I'm here to keep my pinky promise. (And just so you know, my pinky isn't mortally wounded after all. It's a mere flesh wound. That drew a lot of blood. And hurt like helk.)
(And shucks, my ex-door neighbor's cute little sixth-grade daughter, Nana (short for nana nana boo boo) has been reading this blog for her SFA homework. Now she knows I had two cavities. (I hope she doesn't tell my kids.) And what if she reads me today? When I'm writing about meat and potatoes? I would write about soup and salad today but I pinky promised to write about meat and potatoes.)
(Insert ethical dilemma.)
(Nana, if you're here, skip to the end, okay. I'll write you a pretty little story about rainbows and butterflies in the P.S, okay. Okay, go play now, Nana. Off you go. Shoo.)
She's gone, let's dig in. Remember a week or so ago when I watched Frequency and wrote about that place then dedicated it to New England Aly? There were two comments I wanted to publicly respond to. First, was my brother Stephen. He said:
You have a way of making me feel grateful my family suffered so much . . . You have even almost convinced me that maybe their lives weren't miserable, and that maybe, just maybe they experienced some happiness in their lives. Maybe they, or all of us, need to suffer to be able to enjoy and appreciate a few fleeting moments. I don't know if you answered the question completely, but you certainly posed the question beautifully. I was left wanting more.
Ironically, I did write more. I tried to answer the question about suffering in my post but ended up deleting it because it felt so Sunday School, you know. Heavy handed. Sometimes the questions are more valuable than the answers anyway, right?
But since he asked . . .
While I was having my first baby, during the 18 hours of excruciatingly unbearable labor pains, I distinctly remember my mom saying, "This too shall pass! And it will be worth it."
I've never been closer to Kung Fu Panda kicking her little akole across the room than I was at that moment.
Of course in the end she was right. It did pass. And it was way way way worth it. But I got something tangible out of it--my rock star daughter. What about all those women who go through the same thing and then lose their rock star babies? All they get is rock star pain.
So is it worth it then?
Of course the answer is, of course. Because even that too shall pass, leaving behind only rock star knowledge and experience, which always leads to rock star action.
But what if the experience and knowledge isn't just painful, it's ugly or yucky or violent or disgusting? What if you never asked for the experience and knowledge? What if someone just gives it to you, against your will, and without your permission? And what if it shapes you and then leaves you holding a bag of rock star issues? For the rest of your life?
Can you tell I've been reading Aly's . . . leave a trail blog?
I'm talking about the A word here. Not the good A word, (Atonement) the bad A word (Abuse)
I hate the bad A word. It doesn't make any other words look good. Substance + abuse = BAD. Domestic + abuse = BAD. Verbal + abuse + BAD. (s.e.x.) + abuse = BAD BAD BAD.
The only word it makes better is Oatmeal. Oatmeal + abuse = GOOD, GOOD, GOOD. (Unless you're rude to the oatmeal before you swallow it.)
The baddest thing about the A word is that it not only makes the words associated with it look bad, it makes the people associated with it feel bad. Like they're tainted. And ruined. And broken. Like they're unclean.
Aly's perpetrator took her innocence when she was nine years old. That means she's been feeling dirty ever since her baptism.
But may I assert that innocence is over-rated?
True, she can never be innocent again, and she must mourn that, but she can still be pure.
You get me?
Purity is innocence refined. But refining is ouchie!
See innocence stems from ignorance. Purity stems from experience + knowledge + understanding. It's a choice. To go through the process. But you have to work for it. And earn it. And you need the magic ingredient--the other A word, the good one (Atonement), to kick booty on the bad one (Abuse). And believe you, me. It can. And it will.
Oh goodness. I know it's so complicated, especially for a dummy like me.
So who wants another helping of potatoes? Hows about gravy? If not just skip down to the rainbows and butterfly story in the P.S.
I taught three different classes at BYU-Hawaii and I began each class with the exact same readings--Plato's The Allegory of the Cave, William Golding's Thinking as a Hobby, and sometimes James Allen's As A Man Thinketh.
Then I asked the students to make a model of the three levels of thinking and the process to enlightenment. It looked something like this:
But it looked more like this for Sunday School:
And every year it changed and evolved with student input and discussion until it was a masterpiece of profundity.
I think the process to enlightenment is just like the process to purity. Step by step. But the middle part stinks. Because it's hard. And hard things stink.
One semester one of my best students, Miles--who now teaches English at BYU-H--asked me if you have to go through the painful middle to get to the end. I immediately said YES. It's just like going on a bear hunt. You can't go over it. You can't go under it. You can't go around it.
You have to go through it. (But it too shall pass. And it will be worth it.) (You can smack me now.)
After I thought about it for a while though, I came to the conclusion that for some the middle is longer and harder than for others. Depending on how one handles the middle.
Oh goodness, I need a nap. Can you see why I deleted all this stuff?
So what does this all have to do with Aly? Why did I dedicate my That Place post to her? Because in my That Place post, I think that place is where you feel clean. It's Peace. Enlightenment. Purity. And I can tell Aly is headed there because she's purging herself of all the bad A junk.
Have you ever heard that quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter From Birmingham City Jail?
We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with an its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured
By having the courage to carefully bring it out in the open, Aly is helping others who have been victims of the bad A word.
You go, Aly, girl. You're almost there.
OMGOSH! I FINALLY got that off my chest! (But I left a lot of stuff out. And in.)
P.S. Dear Nana, once upon a time there was a gigantic spool of invisible red thread that stretched all the way from Hawaii to Utah and tied everyone in the Mongoose Club together forever and ever. For those who didn't believe in the invisible red thread, there was a back up plan. It was a magical roll of da kine duct tape to make sure there was no child left behind. Even if they moved to Utah. The magic duct tape had the power to keep all the Red Raiders For Life taped together for eternity in the land of perpetual sunshine, where rainbows and butterflies ruled the sky, and stray chickens, cockroaches and geckos ruled the land. And ukus ruled the underworld. But they all learned to get along and live happily ever after.