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On My Mind...
A random assortment of incomplete thoughts and questions that I am still processing.
In which I revisit my journals to excavate the shapes of all my hauntings.
I remember thinking the bible gave kids the shortest end of the stick. Did you know if you google corporal punishment you will likely find that your mother was within her legal rights to harm you?
Did you know there’s nothing original about a parent utilizing intimidation, power and control tactics to make children compliant through fear?
Tell me again how there is only one right way to put dishes in the dishwasher and only one right way to fold a towel. Remind me how if I don’t come when you call me then God will shorten my life for my lack of respect (Exodus 20:12 KJV of course).
I spent the first 19 years of my life bowing down to an altar of incomplete stories. Bowing down to fragments of a God that was violent before he was loving. Would you believe me if I told you that everyone in the bible was traumatized?
That every time Noah and his family saw rain clouds form their bodies broke out into sprints for higher ground. And when their minds caught up they would fall to their knees, panting with the memories of all the months they spent floating in that god forsaken ark. I wonder how many weeks their motion sickness persisted and how long they dreamed of being at sea.
Would you believe me if I told you that Isaac flinched every time his father called his name. Had nightmares in which his murderer had his father's face. Tried not to fall asleep because he was afraid. Can you tell me where his mother was? When Abram was tying her only son to an altar for sacrifice to a God whose anger burned hot enough to flood the world
And did Lot weep? Over the salt bowl every time he reached to season his food? And what of the children? Did he tell his family she got what was coming to her because she dared to disobey god messengers? Did he tell them they ought to be grateful to the god that killed their mother but spared them from hail and brimstone? And what was her name anyway? Why can’t I remember?
My Anthropology professor used to say that every time there's a war that kills people's families violence enters the hearts of children. Is it possible that the people were so “wicked” because they couldn't cope with the residual pains of all that they had seen?
This week I am hungry for a podcast in which we apply an embodied trauma lens to the stories of the bible. Perhaps it will be mine.
And what is it called? When you're so full up with memories and you don’t even know what to do with all the you’s that you have been? When all the things are bubbling up and out and it is all absurd.
My 19 year old self had nightmares and headaches and panic attacks in Lowe’s bathroom stalls. When my mother told my 19 year old self that she was the problem. My 19 year old self believed it.
And how does it feel anyway, to know that the person who spent so much time hurting you is somewhere in the world not remembering?
I tell a friend some of the things my mother used to say like it’s casual. Friend says it is a “miracle.” that I am here functioning this well. And when she says it I think of all my black American ancestors. I think of functioning this well in this country as a birthright blessing that has touched everyone in my family. I google the word “miracle” like I do not remember what it means. Like I have never seen it before. I keep reading the journals of my 19 year old self and I remember that it isn’t just a miracle it was me.
I listen to Alum talk about “cutting people off,” we talk about boundaries, we talk about what it means to be a friend. “Ain’t no bunk beds in the grave” I offer jokingly. I mean it is true, but what of interdependence?
If someone says we dated but we aren't married, no we didn't. I don’t know them. We aren't friends. I imagine myself stuffing all my memories into lock boxes and tossing them in the lake in a rage- I remember taking my fathers ashes and tossing them into the lake in a rage. I remember telling myself that his death had not left an indelible mark. I imagine stuffing every memory that hurts into a jar, supergluing the lids, and telling myself that they are gone.
There is something here that I am still wrestling with. About disposability? About ghosting as double entendre, at once cultural practice and evidence of haunting? About all the ways I have hoped cutting someone off would make me free of their impact? About all that still persists after the goodbyes. About the ways I have impacted others. For better or for worse. As I was then. Whether harmful or beautiful.