Showing posts from 2017

taking the swords out of words

~ sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me

It has taken me a long time to not disregard that rhyme as just plain wrong. Words, never hurt? What about the pen being mightier than the sword? Harsh words can wound us to our very cores. You can remove a sword but you cannot unhear words.

No, I always thought, "Words hurt like hell!" and for that reason have long dismissed forgiveness as a disingenuous attempt to let something go when in reality it is killing us.  First we heal, I thought, and when it stops hurting, then we can forgive, truly forgive.

But I am changing my mind. I still believe there is a lot of fake forgiveness out there, and that it is better to heal organically by feeling our pain, telling our stories and getting a "hearing" which validates our suffering, than to feign forgiveness through gritted teeth.  But now I believe we can dodge and remove the swords through forgiveness.

We live in a world where words are used like sword…

The power of suggestion… NOT!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
~John (1:1)
God said, "Let there be light", and there was light.  Some utterances fulfill the intention of the speaker.  They are prophetic words, potent words that create realities from the speaker's mind merely by claiming his vision out loud.

There is tremendous power in this. In the human realm, it is called suggestion. And it works.  If you say something emphatically, and repeat it often enough, especially if it is accompanied by a mental image, you can anticipate the future.  This is where the expression "be careful what you wish for" comes from.  Wishes pack the power of the verb*.  This can do good, but- like all power- it can also harm ourselves or others if we do not wield it carefully. 

When my friend's son was just a kid, his dad, well-meaning of course, told him emphatically, “Son, you will try drugs as a teenager and you will like them.”  It was meant as a warning b…

the meaning of sacrifice

~ And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

I'm not a Christian but I have struggled my whole life to understand the meaning of "sacrifice", the mystery of the cross, and the human obsession with offering blood (goats, lamb, body parts or whole persons) to atone for our human condition.

Raised by hard-working parents who loved us well but, like many of their generation, reminded us daily that they bore the cost of our privilege and good fortune, I rejected and was unwilling to pass that burden on to my own children.  So in my twenties, I completed a Master's thesis entitled "Le Sacrifice et la Générosité; Réflexion sur Autrui" that skewered the notion of sacrifice in favour of generosity as an act of giving from the feeling of abundance rather than from the pinch of obligation. If this was not love for another, I thought, at least it was not a need for personal atonement.

Still I found myself …

on dry land

The thing that hurts the most is the injustice.
From the beginning, in response to sharing a vulnerability, a hurt, a need for a kiss, an I-miss-you To be told: You are controlling, demanding, ordering, cornering, complaining… An (always unexpectedly immediate) punch to the belly At your softest
The pain... is dizzying
You catch your breath trying to wrap your head around what’s just happened And start to explain, at first calmly: No that’s not what I meant, that’s not what I said, that’s not how I feel. He's skeptical so you persevere: What I said, what I meant, what I felt was… Trying hard to bridge the gap between you And shed some light on misunderstanding
But like a swimmer swimming against a current stronger than she is The shore gets further away and the water murkier You lose your composure Treading water and drowning in the words Don’t go!  Don’t go!  Don’t go…
He remembers that as the start: your panicked desperation And uses it to justify leaving you alone.
That is the injustice. 

Power and our boys

To continue my reflections on power, men and violence toward women...
A traditionally “feminist” critique uses a black and white model to condemn domestic violence.  It attributes abusive dynamics to the deliberate exploitation of power by men whose intention is to dominate and control women, and blames patriarchy for its proliferation. 
Due to the frequency with which I have observed male violence* in intimate relationships, if you subscribe to this model, many men would be deliberately manipulating and hurting the very women they love.  That is too perverse to entertain, and I take issue with much of the literature that comes up in an internet on the subject which would lead us to believe it.
Patriarchy is not men; and violence is not their fault.
It may be true that men are more violent; that they projectively identify their bad stuff more onto women (who have a tendency to introject it) which then justifies their acting out in violence because “she made me do it”.  It may be true tha…

master or be mastered

More on the theme of violence and domination... with my apologies in advance to those taking issue with my sexist generalizations.

I had the experience this past weekend of being with a puppy who was constantly nipping, to the point of drawing blood. It reminded me of my previous experience with a neurotic (adult) dog who, one year after his rescue and devoted maternal care from me, nipped frequently and ultimately almost bit off my nose.

Two plastic surgeries and one dog later, I have often wondered why I never made a good dog mommy.  I realized over the weekend it was for the same reason that some people, especially women, get abused.

We are unable to assert ourselves OVER another living being.  We coddle and resonate, nurture and coo. We do not dominate.  So we get dominated.  (That logic still does not make sense to me but that is because I live in a non-hierarchical world).

What was happening with this puppy was that she (it was indeed a she) was trying to figure out the peckin…

seeing through*

I’m gonna say it: Men scapegoat women They cannot hear us when we cry, Just squawking and pecking Then feel attacked And bludgeon us like chickens With stony silence- at best At worse, words And worst- their fists
So many stories in their heads Muffling our real voices And killing us
It’s not their fault, Women, you need to know They’re made that way The world’s that way War goes that way It whores that way That’s just… How it is Sad. Because they’re our boys!
They have a great lack A missing-something… Compassion, lucidity, wisdom, estrogen… Emotional intelligence?? Whatever that precious silver is Lining our hearts Breaking us open like a blue sky When we are struck And hold our loved ones closer
A mysterious padding around our ego That lets us turn the other cheek And look past our pain into them A gift, a huge muscle! That protects us From taking it personally Go figure gals, We’re stronger.
So reach out to the weaker sex When he is down, especially when he is down on YOU Have pity, compassion Be the bigger person T…


Facing a person expiring you see the wisdom of death concentrated like a black pearl, Sink to the bottom of the sea's inky gaze
And pierce your own bubble
Adrift in the slimy weeds like an unsuspecting octopus
It jerks you awake and pulls you open like taffy Freeing you from the easy struggle of too many arms  And the coagulated truths in your over-sized head No longer clear who is rising and who falling Or whether it was kindness or envy to point that out
In either case you’re drinking and drowning And there’s a kind of shame in that as well as the sense that it wasn’t polite to unmoor you Who wanted to be the anchor  And not the tears and arms aflailing
But the dying person always knows better Is wiser, stronger and further along in getting sober Than you are