The trajectory of a trauma is fascinating.
I ministered to facebook friends after hearing about the horrible shooting in Orlando Sunday morning. I posted the Beatitudes and a preacher friend used them in her service. Immeasurably grateful that I could help. Then, I had hope.
But as the reality set in, I got SadMad. (If you haven’t seen the animated movie “Home,” go watch it. It’s on Netflix). That guy killed us and at the same time was one of us. I had suspected this, of course, from the beginning but the confirmation blurred my boundaries.
Then, I was confused.
I grew increasingly angry. With the urging of my therapist’s insight that there is a time for everything, I wrote angry poetry and drew the lines. Us/Them. Me/You. Good/Murderer. I was on the side of good, of course. Even though I suspected that writing this screed nudged me toward my antithesis’ ideal.
Add to this a huge trigger that made me realize how fucking hard it is to intellectualize things in the face of pain.
So I lavished pain. Reveled in it. Until it sucked me in.
Thankfully, I was able to secure a ride home from an interfaith remembrance service at my local MCC church and went to it last night. Muslims wiped their eyes and Jews talked about our intersectionality. Afterwards we stood together and joked, ate, talked to erstwhile strangers. I felt purified.
On the way home, my ride shared her wish to convert blown-out houses into places for the homeless to rebuild their lives. “They need something to call their own,” she said. I agreed – I know the restorative nature of reclaiming my community, my stuff. It turned my world around.
I feel like in the last 3 years I’ve found the community whose absence I lamented in Portland. 3 years ago I wasn’t able to stand at the reading of the names of those taken from us at TDOR because I was afraid someone would smell me or judge me. I might trip. So I sat as my small cadre of friends had transformative if depressing moments that night.
Later I formed a PFLAG group that tanked because I was inexperienced with organizing people. Getting someone to commit on their ideas is now, in my view, the key to running a meeting. You can have all the ideas in the world but no one will execute them unless they make a public commitment to doing so. How I knew that.
Fast-forward 2 years: I was asked to lead a meeting and did my best. The person I know noted that I had come out of my shell and asked me to be there, to step up.
I have and I haven’t. I have anxiety and I can’t show up sometimes. But you know what? People understand. It seems everyone can relate to being scared, and they are happy when I can make it.
This is why I love my community. You reach out to it and it reaches back. It lights a candle for you, knowing you might be in the dark. It waits, as the candle eats its way down to its butt (heh), and lights another one. Waiting till you take it and light another for someone else.