The Power of My Wound

Healing doesn’t happen all at once.
Sexual trauma runs too deep,
is much too complex for simple remedies.

We have no Star Trek sickbay
or magic tricorder
to bind up the wounds,
erase the battle scars.

And would we want to if we could?
Would we walk away,
pretend it never happened,
we were never assaulted
violated… hated… berated…
made to feel shame and doubt?

Could we ignore the very truth of what we
know was wrong… evil… the vilest of all?
Could we simply walk away
and cease to bear witness
for those who come after?
Or maybe for those violated before
our own innocence was vanquished
but are yet to heal at all?

If we could be healed completely
in an instant, in the blink
of a selfish, knowing eye…

But to do so meant leaving
our sisters, our friends,
our daughters, even strangers,
without the hope of #MeToo?

Could we? Should we?

Because to heal 100 percent
I think is to forget every ounce,
every moment, of
the pain and struggle.

And to forget is to lose compassion.
So perhaps it is worth the
ups and downs of scars
that appear healed but sometimes,
more often than we’d like, bleed tears
of understanding helping others
feel not so alone.

Often I pray for complete healing.
For years I prayed to forget.
But then I remember that
without my wound
I am not me.

Without my wound,
the scarring of my heart and soul,
I am powerless.

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To learn more about #MeToo and #WeToo, check out author Mary DeMuth’s website. She shares her wound to help others to heal. http://www.wetoo.org/preorder.

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No Comparison

The top of an old table my sister refurbished for me

 

When was the last time you compared yourself to someone else? Be honest—it was pretty recent, wasn’t it? For me, it was just yesterday. In this social media age the tendency seems to be getting worse. But the comparison game serves no useful purpose. It can make us forget that the most important thing is knowing that all is well with our eternal soul. And comparison can even be a huge hindrance to joy, productivity, and healing during our time here on earth.

 

Wanting Someone Else’s Life

Comparing our possessions and experiences to what we see others have and do on Facebook and Instagram can steal our joy. Someone else’s new car or trip to the Bahamas may look grand, but it is never the whole picture of their lives. Your last picnic at the local park with your family may have been filled with more laughter and love than your friend’s month-long trip to Europe. And remember that driving an old beater car means you have no car payment each month.

Money doesn’t buy happiness, and it certainly doesn’t ensure joy. Focus on the blessings God has given you and the pure joy of knowing Him. Then say a prayer for your traveling friend that they might know joy too.

Wanting Someone Else’s Talents and Abilities

Sometimes when I hear others in our church sing, I am tempted to lament my lack of a beautiful singing voice. I love listening to music, but I’m not gifted in making it. Still I resist the temptation, praising God for the joy of hearing others extol Him in song instead of being jealous. I remember the talents and abilities God has given me, making sure I use them productively to His glory.

My oldest sister often mentions how she didn’t get the writing gene that I got. She is amazed at the poetry I write. But then I remind her that she has a talent I do not. She can take a piece of furniture that is nearly ready for the trash heap and transform it into a treasure. If I tried to do that, I’d just get it one step closer to the heap and waste a lot of paint in the process.

We all have a unique set of talents, but focusing on someone else’s instead of our own steals our productivity for God’s Kingdom. If we all had the same gifts and abilities, life would be boring and so much would go undone. Thank God for your talents and for the talents of others, and maybe find a way you can work together to be even more productive.

Comparing Our Trials and Hardships

We all suffer trials in this world; Jesus warned us that we would. He came that we might overcome our hardships through His grace and be a light to others still fumbling in the dark.

But sometimes when we hear another’s terrible tale of woe, we discount our own. We keep our stories of hurt and healing to ourselves. It just isn’t as bad as what someone else has endured.

I’ve succumbed to this kind of comparison recently. I joined the launch team for Mary DeMuth’s new book titled #WeToo.* I also joined a closed Facebook group called Sexual Assault Survivors. On the Facebook pages for both groups I’ve read stories of horrendous abuse. These heartbreaking stories often involve abuse that began at the age of five or six and that continued for years.

