Friday, January 20, 2017

We Want Things

People are worried about me. It's what friends do when they see you suffering. They would like to see me be OK, not be triggered by visions of rape.

They want me not to hear about children afraid of being deported and remember that I was often awakened from sleep to some scene my alcoholic father created. I was often afraid in my childhood too. Different reason; same terror.

They want me to once again be able to watch the news like the news junkie I was. They want to see me be able to put the bad news away and go about my business without toting fears of nuclear war with China or wholesale destruction of the planet my granddaughter will call home for 90 years.

My friends want me to find my joy again and rediscover my wicked sense of humor. They want me not to have to schedule extra sessions with my psychologist just to get through the month.

I want some things too. I want to not be an enneagram personality type 1 wing 9 ( who is driven to change things that hurt others. Not really, I just want everyone else to be one too so we'd simplify things and have the same goal.

I want my president to be smarter than me and humbled by the office.

I want legislators who have some semblance of decency, compassion, and shame.

I want everyone to treat others as they would like to be treated. No, better.

I want to hear that someone is a Christian and not have the wonder if they follow the example of the Christ who loves.

I would like just one person who voted for a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women and mocked a disabled man to apologize to me, a disabled rape survivor, and mean it.

I want to stop hearing "me, me, me" and overhear people say, "Can I help you with that?" and "You seem sad. Let's talk about what can make it better."

I want to wake up and find out everyone on the planet got woke. Woke AF. The kind of woke that makes you cry a little and then wipe tears on the sleeve of your work shirt and get after doing what needs doing to keep this world turning for us all.

Instead, I'm watching it all come undone. I can see it as clearly as I saw all the hours of the clock this 19 January 2017  night and 20 January 2017 morning.

If you are my friend, that will probably add to your worry about me because you know I need my sleep to keep the RA from making me sick.

I did some things during the night, though. I did some guided meditation and an 'examen' - a religious exercise where I look at what is in my life and think of what to do in response. I also prayed.

I don't have any brilliant answers or even smart ones, anyway none that I didn't have yesterday.

I'm going to get my hair cut later today. It's kind of a thing I do. When I make a major change, I cut my hair.

I'm going to make some things, do some sewing, and write in my liturgical journal.

I'm going to keep promises and become very acquainted with my legislators' staff members and learn their phone numbers by heart.

I'm going to take care of my animals and fiercely love my family. I'm going to love my neighbor, even those who are making my life a misery right now.

I'm going to follow my basic personality, but I'm more mentally healthy, and won't go off the deep end unless I am sure I have a life preserver. I'm going to fight back and wipe tears and give mini sermons to kids. And I'm going to finish the damn novel this year.

Don't worry, I'm gonna be OK, but I am going to suffer some while I do it because I will be seeing the suffering around me, the way my friends see mine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

This safety pin doesn't matter

I make jewelry sometimes.

"I made it," I might say, when someone asks about a necklace or bracelet.

"You made the beads?" they sometimes say.

No. I bought the beads and the findings. I guess I just designed it and put the pieces together.

These are some prayer beads I made, designed and put together.

I made so many. I didn't have anything to do with them all, more than in the picture.  I don't sell jewelry. I do give some away, so I did that, gave a few prayer beads away.

Usually, I just make things for myself. No one has to like them except me. If  I don't like them any more, I can take them apart and remake them, redesign them, into something else.

Today, I designed this.

There aren't four. I just liked the way it looked on different background colors.

I didn't make the elements of the necklace. The heart and brass ring were made by the brother of one of my best friends. He is a metal artist. I didn't make the safety pins either. I'm not sure who makes safety pins.

I simply slid the pins onto the leather thong that Jerry sent with the heart.

It didn't take much effort, although I did plan the way they would look. And I did have to hunt up a few extras of the same size, so that was effort, I guess.

I'm wearing it right now, the necklace. I'm not sure how often I will wear it. It's really for me, to remind me, to give me something tangible to hold onto.

So, I am not wearing a safety pin to show that I will stand in the way of anyone who would hurt someone because of their color, or race, or religion, or sexual orientation, or any other thing that folk use to separate out one from the herd to beat down. I will, but that's not the importance of the pins.

I could wear them inside my clothes where no one would see.

I am wearing a row of them, a chain of them, 24 of them. The number isn't significant. I could wear one or a hundred.

