Home > Health, Love, Personal, Safety > Sweet Deborah

Sweet Deborah

Sweet seven-year-old Deborah,

You never deserved
to be beaten, or
to hear your
siblings’ cries
as they were beaten.

You should never
have had to memorize
catalogues of warning cues:
dangerously heavy footfalls,
the angry set of a mouth,
the escalating tension
in the voice of a
parent about
to snap.

You shouldn’t have had
to walk on eggshells,
wheedle, or cajole
when you saw
(and heard)
the warning signs.

You should never
have had to

I have noticed
how my heart still races
when others speak in
escalated voices, or
even show the kinds
of kindness that
once prefaced
as when
expressed was
not as great as that
considered deserved.

I have
come to realize
that you are still with me,
sweet Deborah:
still listening, still
fearing, still
walking with clenched jaw
as if to say,
“You don’t scare me!”

(even if you do)

I thought about
how hard you had to make yourself
to survive what you did, and
how much you lost
by seldom

And I thought
Sweet Deborah,
Come sit on my lap awhile.
I will hold you in love,
and compassion,
and shield you
from fists and
voices and
belts and
the certainty
worse is coming.

I held you
in my lap
(in my heart)
and felt my heart soar
at the goodness of
protecting you–
protecting me–
with tenderness,
without fury.

I felt


I felt you


Sweet Deborah,
healing, it seems,
is not in being harder,
or louder, or angrier,
but in knowing who to love
from a distance
and who
to lift


  1. April 6, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Wow. Very powerful.

  2. April 6, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Sweet, Deborah… you’re my hero.
    I mean that from the bottom of my also-abused heart.
    You’re risen above and made a significant, vibrant life for yourself, one filled with laughter and love.
    God bless, you, Deborah.

    • April 6, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Aw, Hook. I’m sorry for all you’ve suffered and hope there are many sweet things in store for you, whether or not you can see hints of them yet. ♥

      • April 6, 2016 at 4:55 pm

        I can’t, but who knows what the future holds, right?
        I feel like a complete failure on several fronts right now, but hope springs eternal.

        • April 6, 2016 at 5:00 pm

          When you put these glimmers of compassion and goodness out, you’re planting a kind of seed … a seed of warmth that grows in others’ hearts, and will serve to warm you in turn, in time. I sincerely wish that time were now.

          • April 6, 2016 at 5:01 pm

            Me too, but thank you.
            Overall, my life is pretty damn good.
            I just have dreams I`d like to see come true. Then again, who doesn’t?

  3. April 6, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Your beautiful poem holds so much meaning for me, too. I was surprised just this week to notice myself refusing to be hurt, almost clenching my fists, jutting out my chin, hardening my face. No one was trying to hurt me. It was sense memory, because a moment reminded me of that unsafe space before an emotional punch. The expression on my face rattled a checkout clerk before I realized what I was doing and stopped. My life hurts right now but I have to remember your words and protect myself with tenderness and compassion. I don’t want my fear to shoot out of me like anger. Thanks for sharing your beautiful words.

    • April 6, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      I only have a moment right now, but reading this and thinking of your last comment makes me really, really want to send you some love right now. I am holding you up in my heart for sure and hope you are able to show yourself all the same compassion you would extend to a friend. ♡

  4. April 6, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Very very powerful Deborah. No child should ever feel this fear and pain 😦 This poem is so beautiful, sending hugs and warmth to sweet little seven year old Deborah. I just want to envelope all the small children who have to go through this and worse in their lives! 😦

    • April 6, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      Thank you. I second that want! Sometimes it’ll hit me–like right now, typing this post–that there are many other children experiencing that right this minute, and I’ll feel that want so, so powerfully that it excludes everything else for a while. (Usually it’s my little boys’ laughter that reminds me I’m doing what I can here and now.)

  5. April 6, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    I’m so glad you’re healing

  6. Deb
    April 6, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Soft words, gentle sounds, and heartfelt hugs from me to you…

  7. Val
    April 6, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    I’m so, so sorry you went through what you did. I’m glad you are able to express it and that you’re healing.

