Down

Your silence hits much harder than any of your words ever did.

And jesus. Your words fucking knocked me down time and time again.

maya

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Where the feeling starts

Look deeper, Sherry would say. Examine where the feeling starts.

Am I focusing on your mistakes so that I can avoid the mistakes I have made? Is that what we do – embroil ourselves in other lives, in other failings so that we don’t have to examine our own lives so closely?

Sherry wants me to concentrate on me, on where I lost control. She wants us to get deeper into my relationship with Adam, to reach into my memories and start pulling out the ones she says I need to remember. If we’re going to get anywhere with this.

One good thing, two bad she suggested the other day, when I handed in another journal with nothing but graffiti on the page.

One good thing, two bad.

This is her equation for not falling into the abyss, for not getting lost back there in the dark.

It’s a funny thing. When I try to remember, nothing comes. The abuse, when I have been asked to describe it, is the hardest to draw out. I don’t really remember what it feels like to be hit in the face. The pain of it, I mean. I remember what it is like to fear its return – yes. But the impact, the sensation? I can’t remember any of it, unless I am dreaming. Would that have happened to you, Ben? If you had survived the incident? Would your body eventually push down those minutes and seconds after the blade went in? And only remind you in dreams?

Our real trauma, perhaps, is the fear of finding in daylight whatever we have hidden out there in the dark.

It’s all progress, says Sherry when I struggle. I’m making progress. She just wants us to be careful with what I am blocking, because, she assures me, nothing stays down forever.

What did you push down, Ben? I am fixated on this, I know. Is it because I need for you to be a villain, too? A liar and a cheat, rather than the noble hero who saved me? Or is it that I need Maggie to have chosen the wrong man, the same way I did? Do I need this from perfect, faithful Anna too?

Do I need the three of us to be not so different from each other in the end?

I need you to be that liar, that cheat, Ben.

I cannot keep remembering the hero who saved me. Or I will never be able to understand why I am the one who survived instead of you.

~ Lucy, The Memory of Stars

Put this story away for a long time. All the no after that small yes had to fade – and it has! Now I remember what I was trying to do here. Time to dust off the words and try again … #HerStory

Dear –

Dear -,

The thing is, I don’t exactly know who I’m writing to here. That dash, it represents the cliff my thoughts sit at the edge of, the screeching halt of my words. The fear, perhaps, that if I let my words topple over today, friendships, peace, will be ruined in the fall. My reputation too, as someone nice. Reasonable. A delight.

I got called that the other day by a bigot. I loved him, and I wanted to cry.

When did you become so angry?

Someone asked me that too, another, other day this week. And I wanted to say, I’ve never not been angry, you fool. Have you never really known me at all?

Mostly, I wanted to cry.

So this letter. The fashion made of an open ‘Dear -’. But exactly who is my Dear today? What do I most want to say?

Perhaps – I’m writing to election morning. A mourning. You should have seen me that day! Jet-lagged, awake since 4am. I can’t stop crying! I messaged that phrase all over the world, watching women put stickers on Susan B A’s grave, reading story after daughter’s story on the miracle that is Pantsuit Nation. All the while thinking – here’s the thing, the secret thing – that perhaps I could do that, too. Bring a child into this world I’ve been waiting for.

I can’t.

And so. Maybe I’m writing to election night instead. The sun and the numbers sinking. One of the worst nights of my life so far. Being the one who had to say she can’t win. I’m so sorry. Over and over.

It’s over.

I can’t.

A friend sobbing down the phone. Messages from another, terrified, so raw, so painful, so possible in this new reality that I broke apart. I don’t remember much more from there, from that heart-punching, dizzying point of her pain. Though my phone and Facebook records tell me I raged in a way I’ve never raged before.

I feel sure you will see that again.

She said, never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. So maybe this letter should go to HRC instead. To Hillz. My Her.

I’ve always been with you, Madam President.

I heard you say at your campaign launch, quiet, private, in Eleanor’s ear – we’re going to get there. It’s going to be long and hard, but we’ll get there. And I believed you. I do believe you. I didn’t know what to say then, and now – … and now. I’m so sorry. I believe you. Know this. You changed my life. Over and over and over.

You changed my life. I should have said.

It isn’t over, by the way.

I could write the rest of this letter to 15 year old me, I suppose. Whole books are dedicated to that particular self, after-all. As if she (or he) is somehow separate to who you are now, to what you now know. But I’m not separate to that 15 year old me at all. I am her. I am now. Less and more and just the same as I was at the age that I ‘met’ her.

The way she kept her name. The things she knew and did and said and was. The way he looked at her. The – ahhhhhhhhhhh.

Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton
Image credit: Harry Benson, 1992

I kept this picture in a shoebox under my bed back then. It said something I couldn’t quite understand – but would.

And do.

You were desired for your brilliant mind, HRC. And you desired that brilliance in return.

I’ve always been with you. I’ve always been there.

And now I’m crying again.

So maybe this letter goes out to anyone who knows what this means. To every single one of you who reached out to me this week, with your love and your fear and your anger and sadness. With your LOVE most of all. We lit up the whole world, you know that? I could make constellations with the map of you and you and you and you coming together. I love you. I could not ever say how very much, and so –

I think I might be writing to the people who didn’t. To the ones who broke my heart by staying silent so long that I knew. I know. A thousand words typed out to ask – and I’ve deleted every single question. But still. I know. I knew.

I know.

Things are so very, very broken between us. And I’m not the (whiny, safe space) one who has to repair them.

This used to be my home.

It’s not. Right? Right. Turns out, I’m mostly writing to you, my dear America. To your beautiful, to your spacious skies and your closing borders. Our land of – what, now exactly is it? Free and brave? Not so. Not now. I’ve loved you deeply since I was five years old. I’ve studied your government, your history, and your people. I’ve believed in you my whole damn life.

And I don’t believe you anymore.

America. My dear, dear America.

Dear America. What have you done?

crying-statue-of-liberty

“And then I explain to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” ~ Eli Wiesel, Nobel Prize Speech, 1986

And this to close it out. My words could never come close to this. I’m With Her:

With love and directed anger. Now find your team and get to work xxx