Climbing Trees

Sweat oozed from my pores as I ran toward the barn
Sand spurs stung the bottoms of my fleeing feet
As I sprinted wildly toward Margie’s southern farm
I prayed my drunk daddy would do me no harm

In the woods, I had played with dollies and climbed trees
The big three, one with a treehouse I had visited there
I pretended I was Tarzan’s Jane and dirtied my knees
Daddy had the shotgun now, and I dare not just freeze

Running as fast as I could he was calling out my name
Staying close to the Live oaks and large Loblolly pines
Did daddy want to kill me now or was this a new game
I was a good girl Dolly was not maybe I was the same

Now at the barn, I hid where the hay was stacked high
A gentlewoman who had horses so kind to me here
My heart was racing as I became still and started to cry
Please, God, I begged don’t leave me to him and to die

It seemed like hours of shooting and his calling for me
I was quiet, and I knew better than to make even a peep
If he shot me here what would be left for neighbors to see
God, please pick me up I want to be with you and free

I waited till dark until I could hear Josie, Josie no more
Coming in through the backdoor the screen still open
I went to my room with the hard concrete red floor
Thanking my Lord, I felt my small feet bleeding and sore

Tomorrow he would not remember, and I would be good
Quiet oh so quiet I would go to the woods after breakfast
When inside I would blend into the walls and the wood
I’ll have to be brighter and much better, yes I understood
I just had to be the very best kid that any kid possibly could

by Joni Caggiano written 1/21/20 (in the voice of my inner child)

“Climbing Trees” is a poem written to describe how I felt as a child experiencing this trauma. While growing up with two alcoholic and abusive parents, there is no rhyme nor reason for much of what happens to you. This event was a particularly frightening experience. I will never know what made my dad come out that beautiful summer day and decide to shoot his gun repeatedly. He did so while calling my name.

These shared writings are not to point the finger at my parents but instead to let others know they are not alone. My parents were gone before I was thirty, and I completely forgive them. They had abusive childhoods themselves. My parents wanted the best for me too.

In spite of my mother’s abusive behavior, she led me to the Lord, and for that, I am eternally grateful. May God bless all you survivors who I call warriors! May you recognize your strength, compassion, intuition, and other gifts you received during your struggles. We are all a work in progress. I love and am grateful for each one of you, and your gift of acceptance into this beautiful community. Joni


25 thoughts on “Climbing Trees

  1. I cannot even begin to imagine what this must be like, what this does to one. A testimony to your courage and tenacity for getting through this kind of struggle and pain.

    1. Thank you Don I appreciate your compassion. Everyone doesn’t make it and I am so grateful that there are resources now for help and training for teachers, etc to recognize symptoms. I truly live a blessed life now and am grateful. Have a wonderful evening. Love 💕 Joni

  2. You write of these times so exquisitely, Joni–the pain and fear reverberate, and then the victory of Jesus entering the picture. Although I’m not sure to what degree alcohol was my mom’s problem, I well recall what you describe–that there was no rhyme or reason to her abuse. I walked on eggshells daily, cried myself to sleep each night…always the silent question, “why does she hate me?” I still have nightmares about her–but now I also have the immeasurable and unconditional love of God…it makes all the difference. Much love to you, Joni💕

    1. I am so sorry for your hurt and abuse. I am so grateful for your faith it is and was my rock. I did a lot of therapy and work when I was in my twenties and thirties. If I still felt like I needed help I would find a support group. I am thankful for your new neighbor too. Have a blessed night my dear friend. Love 💕 your sister Joni

    1. Thank you kindly Irene, I too am very grateful for my many blessings. I have a happy and wonderful life with my best friend, my husband. The Lord has been so great to me. I hope that my sharing may help others. Love 💕 Joni.

  3. Beautiful, Joni. I like how it starts a sweet dream and then it changes into a nightmare. I can’t even begin to imagine what you must have gone through, I am glad that you came out victorious! Stay blessed dear! ❤❤

    1. Thank you Bulbul I appreciate your kind words. I am blessed everyday of my life and so glad to be here. Thanks for your support. Have a wonderful week. Love 💕 Joni

  4. I could hardly breathe as you ran to hide and take shelter. The terror of being pursued by your father with a shot gun and drunk as well. Many people experience abuse in different ways but this was cruel life. At least your mother did you the grace of leading you to God and He is the best friend and companion anyone can have. In actual fact the Lord raised you and protected you as you are a testament to have survived this chaotic life style. Blessings and Hugs Joni. You are a brave woman.

    1. Thank you so much for your compassionate comments. You are so right in that the Lord kept me close especially as a smile child. I hope that by writing occasionally about my life will reach those who need to know they are not alone. Have a truly blessed day. Love 💕 Joni

  5. Your writing moves me, Joni❤️. I’m impressed with your ability to capture the memory and feeling, you transform the painful truth into art that is precious and healing to survivors.

    1. Thank you so much Judy. I appreciate your kind comments. I hope that by sharing I can help others. The desire to let others know they are not alone is so important. Thank you and have a blessed day. Love 💕 Joni

  6. You are such an inspiration to so many that have suffered, as you have & you have always given me much more hope when I needed it most my lifelong friend. Bless you always & I love you

    1. Thank you sweet Janette. Well you are an inspiration for me my friend. Thank you for your sweet comments. Love and miss you bunches. I love 💕 You Janette.

  7. Powerful, Joni. This brought tears to my eyes. You might like “My Father, Maker of the Trees” by Eric Irivuzumugabe. It is about the Rwandan genocide (rather than abuse), but likewise reflects deep faith in the face of death. Love, A. <3 <3 <3

    1. Oh Anna thank you. I am glad you felt the poem and grateful you understand it’s meaning. I think it is difficult for people to read this kind of work but silence doesn’t help any one. I am going to look up this piece, I am hoping it might be on line or it may be a book. It sounds very interesting indeed. I also wanted to share a site with you Anna, it is called Tag line is Warrior Voices of Survival. There are some very talented writers on this site. Thank you for the recommendation. I am eager to check out your legal blog. It is hard to keep up as I could read and learn all day. I would much rather do that then cook and clean. Love to you dear Anna. It means a lot to me that you have read some of my work as I am guessing your weeks are very busy. With much love ❤️ Joni

      1. Thank you for the recommendation, Joni. I will be sure to look into it! I know what you mean about an abundance of riches online. I’d much rather read or write than cook or clean, too (LOL). Much love, A. <3

      2. You are most welcome my friend. Yes, after so many years of cooking and cleaning, I am so grateful my husband is a great cook and does half the house work. Sending you love. 💕❤️Joni

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