Sunday, September 16, 2012

You Can't Write If You Can't Relate

I’ve told this one before, but not often. Not with much clarity. As I sit here now, tapping finger to chin, wondering why it’s been archived, I think I deliberately edited it out for the purpose of character development.

If my mom reads this, it might be the first she’s ever heard of it. If so, I’m sorry, Momma. I really hate it when my kids do that to me - tell me years later about the things that could/should have killed them. (Do I really need to know?)


When I was twelve years old, I became the fourth to join a circle of girls. Good girls. Church-going girls. In fact, it was they who sought me in my "lost-ness" and got me a’goin’ to church. It was in their presence that I met Jesus, that I was baptized. For as much of my life before that time as I can recall, I’d had no place. I fit nowhere. I was like no-one. I was awkward in every respect and could not fake an otherwise or edge my way into any clique perimeter. Till them, that is - the church girls. They accepted me as I was and then guided me toward something better.

For a good long time (for a twelve-year-old), I was on top, having a confidence founded in Jesus and bolstered by three very good girlfriends. And then...

I was thirteen. And I met a boy.

I fought to stay my course and my friends fought alongside me, all of us knowing that I was at a very, Very important crossroads. Right choice: Jesus and blessing. Wrong choice: I was about to find out. I kissed the boy.

The days that followed with my friends grew more and more strained. How much of that was their frustration at my failure to heed their wise counsel and how much of it was their refusal to participate with the person I was becoming, I cannot be sure. But finally the day came when, sitting in our circle on the floor during class to do our group study, they would not speak to me at all. They would not return any words to me.

So I fished around in my book bag and found a bottle of aspirin. I tested my friends then, narrating my "exit from this miserable world," one word, one aspirin at a time, till the bottle was empty.

It’s really weird the things I remember after that. The bell in the hallway after I’d called my dad to pick me up, how my hair seemed to stand up and vibrate with the ringing of it. The way that I stayed focused on the top jamb of my bedroom door more clearly than most any other thing through the remainder of that afternoon. All I could think was that I’d be moving through it as I passed from this life to the next.

Aside from the friends who watched me do it, no-one else knew about the aspirin.

It’s why I can’t take aspirin still makes me sick all over again.

Could the aspirin actually have killed me? I don’t know and won’t look into it because what matters is that, as a naive’, confused, scared thirteen-year-old girl, I thought I was going to die. What’s worse, I’d wanted to. I’d try to implement it.

Can I say that what's even worse is that my friends watched me do it?

Because I should say right here that this is not intended to be a poor reflection on my friends’ characters. They were also thirteen and did their best as well. I know this. I also know that I probably don’t always remember myself entirely and I was entering a season of change. I’m not sure how much patience they’d had to practice with me before that day.

I also know what it’s like to feel responsible when someone commits suicide.

There are (at least) two sides to this and I’ve sat on (at least) two of them. I’ve been the girl miserable, hurting, wishing to exit, finding no-one who seems to care quite enough. I’ve also been the girl watching the train wreck, trying desperately to halt its progress, finding myself inadequate.

I’ve been the outsider, the dark blot. I’ve also been the church girl.

I wouldn’t be here, right now, writing this, if it weren’t for those three girls who saw me where I was, who brought me in, who did their best. That has greater measure to me than their human inadequacy in a terribly difficult time.

It sure does seem as if this should make me a better seer. Too often, though, in my talking and telling, I’m failing to see and hear others in their own terribly difficult times.

To be entirely honest, there are times that I do see, I do hear, and yet fail to know how or am afraid to try to intervene. Sometimes, I am just afraid of the experience. This has been of deep conviction to me these recent days.

As I’ve written this, I’ve counted, cringing, my use of "I, I’ve, I’m, my, and me." I wholly, sincerely believe that relating what I know is (at least a part of) my purpose. I’ve been prompted to write this. I’ve listened and I’ve responded in the way that I’m sure I’ve been called.

And then I tried to make this be about that ~ tried to use this story to resolve my shortcomings ~ tried to somehow explain away my failures by means of my experience. But LISTEN. That is next. That is from here on out. Whatever is my issue, I promise that I’m trying to work it out.

And see what I just did?
I made it about myself again. 
Soy un perdedor, baby. 
But thank God
I'm still trying to work it out.

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