It doesn't even matter too much if I wear them at all. It only matters that they remind me of what and who and where my attention should be focused. When I see them, or feel them, when I put them on, or when I take them off, I remember what they stand for, who they stand for, and what is important.

Maybe you want to make a chain of them or pin a square of them onto your shirt. Use one to put your house key onto a keyring. String several together to hang on your coffee cup handle or to dangle down from your rearview mirror. Or perhaps put one inside the waistband of your skirt or inside your pants pocket, where only you will know it's there.

The pin doesn't matter. The people matter. Don't let us forget that.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Do you have people?

When times get tough, it's a good thing to have people. I have people. Some of my people sent me things this past week.

Diane made an envelope out of a magazine page and filled it with two of her collage pieces. They were created just for me. The wishes and sentiments fit me to a tea. 

That is what Keith sent me -- tea. Harney and Sons Capri. Even Harney (or the Sons) sent me a little something, two extra teabags.

A Wisewoman sent me a postcard that encouraged me to be myself and, strangely, full of tea.

Mindy sent a postcard too. "Good friends are like stars. You don't always see them but you know they are always there."

She says I am there for her too, even when I am in a mess. It's what you do. You are present for people who need you. When you can't immediately be present, you send your voice, your words, your wishes, or a little tea. Tea and sympathy.

My government and the people represented threw me for a loop. I suffered sexual battery as a child and was raped as a young woman. I've spent a lot of years trying to put that into a place inside me that is cushioned by therapy and soul work. That work enabled me to pull outside of myself and my own pain to help others who have suffered. I have encouraged others to get help. My recovery seemed something I could count on.

I forgot that recovery is a process. It's like remission, not a cure. And just like that, my future president says he can grab any woman's private parts because he is a star.

I found out that sexual predators are like stars too. You don't always see them but you know they are always there.

So I fell off the edge of my safe place on this planet. But I have people. My people make a tether to hold me close and pull me back.

Do you have people? #raiseyourhand Ask for help.
Do you have people? #lookforthehurting Be the help.

I will be here, drinking tea and writing words. You can sit with me.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Like That Woman in the Picture

I watched Sunday on CBS with Jane Paulie. A reporter (?) interviewed some hurting people who are "low class," as one woman described herself with not a bit of shame or artifice. She talked of her troubles. She's a young woman, 20s, who said the closing of the coal mines because of EPA and environmental concerns split families. Men go off to work as they can find it and women and children stay put in the "home where [her] family lived for generations."

Two things, neither promising:

1) No one in government is going to get those coal jobs (or manufacturing jobs) back. I don't think anyone who promised to meant a word. And the Democrats in congress can block a lot of votes to prevent environmental apocalypse. (The Rs don't have 60%.)

B. Any major shift in work life (early mankind adopting agriculture, the industrial revolution, the rise of .com and e-commerce) brings upheaval. Some changes are good. Some are bad. Some changes are split between good for one and bad for another. All changes have required some people to adapt to relocation, loss of livelihood, and great stress. Former hunter/gatherers didn't hire guides when they could now grow their own. Large numbers of farm workers moved from rural areas to get manufacturing jobs in cities, many women, many exploited. And now, like me, Adam, and Ariane, some work from home by computer rather than going into a job in town. And steelworkers and coal miners have no jobs near home.

The "low class" woman reminds me of myself. I needed to create a whole new way to be in the world, more because of bad family issues than national issues. I had few resources. The military got me the hell out of town. And the things that were untenable back home were improved. I had to leave my home and some dear people. But my daughter is in much better position than she'd have been in had I stayed.

The woman who faces a split family and hard times gets my sympathy and empathy. I want her to find a way to have a good family life and plenty. I'm willing to pay taxes to get her and/or her husband some retraining. I'd support tax breaks if they have to move.

But I won't give her what she wants. I won't support reopening those coal mines. It's wrong for more people than it is right for. I'm sorry. She's in for hard times to come this next four years.

Later this morning, I learned Elton John has the photo "Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange.

It seemed fitting to put her here.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Little Girls Bounce

The words of the title come from a chapter of the book I am writing. It has several little girls as characters on the pages. One thing that is true in this book is that little girls are resilient. 

Like a rubber ball, a girl can land in the mud with a splat. Either can be lost in the back corner of a closet or under the bed. All manner of bad things can happen to a ball or a little girl. The resilience doesn't take away the danger of it or the chance that something or someone can do mischief to the very essence of the ball or girl.

