“Mother do you think they’ll drop the bomb?
Mother do you think they’ll like this song?
Mother do you think they’ll try to break my balls?
Mother should I build the wall?
Mother should I run for president?
Mother should I trust the government?
Mother will they put me in the firing line?
Mother am I really dying?”– Roger Waters
There was no stopping him back then and truthfully, the moment I found out she was dead I wondered if the loss of a human homing device would somehow make him free to find me. The doctors said she had 6 months to a year so I’d assumed there was time; for what? To be prepared. To have my feet planted, hips squared and mind equipped with the right truth and appropriate response to the death of a bystander. Just in case her time came sooner and my irrational fears had any substance, I intentionally left out a return address on the Christmas card. Believing there was at least some awareness as to why I’d never visited after the last time we’d been dropped off, I wanted her to know it was all a forgiven past. Despite my relentless best efforts to both intellectualize and give it less thought, fragments of meaning, question and feeling were falling in my head like Tetris pieces all day Friday. If Trump then hatred plus denial might equal genocide. I felt powerless. Maybe you can you relate. Some fears are rational. He said he’d build a wall and some of us hoped it was nothing more than the grandiose rantings of a delusional sociopath. Bringing a sound, open mind to a feather from the Right wing, I asked them to explain the logic behind the proposal. It’s a business decision. We have a national operating budget based on the census, but the census isn’t accurate so we’re trying to make services and resources budgeted for x number of people and we’re failing because that number excludes y and z. Why and See. He said the wall is meant to set a boundary and encourage people to go through the proper channels of becoming a citizen. People don’t like boundaries when you first begin setting them. New parents spend the first two years of their child’s lives saying No while children spend the first two years trying to eat poison and touch fire. Boundaries aren’t always set out of vengeful exclusion. Many boundaries are incredibly helpful, protective and necessary. Sometimes things that are meant to be safe and trustworthy are exploited in subtle ways. It costs $680 per person, plus a test, to become a U.S citizen; an oversimplified statement regarding what is a complex, lengthy and some argue intentionally misleading process. Kind of like student loans with a much less hidden agenda of historical, ethnic marginalization. For those who can afford the 5 to 15 thousand dollar service, immigration lawyers can advocate your case and help you navigate the system. There’s no widespread acknowledgement or expressed understanding of the true multitude of barriers that would prevent people from enjoying the privilege of access and inclusion. The real wall has been standing erect for an impressive length of time. The freedom of affluence belongs to those who are either born into it or have opted on some compromise of a max bet. But, don’t trouble your Right neighbor with this observation from Left field. They don’t wanna hear it. Hear this; either way, we all pay.
My father said not to worry about coming to the funeral. I was picking at the raw cuticle on my thumb, praying my phone didn’t die. My stomach was wrenching; a mixture of guilt and a familiar desire to run fast and far away. ‘I wanted to lay her out in a pink casket with flowers and the whole thing…she was my mother…she was a sweet woman…kind to everybody, kind to animals… but she…this house is eating me alive…I thought it was an investment when I bought it from her but it’s a pile…I finally, last year couldn’t take it anymore and vinyl sided the thing, it’s a light grey, it’s nice, at least the outside looks good. I had to do it. I had to do something, I was so fucking sick of looking at it… Anyway, your uncle Luke is flying up once we set the date for the service, David barely visited her and truthfully I’m the only one in my family with a credit card that works…it’s fucking exhausting, I get sick of it, I get sick of being the only one who’s functional…anyway, how are you?’ A desire to cry was lodged in my sternum. The one person he omitted from the conversation was the person who stood between his mother, the people he’d hurt and the truth of who he was. Last Thanksgiving I’d flown out there to visit with mostly the other side of my family. Within my traveling tribe I’d suggested we visit our grandmother if we could be assured the appendage wouldn’t be there and was met with an anxious ‘no, no, no dude…no way’. Got it. We don’t say why, we just say no and proceed down the crisp path to the reservoir to drink in everything good and take smiling pictures under partly sunny skies. The get out of funeral free pass felt deeply generous. Plane tickets would cost more than the service, we’re a family with no money and even if I armed myself with an entire carton of American Spirits I couldn’t bare the wonder of if and what should an encounter take place. Even the presence of energy directed towards barring him would be too close. The last time I saw him was an accident. Some Fall festival in Blackstone. My family was off finding a place to watch fireworks and I was off with friends. He was alone walking with his head down, hands shoved inside a Member’s Only knockoff. I don’t wish to describe my response other than to say it was validated last year at a conference. Bruce Perry described the physiological reaction of a young boy in a medically induced coma when the shirt of his perpetrator was placed briefly under his nose. Anyway, I probably cried near a plastic tree in the back of the room; a respected doctor confirmed I wasn’t completely insane. Those closest to us sometimes seem to prefer we think otherwise. Another part of me has diffused his ability to make me feel anything. His perversion was never about me and what remains is not about him but rather, what he did and how those things persist to exist as a toxic, bodily, seemingly immovable ghost or shadow. I cannot, with my little pickax of truth, single-handedly tear down a wall. Some say, what wall? Others say, build it thicker and higher! Our perceptions depend largely on the skills we’re equipped with; like understanding, efficacy, new paradigms, love. Something to consider when questioning who speaks up, out, over or against, who lies or bends truth and how and why.