It’s tempting to think that my own experiences of being sexually assaulted as a teenager aren’t as bad as these stories. Therefore, I have no right to complain or to still be struggling with the healing process 40 years later. But trials and hardships, stories of abuse and pain, are no place for comparison. My story is no worse or better than anyone else’s. It’s just different. To compare my story to one that is “worse” impedes healing—mine and the person who will be able to relate to my story.

Instead of comparing, I should—no I must—allow my experience to grow empathy within me. I must share my painful healing journey so that God can use it to help others. If I keep it to myself because I believe my story isn’t “bad enough” then perhaps I delay the healing of another who needed to hear it.

No Comparison

Whether what we compare in our lives is good or bad, the act of comparing serves no purpose. When the workers who came first in Jesus’s parable of the workers in the vineyard grumbled because they compared what they got to what those who came last got, Jesus rebuked such comparison. His conclusion? “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16 NIV).

The next time you are tempted to compare, resist the temptation so that you might not lose your joy, your productivity, or your source of healing. Remember that the most important thing is that it is well with your soul.

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*Check out this great resource about how the Church can and should respond to sexual abuse and sexual assault. If you pre-order #WeToo before Aug 12, you can get 5 free resources here: http://www.wetoo.org/preorder.

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Wondering Why

Swirling thoughts implode upon each other
in a dance I can’t control though I try
to refocus emotions that smother
radiant heat of sun high in blue sky
I wrestle with questions wondering why
my life filled with memories of trauma
center stage twirling mind bending drama
into a new day as triggers abound
I cling to what came after the comma
my Savior’s voice a sweet comforting sound

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I’m so excited to try a new poetry form today. It’s called a Dizain. Grace provided a lesson in how to write one yesterday at dVerse Poets Pub. The Dizain is one stanza consisting of 10 lines, with 10 syllables per line, and the rhyme scheme is ababbccdcd. Easy peasy, right?

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Blue Sky Lies

No sunny Southern California blue sky
watched over me
the day everything changed.
I grew up under an honest sun.
Shining high in the cerulean sky
it brought warmth.

But here that celestial orb
when it deigned to appear
was a stone cold liar.

________________________________

For this week’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub, Grace wants us to write a 44-word poem using some form of the word sun. In addition to being the 83rd Quadrille prompt, it is the 8th anniversary of dVerse. I don’t know if I made it to the pub on opening day, but I was a regular pretty early on. I’ve learned a lot of what I know about poetry from this blog and my fellow poetry cronies.

For this prompt, I decided to take the opening paragraphs of my memoir (which is still seeking a publisher) and turn them into a poem. As I did, I noted some word choices that could be improved upon in the memoir itself. Love when that happens.

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The Road to Hell Might Have Switchbacks

Susy Flory posted this great Memoir Starter for her Everything Memoir group: “Summer entices families and friends to hit the road to faraway destinations. Sometimes road trips are fabulous adventures, and sometimes they turn into uncomfortable or awkward situations we’d rather forget. When you hear the words “road trip,” what comes to mind? Give us a quick little story of your most memorable road trip, and don’t forget a sensory detail or two!”

Here’s what I came up with. I call it The Road to Hell Might Have Switchbacks.

Arches National Park, which I liked better than the Shafer Trail Road

We flew to Vegas, rented a car, and headed out on an adventure of the Grand Circle Tour. An epic two-week road trip, six national parks, one national monument, two state parks, several dirt back roads, and crazy weather. Did I mention we left home on July 4? Going to Nevada, Utah, and Arizona? To say it was hot would be an understatement.

The red rocks were beautiful and the lightening storms were fascinating. We hiked up the Narrows River in Zion, down into Bryce Canyon, and down the Grand Wash in Capitol Reef. We were having a blast. Nothing could go wrong.

Until my sweetie decided he wanted to take the Shaffer Trail Road from Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky down into the canyon below where the Colorado River flowed. The ranger said it would be no problem in our rented Santa Fe. No problem at all.

I think when I told her we had taken said vehicle on Hell’s Backbone she heard Hell’s Revenge. The former is a well-graded gravel road, two lanes wide, up and over a beautiful ridge. The latter is a bunch of rocks that hardcore four-wheelers drive up and over outside of Moab.

