What does the term survivor mean to you?
That you haven't just lived through something, you have prevailed. You are getting better or you WANT to be better.
What do you want other survivors to know?
You aren't alone. Someone else out there understands.
How can someone be a good ally?
I believe that being an ally means to hold space. Sometimes the help that people want to offer, isn't the help that is needed, and can cause more harm than good. This isn't necessarily something a person would know unless they've been in an abusive situation. Holding space means that you are there if needed, and will not judge the person in need of help for their choices, even if that choice includes not currently accepting help - because they may be unable to.
Was it difficult for you to open up to friends and/or family? If you haven't, would you?
It has been very difficult. my abuser(s) were very charming, and I was made to feel as though I magnified the scope of the abuse I endured. It wasn't until years later, in a healthy, safe, loving relationship with my husband, that I realized the magnitude of what was done to me. I have shared most of my past with him. There are still things I hold inside, things I have not spoken out loud. Being able to write them has been an enormous gift.
What has been some of the most difficult parts of the healing process for you?
I believe the single most profound effect of abuse on my personality has been to stifle myself, my interactions with other people. One of the most difficult parts of healing has been learning that I deserve to exist, that I deserve space and time and love. I have had more than a handful of people point out to me that I apologize for my existence, my words, the space I take up. I am still learning to stop prefacing what I say with "I'm sorry."
How do you relate to shame and fear?
They are unfortunate companions. I have learned how to conquer a lot of my fears. And yet those emotions are still, I think, essentially a part of me, because they were imprinted onto me at a pretty young age by abusive relationships. Especially fear. I am raising a daughter in this world, and despite feeling ok much of the time now, (at 38 years old, this is hard-won) I still find that some of my actions are fear based.
How do you feel empowered? How do you, or have you, empowered yourself?
I think that an unfortunate effect of trauma, for myself, has been anger. I have learned to take back my power in many ways, I have taken multiple jiu-jitso and judo self defense courses, become emergency first response, first aid, and CPR certified, and empowered myself in so many other ways. I do still struggle with some anger.
What is self-care, and healing, for you?
Self-care comes in many forms. Writing is definitely an important part of that. I think for myself, radical transparency, honesty, and intimacy has been so healing for me. My husband and I talk about everything, we practice communication, and share our emotions often. This counteracts my past trauma of lying, abuse, and gaslighting. I have also found intense peace and healing through art. I have learned to sculpt, and that can sometimes be hours and hours of creating that sort of takes me somewhere else for a time. And nature, always nature. To be in water and sunlight, to listen to birds and the rustling of leaves in the wind, to look at the moon - these are medicine.
What has been a positive experience for you when sharing your experiences with others?
Acceptance. I have been so fortunate to find friends and family who have listened, honored my emotions, accepted me as I am, and held space for me. I am infinitely lucky, and so grateful.
Define happiness for you.
I don't have that answer yet. I wish I could put it together but I am still finding all the pieces to that puzzle. I have some of the pieces, I know the rest are coming. It's a process.
What makes you feel joy?
Describe a good day for you.
Outside all day long, in the sunshine, by water.
What makes you feel secure and safe?
Does your art/writing/etc help you cope?
Absolutely. It has been integral in my healing. Art, such as painting, sculpting, poetry, has pulled the anger, sadness, emptiness, grief from inside of me and formed it into something outside of me, in the physical world.
What inspires you?
Wildlife, the sun, my daughter, the way that leaves dance in the breeze, almost as though to music.
How do you want others to see you? How do you see yourself?
Parts of me are still broken, and I am hyper aware of that, so I want others to see me as whole and beautiful. I see myself and beautiful and delicate and fierce and afraid and strong. I'm still learning who I am.
Tell me something you'd like others to know about you. Could be anything.
I am not as OK as I look. I guess this can be said for anyone. Please meet people with kindness and compassion. You just have no idea what people have lived through.
Mela Blust is a moonchild, and has always had an affinity for the darkness. She is a trauma survivor, and a mother. She has been writing poetry since she was a child. Since seeking publication just over a year ago, Mela’s work has been nominated twice for Best Of The Net, and has appeared or is forthcoming in The Bitter Oleander, Isacoustic, Rust+Moth, Anti Heroin Chic, Califragile, Tilde Journal, and more. Her debut poetry collection, Skeleton Parade, is forthcoming with Apep Publications in September 2019. She is Head Publicist and Social Media Manager for Animal Heart Press, a contributing editor for Barren Magazine, and a poetry reader for The Rise Up Review. She can be followed at https://twitter.com/melablust.