Voting With Our Feet
In some way or another every conversation that I’ve had with a teenager has included a theme of control over them.
Their assessment that is described as angst ridden reads as wisdom we can’t receive and repent.
My cheeks hurt like I’ve been locking my jaw, making my skin tender from a slap.
Being present to their wisdom causes me to reabsorb the pain they’ve laid bare, the kind you can’t get enough distance or time from.
The kind that always leaves parts out, but never is hyperbolic.
The kind that still when minimized leads us to blindly rescue.
Rescuing that is brimming with projections of the wrong monsters and reasons for fearing them.
I spoke today with a ninth grader who already knew herself to be lucky for having a therapist she trusts.
Who aptly considered the cost of therapists breaking our trust in the testimonies of her friends.
Who linked that comment to only one question for me — what do you want us to take away?
Space to think.
Transparency from me.
I’m wrestling with my own healing today, trying to loosen sadness’ hold on my joy, trying to know what I want as my future, trying to discern who and what to invest in.
I’m not aimless, or even avoidant, I’m tender footed.
My old sensitivities have surfaced, and with them my emotions.
I feel riddled with sensations pulling me into different routines with people, with money, with time, with exercise, with sleep, especially that.
This sabbatical will be characterized by exertion more than rest, using every energy reserve.
So many of traumas wounds are relational, yet somehow in the midst of those rhythms we see the world as if we’re alone.
As if the wounds we carry don’t wound anyone else.
As if we can love with the gentleness we haven’t ourselves felt.
What I find myself holding onto tonight are moments where someone notices someone else in their experience of trauma.
Where they state a desire to break a cycle of causing harm even if not on purpose.
Where nurturing can be learned finally, rather than pretended or coveted.
Where what we want is something we let ourselves have.
Where healing isn’t as full of chance as it is full of disciplines.
She asked me if I thought my time in therapy was an investment.
The choice of words was significant, because she could have asked me if I thought my therapy was worth it, or if it only gave me things without taking something away.
But she asked about investment, which opened a window to a fuller answer.
An important part of why the answer is yes comes from recognizing how hurt is recreated over and over and over again in our coping.
I believe unhealed wounds blister and lash out.
I believe wounds can’t stay contained to yourself for an entire life.
I believe that unintentional wounds are still wounds.
Wisdom teachers in my life keep calling me to pay attention to timing.
Advent as a season of preparation shows us that God values our readiness, and as I watch an entangled love story play out between two TV characters, I see more astutely twenty-five years of becoming ready for each other.
The temptation to want something you’re not ready for to the point where you put off becoming ready to have it.
I hear the testimony and the temptation, the self-compassion and the self-flagellation.
Asking questions of control with emotions at the forefront is something I associate with my adolescence, and something I now associate with teenage wisdom.
The necessity of describing how you experience gaining the knowledge you now have, and grappling with explanations that cut out aspects of your experience.
The wariness that being asked to share your experience by an adult can register.
The value of insisting that you have time to get ready, and knowledge of what you are getting ready for.
Asking follow up questions of everything, most often without words.
I try to push my adult perspective out of the way so that I can connect with my former teenage wisdom, and I try to see what my adult status symbolizes to my former teenage self.
I try to have patience for the right of teenagers to decide over time if they can trust anyone.
I try to have language for the goals I have, and for what commitments I can be held to.
To try to peal back whatever is getting in my way, be it traumas, privilege, time pressures, or unearned trust. I value the relational metrics available to us that force us to see ourselves as a part of other people’s experiences of us.
I value the emotions that knowledge fills me with, and the cycle that connects me with chances to get ready for the work ahead to renew my investment in what I’ve said I hope to impart.
Space to think.
Transparency from me.