She lived in a dark, damp cupboard under the stairs, with the brooms and shovels and other items of domestic drudgery.
She slept and sometimes crawled in there to hide from the dread of her existence, for undoubtedly, there was no escape. Invisible and of no consequence to the world; she had nowhere to go and nothing with which to get anywhere; without possessions or meager means to take care of herself.
She never knew what it was to own a thing, least of all herself, nor had she any sense of belonging to place or persons meaningful. Sovereignty, agency: those constructs were alien.
Besides, it would be terrifying to own or care for anything, because then it would surely be taken away. She didn't know 'choice', had never experienced making a decision; she was owned and enslaved from the moment of birth to the end of her short, miserable life.
Her pale skin was black with dirt and blue from the cold, and black and blue and red with bruises and sores from scrubbing rough floors and relentless beatings. Her eyes had grown dead with the brutality.
I found her, crouched in that cupboard in her thin dress, legs exposed, feet bare, half-starved, half-frozen, and so weary she could barely comprehend the presence of a kindly stranger.
We sat together and I listened as she communicated silently through her pain and withdrawal. All that soul needed was a witness, and to know she wasn't alone. We sat together, simply and for a long time, with nothing more to be done.
In time, I gave her a warm blanket, which happened to be royal blue, thick and heavy, made of modern-day fleece material, incongruous in that spectacle of Victorian squalor.
As she began to relax and could bear contact, I washed her broken feet, brushed her lank hair and laid her in a clean nightdress on a soft feather bed with cotton sheets.
She lay curled up, her lifeless eyes turned away from connection, closed down through unendurable human suffering, even to kindness.
Eventually, I climbed into the bed next to her, moving slowly closer so she could feel me there, but could barely touch, so sensitised and raw was she; though she could perceive my presence, was aware of the warmth from my body and somehow able to absorb tenderness obliquely through the field between us. It was the only way possible to begin to approach the hurt.
I asked her, silently, if she was ready to leave, to go to the light; but I already knew, in her eye the faintest glimmer, she needed to stay for a while, if only to receive a momentary experience of humanity.
Now, she is healing as I am healing, we are healing each other, and in her way, she is teaching me how to love.
This tale isn't intended to evoke sentimentality or an attempt to glorify the everlasting nature of the spirit, but to express in some way, what happens as a result of unendurable human suffering; how the absence of humanity results in damage that has consequences to our entire chain of existence.
That it is possible to heal from the trauma of unendurable pain and suffering, no matter how far we drift from ourselves, however unreachable we might become. That we can learn how to love, how to receive and how to heal.
That kindness is actually a powerful healing tool, a gentle laser beam that can melt the toughest psychic scar tissue.
How, as human beings, we deny the subtler aspects and levels of existence because they're seemingly impossible and defy consensus reality.
How 'Being' functions in both time and space and has knowledge of everywhere and everywhen; each moment that ever is and was is unceasing and coexisting, accessible through the eye of now.
That soul retrieval, psychic healing and integration of past life trauma can occur, in a nano-second.