Breaking the Silence by Barbara Ruth Slowly, it begins word by word. If I’m lucky a few lines come at a time. (Is this what it’s like relearning to walk after a long paralysis?) It hurts, feels awkward, unnatural, reclaiming the label “writer” as though I have forgotten my name and only discover it letter by painstaking letter. Poems do not flow from me as once they did. Now I squeeze them, bear down birth them misshapen one-eyed a motley crew in need of many revisions. Slowly, it begins. These strange children who appear won’t even consent to be born in sequence. They push, hang back, vie with each other for the birth canal, then stubbornly cling to the womb. Shy, wild creatures, they spill into each other, even I am not sure who is who. Slowly it begins: this breaking the shell of the silence the shell which encased me all of these months, the shell cracking open so slowly.
Barbara Ruth is a survivor of medical and sexual abuse as a child and adult and police brutality as an adult. She just turned 70 and celebrates her survival. Her prize-winning essay “Out of Luck” is included in the anthology “Biting the Bullet: Essays By Women Of Courage.” She is neurodivergent on three axes: epilepsy, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome, Highly Sensitive Person. Or…maybe those are one axis. She looks forward to a better way to describe all this.