Army of Ink Heart Full

army of ink 95 garbage bag and bad apples

Sometimes it all got too much. She had to separate the bad things from herself, particularly the things others had dumped on her.  This left her to concentrate on taking care of her heart, her future—and her foot.

A story emerged from the arrival of this ink – followed by a personal reflection on her meaning.  It’s a very long one but an important issue to talk about in the hope it helps more people feel less shame…please pass it on …..

Sometimes the hardest thing is to separate the bad stuff from ourselves – and hold on to who we are or who we were before the bad things happened. It’s a bit like having a rotten apple in your school bag and if you don’t reach in and pull it out (an unpleasant thing to do, but necessary to protect your things), it just rots away, going through everything – eventually ruining everything you have.

There are so many of us who have been given a bad apple.  It is the worst thing in the world to receive.   This little girl has a good story about bad apples…..

 STORY # 1 – HER STORY ….Someone put a bad apple in this little girls bag once and although she was sure people could tell something was wrong, she didn’t show anyone the apple because it was so bad – and she worried it would make them feel bad too.  The little girl’s greatest fear became that if she ever took the bad apple out, or someone discovered it, they wouldn’t want her anymore.  They’d go away and never come back.  She forever longed for someone to come along and get rid of the bad apples for her.   On most days she wished the apples had been put in someone else’s bag.

As the little girl grew up she got used to taking the bad apples people gave her.  It wasn’t that she liked or wanted or asked for them – she was afraid more bad things would happen if she refused them.  She also feared what people would think of her if they knew about the badness she kept hidden.

Sometimes she’d open the bag a little to see how people would react.  Some people offered to help her sort out the good apples from the bad apples – others weren’t so kind.  This made her feel ashamed and more to blame for accepting the apples in the first place and not being able to say, ‘NO’ – or to make it stop.

Eventually there was no more room left for the little girl – she became stuck and mixed up in all the bad apples.   She longed for goodness and didn’t understand badness.  She needed a helping hand and reached for the only one she had – her own.  Placing with great care, her hand upon her heart she made a pledge to save her self.  With the hand that was free, she began placing the bad apples into a separate bag so that they wouldn’t keep damaging her things – or she, herself.  Most importantly, she swore never, ever to accept bad apples from anyone ever again. 



When we keep the bad stuff hidden inside us it can feel like it’s crawling and pushing at you and sometimes it can explode to the surface and before you can catch yourself, you’re back there.  It can also feel like an inexplicable state of tension and fear and manifest into self harming habits in an attempt to escape from or release the overpowering whirl of emotion.

This ‘ink’ seems to be suggesting it might be better to find ways of separating it from ourselves, as opposed to mistreating ourselves – and finding ways of keeping ourselves safe from the things, the people, that can be the trigger to opening it all up again.

When I was a young girl I was sexually abused.   I’ve discovered over the years of ‘talking about it’ (in general, not detailed terms) that every second woman or girl has a similar story and many boys and men do too – but for most it remains a long kept secret.  Feeling validated by people believing you is vital in the process of feeling okay about yourself again – but we must be cautious about who we share the experience with as not everyone will receive it well.

When people treat abuse of any kind with the seriousness and depth of compassion it deserves, it helps to shift the blame and shame to where it belongs.  But what if your truth, your story is questioned, doubted, causes you further pain and damage or makes people turn away?   This can feel much like the act of abuse itself – the betrayal, the madness of it, the way abusers distort, manipulate and deny the experience to relieve themselves of any responsibility – and continue on.

The Army of Ink  are the tellers of truth, the keepers of secrets and pain.  They are ‘the believers’.   A constant stream of heroic friends on your side.  Sometimes that’s what we must also be for ourselves, despite the way others react to our truth and the expression of our pain.  

I think this particular ‘ink’ has taken things into her own hands though.  She’s put the bad stuff in the bag and separated it from herself.   She’s not pretending it didn’t happen or that it will go away and never come back.  She’s keeping it at a safe distance from herself – while holding onto the good in her self and the truth – as her hand on heart suggests.   

The most important thing of all is….taking care of yourself despite the harm others cause you.  In ceasing to abuse yourself you are stopping the cycle of abuse.  That’s empowering because you’re pushing it back.  Placing the shame back where it came from – with who it belongs to.  And you won’t always be able to pull that off but you’ll like yourself a whole lot better for trying.

Rose (a character who emerged on my page last year) is the greatest ever advocate for self preservation and care.  She lives blissfully oblivious of the world around her which can be a nice place to escape to at times.  Meet all the Roses I’ve posted and the lovingly handmade book to have and hold here.  My latest book, ‘Dead Bird Theory‘, is a dark comedy about dealing with people who do shitty things.  I’ll be sharing some birds with you soon.

On a serious note….please pass this on….you never know who’s carrying bad apples around and may feel a little less burdened from receiving this good ‘bad apple’ story……