When I was nineteen and first in counseling, I wanted to take this beast that had been hoisted upon me and tame it by doing something of value. To find a way to help others like me. I called the sexual assault hotline and looked into volunteering. I did not make it through the first recorded call. The ones of victims reaching out. I do not remember if they were real calls or just practice. It did not matter. I could not bare witness to it. I was not ready. I had thought I was. I had so far to go. But as with everything else, it is easy to think that where you are in life is so much farther than you really were. . I broke down listening to the voices filled with pain. I could not comfort another, I was still too broken myself. I changed counselors and wavered between feeling so strong and past it all and feeling small and too torn to mend. I would try to be whole. To be normal. I did things other normal people did. I raised my children. I worked. I blended in. Until I did not. Until something woke up that beast. I would be sent back down to less than zero. Trying to claw my way back into the light. Away from those suffocating shadows.
I would come across others like me. Nomads in that strange land of normal. Having no rightful place in a world not ravaged by our pain. I was unable to stay there. I would build myself up. I would work so hard to put myself back together. To bandage my wounds of hurt and despair. To not stand out. That was the goal. To foreign not broken. I felt like an alien from some far off place who had somehow found a way to a beautiful world where I did not belong. I waited to be discovered. To be deported to some distant, dark place where hope could not live. It was an irrational fear that drove me to bury my past completely. But I should have known better. I knew I could not banish it so easily. No, my past could not be laid in a plot to molder. It would have to be burnt down. I still had those matches. I set long held beliefs of blame and doubt, of judgement and fault and I started a blaze. A baptism of fire. I would not let them rise out of the ashes. No, I scattered them. I pulled down scaffolding that blinded my eyes. And I found resolve.
As I watched Homer pass, I thought long and hard about life. I spent so many hours watching him breathe. Praying to see that thin sheet over his chest rise and fall. Even as I knew time was short and that he would leave us. And I pondered my own parents. What would I feel when I heard that one of my parents was gone. Relief. I would feel as if a burden had been lifted. But also a deep, familiar sorrow. A pain where my heart resides. I watched all the love flow in and out of Homer's last room. The joy of memories shared. The laughter that comes with knowing you are loved. And I felt the hollowness. The gaping hole in my life, where my own happy memories should be. I came home lost.
After they laid Homer next to his beloved wife and daughter. I was mourning so much. I was trying to be strong for my Peng. My love. Yet, I went deep into my own pain. A hurt that I had carried through my life. One I had yet to acknowledge. It was another instance of thinking I was further along the path than I was. I went into myself. The thing I always did when the world got too hard. I puzzled over my history. Studied my charts. Checked my compass and the stars. Where was I? How did I fall into this pit of sorrow and how would I get out?
I started to write. And then I sent out a message and I asked for help. Who knew how to blog? Well, I found a wonderful soul to help me set up my new home for my thoughts. And I started in earnest to mark it all down. From the beginning. I started very slowly. My thoughts trickled out. Having not been let loose in so long, my brain was rusty at expressing it's self. I found many a waypoint and I rested when I needed. I wrote when I could. Something has changed. From that woman child I had been so long ago to the grown up me I had become. Now, someone would reach out to me in pain, I understood and I was humbled by their honesty. I did not crumble into a heap of tears. No, I listened and I consoled. I knew I could not take away their pain, but I could lift them up. I could offer hope. Some who were like me, said they could not read my words. It was too much. And again, I understood. I remembered those practice tapes so long ago. Voices of the lost. The memories that they evoked and I gave a nod of my head and told them to pass by unscathed. We are all on our journey. We never know exactly where we are on our travels. I can trace the path back and know I had come far. I hope you can say the same. If you are like me, a traveler in an alien land, I wish you well and I pray that hope travels with you. Our journeys are all long. Always pack extra hope.