It also does not represent my children's perspective, nor my mother's; they think I am funny, but misguided.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
It was exciting, actually. Loud music, pulsing beats, hundreds of teens shouting in unison. Do you love Jesus? "YES!!" Do you believe God has a plan for your life? "YES!!" Do you want to honor your body? "YES!!" And on it went with dynamic speakers, humor, more music. And we were talking about love and sex and bodies, always a favorite topic of mine, even at age 15 or so.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
I love spending time with these friends who speak Spanish as their primary language. Opening myself to different speech patterns and word possibilities reshapes how I think of the world and my place in it. Once, when I was a young woman, I spent a little time in Mexico as an exchange student. My sister Berta took me all over the city on the buses with her friends, and we spent hours talking and laughing as young people do when they gather in every language. One afternoon I said with great enthusiasm, "¡Vamonos en el camaron para comer camiones!" This translates to "Let us go on the shrimp to eat buses!"
There are few things that tell a person they don't know everything like immersion in another country, learning another language.
As I drove one of my friends home, with my sleepy children in the back complaining like mewling kittens, we chatted about family and children and the difference between "American" culture and "Hispanic" culture, the way children are invited to exit the home at age 18 vs. the way multiple generations live together to create networks of support. It was a lengthy conversation that stretched the limits of my Spanish, and by the time I got home I was very, very tired.
As I crawled into bed it occurred to me that living in the middle of intimate violence is like being immersed in a primary language. And then I fell asleep while typing. Immersion in another language is good for the mind and soul, but it takes years to gain fluency. Learning how to be in this world without repeating patterns of intimate violence is good for the mind and the soul (not to mention the body!), but it takes years to find fluency.
Think of it this way: those of us who live with intimate violence (as perpetrators, victims, or both), learn to function in those situations as best we can. There are ways of being, moving, and speaking that can minimize violence. There are times when the tension in a household builds slowly, but inexorably, toward an explosion, and we learn to set off verbal dynamite to relieve the tension and minimize the explosion we know is coming. We learn to avoid anger, to become invisible, to protect others as best we can. We learn, without knowing it, that there is no escape from this intimate, familial situation. The world, when one is living with intimate violence, can become a very narrow, constricted place.
This chart is one way of looking at how patterns of intimate violence carve a narrow existence:
Sometimes we get a chance to learn a new language, to immerse ourselves in another culture, to live with people who do not hurt us. How frustrating it is to our friends and loved ones when we cannot acclimate to a new environment quickly! Individuals leave abusive situations, only to return home to more abuse a short time later. It seems from the outside to be an easy choice to stay where one is safer. But it's like this:
Walking away from intimate violence is like moving to another part of the world and learning a new language by immersion. Suddenly one must learn new patterns, new ways, and new words. If I don't have the correct papers, I may not be able to work. I don't have the right currency, so I am constantly having to exchange my old bills for new--and I must trust strangers who speak a different language to do it.
Learning new languages is easier for some people than others. Leaving intimate violence for healthy relationships is easier for some people than others. It takes years to become fluent. The process of learning the new language is exhausting.
It might be good for the body, the soul, and the mind to learn a new language, but it isn't always easy. There is need along the way for bilingual translators and a great deal of patience. Learning a new language requires a sense of humor, because sooner or later you're going to say with great enthusiasm, "Let's go ride the shrimp to eat buses!" And your companions are going to dissolve into laughter. For a while you're not going to get the joke about the boy corn ear who married the girl corn ear and got so hot that he became popcorn. It just takes time.
At one moment one might say "I need your keys" but it sounds like "I need your kiss."
Or perhaps one might simply mix up pronouns and verbs to say, "Te amo, Katie," instead of "Me llamo Katie." And the poor man you've just met will look at you quizzically.
Learning to live in healthy relationship when one's primary language has been intimate violence is difficult. And sometimes, especially when one is tired, it's easy to slip back into old patterns of behavior, old words, old ways of being. It seems sometimes like everybody else around is speaking too fast, one person on top of another, leaving a person behind, bewildered and longing for the familiar--even if that familiar is unhealthy or dangerous.
Sometimes the right words don't even exist to translate. In English there is no good verb to say "make love." We have euphemisms and curse words, but not a verb to express the act of "having sex" between loving partners. Even with bilingual companions, concepts do not always translate well and must be lived in order to be understood.
Or sometimes there is a problem of pronunciation. My friends last night asked me what the word is for a chin dimple. "It's a cleft," I said. And we spent a few minutes rolling around that word, trying to see how the sounds fit together. "Cleft" is not a Spanish word. It is too short, too few vowels, with consonants crammed together.
It takes time and energy to learn a new language. Time to learn new ways of being and perspectives on the world. And sometimes, when one is learning to live without intimate violence, this new language is so exhausting that one crawls into bed and falls asleep while typing.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
"Finally, you must give yourself permission to be tired and weary, besides, you must also find ways of renewal so that you can be a creative and healthy participant in dismantling oppressions. Burned out, bitter people do not help bring in justice very often and they are of little help in any search for [T]ruth."
(NY: Macmillan, 2006), 78.
"Find something you can do that's in front of you...and enjoy the work. You're allowed to enjoy the work."
