You give my soul a way to touch the world.
February 14, 2021
Last night I dreamed of a cat that couldn't walk.
She was a fluffy silver tabby, much like my own Miss Pickles. When I first saw her she was sitting up, as cats do, with her front paws side by side in front of her. She looked like a perfectly normal and healthy cat. Except when she tried to walk.
She would start to take a step and she would just tip over and fall to the ground.
She'd sit up again.
And she'd try again.
And she'd fall again.
I watched this over and over, not understanding why it was happening.
I moved closer and this time when she moved I saw that she would pick up her front left leg to take a step and the moment her little paw touched the ground again, the leg would become smoke and vanish. And she would fall to the side again.
She would sit up and the leg appeared to be back.
I reached out to touch the vanishing leg and it disappeared. Where the leg would have been was a well healed stump with a scar faintly visible beneath her fur. I realized that whatever caused this kitty to lose her leg happened a very long time ago.
She looked down and licked the stump a few times.
I woke up shortly after.
The dream reminded me of how so many of us are unaware of our own
wounds, or how those wounds impact our ability to make our way in the
world. We may think that because the injury itself is in the past, that
its impacts are too. Or we may, like the cat in the dream, not even know
we were wounded; we just know that we seem unable to navigate the world
Even when we are aware and we decide to do the work of healing, we too often begin the process with the idea that that it will
lead to a restoration, as though the wound will be excised leaving no
trace of it ever existing. But we can't go back to exactly who we were before our traumas, some of us live with traumas that happened when we were so young, we don't remember who we were before, or we have been carrying it for so long that healing involves learning a completely new way of being in the world.
I feel like this is where our country and culture are at right now. There are many, many people who are only now becoming aware of how wounded we are as a culture, and there are many of those people who want to do something about that but feel stuck because the only way they, we, know to go is on the path we've been blindly walking all along. There are other paths but they are not as clearly marked and that is frightening. But we also know we can't go back, because what is behind is what caused the wound in the first place; many of our personal wounds are the result of this same wounded culture that continues to perpetuate the harm.
Healing our cultural wounds will require us to heal ourselves. 2020 brought the awareness, I hope that 2021 brings us the way forward.
I started sharing things online in part because writing is one of my big tools for processing, but the main reason was because a large part of my trauma involves carrying secrets and pretending things are okay when they were not. Writing about what I was feeling, putting it into some sort of tangible form, and then sharing it with someone else helped overcome that, but there was a side benefit I didn’t intend or expect.
Over the years I have had a variety of reactions from
people. There are those who just click on the like, love, or cares emojis. Some
share their stories of dealing with similar things. Others offer hugs, kitty
pictures, or general words of support.
What no one has ever said in response to any my posts is, "Hey you weirdo. You must
be the only person on the planet who has EVER felt this way."
One of the things that depression, PTSD, anxiety disorder,
low self-esteem, self-loathing, or even crappy days are particularly good at
(and that our culture is soooo great at reinforcing) is telling you that you
are the only person who ever felt this way, that you are the only person who
feels this way now, the only person who will ever feel this way...AND it's all
your fault because you are surely some broken, overly emotional freak of
You are not. Whatever you are experiencing someone in this
vast world, offline or on Facebook, has felt it too.
I know that for me, just knowing that someone else has felt something similar helps me to confront those inner voices that try to convince me that I what I am feeling is somehow wrong or “not normal.” It reminds me that those voices are not telling the truth, and that my experience is not an isolated one, but a human one.
The world. Humanity. You. Me. Everyone and everything.
Grumpy turns minor things into giant, teeth gnashing, monster issues.
Is that a sock on the floor?
WHY IS THERE A GODDAMN SOCK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING FLOOR??
Grumpy arrives at the party carrying unannounced discontent; glad to be here but the dip could use more salt, the chair is lumpy, and are you struggling financially because it's a bit chilly in here.
I never remember if I invited them or not. Or why.
Grumpy eats a package of tiny white powered donuts, a double-decker oatmeal cream pie, and a bag of Fun-Yuns out of spite. Spite for who or what...doesn't really matter.
Grumpy will sit here with a broody furrowed brow, answering all questions with one syllable.
Grumpy. Takes. EVERYTHING. Personally. .
Grumpy walks around with stompy feet, full of sighs, wishing someone would just FREAKING ASK ME HOW I'M DOING BECAUSE NO ONE REALLY CARES...AND...
"...oh me? oh...I'm just fine really. Oh yes. No...that furrowed brow? Oh...just a lot on my mind. I'm fine."
WHY OH WHY DOES NOBODY CARE???
Grumpy is contradictory.
Grumpy only stops to pet the cat.
Grumpy really only hears what Grumpy wants to hear.
Grumpy does not want to participate in today.
Grumpy will be staying in their room until Thursday...
...or maybe 2022.
When I watched the video of surfer Matt Wilkinson's close encounter with a shark my first thought was, "Oh myyyy woahhhhhh!!"
I pause to watch the Autumn leaves drop from tree to ground.
As I ponder the falling leaves, a horsefly lands on my journal on the entry from yesterday. The fly lands on the word between.
Yes, my little fly friend, we are indeed about to enter the time of between; the place of not being one thing or another.
We are entering the pupal stage of the year of the year. When, here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days grown shorter, nights longer. The cold comes and we shelter.
Unlike the fly we can't make a haven out of our own skin, so we wrap ourselves up in other things - we cocoon.
We cocoon in our homes in sweaters, slippers, woolly socks, and drawn curtains against the draft.
We cocoon outside in hats, scarves, layers of long underwear, and snow crunching boots.
We cocoon inside ourselves, wrapped up in our minds and thoughts.
Yes, little fly friend, we are also entering a time between in our culture.
And our cultural cocoon is a painful one. Inside our culture is dissolving, breaking down.
Unlike the turn of the seasons, or the birth of a fly, the outcome of this is not easy to predict and its timing is not certain.
Unlike the seasons, the old way of being does not give way easily to the next.
Unlike the seasons, this change will happen only with our own efforts.
I want to ask the fly, "Did you know, as a tiny maggot, when your skin formed your pupal case...did you know you would emerge as a fly? Were you afraid when it was happening? Did it hurt?"
What kind of world will we emerge into in the spring?
What kind of world will be build over the coming years?
As I sat there watching this beautiful moon rise, it struck me this moment I was experiencing felt like a look back moment; the ones you see at the beginning of a show or movie where an older character starts to tell a story about the past. They pause, and they say something like...
"I remember watching the moon rise over the sea in early October that year. The Pandemic has been going for over six months, the election was looming and everything felt so uncertain...but we really had no idea how bad things were going to get..."
Everything feels very now. Something inside me knows that we are on the edge of something monumental - it may be good or bad or some mash up of the two, personally I vacillate between the WORST possible thing and the only slightly less pessimistic slow collapse and even longer recovery, with a lot of pain an suffering - and there is a call to pay attention, to notice things.
Maybe it is so we can look back and remember how we got to where ever we end up, or maybe it is some broader, cosmic hypervigilance; a coping mechanism that substitutes awareness for control - not to control the shift, but to know when it happens.