Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shifting Sands

Yesterday I visited friends I hadn't seen for a month.  It was at my old job.  I'd gone in to say hi and shoot the shit for awhile. Many of them have already ordered Freak online and it was interesting to listen to the parts that struck home for them all.  Each one had a different story from the memoir that resonated on a personal level.  Everything from "Your mom's top five list.  God, I couldn't believe that one" to "Rebecca, you should have eaten that fucking donut.  The way you described it...you just...you just should have eaten that fucking donut."  As I stood there, I felt a hand on my back.  It was an affectionate touch but one I didn't immediately recognize.  When I turned around, there was Maureen, smiling very tenderly at me.  "Hi, Becca Bex," she said with a grin.  I grinned back, somewhat confused because Maureen isn't a touchy feely person at all.  She had never touched me when I'd worked there before and never once had she ever called me Becca Bex.  We drifted over to a corner for some privacy.  I could tell she wanted to talk but was having a hard time getting it out.  "I started reading your book," she told me.  "I just have to...kudos to you, Rebecca.  I gotta say, kudos to you.  I don't know how you had the balls to just write it all like that.  You just say it.  You just fucking say it."  She looked down and I knew.  I knew what was coming.

"I lived a life like that.  I grew up like that too." She looked up, eyes awash, then quickly down again.  "I don't think I could ever just talk about it like you do."

"Well don't sweat that, Maureen.  I was a chickenshit for about a decade before I finally decided to publish it. Let me ask you something.  Did it help you at all?  Do you think this book will help people?"

"Oh yeah," she said. "Oh, fuck yeah."

"Don't believe it if anybody told you you're a piece of shit, Maureen.  It's a lie, it's bullshit.  That's all it was and is.  Believable shit.  It's not true."

Tonight I went over to a friend's house who'd lent a copy of Freak to a neighbor.  The woman was going through a hard time emotionally.  She too came from an abused home, and was out on her own by the time she was sixteen.  The woman came over to meet me and we talked for hours.  I told her what a fucked up basketcase I'd been and she told me what a fucked up basketcase she was right now.  She too was startled by the way the story was told.  Raw and bleeding. She too told me it helped her, and said she was going to try some of the self-love exercises I talk about in the book.

Oh.  My.  God.  Can you imagine?  Me, the biggest fuckup imaginable, with more bad decisions and stupid ass theories under my belt than most people dream of, being given such a gift.  Here it was, my dream, my fervent wish, being handed to me on a plate.  Proof.  Proof that this sorry little story might, just might be of use to my fellow brothers and sisters of circumstance.  Light a mental candle for that miracle, my friends. I hope it spreads, I hope the sands shift and the tide comes in and my clumsy words can help wash away some of the angst and self hatred so many hold in their hearts.  I know that pain and I don't want anybody to hold it anymore.  I want you all to let it go, to let the tide take it away, wash your wounded hearts clean, leaving them fresh and new.  A perpetually wounded heart is a sad and desperate burden, and instinct works bass ackwards when it comes to that kind of emotional damage.  Instead of letting go of it, we cling harder, clutch it to our chests like a beloved child.  Just think of the stupidity of holding onto a chunk of hot lava.  Same principle.  Let it go. 

Thank you all for everything.  Let's hope it keeps going.  This very early stage is very encouraging.  I want so badly to help people.  It's a matchless honor.  Take care to love yourselves and do a bit of healing.

Love, R 

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