Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday Truths...

1. I had jury duty this week. The trial was difficult and deeply complicated and pushed a lot of my emotional buttons. I learned a lot from the experience, not the least of which is sometimes when a lot of people are involved, you realize that no one is going to leave the table 100% satisfied. You do the best you can with what you've got.

2. A lot of other stuff happened this week that made me hurt for my friends. I have mostly been doing a lot of listening on this score, and not much talking. First, because of the aforementioned 8 days of jury duty, and second, because I find I am unable to pull myself out of something that feels deeply personal. This is, of course, a flaw of mine. I cannot seem to shake my heart and the knee-jerk reaction toward compassion and wanting everyone to get along. I know that it has been argued that this is not necessarily productive for effective institutional progress/change. This is maybe true, but I cannot help the skin I live in. We work with the parts we're given and try to cobble together a life and get better each day. I know many people have to fight every step of the way for their life and I wish it weren't so. But this week, more than any, has shown me something very true about myself: my instinct is to love someone through their fight, not take up arms and fight too. I feel deeply flawed on this front. But it is also the reason I choose to work with rape survivors in the ER as opposed to being a lobbyist on Capitol Hill. I'm better at the former. About a month ago, I was talking to a friend about all the energy she'd had to put into getting something accomplished in publishing. I was exhausted even just listening to her and at the end said, "This is why I'll never be truly successful. I don't want to expend that kind of energy on a fight like that. Not when there are rape survivors who still need my help." We all have roles to play in this world. I sometimes wish I could play a bigger role in things, but I am very aware of the cost of that to me. 

3. My friend Patsy is a rape survivor and photographer. Her husband wrote this book called Working with Available Light after her sexual assault. This phrase has popped in my head over and over this week. How, to get a clear picture, we must take into account every situation and work with the light that is there. How sometimes more light has been provided to us than others. And what we know and don't know is a result of how much light is available. I don't want to be a person who makes judgment calls in low light anymore. I want to slow down and wait until I can see as much as possible. I want to ask for more light. That is perhaps what jury duty has done for me most of all, reminded me to wait and listen and maximize available light.

4. I have listened to this Fresh Air interview with Maurice Sendak no less than 6 times. I don't know why it wraps around me so much and digs in, but it truly does. I sometimes think it's my own fear of being left, and I sometimes think it's my fear that one day I'll leave others and I won't have much to show for myself. Sort of that moment when you realize that maybe half your life is gone and you're still struggling with things that you've been struggling with A LONG TIME. And you wonder if you're going to be 80 and still struggling. I don't know. 

5. My favorite thing about this whole blog post is that I know my mom will call me and ask me what's wrong. Or she will text me wine emojis and suggest I lighten up with these things I worry about. I hope I am like my mom when I'm in my 60s. For me, I evidently have not outgrown the need for my parents to be my parents. I am grateful for them. I hope everyone in their life has someone who is looking out for them in one way or another.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Thank you, my dear friends...

I'm writing this blog with tears in my eyes and a heart that is three sizes bigger than it was an hour ago. I got a letter in my inbox tonight. A series of letters, actually. Love letters from friends. I almost couldn't read them, I feel so incredibly unworthy of them at this moment. And yet I did read them. Every last one. And they meant the world to me. They mean the world to me.

I am carrying a lot right now. For different reasons, I am having a rough go of it. Julio sent me to Florida with my parents to "soak up sun and get better." I want that for me too. But it is hard to put down the things we carry, as much as our friends tell us they are there for us.

Tonight, I didn't have to put anything down. It was taken from me, and I remembered that I am not alone. None of us are. Writing is such a strange and lonely business sometimes. But there is no community that is better. There are no people who are greater at sitting beside you and saying, "yes, I understand, I have been there."

The other day I texted a friend and said, "I don't know how to ask for help because I don't know what I need. I would call you, but I have nothing to say." He responded, "Which is kind of everything. I am here. You're enough."

I have lost so many people. I have messed things up and made myself impossible to love, and still, tonight, I got a series of notes in my inbox that said, "you are loved." Last week, I got a text saying "you are enough."

I don't know how to say thank you. I don't know how to tell the people I love how much I love them. I don't know how to give them all that I want to, all that they deserve. I want to be a better friend. I want to be a better wife, a better mom, a better sister, a better daughter.

I have nothing to give in this moment beyond my gratitude, and a promise to try harder to take away the burdens from others as they always have found a way to take away mine. Thank you, my dear, dear friends, the ones in my inbox, and the ones who have stayed in spite of me. I love you all.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What's On My Mind...

It's been almost a month since I blogged last. I'm not sure where the time has gone. When people note I've been quiet and ask what I'm working on, I tell them I've been writing. Writing, talking, listening, editing, writing more. I'm in the midst of a big revision that feels IMPORTANT and my head has been a little bit in that game.

Plus, the winter has been interminable and I don't have much to say about that.

I've been thinking about the way people skate in and out of our lives, particularly on the Internet. How you can meet people and connect with them and maybe follow each other on various social media platforms and how that's really only a half-commitment. It's flirtatious banter on OkCupid before planning a real date. But the people who stick, the ones who take the next step to make a real date and then maybe hold your hair back when you're hurling later because you got nervous about meeting them and drank too much sangria, those are the ones who are worth finding.

My friend Jolene texts me randomly every few days and tells me to walk the dog so we can chat on the phone. Carrie visits and we do a podcast together then she writes me the next week about doing to the grocery store. Asher calls me from the museum in Washington D.C. Gayle emails to ask about the smexy book I'm editing. And my other Carrie sends me notes explaining that she's become addicted to NA novels and may need an intervention. I love this. All of it. These are the things that have seeped into me lately. The parts that matter, when you get close enough to someone that the mundane events of their lives are interesting. When you stop talking about writing and publishing and instead talk about what you think, what you fear, what you want more than anything.

Other stuff. I am brushing up on rape victim advocacy training to get back into hospitals. Because of weird scheduling issues, it has taken longer than I thought. But I'm nearly done and I'm ready. This work is difficult and so re-energizing. This is something that doesn't feel like a burden to me, but more something I must do. Whether or not it's true, in my head, I always think this is why I survived sexual violence. This is why I got out of that car alive.

It was Ash Wednesday this week. I've tried to give up the idea of loneliness as my Lenten sacrifice. I talk about my own loneliness a lot. How difficult it is to balance the work I do with an extroverted personality. For Lent, I welcome the silence, the time to reflect and wonder, the time to be a little uncomfortable by myself so I can figure out where I stand on this earth.

I read this post at Momastery the other day and it was perfect. Everyone has stories to tell. Everyone wants to be heard. And we are all capable of listening. I want to be a better listener. Maybe that more than anything else is why I haven't blogged in so long. It is really because I am out here listening. Tell me your stories. They matter to me.