I want to not be writing about all this – the whole Supreme Court nomination debacle that has taken up way too much energy. I want to pay attention to better things: Kind people. Good weather. Leaves reddening like so many surprises. I want to tuck myself into the thought of my grandson – doing anything. Maybe just shooting me a wide smile or, like the last time he visited, stopping in his tracks as he walked in our door, making my heart swell when he said, “It smells the same. I love how this house smells.”
My immediate world seems to be a strange seesaw of comforting a flock of survivors who are daily triggered out of their minds and wrapping my arms around things that will feed my heart; turning my attention to anything that feels good and nurturing.
Sometimes everything falls right into place. You reach the airport arrival lane just as they exit the baggage claim door. The baby grabs hold of her own bottle just when the two year old needs pulling back from falling head first onto the coffee table. The check arrives forty-eight hours before the payment is due. You get your period a week before prom.
And sometimes everything falls apart. The biopsy is positive. The apology is rejected. The brakes fail. The pen dries up. They choose him anyway. The therapist gets sick the day your spouse asks for a divorce. The gown rips on your way in.
For sixteen years I’ve been reading Pema Chödrön’s book Comfortable With Uncertainty:108 Teachings. Most mornings I sit on the edge of my bed and read a teaching – they’re only a page long. Each teaching has at least one stark, strong line I’ve highlighted in blue, yellow or pink, depending on which pen is in the basket on my nightstand that year. Why do these lines feel fresh and new each time my eye glides over them? Haven’t I taken them in more than a dozen times – these bubbles popping with wisdom? Why don’t I know them by heart already? I might make a list of the whole batch just to see what they look like together. Would they garner power being in a list together? The power to help me get it? By “it” I mean wisdom. Wisdom enough to not be surprised when people act out of ignorance or meanness. Pema would say that’s all about their suffering.
And if that wisdom of hers really permeated my skin and soul, might I be more at peace in all this chaos? Would I be able to figure out how to drop both ends of this tug of war I can take on between control and surrender? Do I even know what I’m talking about here? I’m trying to sort something out. Sort out how to be happy and mad all at the same time.
Lots of survivor web sites, Instagram and Facebook pages have posted lists of what to do to get grounded when you’re triggered. Or how about, instead, a Galactical Space Force ship descends from Saturn and scoops up all the characters I’m furious with, simultaneously, tonight. No, right now! While so many of us are feeling like deer caught in the headlights of the final Supreme Court outcome heading for us. Oops, I’m drifting far, far away from that smooth Buddhist cushion of peace and deep breathing.
Everyone knows someone who’s got abuse in their history - EVERYONE – whether they know it or not. I am actively grieving the pain survivors are experiencing as loud declarations both condemn and affirm our lived experience. We try so hard to stay balanced in our lives – to not let past crimes and tortures reside in the front of our minds. But the world is exploding with so, so many reminders.
But, listen, while the president mocked our newest warrior, Christine Blasey Ford, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. And the day before Judge K attacked the Senate Judiciary Committee Bill Cosby was sentenced to prison.
There was a time when we survivors mostly struggled in small rooms – therapy, support and chat rooms. Now we’re struggling in the New York Times, on CNN, in big ass places. We need to stay alive, stay present; stay centered, in a new world – a world shouting our experience to itself through a gigantic megaphone. Fasten your seatbelts, buckle your life jacket, and put on your goggles, ear and nose plugs and grab hold of your favorite tree trunk. Hunker down when these winds of change and disruption blow 100mph through your world.
If you’ve been consciously or even sub-consciously on a healing path to get out from under your trauma then you’ve no doubt discovered one or more things that bring you joy. If you’ve yet to choose a healing path well now’s as good a time as any to ease on down that road. I wish I could prescribe the perfect place to go or thing to do to feel comforted in this shit-storm our culture is experiencing. Like – at the next fork in the road you might see, on the left, two long rows of red maple trees reaching their branches across the path to each other, forming a majestic, protective arch for you to walk under. The right side of the fork is a wide open sun filled path with a fawn skipping 20 paces ahead of you. She keeps glancing behind her, looking at you as if to say, “You coming?”
Here’s the thing – I am clueless about which turn in which fork is best for you – only you can choose. All I’ll say is – choose – go, breathe it in, find some peace and, yes, some joy.
Thanks for reading,