Once we were headed down there was no turning back. I mean, literally, there was no place wide enough to turn around. It was sheer drop-off on one side and straight up the other, on this single lane dirt road. As we zig-zagged down the side of the canyon I couldn’t look. Every time I ventured a peek, I would burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably with my head in my hands. I have never been so terrified in all my life, and I’ve been skydiving.

At one point my husband said, “It’s okay Hunny, God’s not going to take you home today.”

“You don’t know that!” I said, as I burst into tears again.

When we reached the bottom 45 minutes after leaving the mesa above, we proceeded on the barely discernible Potash Road back to Moab. The car thermometer said 106. It took two hours to go the 20 miles into town and there were many sketchy spots I wasn’t sure we’d be able to navigate.

Once we got to the paved road, there’s another great story about a rain shower, but I think I’ll save that for another day.

And lest you think I’m exaggerating, you can check out someone else’s video of this harrowing drive here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGpaILHYK-A

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Plenty

Don’t fret tiny hummingbird
There’s plenty to go around
The flowers all are blooming
Still I hear your worried sound

You chirp in the cedar tree
When a fellow bird comes ’round
As if you think there’s not enough
Though sweet nectar does abound

_____________________________

I’m a little late for the Quadrille Monday prompt at dVerse Poets Pub this week because I couldn’t come up with a poem using the word fret. Then this morning while I ate my breakfast I thought of this little ditty. Was delighted to discover Mr. Linky still open.

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The Detour Dilemma

I’m looking at a weird detour sign in my writing life. Not sure if it’s a detour worth taking, or one I should just ignore. It might even really be a caution sign. I’m not sure.

I write memoir, nonfiction, devotional-type essays, and poetry (which tends to be concrete and nonfiction). I’ve always said I could never write fiction. I love to read fiction, but I just don’t have the creativity to imagine an entire world and story line to write fiction. I’ll leave it to more creative minds.

This past weekend I took the train to Seattle to visit friends. With 3 ½ hours on the train each way, I thought I’d write in the peace and quiet, sans family interruptions. My plan was to get my nonfiction book submissions ready for the Oregon Christian Writers summer conference submission program. Turned out I put the wrong files on my new computer and the ones I needed are on my dead computer and on a back-up drive.

So I decide to finish reading “On Writing” by Stephen King, which my son gave me for Christmas. I’m intrigued by King’s writing method. He says he almost never plots a story. So, as OCW folks would say, he’s a pantser. Plotting, he says, makes the story stilted and dull. Instead, his books begin with a situation. For example, “Carrie” started as a situation involving an outcast girl with acne who was bullied. Then he added a “what if?” For “Carrie” it was “what if she had telekinetic powers?” Then he just writes what the characters do in that situation. He imagines what would happen if his “what if” came true.

I finished the book on the train ride home and thought, “Well, that was interesting, but I don’t write fiction.” I still had time before arriving in Portland, so I opened my Kindle and remembered I’d downloaded the sample of “Farenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. I’ve been wanting to read it for some time. I love dystopian literature. I started reading it and when I got to the end of the sample I needed to know what happened next. As soon as I got home, I bought it and continued reading.

Then on Monday during my lunch hour I decided to see what the prompt was at dVerse Poets Pub. It involved flash fiction that had to include a certain phrase. You can read what I wrote here. It may not be perfect, but I realized that I apparently can write fiction!

Today I was off work for a medical procedure and while I was resting (per doctor’s orders), I continued to read “Farenheit 451.” I noticed that while Bradbury may have plotted this story, it’s more likely that he started with a situation and a “what if?” For this book, the “what if?” is something like “what if firemen started fires to burn books instead of putting out fires?” I suspect I’ll discover some other “what ifs” as I continue to read.

Then I had this strange idea for a dystopian novel, so I made some “what if” notes in my Color Note app on my phone. As I made dinner, other ideas for how the flash fiction I wrote yesterday could be the seed for the first chapter. The character in my flash fiction, Mary, started filling in some backstory details of how she came across the pregnancy test she used to determine she was pregnant.

And here I am, looking at this detour sign that’s calling me to delve into a writing genre I love to read but have never, ever, ever thought I would write. I think I’ll camp out here for a bit, ponder whether the detour is worth taking or is maybe the only safe way to go.

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