Sitting in the Dark
Right now, I am sitting in the dark, while my oldest son cries. He’s lamenting a very simple consequence: he lost reading privilege because he refused to do his homework. As I sit in this dark, under a moon like a canoe, I remember all the cries that came before, and the way they have bounded to and fro between these walls. I revel, though, because less and less now are these kinds of episodes so jarring to me. Last year, every cry out from these boys was like a punch to the gut. A reminder of all my failure. A resonating gong against all my questions of “why” my life failed. With great effort now, I remember that pain. It seems so distant now, but yet I remember it with intense reverence. I remember, and respect, how quiet and frightened I was. How bare and bitter and worn. If I begin the journey of remembering, it is hard not to cry actually, but it is crying you do when you cry for another soul. I cry for that woman. Oh, she suffered so. And then when I come to the part of the remembering that reconciles her with me, as the real, same person, I cry a cry of redemption. Because there are parts of that woman, and parts of this woman that are still so much the same, and neither one of them care a single fig about the past. And the taste of that, the depth of it, the rare and stolen freedom of it is so richly cathartic that it empties me, sweetly and thoroughly. I am caught in the silent breathing between laughing and suffocating, because it moves me so.
And then I think again of that woman, or a thousand other women like her, who is probably in some similar dark room, and she is wishing a peace on her own heart that she has never even imagined. And I cry for her, too, thinking a new why. Why? Why is there no hotline for the weary? No place to go when your soul is gouged, and leaking all its light and magic so fast and recklessly? Why is there nothing to catch it up, patch its holes, or even reflect some light back to you so you can see what you are made of? We need this. We have needed this. I would volunteer. I would sit in a room, and be a real person, busily answering calls of grief. I needed this, when I sat up, nursing my firstborn in the fog of night, and I swore I could hear the sounds of the people next door sleeping, and I wondered where I was, and what I had done. I wondered how my heart felt so much love but it also felt imprisoned. I just wanted someone to talk to. Someone who could hear me saying that I didn’t think the sun would rise or set the same way ever again, and that I was so scared. So scared for the way my heart felt. So scared that it might always feel this way. I needed help, a hotline for the vulnerable, when I got divorced, and I sat crumpled in the corner of my kitchen because I was convinced that my bones had become hollow, and I could not face my children with so many tears in my eyes. I was so scared. I needed someone to tell me that I was going to be wrong in all the right ways, about what could happen next. I needed someone to say “I’m sorry for your sadness. It is real. It is natural. I cannot make it go away. But I can tell you that you are not alone.”
Somehow, it isn’t OK to be soft in this world. It isn’t looked upon well. It isn’t fun to do. It isn’t easy to talk about pain, or let yourself look used, or speak honesty in a voice so loud but shaky that you teach other people about their own hurting. But it is necessary.
Today, there is a woman out there feeling the pain and fear of ten thousand women before her. I can hear her. I am one of them who came before. I know how it feels. She should know, right now, that I can hear her. I hear you, woman. You are alive. You are not alone. Keep fighting.