I am sitting here in my favorite oversized sweater that smells a little bit like beagles, but maybe that makes me love it more. I wore this sweater while studying for exams in law school. I wore this sweater in the drafty farm house in Iowa as my belly grew larger and larger when pregnant with my daughter.
I don’t get to wear this sweater as often anymore in Florida, but I woke up chilly and even the dogs are snuggled together in a puppy pile. It is a brisk 58 degrees (seriously I am not trying to rub this in–I know that everyone else in the US is dealing with arctic temps) and my first thought was, at long last I can put on my favorite sweater. And more importantly, at long last I can write.
I don’t even know where to begin with what has unraveled these last few weeks. Unraveled has a negative connotation but I mean it as a neutral term. Merriam Webster defines unravel as to disengage or separate the threads of : disentangle b : to cause to come apart by or as if by separating the threads of; to resolve the intricacy, complexity, or obscurity of : clear up <unravel a mystery>.
That has been my last few weeks. Resolving the intricacy and complexity of challenges and clearing up mysteries. It involved a coming apart in the sense that it is no longer longer knotted up. It has been untangled and laid bare so I can see it for what it is and begin to slowly and lovingly stitch it back together. It turns out that my healing and my daughter’s growing pains seem as intertwined as the DNA that we share.
The way I write makes it sound so dramatic. It isn’t. Nothing large or scary happened. It all felt large in the way that things often do when we are triggered or afraid. And the stitching back together felt large, but it too was not. It involved daily acts of love (which makes it sound easy but it was anything but easy), done in minutes and hours and days.
Those small things done with love are the hardest parts of parenting. It is a slow slog that surrenders to trust in the process. Trust that many small steps will add up and make a difference. They do and it is beautiful.
I will write more about the untangling and the stitching back together. But for now I will wear my oversized sweater and drink hot coffee on the lanai. I will prepare to go Christmas shopping with my husband, and then later I will listen to my daughter sing Christmas songs at preschool. My heart is full.
I’ve had a huge amount of
crap healing work surface this past week. The kind of stuff that a year from now I will look back on and muse, that was so powerful and worth every painful moment. But when you are living it? Total and utter bologna.
In fact, I have decided 2016 has largely been a very difficult year and I’m quite ready to ring in 2017 thankyouverymuch.
Let me list the reasons why 2016 royally sucked:
- Miscarriage (for a pregnancy due on the day my mom died….ouch.)
- Continued grief for loss of my mother and ripple effects from that loss
- Gawker went under (this was a big one)
- Trump was elected president
- and, saving the best for last, a ton of unexpected childhood trauma healing work. (Ok, maybe not totally unexpected. I decided to break my silence and share my story publicly for the first time, which meant that ten people who read my blog saw it, but trust me even that was a huge huge deal for me. So let’s just say the gates had cracked open a bit.)
Now, since I’m an optimist and someone who makes an effort to choose hope, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that I could easily list all the beautiful transformations that occurred this past year. A list that is longer than that craptastic list. But for today, I want to wallow a little.
So wallow I will. Stomp my foot and raise a fist to injustices. Grrrr!!
Oh, but the point of this post (other than a little bit of poor me) was to tell you about my dreams I had this past week. They are little sign posts keeping me going.
The first dream was about a week ago. In the dream I was giving birth and up until this point in the dream the whole process had been so effortless–dare I say easy and painless? (clearly this is a dream)–but suddenly in the dream I felt stalled, and I knew that I was going to have to make one final push, and endure some pain, to give birth.
WELL I’M PUSHING NOW AND IT DEFINITELY HURTS.
And then last night, a dream where I am in a high school type of science classroom. We were all at seats with a microscope. Our instructions were to inject ourselves with some type of shot and then we were to examine the wound under the microscope.
I was reluctant to do the shot to the arm because I was afraid it would hurt, but it didn’t! And then I examined the wound up close. It was fascinating.
So hear we are. Enduring some pain, examining old wounds. Fun times.
But boy, (metaphorical) birth is close, I can feel it.
On the table was one paper with one name: Ramon.
We had already clutched the tiny candles in foil holders. We’d sung We Shall Overcome and We are A Gentle Angry People. We had prayed with a rabbi, imam and pastor. We’d listened to name after name, so many young men, some women, but mostly men, spoken aloud into the sacred silence. Most of the vigil attendees had already filed into the garden, planting 49 rainbow flags into the earth.
I was in the back of the church, empty now, standing near a table with white candles, yellow ribbons and tiny rainbow flags. There was a stack of papers that stated “In memory of:” for mourners to share the name of a loved one lost in Orlando. Most copies were left blank, except for one. The name Ramon scrawled upon it in blue ink.
I did not realize until I saw his name how numb I had become to this violence. To hearing about another deranged killer who killed four in a workplace, killed two in a university, killed thirteen on an army base. Killed. Killed. Killed. Over a thousand killed since Sandy Hook, nearly 4,000 injured. Sandy Hook somehow marked the turning point. We let those babies die, gunned down in a school (a school, God help us), but life strangely proceeded as normal. Deep in our being we knew that Sandy Hook mattered because we used it to frame the rest. Since Sandy Hook. Before Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook mattered, somehow, but we let our President plead and shed tears alone before a podium. We did nothing. I did nothing.
I read Ramon’s name and, eyes welled with tears, filed out of the church with my my husband and daughter toward the memorial garden. People stood around in small groups. My daughter, three, twirled a tiny rainbow flag. I hung back behind the crowds but overheard a young man thank our pastor. “I lost two friends in Orlando,” he stated simply.
I have the privilege of being on the periphery of this tragedy, both geographically (I live three hours from Orlando) and emotionally. I read Ramon’s name but did not know him. I overheard a young man, a member of my community, state that he lost two friends, but I did not lose any loved ones. I can sit and write about this because I am not gripped by grief and trauma like so many families who must cope with devastating loss, trying to process a loved one’s violent death. I am compelled to write because for too long my heart was surrounded by a wall that said, we are helpless. This is hopeless. Our country will never change. We are too divided.
Last week I listened to a Here and Now interview with an Orlando gun shop owner. I bristled near the beginning of the segment as the man tried to claim that guns have as much to do with terrorism as planes do, but I suppressed the urge to turn off the program. I was surprised to find out that I actually see eye-to-eye somewhat with the man who makes a living selling guns. He questioned how someone on an FBI watch list can have access to a gun. He said as a gun shop owner he wants increased access to information about whether someone purchasing a gun is mentally ill and violent.
I don’t know where we go from here. What I didn’t know until I attended the vigil was that it was important for me to read Ramon’s name. To cry publicly. To feel righteous anger. To call my Republican Senator (every day for five days) even if I didn’t think he would support reasonable gun control measures. (He didn’t.) To listen to people I don’t always agree with. To transform the righteous anger to real change so that someday we may say, since Orlando, things have changed.