jessica mullen CC
One day, on a weekend drive, a little girl’s father crashes their car and goes through the window. The little girl stumbles out onto the road where her father lays and kicks him to wake him up. Her tiny soul and mind shatter. She comes undone. To lose one’s mind at 8 years old. We know some have never found their way back. But that there is sometimes someone who reaches down into our dark with a bucket of words on a rope. Such healing, if ever it does come, must be like a flash of light in a long dark night.
A kindly therapist sits a while with a little girl’s unreachable states until one day she makes a move, kicks a wall. “You love your Father very much, and you’re furious at him for being so reckless, for not waking up. You want to give him a good kick and make sure he’s ok.” A therapist's words make impact. That it might be permissible to hate and to love, to rage-mourn. That no love (or loss?) is finally so real without it.
Someone turns on a light switch inside of someone else. To feel understood in something so heavy for the very first time, what a difference it can sometimes make. Not always, we know. Not always. But for this little girl it seemed to be the words she was waiting for. She finds her mind again. She returns to the land of the living.
Can such creative moments reach us before it’s too late? What help, a poem, when one’s mind and body are caught in the dark stuff of untold shattered-dreams? Emmylou Harris says we stumble into our grace. It seems a total accident when anything reaches at just the right moment, in just the right way. People are not what we would want them to be. The world is not made long for softness. There are teeth in dreams, there are shadows upon shadows. Stories get told even when they aren’t written down.
It’s pretty miraculous that any of us are still standing. I would count even the luckiest among that miracle. For who has ever really been so lucky? I imagine we each have our trail of dark and scar, each of us coming up short, coming up empty. But that we also come up for air. Help each other come up for air, swim for shore, start a small fire, take stock of where we are. It’s good to not be alone, and not just when you’re drowning.
Do we ever find words that fit precisely the size of the pain in our lives? A perfect fit, a pain-lingo? More likely we are always stumbling into it, an act of grace or a not-so-lucky accident. It hurts to know. To be known. It hurts to be. Our light can sometimes blind us, but our darkness can sometimes light the way.
We show what we cannot tell, don’t we? What a miracle to be able to find words that little by little allow us to tell more than show. To sing our dark. Dark must be given its due. Hate to love and back again. For some it’s hell to be angry, for some it’s hell not to be. But no life is quite so real without it. Take of this anger–hate-love-healing just a small gesture towards the imperfect-whole we are all working our way towards. Stumbling, along the way, into some sort of grace.
Mostly, it’s good to not be as alone in it as we thought. To know there is a circle out there, somewhere, if one needs the medicine it has to offer. Words, I’m talkin, words. Thank you, friends, for lending us some of your medicine. Your long dark-song.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.