A time away

For the folks following along at home, I have been nearly silent since April. I have not written anything more than some thank you cards. I have not created anything. I have not enter a period of being deeply depressed. Its a reasonable thing to worry on, after all–I am medicated for depression and anxiety. It has been a season of change–job and car (good-bye Violet!).

I have been silent, but I have not been still. The new job has taken a large amount of the energy that I would have put toward writing, but more then that I have been in a season of listening and learning. I will be back. I will have more to write. I will have more words of my own, but right now I am doing my best to let the words of others draw me deeper in thought and higher in expectation.

1st Draft 3.6.18: I hope to never see you

*Trigger warning, assault

I can’t remember your face and that used to really bother me. I told a therapist once that I was terrified I would run into you in public spaces and I wouldn’t know that it was you, because try as I may I can’t remember your face.

I remember your hands a bit. I remember them fumbling with my bra straps and opening the condom. I remember the weight of you. In my memories I remember you occupying space and that you spoke and that you left my room so easily, but, where as the memory of so much of you was hid from my memories, the pain you left behind was not.

I couldn’t even say the word for years. Rape. Date rape. Assault. I would call it a one night stand. I would call it a mistake I made. I held all that weight and guilt as my own, it makes sense that it would come out eventually. There I was in the arms of another lover, we were falling apart, in part because I was unraveling from the turmoil within. I started to sob, “I said no, I said no, I said no” the words tumbled out marked by tears. The lover had no capacity to hold it and soon he was gone.

But the word was out, and I could not go back. The questions changed once I gave it a name, once I called out the violation for what it was. No longer did I ask, “what sort of woman am I, that would let this happen?” Instead I was asking, “what sort of man are you, that you really thought this was the way to start a relationship?” What sort of person feels their right to be pleased trumps the right to hold onto a sacred sense of my being? What kind of person leaves scars with such ease and such precision?

For a while in my thoughts your were two dimensional. The flatness of your character made it easy to fold your faceless memory up and store you with the likes of other shallow villains. You must be bad through and through. You must have no spirit, no soul, no empathy, no goodness; because what sort of person does evil things? Evil ones, and as I am not evil that put me over here and you far over there.

But you are not a fictional character. You are real as I am real–and our realness is what put our lives in a collision course of choices, our embodiment is what made this wound on my heart possible. Our realness also makes it impossible for you to be a paper villain. While you do not have a face, you gave me enough details to know that you were part of a family. While I suppose it is possible that you were born from villains, it is more likely that you were just born as a son, trained in the family business, living in this city and  has hopes and desires and scars and triumphs.

From: Draft 2.20.18 “That is the thing about scars, about pain and about memory–in them is not always the easy labels of “right” or “wrong,” they don’t have villains with evil at the core of their being, or heroes with hearts of gold. In the vilest of my memories the one that hurt me is still nuanced, a person with soul and strengths (I assume), weakness and scars of their own, motives of love and motives of malice–what they did left marks across my heart, but who they are is more than the sum of the pain they left in their wake.”

Is this what forgiveness looks like? Is your face erased so that if I saw you, you would have a second chance to see me as the real person that you hurt? Or has my face disappeared too? Perhaps the wound on your soul and heart has been eased by the passing of years? Perhaps you have asked all the questions about “what sort of man am I?” Maybe you have repented and asked God to clear your account. Maybe.

But I still hope to never see you again.

1st Draft 2.20.18

Well the very best place to start is at the top, I suppose. If I take that literally on my body we could start at my head. Take a close look and you will see that my medium brown hair is colored to hide the ever increasing number of grey hairs. The skin of my face is pale, marked with sun damage, large pores and freckles and rises over high cheek bones,  I like it–it’s mine and it’s not likely to get ‘better’ or more youthful no matter what my skincare line promises. I have earned all of the fine lines by lost and misplaced sunglasses. I have been gifted the acne, in various stages of healing, by my ovaries. I have hazel eyes–those are a gift, too. If you drop to my shoulders, on the right is a large tattoo. It covers most of my shoulder blade and is a twisted pine clinging to a rock cliff with the sunrise or sunset behind.

Scars are always stories, and tattoos are the scars you choose. So the story goes like this:

In the land of Michigan, where a young man and a young woman met, fell in love and married, not long after they welcomed their first child. A girl with hazel eyes and big feet (she grew into them)–after four short months this new father and new mother and new baby moved from the land of Michigan to the plains. And then they would move in another year, three after that, six there, seven in another, and to another until this little girl with hazel eyes found herself a girl with average sized feet (I told you she grew into them) and a high school diploma. She set out in a economy car and moved and moved and moved and moved again until she was 27 she didn’t have the same zip code for longer than six months. Now if you imagine that this kind of moving sounds bohemian and adventurous, good on you—in fact stop reading, just go on thinking that I am some charmed roving soul. If your thought was, “that sounds exhausting” then please continue and perhaps put on the kettle, we may need the tea.

Migrancy or nomadic life is no blemish on my parents, they followed their own Divine path and it lead them from prairie town to seminary back to prairie towns. So hear me when I say that what they did was not wrong, but it did leave me with scars. Moving left me with the inability to settle in and start sending out the oh so necessary shoots from my soul, so that my roots could tangle and mingle with the souls that shared it’s location. All of us are organisms that thrive when we are strong in our own understanding of self and strong in our connections with others who are also strong in their understanding of self. Like aspen groves we grow up lifting our life gathering leaves toward the heavens and below supporting each other in a network that feeds and sustains all. Well that is the ideal sense, I think, we may act more like gnarled old oaks and grow tight in our grains and lonely in our post.

I wanted to be a stream planted tree, I wanted deep roots and to be supported by my neighbors and to support them. But moving made root dropping difficult. No one gladly turned over the soil of the community and let me push my self down through dark and fertile  silt to nourish  my soul. I thought very little about what was necessary  to ‘be planted.’ What great effort those around would have had to exert to allow me an easy planting, but I resented them and their deep local roots.

I spent a fair amount of acrylic painting disterra’d trees, floating with no earth, but also no sky to look to for Life. I dated boys with families that cling to the land that their ancestors had turned over with pride and plow, but I could not even graft myself to their rootstock. Each moves felt like another scar raised against my soul.

But scars are stories and tattoos are the scars you choose. And I found myself at 30 years old faced with a thought and an image. A tree gnarled by the work of digging in, and growing where theirs is little soil, but the wonder of seeing so much of the heavens. Reaching out to the company of other misfit trees whose seeds have also been blown to this high place. We do not get the ease of the Michigan climate or the wideness of the plains. We are spades by wind and journey and the rocks that we wind our strong roots around. I carry the shape of my journey, and I would not push any to follow it themselves, but I can tell you when you stop trying to be easily planted and instead dig in, you will find the sunrise and sunset is sweet as we dig in to rocky home.