Ash and Stardust, a monthly column by artist and writer DHIYANAH HASSAN, explores the intersections of tarot with healing and creativity. These are personal essays sharing experiences of growth as someone who has recently found a deep connection to tarot. You can read the first piece here.
On a night I was forced to lose a war to my father’s rage, I stopped myself from crying by carving the word ‘HATE’ into my leg. The conclusion of these encounters with either of my parents had never meant the end of physical abuse. Their anger grew inside me like an infection.
A huge part of my history is that I grew up with adults who couldn’t protect me from their own ugliness, who refused to remember what they did after the fact, who until today won’t say anything when decades of their choices landed me in hospitals and finally on the disability spectrum.
Since childhood, I was not given the tools necessary to know how to love myself. What I saw in my parents’ eyes as my body absorbed impact after impact was what I mirrored back to myself; hate. And that ruined so much of my life, as this still does to countless children all over the world, crying quietly in places they have to call home.
Children know things on a raw and intuitive frequency before they find the language for articulation, so I knew there was something wrong with it all. To cope with the terror no one else could see, I developed imaginary worlds I’d submerge myself in for hours – days, even. In this world, I was loved by a group of adults who’d co-parent me through the perils of daily life. In the external world, I couldn’t talk about what was happening to me without being pegged as too difficult or ‘too much.’