(Just a little explicit language of sexual abuse in here: so you know it. Be easy with you. xox, Jen)
It would seem I’m having some trouble getting back into my regular blogging routine, after the road-trip break. If I were a smart blogger, I would have brought my camera with me on the trip, so that I could create posts out of photos — but with no iphone and a lightly-packed (at least for me) self, there was no camera.
I’m in a nostalgic mode — about a month ago, my ex-wife sent me a box that she’d salvaged from the storage shed we filled when we moved out to CA in 03. On Sunday, I spent the morning in my newly-designated creative space in the little back cottage behind our house, going through cards and letters and papers from up to 20 years ago. Among all the college papers and postcards from friends on their semesters away in foreign countries were: transcripts from the trial (after my mother’s husband was arrested for sexual abuse and incest); letters from my mom, both before and after the trial (and how different they are); handwritten letters from two very close friends when they were away in the Army (xox, you two); a couple old photographs; even a letter from my sister from before the ‘break.’ (How to find the language to talk about the experience of befores and afters — I often just use those words themselves, capitalized and fairy-taled: the land of Before and the land of After: doesn’t the terrain change that much? Of course, it’s not a hard and fast boundary between those two places, and going through some of the papers I’d saved, I found an email I’d sent to my sister during the DMZ time, after we’d broken contact, after I’d confronted my mom about what her husband had done, and she was still living with him. I forget about that part, about that terrain — a lot, I forget about that terrain.)
There was a copy of The SAY Book, too, the workbook that my mother and stepfather wrote, exactly at the same time that my stepfather was raping us, to help kids who were had been sexually abused. They were working with kids at Boys’ Town, developing a method, a series of workshops — they were supposed to be helping. This copy of the book has my notes in it, from much later, when I went through and talked back to him — how could he write these things just as he was doing them to us?
And then to meet, again, all the letters and cards, voices from friends, from partners and their parents, from my Mom and Dad (written After), from aunts: all reaching out. All saying, I’m here. All saying, We want you with us, we believe (in) you, we love you, we want to help.
I didn’t let them help. I didn’t let you help, not then, and I’m sorry. I’m still trying to figure out how to do that, these 15 and 20 years later: how to lean, how to say, Yes, I’m not ok. Yes, I need you. Please, I need help.
So, nostalgia: tonight there’s a dance party in the east bay that maybe I’ll catch, after hanging out for awhile with a good friend — if I make it to the dance, there will be early 90s music to dance to, to lose myself in, to be that girl then again and this girl right now, this (yes, fine) this woman, moving, in her (my) body, unrescued, here, now, plain, saved, saving her(my)self over and over again.
And so, right now, I’m thinking a lot about releasing — letting go. Unclutching. I’m moving through my home and letting go of books, clothes, stuff that I don’t use or need anymore. At the same time, I couldn’t be more grateful for my pack-rat tendencies after going through that box. Is this another practice in balance (goddamnit)? After the arrest, my mom wasn’t legally allowed to contact me or my sister for about six months or something. She had to sell the house during that time; she didn’t know what to do with our things up in the attic — most of it, she got rid of. All the papers and things I’d saved from jr high and high school: gone. I save things so that I can keep my memory. And that’s why I wrote, too, for years: so there would be an external(ized) memory. What to hold on to? What to release? What to take back in?
Thinking about all this, a prompt for today:
Take 10 or 15 minutes, and begin with the phrase, When no one was looking, he/she/ze let go of–
Just notice what comes up when you read the phrase, and begin there — follow your writing wherever it seems to want to go. If you get stuck, begin again with the prompt — and change it any way you want (you let go of; or she didn’t let go of…)
I don’t have a write for this one yet; I’ll be doing it along with you.
Thank you: for what you hold and have carried, and for what you let yourself put down, too. And for your words (always).
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