There are no simple answers. Some of us minimize or avoid things, while others crown a person or circumstance with a headdress of over the top specialness for our suffering. We stand in the victim place because we have no example of a healthy alternative for a particular scenario. Still others attempt to put us in the smaller place because it’s more manageable and less threatening than seeing us as empowered. What I needed was a healthy perspective, someone to validate the anger, grief and guilt and tell me what part was mine and what parts I had permission to either let go, set aside or hand over to one more qualified. When I really need an answer I can trust I go the word. And yesterday, while sweeping the floor, the word said: Be prepared. You’re up against more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, so when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. Then the phone rang. It was Ween. Ween was a fantastic band from Pennsylvania who had to break up so everyone could go to rehab. The Ween who called however, was not Aaron or Mickey, but my step dad nicknamed such because he loves music. He’s also the only person I know who can out-ruminate me across the heavens and hell of human existence. I did not need Zoloft. Just a little extrapolation of the Oneness ; ya know, God, Ween, Satan. After hours of existential analysis I’d found some clarity about what felt unsettled and what I could do about it.Talking about personal truths from the distance of behavioral profiles is really helpful sometimes, like fairy tales. My step father’s worked in human service for years. We love trading stories, weaving acceptable bits and pieces of our own family history into the questions until we arrive at some universal truth, again. Love conquers all. Be the change. Life is good. After we hung up the answer came while I was researching Pinocchio. We’d been talking about the spectrum of denial in criminals being parallel with the denial of individuals and governments. Pinocchio had been created to meet someone else’s need. Realizing his lack of autonomy and believing there was nothing he could do about it, he headed straight for Fantasy Island and became a jackass. Finding himself in the belly of a whale gave him time to think about what he’d done and whether or not there was an alternative to the two kinds of prisons he’d previously experienced; codependence and addiction. It wasn’t until he was faced with actual death that he agreed to drink the bitter truth. The acceptance of truth combined with admitting his own faults, sanctified by his inner conscious and a blue fairy, brought his authentic self to life. What does a puppet have to do with a wall, a tyrant and death in a dysfunctional family? Everything.Silence and compliance keep us alive sometimes. I’d once watched my grandmother attempt to refuse his request for money. He’d hurdled furniture wielding a knife, tackling her on top of an ottoman and breaking something with her head on the coffee table. Every time I’d wanted to feel angry about her absent presence I’d remember the blood on her chin. Silence and compliance begin to feel like lies in the awakening of adulthood, which could explain our cultural obsession with remaining forever young. Hurt is a legacy with an infinite history which no single person is required to bear, but we as individuals possess the ability to begin healing through gentle truth, taking us one step closer to wholeness. Part of becoming whole includes the kind of good grief we tend to avoid. But that’s where tenderness and understanding are found. I grieve for generational hurts, wounds which can never be undone, the injustice of poverty and how it makes everything somehow uglier and more shameful. We grieve as a society for the shared parallels, the pain we recognize in ourselves and our neighbors in which we now stand together feeling challenged but determined to emend. Jesus gave us his teachings as a guide for how to live gracefully and peacefully in the truth about who we are and the world we live in, which is inherently broken. If that freaks you out, Lady Gaga says it doesn’t matter if you love him or capital H-I-M, whether life’s disabilities left you outcast, bullied, or teased, rejoice and love yourself today cause baby you were born this way. Learning to live in the peaceful acceptance of our individual and collective truth is the beginning of our return to love.