Two Combined Journals for Feb 20
Give me arms to pray with & I Sing the Body Electric
Give me arms to pray with
Lately, I’ve been writing the same paragraph twenty different ways and then deleting it. Sunday, at lunch, Rachel looks at me and asks if I’ve started seeing anyone. I tell her I still don’t like to be touched. We buy copies of the same book. It’s the closest I’ll let someone come to me.
I think of Lydia Davis, hopefully describing the day when her feelings won’t be the center of everything. Grief still clouds most of what I feel, touches what I know, and reaches for what I believe.
I don’t know what’s there, at the center of me, whether it’s a window or light. I just want to love someone with all the blinds open. I’ve surrendered my desire to be healed. I don’t need what was taken from me to be restored. Every part of me is asking how to be transformed.
Is there an atom of my being that isn’t willing?
I Sing the Body Electric
There’s a tremendous amount of tension that I carry in my body, in my throat, spine, and shoulders - between what’s probable, possible, and inevitable. That tension is one of the most prominent driving factors in my life, but I’m not interested in qualifying that tension, much less putting it on for display - to anyone anymore.
I’m not dismissing it either; I actively work on it, in therapy, and with a select trusted few. The older I get, the more I believe in silent and quiet work. I don’t want to waste any more time attempting to explain myself to people who are committed to misunderstanding me.
I practice a lot of discernment with how I discuss pain, trauma, and violence today - and just as importantly - who I discuss those subjects with. A lot of what I thought was in service of healing, was in fact, perpetuating interior violence. Performative vulnerability never once helped me with the management of lasting pain. Talking about the pain never made it stop or go away. Often, it made it worse.
I used to shout my trauma (in my 20’s) from the mountain tops to get 200 likes, and I kept wondering why I always felt worse after posting. I didn’t realize it then, but my acts of vulnerability were just spectacle. I didn’t change my life or behavior. I didn’t offer any solutions - or what I was in the process of learning in therapy. I took the same cycle of unmetabolized pain and suffering I was living in and put it on Facebook. The only way I could’ve exploited myself more was if I had attempted to capitalize on it.
Giving myself grace for my past behavior is something I still struggle with, even though - I “know” - I was simply mirroring what I had seen. Knowing that you were doing your best with the knowledge and experience you had at the time can still be heartbreaking. That heartbreak also serves as a catalyst for me to extend that much more compassion to others.
Whenever I see performative vulnerability today, I have to remind myself that there is still a bleeding heart behind all that glitter. Pain that’s performed is still pain. It’s never my job to exploit trauma, regardless of how it’s framed. My job is, and always will be to, equip, free, and heal. More than anything, I want others to find what I have found. I’m still searching for and praying for ways to bridge those gaps - between where I am - and where I used to be.
I don’t need everyone to learn the same way I did. If there’s an easier, softer way - I hope we find it. I’ll light the bonfire. I want us all to make it.