October 29, 2010

backwards to go forward

Took a little time out this morning, to regroup, get my head back together. Sat in the B&N Starbucks with my notebook and a warm drink and let some of my fears out onto the page. I'm glad I got out today. I needed to go and do and be in the context of the outside world. Needed to add an experience to the too-short list of Things That Didn't Hurt Me that I carry in my short-term memory. I knew if I turned on the computer I wouldn't leave it till I had to go to work. It was tempting to hole up in my room again all day. But I didn't! Go me.

I've been feeling a little off track, a little (a lot) overwhelmed. I recognize this feeling all too well. It puts me right back to 2007. Which is probably why I've been freaking out, and no wonder. What a year to go back to. Ugh.

But the Big Dream is from that year, so it makes sense, I guess. It didn't work out, before. So I am terrified of failing again, even though I have a way better shot this time around. It's so hard to believe in anything, and harder still to forgive myself for not believing. I don't like to admit how awful everything was. It hurts too much. I want to trust... but trust what? Nothing springs to mind. How can I trust myself, trust "God," trust in anyone or anything, when the vast majority of what I've known of life so far has been betrayal, heartache, violence, pain? Too much. It's just too much. If this is what I am thinking, no wonder I've been eaten up with anxiety. No wonder I've felt so far away. I want to be far away; far from these feelings, far from my past.

In allowing this dream back into my heart, I am forced to face the fact that it has not come true yet, and the reason for it not coming true. The reason that it is beyond scary. The reason I stopped pursuing it, years ago.

Last time I dreamed this dream, I got raped.

[God. My blood pressure plummeted, and I almost just passed out, typing that. I'm sure I must be white as a sheet. Deep breaths.]

3 1/2 years ago, I was getting ready to take the first steps. I had been gathering information, and mustering up my courage in secret, and I was poised to leave my family of origin behind, find my own way, move to California, be a nanny (or a secretary), go to college. I had been doing research, in fact, at my grandparents' house that night. And then my fragile hopes were shattered by a random act of violence, three blocks from their front door and two blocks from mine.

I retreated immediately to the core of myself, and all of my emotions went into hibernation. The devestating message I gleaned from this experience was: You will never escape. How dare you dream? How dare you even try? You are garbage. You are a dumping ground for other people's shit. You have no other purpose but to move through life as a magnet for violence. You will die at the hands of those who wish you harm. You will never escape.

I had suspected as much, for many years. But here was the proof. And here was I, finally old enough to put coherent summation to my suspicions.

And then there was a baby... and then suddenly, there was no baby anymore.

Oh, Ailis! My heart aches for you. Thank you for coming, sweetheart. Thank you for being a spot of warmth and light in the cruel and colorless world I knew. I'm so sorry I am only able to see and express this in retrospect. You did not come from evil, but despite it. I will always hate what happened to me, but I will never regret your life.

I am trying to give myself grace. I have to forgive myself, for needing a different pace than other people. For being different from them in so many ways. I also need to make room inside myself for the idea that there might be a few people out there who can sit with me in my pain, and get it, even never having experienced anything like it themselves. That for every five people out there who have said the exact wrong thing to me, perhaps there is one who would say the exact right thing, given the chance. Maybe those people are out there too, and maybe I will find them someday.

This is the beginning of finding that space, I suppose. A small opening in my thinking, and in my heart.


  1. THIS: I am trying to give myself grace. I have to forgive myself, for needing a different pace than other people...hit me so hard. This is exactly where I am right now. I always put so much pressure on myself to move at the pace of others, and in the end I always compromise my sanity. Thank you for saying what is at the crux of where I am right now...even though I didn't realize until I read it that that was where I was. I've just got to be ok with this pace in my life. I've just got to. I didn't ask for the shit to go down that went down in my life, or to be fucked over by adults and peers for most of my life. I'm just dealing with residual side effects now.
    Keep dreaming. So proud of you for looking this stuff square in the eye. We are a small bunch, you know. <3

  2. Oh my gosh I am so sorry that you have gone through such an awful tragedy. So sorry that you are reliving something like this. I was almost raped once and even that was horrendous for me to live through. I can't even imagine what you have been through. I hope that you find many many people who say the right thing. Sadly there are far too many that don't think before speaking. Please know that I am thinking of you... I hope that dream does not return and I hope that your heart is granted peace about this tragedy in your past. (((hugs))) <3

  3. I don't really have anything to say ... I admire your bravery, your courage to go on despite it all. Much love.

  4. I really hope you find your dream. You deserve that and so much more. Your writing is so beautiful and lyrical and honest. I thank you for sharing it with all of us. I hope one day you get to share it with many, many more.

    For me, self-forgiveness is harder than forgiving my abuser. I am impressed that you are working towards that. It gives me a little hope that maybe I can too. Take care of yourself and keep your dream close to your heart.

  5. Your thoughts about being different made me think of this Henry David Thoreau quote:
    "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

    There are many "boxes" people would like to put us in - ones that our culture creates, our family, our friends, our self - all have different expectations and thoughts on how we "should" be.

    I'm also reminded of a Buddhist teaching I learned called "maitri" - unconditional love/friendliness towards oneself. A hard teaching to master for many of us, myself included.

    Lots of love to you!

  6. Keep dreaming. Promise me you'll keep dreaming. There's something in you that the world needs.