The Memory of Widow Godiva Withercramp

I had been wandering around my house.

I would hunt them down, the faces that harassed me when I tried to sit still.

I simply cannot sit still.

It scares me to the bone.

My heart starts racing, I feel too stuck in my body, its mortality, the drums within my chest.

I can’t stand it, but of course I would not like to be dead.

They wouldn’t stop bothering my mind, crawling into my ears and scratching, I heard them everywhere.

What they wanted from me? Acceptance, maybe.

Self-victimisation? The ultimate sacrifice? An apology?

I will not be shredded to pieces.

I have been hurt too, in my life.

And did I hear a recognition of wrongdoing and a compatible apology for every single agony? No.

You might think, if she knows what the voices want, why doesn’t she give it to them?

Then, you don’t know me at all.

I have created ghosts as tall as gothic cathedrals. A woman of my calibre never dealt with middlemen.

They cannot just be tucked into a pocket.

You have no idea of my adversaries’ identities.

Every night, they knock on my mental door and the chemistry in my body turns to acid as I relive the sensation of each and every moment.

Yes, you guessed right: I have made myself sick.

I couldn’t get it under control just in time.

Oh no, they have not won, I will not take them with me to my grave.

You’re wondering what I must have done.

You are still thinking “subject-object” here. It won’t do.

Nobody ever dared to ask the right questions, or were simply disinterested.

People live for the drama, for the overt corpse, the sensationalism.

People love to pretend that they’re hurt, it makes them feel important.

Suffering was handed to me in my mother’s womb, it’s not a sentiment to be imitated for vain causes.

They wanted me to be the monster and at some point I took on the role.

Even though, I for myself and where I came from, had always asked the right questions and mostly received all the horrid answers.

You could say they’re bored. You could also say that I chose to live with them.

That I didn’t try hard enough.

I thought I needed them close by to keep me on my toes.

But I had my memory, you see.

My body, the invisible wounds, was the part that needed cleansing, several exorcisms if you will.

I had bound myself to them for a while, a short one compared to a life, and I can’t tell whether I had forgiven myself?

You must think, what a sad figure this woman is.

Thinking that she has so many bodies in her basement.

Thinking the worst of herself.

The woman with the empty kitchen, always borrowing, nothing to give, disconnected.

I seek out several places in my house and imagine my death, the opportunities.

I think of neighbours watching, observing, will she commit to the deed?

I wander around and all the lights are out.

Something drags me down.

My body is already a downward load.

I am a tree that cannot stomach its crown.

Could I face them in flesh and blood?

Talkative and accusatory?

Would I let them speak?

Into my ears?

I took great distances in my life, changed houses and rooms, and people and poison, protecting myself in my own four walls.

I am a woman of fine sensitivities. I always tune right in.

You find me in cities under trees, around the corner rushing, at the window looking up, on the hill screaming.

I will not, however, sit still and contemplate their voices and features.

I am not an immoveable woman, captured by her mind that is a flagellating master.

I refuse to apologise. No more of that.

Everybody has a life to live and nobody leaves unscathed.

I learned all my lessons and you may only dare to knock on my door when you’ve sorted out your own messes and pigsties; and even then, who do you think you are?

I am my own worst judge. I don’t need a scapegoat-seeking, fingerpointing audience with no self-awareness and self-criticism.

I cried and I hurt, I had punished myself, they don’t leave me alone because they think it’s not enough, they want to torment me further and further, that’s their nature.

They sought me out. They feel so grand and were elevated by me for years, but I managed to accomplish something and reach a feeling that’s necessary to life: I forgave myself.

And when I repeated this new sensation and recognition, again and again, they became void and I discovered peace within the four walls of my body, sitting completely still.

photo of woman holding wine glass
Photo by JJ Jordan on


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