The woman who called herself free

photo by  simon bleasdale

I am sickened, she writes. Aghast. I simply chose to (with conscious awareness not to remain in victimization, darkness and silence) move along…too many women don't heal and as a result live unfulfilled lives and that's harmful and sad for both women and their children. Sit and stew in your victimization if you like.

Well folks—what we have here is what we refer to as a focused, non-terminal repeating phantasm or a Class Five Full Roaming Troll—a real nasty one, too. One that arrived wrapped in a fluffy pink blanket that smelled like it had been sprayed with Country Peach Febreeze ten too many times.

Here at Glow in the Woods the six of us pelt each other happily with emails, invigorated by you and your stories and wanting to grow, complement, spark. We share ideas, collaborate on posts and in this case, we consider response. We consider her words, their context, their origin. We consider sanctimonious condemnation and judgement from, of all voices, one of our own—a babylost mama. We consider other words from the same fingertips that wax eloquent on the professional honouring of grief, of trauma, of sisterhood.

Shame on all of you, she hisses. Shame on you.


The book Isaac’s Storm fictionalizes the deadliest storm ever to hit the United States—a massive hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas in September of 1900. It’s one of those catastrophic porno tales akin to the Titanic or the Halifax Explosion in which you spend the entirety feeling like a ghost from the future screaming silently run far away! install extra lifeboats! step back from the windows!

On that fateful day, as the book recounts, the Ursuline Sisters at St. Mary's orphanage tied their charges to lengths of clothesline to keep them together and in the ensuing flood, foiled any chance of escape or rescue or flotation.

Is Glow in the Woods a length of clothesline? Do we keep each other down? Do we condemn each other by way of ‘holding this space’, to borrow the almost comically exclusive gospel of a troll?

For each of us—you included—perhaps this cabin is only shelter until such point as our births and losses are tied up neatly where they belong on the shelves of our heads and hearts. Perhaps we all have a best-before date in terms of grief—or better put, a best-after date—one that's not measured by time lapsed, but by our own personal readiness to let go, to walk through the woods again.

The voices here—both ours and yours, asking and answering—boil down to the following in my heart:

I feel so alone.
Is anyone out there?
I can’t believe this happened to me.
People in my life tell me to buck up and move on and I want to crazy-glue their lips to a wall. And then take pictures. And then put the pictures on the internet. And then laugh. And then feel better. Or maybe not.
I know I’m not supposed to feel this way, but I do. Is that okay?
I know it has to be hard for people to talk to me with all these hissing snakes on my head. Especially if they just want me to hurry up and be myself again.
I don’t know if I can ever be myself again.
I don’t know how to process the way I feel.
I’m working on it.
Am I forgiveable?
I can’t possibly stuff any more guilt into this head.
I can’t sleep.
Is this normal?
I’m tapped.
I want to be myself again.
I think I’m ready to graduate.
I’m not sure how to graduate.
Has anyone else graduated?
GUESS WHAT. I had sex last night. I did not cry. I am a superhero.

Here we are, not just us but you, chiming in I know, me too and it will feel that way for a while and you know, it’s a lot like cheesecloth and yes, you are normal and yes, you are sane and the way you’re feeling is just the gauntlet we all have to walk but please believe me when I say that you will find your light again. Or at least I think so. I can see it up ahead, but that might be an oncoming train. Shit. Stay tuned.

It gets dark around here from time to time. We talk about cremation and memory-soaked clothes and the apparent daisy meadows of the rest of the oblivious world. But in doing so we poke holes through the black, diffusing the upset by way of companionship and understanding.

We also talk about rebuilding relationships and restarting careers and heart-opening rituals and being brave and redefining life and how a film has been peeled off our eyeballs to reveal the mystery of the world, the gratitude, the humanity underneath.

What is this space for you? Is it a clothesline, or is it a warm hand that grasps yours in the murk? Is it a place you visit, but only for a while? Have we fulfilled our mission if as many of you leave our ranks as those who enter them?


Author, photographer, founder of Glow. Mother of three boys, one of whom died at six weeks old nine years ago. Nine years ago, I was someone else. Love and sorcery and poetry and terrible luck and wonderful luck.