Day breaks, the dawn chorus announces, and the promise of something different beckons, or does it?
Still there is this Old Loneliness, a fatigue of grief, a loss of knowing how to proceed.
The past, whatever that means, rides hard on the present and so many around me are struggling to find purpose and meaning in the daily deluge of impossible truths.
I hear myself saying to the younger ones, variously and with genuineness,
“You are loved, you are lovable, not for what you do but because you are.”
“You’ll always have a home with me, I won’t let you disappear, won’t let you be forgotten.”
“I know it is hard, and you didn’t ask for what happened to you to happen, you didn’t deserve those things and it is okay to be so confused, so distraught, so…out of control.”
I can say that I’m crazy, I know what that means for me, and I can understand in some way what it means for them.
I struggle too. I don’t know how I made it this long with all the ways that I feel broken and burdensome, or beyond repair.
“You aren’t a burden”, I tell them. “You aren’t a problem.”
And at the end of the day, after so many conversations, so much care, I don’t have a way to change any of it for them, or for me, or so it seems in the fog of it.
I read the inspiring words, I say my prayers, I walk in the woods, I do many of the things that I’m told, and know, are helpful. I set my anchors to move through the day, I move through the day.
And yet the gaping hole of longing gnaws.
“We’ll get through this together.”
“Call me anytime day or night.”
“You aren’t alone.”
And still I hear them talk of them not knowing how to not feel the painfulness of their wounds, regrets, and desires-those overwhelming intrusions made easier with medications of the modern world in all their forms.
What could I possibly offer, other than the example of not leaving the world myself? And is that enough, and is it wise?
Recently a person I know chose to leave the world of their own volition and there is grief and anger, and envy, by me, by many.
I reach out, I hold space, I listen.
And inside of myself I also know that conversation and how there is such power in being able to choose our own life or death. I believe strongly that no one should have to continue living against their will. My wish is that for those who are “too finely wrought” to stay, is that they are surrounded in love and intention when they die. I tell all the ones I love, the ones who struggle so to tend the cord of connection to their own lives that I will come and be with them. I will come and hold their hand. I will help them cross over if they choose that.
And I know this is edgy, that my position in relationship commands me to be responsible with this offering, this pledge. I know that wanting to leave the world isn’t always about wanting to be dead, but wanting to not hurt so much, so often, so intensely without respite.
What do I say to the young ones, the queer ones, the trauma-filled ones about their suffering? Suffering is a part of living, and yet there is so much needless suffering. Generations and cultures have produced tomes on this, and I am no expert. I am no historian, philosopher, cleric, or scholar. I am just one little person whose heart is exploding.
I am just one little person who sees and hears the pain of so many around me. The great and pervasive need to feel woven, to feel belonging, to trust, to risk, to be touched.
How do I advocate for staying in the world?
I say, “The work of the day is to carry the burden of what we’ve inherited and face that painfulness and change it, so that the ones to come will have a lighter load.”
“We didn’t ask for it to be this way, and we are here in this time for a reason.”
“What can I offer you, how can I help?”
And then I distract myself through the business of my livelihood, and through service to others, in order to smash down my own feelings, because I can feel the allure and its embrace of relief. I don’t know that I’ll ever have what I want in this world. To not feel lost and flailing, to have a semblance of something intact and whole.
For years what has gotten me out of the bed and into the day is the devotion to leaving something better than what I received-culturally, in the larger sense of collective liberation and healing. Yet I wonder, is this advocacy part of my internalized oppression, a product of my own Puritan work ethic and lack of imagination? And is it the opposite, a position of using the unearned power of my social location to enable justice through transformation?
Our youth are dying, epidemically. And it feels like there isn’t enough. Enough resources, time, places. There isn’t enough understanding about trauma. And so a hurt person acts out, gets labeled or ostracized, carries the mantle of ‘crazy’ or ‘problem’ and dives further into isolation. The scarcity of safe houses, of hope, of actions feels prevalent.
We all have so much to do. So much to take care of. I want to be a hearth and a home to the ones I love. I want to lift them up with everything I have.
I want to say, “Everything will be okay, and the mistakes you’ve made will be forgiven. People will understand that your spirit is injured.” But the truth is, I don’t believe that for myself.
Having been chronically misunderstood, unforgiven, judged, exiled, and pathologized, are all things I’ve experienced, still experience, and watch others experience with disturbing frequency. How do I encourage resilience and persistence for others when my own is so tenuous, so often?
It isn’t just about courage, and it isn’t just about resources when it feels as though everything is crashing down around you. And I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been so fortunate.
Our young people need us to be honest. Need us to share how we’ve fought to make it to the next morning, each day, some of us our entire lives. How we’ve fought to reckon with these questions, and all the ones I haven’t asked here but which roil deep within.
Because they are despairing and they are brilliant.
Today I’ll say, “I’m only still here because of all of this. Because yesterday wasn’t the day to go, and I don’t know about tomorrow. I’m still here because one person’s kindness yesterday made a difference to me, and my own kindness made a difference to someone else. I’m still here because spirit didn’t move to me leave, and because I wanted you to know that your gifts are needed in the world. So yes, cry, and we’ll face the next steps together. Your crazy and mine have a place here.”
Or something like that.