You might think that a rubber ball, because it is so spongy and resilient can't be hurt. It can. Little bounces on the concrete don't show too much. But over time, the red surface can start to show a little wear. Sun beats down on the ball left out too long in the weather. Oxidation breaks the chemical bonds. Over time, a shiny rubber ball shows the insults on its now-pitted surface. 

Girls show insults and neglect too. Quiet -- frighteningly, unnaturally quiet, or loud -- rebelliously, outrageously loud. Cuts. Bruises. Scars. Scarification toughens the skin and the heart. You can see it, if you look, the damage.

But if someone will pick up either, girl or ball, and try to engage their natural inclinations, their creator-given essence, the someone will find that either, ball or girl, will bounce. Things have changed in the chemical bonds and the soul of the girl, for sure. Never will either be the same as before the insults and damage. But bounce we do. And I am living proof.

My childhood and early adult years were damaging. For a long time, it looked as though I would never overcome the pain I felt or be what I was intended to be. I had to start to believe that I could overcome the damage of child sex abuse, a violent alcoholic father, and the rape I endured just as I was becoming a woman on my own. I had to see that I am valuable and worthy, no matter what scars I carry. It took my child's future looming before me to see that I had to parent myself as I was parenting her. I had to ask for help and take it. I had to work on the things I wanted to change. It was and still is hard work.

Now, I try to point out the truths I have learned to those who still hurt and haven't healed. I will tell you how it was with me. I will hear what you want to say. I will wish and pray for you to bounce back. You can.

Little girls bounce, and, I don't forget, little boys too.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Writing Through the Pain: one way to cope when your president triggers you

To start this post, I opened up Word and chose a blank sheet of virtual paper. Anything can happen on this page. Hold that thought.

I am reopening this blog, Prodigal Aspersions. Here, I wrote my way through several years of therapy when I didn’t have enough close friends to talk to. I talked to myself. Not surprising. I was always a loner as a kid – up a tree, in my grandparents’ attic, out in the fields, in the empty weekday church building. There weren’t any kids of my age in Keeling, Tennessee, just older or younger. But truth be told, I didn’t want any kids brought in. I never knew what to do with them and by the time I learned, I had come to enjoy my solitude.

I didn’t always enjoy my childhood. It was populated by some really good people – Bobby Coulston, Mr. Mac, my own granddaddy highlight the list. However, there were people who made my life one long dark night with new shadows and strange, ominous sounds, the kind of night where you hold your breath and stare at the shadow, willing it to be a newly broken branch or some clothes left on the line outside. Like when you see and hear frightening things in the night, I tried to make sense of my experiences. But there’s not a whole lot of insight available to a child of a violent alcoholic and who has an uncle who constantly tries to sexually assault her. Add the Asperger’s syndrome, shake, stir, and pour up a cup of dread.

I grew up. I got that therapy and still do. I talked and read. I came to understand that the chaos and terror around me had nothing to do with what and who I am. I was a little kid who should have been enjoyed and nurtured. It was not my fault. There were people, lots of people, who agreed with me.

I wrote things along the way – as therapy, in addition to therapy, for my own sense of worth and expression. I put them here and over in my other blog Dead Daddy. (Link at right.)

People found me. Looking for kinship, help, answers, they stumbled onto me. Not a whole lot of people, just the ones who needed what I had discovered, what I could say out loud.

I went back to college and to grad school and started writing academic papers, then my own work, and some side hustle gigs. I didn’t add much here.

I think I need to again. For those who are so tired of being triggered and poked and stabbed by sexual carelessness. For those who never said a word and now might want to figure out how. Because I need to do something positive for my own sake and work through returning demons that I thought were driven from the space outside the window of my soul’s night.

I am going to write here and at Dead Daddy. I know that writing can make it better and reading can too. I am going to do what I can to make it better. Anything can happen here. We are not clean, blank pages on a screen. Admittedly, we are people who have been through some hard times. If we were paper we would look rumpled, wrinked, maybe even crumpled up. But we are not paper. We are people. Our scars are our battle markings. The dented places in our skins are proof that we escaped from what held us. We can keep looking to make sense of the shadows of our nights. And we can write and talk about it. Or just read for now.

On this page, I can tell you how I became a battle-tested warrior. I can howl and I can laugh. Just wait. Hold on.

I will write. I will be here. It is what I can do today.