    • April 6, 2016 at 4:57 pm

      Thanks, Val. I honestly thought this stuff was all long past, until my anxiety levels spiked recently and I realized that addressing food alone to resolve anxiety is addressing symptom instead of cause.

  8. April 6, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Beautiful words from a place of love now. Healing and freeing. *hugs*

  9. April 6, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    HOW I wish that no-one needed/acquired/ a Sweet Deborah. And that all of them could be enfolded in safe and loving embraces.

    • April 6, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Hear, hear! I wish that for everyone, young and old, who has faced or will ever face it. I wish that I could send a little bit of my love out to them and let them see the light that is out there beyond the darkness … present viscerally now, or present through memory.

  10. April 6, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    This is my third reading and the tears get me, every time.

    • April 7, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Your words … they, too, reveal oceans of compassion and kindness that further soothe, and affirm. Thank you.

  11. April 6, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    I had to read this and walk away.
    I know your childhood self all to well, as do my children from a life far gone – though moments are never far from us. As if simply getting up from a chair should cause panic in my mind, my heart to beat ever faster… Still, it does. There is much to be said about the strength of our youth, that ‘sober’ reminder that sometimes, strength is undesired. That a child should be allowed a certain weakness/innocence. The booming voice that’s rattled the vents of our home. The whispers of fear that guide my steps even now.
    To the younger you I’m sorry you suffered, and to the beautiful and very present you I say thank you. You are a voice to those who are safe in their silence.

    • April 7, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      Oh, I love this comment. Some kinds of strength are profoundly positive, such as the loving kind I’m feeling growing through recent weeks. Those that involve enduring because you’re forced to don’t feel like much of a gift, serving more as a painful reminder.

      To you today and younger you I echo your final paragraph’s words, with a heart full of gratitude that we can choose differently–choose love–and have done so, as best we can with what we have.

      Maybe such love and compassion ever grow. ♡

  12. April 7, 2016 at 7:17 am

    I know how you feel. ❤

  13. April 7, 2016 at 8:31 am

    An amazing piece of writing. I would like to be able to go back in time and take your younger self and my younger self as far away from the pain as I was able to.

    • April 7, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      Thank you. I greatly wish the same, and so highly recommend this exercise of speaking to your younger self to help heal pains of yesterday and today. I dismissed it when I read about it a few years ago, but, oh … the single greatest relief/release I have felt. (The warmth of these comments helps, too!)

      • April 9, 2016 at 12:47 pm

        I wrote an very long letter to my younger self a few years ago.

  14. April 7, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Thank you.

  15. April 7, 2016 at 8:46 am

    You are so strong and wise. These words are powerful.

  16. Nikki
    April 7, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Oh em gee. The body never forgets, does it? But a couple years ago I started having these kind of conversations with my own sweet little Nikki. My daughter shows me how I was supposed to be way back then so I have a frame of reference because…without a reference point, for me I was just lost in the onslaught of triggers I could not get a hold of. Now I understand. Now I know. Now the little Nikki is free to grow up. Free to grow and blossom into who she was supposed to be before she was wrecked. So glad your sweet little Deborah is healing, too. 🙂

    • April 8, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      I’d read about similar exercises here and there over the last few years, but it seemed impossible that such a thing could really do much of anything. Wrong-o! Stopped at a stoplight, one of what feels like 800 along my one-hour drive to work, I got so anxious. I tried the usual stuff to no avail and wondered if this was something to do with all the hours I spent waiting in cars when I was younger. I thought of little me stuck in a car and the conversation began. It felt so freeing, it continued on and off throughout the day. I think it’s going to be an ongoing thing. Love your words on this. ♥

      • Nikki
        April 11, 2016 at 11:06 am

  17. April 8, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Dear Sweet Deborah….you are loved, gentle your heart, allow your tears. Your future is brilliant, you are loved.

    This was beautiful, crushing, achingly beautiful.

  18. April 9, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    may your aspiration
    of healing be successful
    for you & the others
    that are touched by you 🙂

  19. April 11, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    ❤ to you now, to you then, to all the you's yet to come…

  1. July 16, 2016 at 6:30 pm

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