The Weight of Water

Trigger warning: childhood abuse

I met Em in a Women's Circle. In a dream, I saw her in a lake and she was safe for the water held her up. It was evening and the light had softened. If we float are we free, can we leave our bodies for a while and see a different world? I usually photograph the story of my participant, they talk and I listen; both to the words and to the current flowing under them. This time I asked if she liked water and if she was willing to experiment with me by becoming the woman in my dream for an hour.  In her work she practises reiki and reflexology, I feel a connection to her as if she is to teach me something about how we release trauma. If I see her floating - what is it that I need to do, if the light is golden - is that me asking for my heart to fill with something other than the grey hues of sadness and regret? 

If I were to float might I understand what might peace or joy look like? How can it be extraordinary, how might I create that frame?  I seek healers and tend to my pain. I had surgery to mend something broken in childhood.  I had so much trauma in my early life that I wonder if I will ever finish this grieving but I am finding the quiet moments of contentment. 


I have outgrown my trauma. I wish to relinquish it and begin a new life. However, a new life requires a death of some kind, a letting go. What we let go of, is a way of being in the world that we have outgrown. In childhood I knew turmoil and the fear of being sent away, the physical, emotional and sexual abuse. I knew I was the disposable child. I understood I had no worth. So I carried this into adulthood. It was filled with contradictions for I made a secure home and yet never owned more than I could grab to flee with in my car. My spaces are quite empty in my house and clutter makes me uneasy. It is better to only care about a few possessions, for might I not lose it all?

I carry my daughter's childhood in a few of her dresses and a single box of her artwork. My dogs old name tag and red leather collar. My film cameras are packed in their bag and mentally I have a list of my favourite clothes so I could pack in a hurry. This is the weight I carry; to travel light. I need to plant my earth roots or accept my moon water sign.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself, and no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.” – The Alchemist

My dreams and imagination are a refuge and a delight. The quest to let go of trauma began on a yoga mat for me. I began other experiments to heal, visiting a reiki master, a white witch, I learned about tapping and had my cards read,  I began to visit stone circles.  I decided that if somebody offered a healing I would not think or judge; but trust. The healers have poured into my life. I was commissioned by the NHS to photograph surgeons and doctors; serendipity - for I listened to stories from these people about adversity, how they live with it and the effects it can have in our bodies. I felt lighter. 

What if joy was an act of resistance, or the struggle to find peace my life's quest? 

I have spent two years capturing portraits of those who have survived domestic abuse. This work is ongoing, yet I need a different space to inhabit, light to balance my shadows. I'm looking for resilience more than anguish. Change may be painful to embrace, a new life takes courage. I know I'm a peaceful warrior and I'm learning my worth.

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