Loving in a Dangerous Time

It is time for a letter to be written but I do not know who to address it to. I have been writing to you for years, allowing myself to be angry and in love and compassionate only fully to you. I wonder sometimes what it means to allow you such intimate access to my life, what it means that sometimes you are the only one I tell my secrets to. It has been five years since I started writing this story. It was five years ago that I tore up my first draft and allowed myself a blank slate. In my grief, I wrote only lists in those early days. It has been so many days, so many weeks since the first time I was asked to tell the story that I hardly remember the little details. I feel like if I don’t write it down I’ll lose it all.

And yet, even now, it is as if I am a child who can only cry when she is hungry. The words I know do not seem to begin to fill the needs of this story. My mouth cannot tell you even the beginning without losing its breath. My heart hurts too much and my head is still so foggy that most days I think that it would be better to lose the story completely than to allow it any more access to me.

I am writing, though. It does not escape my notice that I write in the middle of a crisis. I am a griever and I know how bad you are hurting. I know that this story is damn near impossible to read. I have been writing to you for five years, and yet we have never met. In all of the poems that I have ever addressed to you I have never considered you my audience, only some one who would be concerned. I knew you would change, would fluctuate with me. I knew some pieces would never be read and some would find their way into the lives of people I would never know. I wrote anyway, or maybe because of those facts? I wrote because I had to and because, like a child, I was trying to learn the words.

The crisis we face is on so many fronts. People find me and I let them talk until they tell me what they need to say. They will talk for hours about things that mean nothing and then when they say what they needed me to hear, they say it like a child admitting he has spilled his cereal. With their heads down. With simple words, little sentences. We do not have the words for our grief. And yet, it needs to be heard. Our crisis is shared, is lived by so many other people that the isolation we feel is like a giant conspiracy. Never, ever let us talk about what we need most to talk about and then maybe we will not catch on to what is wrong.

I will not stay silent any longer.

It is crucial, at this point, to acknowledge that this is not the end. But neither is it the beginning. I have not finished my journey, but I have been travelling for a while now. I know I will heal because the wounds have scabbed over, and left nothing but a bright pink scar.

To those who will listen, I address this letter as a sort of confession. A cathartic release. But also, and more importantly, a call to action. This is a story that is so hard to tell that it has taken me five years, over four hundred pieces, and all of the support and love that the world has given to me to allow me the opportunity to tell. This story is one that you will be unable to read some days. This is a story that will make some one cry and will make some one else proud. This story is meant for you, any way. This letter is addressed to any one who will have to breath deeply to get through it. It is to any one who will think about it later and kind of frown. It is to people who see their own story in it, and for those who don’t. It is a gift. It is a plea.

We may all face something truly evil in our life times. Some of us will survive it. Some days we will count as lucky those who don’t. It’s been almost five years and some days it feels like even that isn’t long enough to begin to move on, to define myself outside of everything that has happened. Most of these types of stories are about the abuse and then a little chapter at the end about how the author is “okay now”. But my story, really, is about the last five years. It’s about love and isolation, depression and anger, euphoria and contentment. It’s about fear and danger, trust and friendship. It is about you, probably more than you know.

Please, if you are concerned, write back. Write forward. Tell someone your story. The crisis is shared. My story is only exceptional because it stands apart in a world where crisis is best dealt with alone. Stop letting them tell you that your story is embarrassing, is rare, is anything but what it is: a tragedy in a tragic world. We are not alone in our grief. We can not be as long as so many people are grieving. And so, to those of you who will want to hit some one after reading this, to those of you who will grimace, to those who will put this down and never finish reading it: I give you my story. It will come in pieces, but I am writing it.