would make some sense, and she would not have to fall into the dark spiralling dance of cognitive dissonance. If only she could have reached out to her parents, but she simply could not. For instinctively she knew they were deep in grief, with the loss of a child. A beautiful son. Her darling brother. And it did not help that her other brothers and Riff Raff kids from the neighbourhood were responsible for her brother's drowning. It did not help that she was the 8th child of ten children, and as such felt the need to protect her two younger sisters from the daily onslaught of unrelenting emotional and physical abuse. When it came to her sisters, she was a lioness and would protect them till her death, if needed.
She stepped away from the mirror, no longer able to face the image in her mind. Where she saw an overweight girl, others saw a thinly framed pale girl. Where she had seen shame, others felt compassion and concern. She quickly dressed in oversize clothing, as if to become even further invisible from others. Turning around, she put on her jacket, as if putting an imaginary cloak of protection. If home were unpleasant, the school had become a battlefield, and she needed any protection she could get. Was it fair that someone so young should feel so vulnerable and exposed, yet at the same time invisible? No, it was not! Was she good at hiding her scars and her sadness? Yes, but only to those who did not look hard enough! Those too busy being lost in the superficiality of the day. To others, they saw glimpses of the sadness as if a passing storm or cloud blocking out the sun for a mere moment. Others saw a brilliant rainbow, the combination of both sunshine and sadness. They loved the depth of colour and authentic beauty she brought into their lives. She did not know this, as she rarely stepped outside her comfort zone, she rarely looked deep into the eyes of another for fear of seeing her reflection. She did find comfort and unconditional acceptance with her animals. They brought joy and light into her life. They would be her confidantes on many occasions. They understood her and she understood them. There were no secret messages, hidden agendas and second-guessing. Her loving pets showed her how to be completely in the moment, laughing, loving and completely unguarded.
When did tearing people down become an Olympic sport? When did inflicting pain and trauma become normal? For this girl, pretty much every day of her life. Her brothers knew no mercy and their spitefulness was the thing made of Norse legend. She did not deserve it; she would one day grow stronger and realise her own power. Her time would come. First, she would need to weather many storms, many moments of sadness, loss, grief, and fear. Those moments of sadness would be punctuated with glimpses of self-realisation, love, and creativity.
Through her sadness and tears, she would eventually see her own light and learn to step into it. She did not know it at the time, but her heartache and tears were creating a strong, vulnerable, and courageous spirit who would one day know how to love deeply with incredible compassion and purpose. But in those moments, as a young child, she learned to run like the wind, fly under the radar and simply exist almost vicariously. Funnily enough, she would start to grow in confidence because of her physical strength, her speed, and stamina. So too, her love of words, learning and intuitive nature would help her discover her unique gifts and path. She would take years before she knew how to unwrap and use them though. But at least the seeds were sown, and her spirit was growing.
There were moments she had felt incredibly disheartened, bereft, and adrift on the sea of loneliness. She simply lacked the awareness of being led, guided by her own love and ultimately the universe. She did not realise her own strength, power, and capacity for self-love yet. Perhaps that is why her brothers targeted her, they saw in her strengths and abilities they felt they had lacked. Her journey required a trek through tumultuous mountain ridges and valleys, vast deserts, and seashores of lived experience. She would develop a tenacious love for life, a passion for nature and a connection to the universe.
Her journey would take her through the indoctrination and shames of imposed religion, and eventually finding her own authentic path, where nature and personal integrity reigned supreme. She would come to realise that she never was lost, or alone and that she had always been on the right path. Real growth and change can be painful and require significant transition and acceptance. Much like the caterpillar and the butterfly. She would even come to embrace and grow from the trauma she experienced, learning to reach out to others and help them heal their own pain.
The little girl would grow into a woman able to look deep into another's eyes, or soul and not be afraid of her reflection. Nor, of the pain of the other person. She just had to realise the moment a caterpillar calls the end, is when the butterfly calls the beginning. She would realise that the caterpillar and butterfly were simply extensions of each other and that they can coexist at the same time. She would come to understand her purpose, embrace her scars, and learn to rewrite her own story. She would not play the victim or give her power away.
She would embrace herself, just as she was: perfectly imperfect. She would accept her purpose and vulnerability, seeing the beauty and strength of her journey. Magic would happen when she finally saw what others had always known. That she was special, and that she had always possessed meaning and purpose, and no amount of emotional or physical abuse would extinguish her inner flame. Her journey would involve attracting others who had also lived life in the shadows of themselves. Her journey would involve guiding others to step out into their own love and light, their own authentic self, where they were free to live courageously.