There is this thing that happens when you are in captivity with another person that there are no words to explain. Thankfully, the majority of people have not had this experience and will never fully understand what I am about to share.
Shana was a young girl that was brought into the home of ritual abuse that I "belonged" to. What this meant was that for the first time, I had someone there with me. I was not alone. Alone was terrifying and scary for a seven year old. Shana was my first friend. We spent many hours locked up inside a small, dark bathroom. Even though we were terrified to speak with one another for fear of punishment, a heart connection grew between us that was unbreakable. At night, the men would grow tired and eventually leave but that didn't mean that Shana and I would be released. The opportunity to go home and have the comfort of a bed, blankets, clothes and safety was withheld as a form of control - control that was terrifying punishment. At times we did leave and other times, we were left behind in a small house out in a remote area.
Perhaps you can remember your childhood friend and that bond that you feel even to this day when you bring up the memories of your time together. Now imagine, that same childhood friend and yourself terrified for your life and experiencing the deepest physical and emotional pain you can imagine. That bond you have for one another now goes to an even deeper connection. This is the one person who feels safe, "gets" the experience from the same place that you do, and shares the same memory. My bond with Shana was a human connection that I had not yet experienced in my seven years of life. That made it even more remarkable.
Our terror of breaking the rules and speaking faded over time. We began making up songs and stories together. We played through our words as we were not physically able to have the experience of actually doing so. We both had experience of life outside of those walls so it was easy to bring those experiences into our play. At times, we had the ability to be free in the 5' x 5' space of the bathroom walls that were inescapable through the locked door. In those times, we crowded close to one another using our bodies cuddled together to stay warm. More importantly, using our heart connection to give one another strength to endure.
When we were nine years old, the most tragic and defining moment happened. Shana died. I was left behind, alone. There was never another Shana brought to be with me, to accompany me in the dark places I was left behind.
To this day, I envision Shana in this field of beautiful yellow flowers. She is playing, smiling, and swirling around in a dress that is simple but beautiful. She is no longer hurting or in pain. In my mind, she is still a nine year old little girl. Time stopped in her aging although I know that she would be the same age as me.
I believe Shana is like an angel watching over me, giving me strength to make it through, even on the hards days. She is my biggest fan cheering me on. The best thing is that I am able to be her voice for her experience. Her life matters. Her experience matters. I am sad every single day that she is not here on earth walking beside me. However, we are still best friends and doing for one another what seems impossible to do.
When I share "my" story, I am sharing our story. I named my business Shana's Place. My ranch where I have my beautiful herd of horses is Shana's Place. Shana is very much remembered and she matters.