TRIGGER WARNING: Domestic abuse
There once lived a brave little girl called Phoenix. She wished she didn’t have to be brave all the time, and some of the time she didn’t feel brave at all. In fact, she felt very scared. To help her through each day, the little girl would pretend to be a fierce animal. She was a dragon most days. Other days she didn’t feel so fierce and would act more like a scared little rabbit, running away to find a quiet place to hide.
Phoenix would often imagine other people were animals, too. The little girl imagined her mum to be a beautiful dog, perhaps an Irish Setter, with long brown ears. Sadly this Irish Setter wasn’t a happy dog – her tail never wagged, her hair wasn’t shiny and her nose was bone dry. She tiptoed around her own home with her tail between her legs. The sad dog didn’t eat properly and was often injured or limping. Even though she was scared all the time, she loved her children very much and did her best to protect them and keep them safe.
Phoenix tried to imagine an animal befitting her father. But try as she might, she just could not think of an animal cruel or nasty enough. She had spent a lot of time mulling it over – could he be a bear? No – for they could be gentle at times. A lion – no…they are too majestic. A snake…possibly…but then again that just didn’t fit. So he remained a man. A cruel man.
Phoenix had a sister who she imagined to be a vicious cat. Phoenix was afraid of her, but what she didn’t understand is that the cat was also afraid. The cat was so bruised and hurt – that her first instinct was always to attack. She would lash out at Phoenix – scratching and hissing at her. So she tried her best to keep out of her sister’s way. Phoenix thought her sister must have hated her. For many years, Phoenix didn’t understand that the cat did love her…she was merely trying to survive in the only way she knew how.
As Phoenix grew up, she learned that being a dragon didn’t always work out well. Once, when she saw her father hurting her mother again, she had had enough; and it woke Phoenix’s dragon. She felt big and fierce and full of angry fire. She tried to save the Irish Setter from the cruel man. She tried to breathe fire on him, tried to claw at him and bite him…but it was no use. This time, Phoenix ended up also being hurt by the cruel man. The rabbit saved Phoenix by running away and finding a hiding place under the bed.
Over time, Phoenix was less and less of a dragon, and more and more of a rabbit. She would quietly watch the cruel man do his cruel things from under the bed, feeling confused, sad, and angry.
One day, Phoenix’s mother turned from an Irish Setter with a meek growl into a lioness with a mighty roar. The lioness chased off the cruel man.
And then a strange thing happened. The cruel man changed into disgusting cockroach, who scuttled away and hid under a rock.
Life became easier for Phoenix’s family without him there. However, even though they never saw him again, he was always with them. In a strange way, he never really left. The hurt he inflicted on them still remained – like a ghost – haunting their thoughts, words and actions every single day.
When Phoenix became an adult, she gave her heart to someone just like her father. Instead of treasuring her heart – and looking after it with love and respect – he dropped it and broke it. He didn’t pick up the pieces because he didn’t care. She thought of him as another cruel man. Poor Phoenix thought that being hurt by others was normal. She didn’t realise that people shouldn’t harm each other. Phoenix was almost always a scared rabbit now. She found that being a dragon got her into trouble, and she just wanted peace and quiet. Being a rabbit helped with this…for a time at least.
Eventually the time came for Phoenix to have her own child. As soon as she laid eyes on her little bear cub, she fell in love. Things instantly changed and the dragon was awoken once more. Phoenix felt fiercely protective over her little cub. She realised that being treated so badly wasn’t right, and that people should love and cherish each other, just like she loved and cherished her cub. So, she blew her hot fire and another cruel man ran away.
After he ran away, something strange happened, just like it did with her father. He turned from another cruel man… into an annoying wasp. He wanted to take care of his child, as wasps take care of their larvae. But he was also prone to stinging for no reason. He would buzz aggressively around Phoenix’s face, scaring her with the threat of attack. When the wasp began to be cruel to her little cub, Phoenix once again called on the dragon, and she blew her fire until the wasp was cruel no more. The smoke from her flames eventually pacified the wasp.
Phoenix began to heal her broken heart because she knew she couldn’t be the best mother to her cub if she was sad all the time. She gathered all the tiny shattered pieces and glued them carefully back together. Then she made a lovely warm and safe home for her and her cub. She became stronger and stronger every day. She realised that she had had the power all along, that she alone could create a peaceful, secure and happy family with her child. Thanks to Phoenix’s bravery they were free from the prison of cruelty and abuse.
Over the years, Phoenix added more and more to her warm safe home – brick by brick – until it had become an impenetrable fortress with a tall protective wall. Phoenix believed that the fortress would protect her and her cub from harm. Like a warrior she was always prepared for battle: she had her arsenal of weapons and her dragon by her side. She made a thick shield of armour around her fragile heart.
One day, Phoenix met someone and unexpectedly fell in love. She hid her armoured heart, because she wanted to keep it safe. The fortress she had built meant that no harm come to her or her cub – but it also meant that no love could, either. So when she felt safe, she slowly let down the drawbridge and allowed some love pass through. Phoenix was reassured that if any danger came her way, the dragon was always ready to pounce and the rabbit was always ready to run. They were there to protect her as they always had.
At first, Phoenix was scared that this man would prove to be another cruel man. After some time, Phoenix decided this man was a wolf – loyal, strong, protector of the family. But just like everyone knows – wolves are to be approached with caution. You certainly shouldn’t pet or stroke the wolf unless you are certain he won’t bite. Phoenix was very cautious until the time came when she didn’t think of him as a wolf anymore. She didn’t think of him as any animal. She had a new creature in front of her, one she had never encountered before. Something she referred to as a decent man. Someone who was loving, caring, kind, generous, trustworthy. Someone who cherished Phoenix and her cub. The decent man also had a cub and they all created a new safe and loving home together. Soon, Phoenix trusted the decent man with her heart and she gave it to him to hold, and he held onto it with gentle loving care.
One day, Phoenix realised that she was no longer scared; that she hadn’t been scared in a long, long time. She didn’t need to be a dragon or a rabbit anymore. She was no longer a little girl. Phoenix was a woman. She realised she could let the dragon and rabbit rest now. They had worked hard for many years, and were so, so tired. Phoenix knew that they would always be there if she needed them, but until then they needed a well-deserved break. They curled up happily together on a fluffy cloud in Phoenix’s mind, and fell into a deliciously deep sleep.