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The Bristlecone Project

Portraits and Biographies of Male Survivors

Frank Westcott

Ask Frank what he feels when he plays his music and a stillness comes over him. Then he says simply, “I feel me.” Music reverberates in Frank, and he expresses himself most fluidly through it. His thoughts, his feelings, even the events of his life, he expresses most eloquently when he sings his poetry.

Yet for many years, Frank was dislocated from his music. A veteran school teacher, he was surrounded by kids and was often bombarded with fragmented memories of being abused as a child. But he never gave them credence. Today, he wonders whether he would have been able to continue teaching had the memories consolidated into the reality he now recognizes. He doesn’t think he would have been able to tolerate knowing that if he had twelve boys in his class, two of them would likely be suffering abuse.

Frank retired from teaching at age 52 and began working with therapists. They helped him to unravel his past and disentangle the legacies of the abuse he had suffered. As a child, he learned to wait for “the blackness,” the blessed, separated state in which he might see himself from outside of his suffering body. Then, one night, there was a “great big angel” beside his bed in the darkness, and Frank heard this: “I am stopping it.” And it did stop. He was nine years old.

Years later, the adult Frank received a phone call from one of his perpetrators. Frank yelled into the phone, “Go fuck yourself!” And with that liberating, self-affirming shout, the font of Frank’s creativity began once again to flow (www.frankwestcottpoet.com).

His name is
Without any shame
Without shame
That’s his name
Without shame
That can be your name