Thoughts from the quiet

Flight to Dallas.jpg
The view from the plane, little lights above and below.

I have been quiet.

Listening. Watching. Thinking. Praying even…dear Universe, please stop sucking; people are lonely, kids need to be safe, let love grow…how can I help?

And reading.

Meditating though only in that meditation is cultivating outward quiet so inward quietness has a chance to take root.

As far as the blogging life of “everyday derring-do,” it seemed wiser to be still, pay attention and work quietly behind-the-scenes to do a bit of good here and there rather than join in hurling the scree and schimpf into the melee.

Even still, my confidence has wavered, been bolstered and wavered again by a funeral, another terrible corporal memory and skeeviness.

Why do I write these things?
Because people hurt and are lonely and believe – even in the face of a maddening truth and evidence to the contrary – that they are the only ones who were hurt, the shame is theirs to bear alone and the only hope is to lay in the street.

You are not alone. We are not alone. Others have found hope and healing despite the DNA-changing life experience we would not wish on a cruel animal. It is a terrible truth which brings a terrible reality that wounding and using and commoditizing people has become a human sport and that means we are not alone.

Little comfort.

No wonder we are crumbly and vigorously protective of what we perceive is our little piece of heaven and the real world. Our rights to bear this and do this. Our entitlements and hurt feelings.

I used to actively believe that a faith in God – in Jesus – would transform us to care about one another toward greater good until I observed that love to have been largely co-optated by small-minded people who “want what they want, by God.” Couple this entitled want with the expectation that god is going to give “it” to them or they have the right to belittle, abuse, and wrestle their self-interest from others in the name of a poor brown bastard laborer who would likely have little quarter or welcome or friends in their high shiny places.

And yet, I know people who love deeply and serve and lead out of a love inspired and transformed by their faith relationships. But that is a conversation for another day.

What I am learning in this season of quiet

I am strong…and am learning forgiveness and wisdom. The lifelong effects of abuse, rape, neglect persist and transmute once healthy identity and processes into broken pieces of iron, clay, bone and flesh. There is no miracle cure. Just anecdotal remedies that some people make it out alive and happy and whole…eventually. Others fight hard to keep learning and learn to peel away the blinders to grow as alive, happy and whole as can be. Others give up, replicate the horrors they’ve known intimately – bringing death to themselves and to the souls of others. I have a hard time forgiving these folks.

Years of having to disguise my fear and terrifying truth had become habit. Long committed to truth and compassion, I still am learning to speak the uncomfortable truths, take no crap and do no harm. And to not be afraid of hard truths among bombastic people. You see it – that flicker of fear or reasonable anger quickly tucked behind a smile that is flat. Let me explain it.

If this flicker of fear is foreign to you, consider the following illustration borrowed from a TED talk and a recent USA Today article: science describes this sort of sustained experience of danger as if you are living in a forest and come across a bear. Your fight or flight kicks in as your body floods with stress hormones. You are teed up for survival in the forest as you meet that bear. Imagine that bear is no stranger but capriciously rules the house and even occasionally invites other bears into the one place you hope for peace and rest – your home. You.

The stress hormones become your daily bread. Fight or flight is imprinted into your growing brain, neurological system, your heart and physiology. The bear is always before you…long after your escape from that environment, that forest of your beginnings. The bear is now in your compromised-by-stress-hormones-DNA.

Add the gratuitous relationship pop culture has with gore and jokes about beating one another or “they deserve to be raped” or how pornography affects once-healthy men and now women in relationships and there is no safe place.

And the means that contributed to survival become the ultimate means of loneliness and destruction. A by-god-I’ll-show-them sense of purpose, or my favorite – love and be nice in hopes that genuine love turns the tide…transforms a commoditized transactional relationship into one that is healthy, genuine and sweet. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work.)

We cannot love someone enough to love us or to even be kind to us. But we can learn to love ourselves in a healthy way – to fill our own cups so when we stumble upon a heart we just may fancy, we ask less often that they share their portion. We ask for less of what people may have or wish to offer. For me – not draining others but sharing the fullness of my own life. And coffee. And wine and adventures and love.

No one has it together; we are all a little biffed by this thing of living. Growing up, I knew enough to realize that other kids and collections of humans – families – did not necessarily behave as the one my siblings and I were in. Other kids were safe. Valued for their inherent personhood not what they could provide in applause or worse. They did not smell like day-old smoke and hunger and shame. I became a sociologist long before I knew what a sociologist was. I watched, asked questions, looked for trends and learned what “normal” and “healthy” were.

I am still learning. And this learning has moved me from living like a victim to a gladiator to a victim again and now to a human living an imperfect human story. Like most of us. I am stretching out of comfort zones, learning to love others and myself with real compassion and hopes for peace; and with the reality of one who falls and gets back up and falls and gets back up again.

At fifty, I hear how I don’t look it. But I can guarantee, that in my fifty years, I’ve lived through unnecessary loss, a bear at war in my young life and through great joy. Surprises. Aha!s. Defeat. Despair. Rise. Get back up. Love. Live.

I sometimes feel like my soul is both 5-years-old ­– unwounded and fresh – and a few hundred years old, a progerian soul.

My goal is to live in that bifurcated soul and relish in the wonder of a joyous 5-year-old and the wisdom of the old old soul.

Though I’ll never begin at the same starting line most have in this life, I’ve learned to be scrappy and keep trying. Though often in the past, like the Avett Brothers’ sing, I “fantasized about disappearing down in the ocean blue, just to get some peace and quiet from the warfare inside my heart.”

By staying in the coliseum, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people who radiate life and love and hope – no less the two humans I had the privilege of growing up with, Madi and Kenan, and now their spouses.

By staying on shore or at least above the water line, I’ve had opportunity to cultivate friendships, travel a bit and find a peace I did not know was possible. An imperfect peace, but peace that yields forgiveness.

One day, I hope to live in the mountains and write and create community with someone who knows my heart and loves me so. This is the worst part of a life imprinted by fight or flight and misuse – true love seems impossible.

But that is where my 5-year-old soul takes flight – unblemished and full of hope. I believe he is out there.

Derring-do, my friends, is often just getting out of bed and into the day. You live in great derring-do. I’m cheering you – us – on.

Why do I write these things?
Because people hurt and are lonely and believe – even in the face of a maddening truth and evidence to the contrary – that they are the only ones who were hurt, the shame is theirs to bear alone and the only hope is to lay in the street.

You are not alone. We are not alone.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts from the quiet

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