Metta: A Lyric for Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse

Photo & origami cranes by Karen Kaye Llamas

Photo & origami cranes by Karen Kaye Llamas

Metta: noun

Definition: Loving-kindness, the Buddhist virtue of kindness; also called maitri. Word of Pali origin.


[CN: child abuse & domestic violence]


Surviving child abuse is like busting out of your ruin, a jail in a home. You were in long so you forgot

your name, that you whole & all those memories, how they run ass-naked across your mind & threaten to scream louder past the bars until they all you hear. You see women beat,

they your kin,

and the men you hope can do better. You grieve the put-downs, the belt-swinging at everyone, the hushed house everyone thinks is Cosby-perfect. Endure again & again & against until you no longer feel the pain of others, family, the shame. You grieve losing innocence, or childhood, a water clock you don’t get back + having to experience rejection. You tell the story so much, worry that people close one day might betray you. You blame the belt swinger for the blood in your eyes.

You see them. You try to hurt them like they hurt you.

You deny the abuse happened.

Your abuser does not remember abusing.

You refuse to engage with your abuser. Their presence reopens old wounds. You try to heal but it hurts. You like a worm on a bamboo stick hooked on the teeth of lies. Pain pushes you to find silence somewhere. For a while you find silence

in a blunt,

but that silence evaporates like smoke.

Nirvana is a kind of smoke, and Buddhism a jewel.

So, you crawl into the filled rows, find a Buddhist monastery with black people there. Answers in silent, a cycle in your mind, the only cycle you know.

A boddhisatva in black sits in front of you.

You find answers.

You are the peace you seek, your body is a monastery briefly when you sleep.

Being here helps.

Here helps you remember.

You see the bird on the wall and fall asleep.

The moments of bliss are a pillow in your mind. You find your inner-strength, the god of joy.

You are not crashed away in your room, not there anymore. You smile because you a song of meaning.

This wave of good feelings surrounded by darkness is your calm. You remember eight-year-old you,

boy whose teacher called him a gift. You hold good memories in your hand like your favorite green marble.

This is metta, loving-kindness, the wish to hold good in your mind like jasper in your lap.

You have not forgotten the pain, but he does not get to stay around

it’s in your desire to heal, your willingness to caress a new story.  


Metta Loving-Kindness
version from QTPoC Meditation

May we be happy.
May we be supported in times of sorrow.

May we be healthy.
May we be supported in times of poor health.

May we be free from danger.
May we be supported when we feel unsafe.

May we live with a sense of ease.
May we be supported in learning to let go.


May we be happy.
May we cultivate our inner sense of joy.

May we be healthy.
May we support our wellbeing with self-care.

May we be free from danger.
May we hold ourselves in compassion
So as to feel safer from oppression.

May we live with a sense of ease.
May we support ourselves in letting go
of what does not serve us on our path to liberation.


May we experience joy.

May we feel mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.

May we enjoy moments free from suffering.

May we know unconditional love.


Lyric poem edited by OAO

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Image description:

Six pink and white origami (folded paper) cranes are lined up on a chain-link fence. The fence is red, the paint chipping off to reveal silver metal underneath. Bright green leaves are behind the fence. The cement in front of the fence is splattered with the old red paint. The photo is shot so that the paper cranes are ascending.

About Roman Johnson:

Roman Johnson is a scholar-activist and writer of fiction and non-fiction. His poems are found or forthcoming at the Good Men Project and African Voices, and his non-fiction can be found at Racebaitr, Arab America, and the Fellowship Magazine. He loves peace and is committed to his healing process and helping others to spark that process in themself.


About Karen Kaye Llamas:

Karen Kaye Llamas is a disabled Filipino illustrator. Her works frequently allude to personal experiences living with mental illness, and beauty snatched alongside strangeness and isolation. Born in the Philippines, immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 7, she currently resides in NYC. Support QTPoC art by buying Karen's Sweet Girlfriends Coloring Book on Amazon or getting the PDF on etsy.