Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The time it takes to remember

Some people that I love have told me they want less of me in their lives. That I am heavy, holding them back from the dazzling lives they could be leading.  I feel weighted with grief, with slow recovering, with trying to remember and forget. It is the same grief of all women who bear the pain of witnessing.  How can I be buoyant and sparkling when I know too much?

I am afraid that I don't know how to love. Not the dailiness, the living of it, the trust in it.  I can feel it: can crave it, yearn lavishly, give it all my attention.  I am too quick to affection for people I do not yet know, and for those I know too well.  When I leave, when relationships end, I feel no different.  After the hurting and grieving and raging and forgiving, I still feel drawn to them as if by gravity.  I can only stay away by putting distance between us, removing them from my life. I am as helpless as the moon; circling, never touching.

I fear I am guilty of holding onto anger, of nursing my wounds in its heat, for fear that without it the world will be utterly cold, and I will be bereft.  I shield myself with my words and my names for wrongdoings, but I don't know what their opposite is.  I don't know what it means to be loved and unhurt.

How long does it take to recover? How long do we allow people to heal?  It has been 17 years since I first realised that the world is not safe for women and children, not even in their homes.  12 years since I left home and tried to learn the nature of the world for myself.  7 years since I left the haven of university to turn my history into the futures of others; trying to save the world since I could not save myself.

5 years since we got away from my father. Even now he still reaches, grasping, into our dreams, our relationships, cutting us apart.  3 and a 1/2 years since I learned for the first time what it means to be actually relaxed in my own home, to not be constantly waiting for the sound of that car in the driveway; waiting for the cold shoulder to turn back towards me; for the next rage over something I had forgotten.

2 years since I realised, through the ultimate act of intimacy, that I have never been loved by a man. 18 months since my brother left us in a towering rage, only to turn back to the father we tried to save him from.  4 months since I wept uncontrollably, curled tightly on my couch, for learning what a child can be like untouched by the hand of human evil.

How long does it take to recover?  Only the time it takes to remember.  And I have forgotten so much.


  1. oh, sister. sending love as you find your way.

  2. To bear witness to another's pain is not for the faint-hearted.
    To speak out against the wrongdoing one human enacts on another is not for the weak minded.
    To sit with sorrow and grief is not for those who prefer the anaesthesia of endless merriment.

    Brave one, let your tears join the tears of the pure of heart from around the world. It is but one river, carrying with it the stories of the innocents throughout the ages. It will swell, it will burst its banks, it will cleanse. If not in our lifetime, then in the lifetimes of those who follow us.