Saturday, October 8, 2011
|'Frosche in Bauch und Ruckenlage' |
(Frog on Back and Front)
Thursday, October 6, 2011
So off I went on my little adventure, flying (as it were) by the seat of my pants. I love wandering about the world without a plan, a little lost, anonymous. Most of my experience with violence and trauma has come from people I know--family members, friends, lovers, etc. Blowing about like a dandelion is a chance to withdraw into myself in a way that is not possible when I am home. Every now and then I just need to hit the road.
|James G. Ewer|
Grandpa Jim was a navigator in the Army Air Corp, and was shot down over Germany sometime in 1944/5. He spent a few months in a concentration camp toward the end of the war. I can't tell you much more than that, because Grandpa Jim didn't talk about that time, except with his army buddies. Many Friday nights he would call our house, drunk as a skunk on his favorite scotch. "Is Jjjjjeannie there?" he would slur into the phone. He loved to talk with my mother--they were very fond of each other.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
I promised myself I would blog daily this month. So here I am at 36 minutes to midnight finally starting this post. It was partly because the children wanted two different things for dinner and I wanted a third, and it was partly because we moved to a new apartment a month ago and I still have not hung pictures (so I hung a few today). But it was partly because I am struggling to voice my thoughts this month as I consider intimate violence and the way it has touched my life and those I love.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
|sunrise from my attic window|
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
I apologize for linking to a site that requires registration, but I think you can access the article for free. The gist of it is that this next generation growing up is steeped in "rampant individualism" and doesn't know how to make moral choices--or even how to pose moral questions. Kids these days...all they wanna do is what feels right.
Monday, August 29, 2011
I pass it on to you, in part, so that many of you will know you are not alone. And I pass it on, in part, so that I will know I am not alone. These words are the reason I have considered leaving the PC (USA) several times, and they are one of the reasons I stay here, with my feet firmly planted in the ground. These words are the reason I am wary of all PC (USA) affiliation groups with conservative, evangelical, orthodox, or renewal bents.
These words caused me pain on a day when I could ill afford it.
I am closing this post to comments and simply allowing these words to hang in the air.
To the gentleman who wrote them: The peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, be with you. Now and always. Amen.
You are a disgrace to the faith. You are an unrepentant sinner in the eyes of God and He does not forgive the unrepentant. If you are a Presbyterian leave the denomination and take your lack of obedience somewhere else. It is queers like you who have denigrated this denomination and have said: "I will rather have half of a dead baby than none of a live and healthy one."
You personally are a disgrace. And you and your ilk have caused me to be ashamed of my denomination.
With no respect for you,xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxRetired PC(USA)
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
We stopped by the Wawa for a late dinner, and all I could manage to eat was a coke icee and some pepperoni and cubed cheese in a plastic cup. Don't judge me--it's not like you came over and cooked.
This phrase, "Please don't make more work for me," arises during certain times in my life, and this is perhaps my mantra for the next month as I jump back into school, settle the children into their own schools, close out my time as pastor at tiny church, and create a home out of our new apartment.
"Please don't make more work for me," is what I said all day to the children as I cleaned. I didn't mind cleaning while they played. I had put out a pathetic, last minute plea on facebook for someone to take the children while I cleaned, but nobody was able to help. A few people responded with humorous suggestions to make the children clean as well, but we have been moving for two weeks now: packing, cleaning, lifting, going up and down stairs, making changes big and small. The children are tired. I am tired. Scrubbing an apartment thoroughly was not on their can-do list for today. So I was delighted to let them play while I worked.
So I looked straight at that child with all the authority I could muster and said, "Please do not make more work for me." I'd like to say that he stopped in his tracks and put the crevice tool down, but it was actually a several minute long negotiation that resulted in this disgusted exclamation: "Sheesh! You're no fun, Mom."
I'm finding this carries over to the rest of my life too. And it's not just physical work. I don't have time or internal resources for extra emotional or spiritual work either. I find myself avoiding people that drain me of emotional and spiritual resources--people that I love and care about too! I just don't have it. And I won't have it tomorrow or Thursday either (and especially since Thursday I take the children to the dentist, and *that's* always a kick in the pants).
It happens every now and then that I have too much to do and it all has to be done now. And in those times, I find myself saying over and over, "Please don't make more work for me." Because the work I do have is overflowing, and one extra thing will disrupt that flow. I say it to the cosmos and Jesus too: "Please don't make more work for me. No flat tires. No family emergencies. No complications with the children, the church, schoolwork, custody arrangements. Please no broken appliances or anything else that costs money. Everything is running along at break neck speed, and all my focus is on precision and detail, making sure we keep running.
It's like this: I've been carrying loads of cripcrap down stairs to my car for a week now. 32 steps to be exact: 2 sets of 8 steps, then a long flight of 16 steps. 2 more cement steps to the sidewalk, then down off the curb to get to the van. When you're carrying boxes and can't see your feet, you need to knows these things--you gotta count the steps as you go. Otherwise I will trip and fall, breaking everything in the box and my body too, and that will definitely make more work for me. So when the children come out while I am carrying boxes and counting, and they ask me a question about how many popsicles come in a box, I say to them, "Please don't make more work for me." And then I feel out each of the rest of the steps with my feet carefully, because by now I have disastrously lost count of the steps.
But maybe the biggest culprit is myself, because assuredly the person who makes more unnecessary work for me than anyone else is my own silly self. I forget I am allowed to say no. I forget I am allowed to call in sick. I forget that I can't run forever in this frantically precise mode of existence. I forget I do not have to engage every twitter discussion that catches my attention. So perhaps the biggest lesson of these seasons in my life is a reminder to say to myself often, "Please don't make more work for me."