Life is most interesting…the twists and turns of it, the places you end up literally “minding” your own business.
There really are no accidents.
I just finished watching a documentary about a well-known singer and songwriter accused of abusing many girls and women – which I came across channel surfing. It is likely the most disturbing work I have ever seen. I did not want to watch. But as the well-being and empowerment of women and girls feels to me like one of the reasons I as placed in this body and in the world at this time, I could no longer look away. In order to make any real difference, one must listen and bear witness to the vulnerability and fragility of the human spirit – far from comfortable, but obligatory.
It is now 3.30 on a Sunday morning. There is no way I will sleep without placing some thoughts and feeling elicited by that documentary on paper. Need to release that energy, those emotions I cannot quite articulate or completely feel in this Moment. Writing has always been my therapy.
My theme in 2019, the year I turn a half a century old, is taken from one of my favorite songs, the beautiful African-American spiritual, This Little Light of Mine. The intention is to consciously be a Light and create the space to recognize and encourage The Light from others. I believe that we are indeed in this thing called Life together and, as such, we are each other’s keeper.
So, the notion of fellow humans – children of God – out there who consciously endeavor to hurt and degrade others – especially children and the emotionally vulnerable – purely for their own gain, shakes me to my very core. Intellectually, I know such beings exist – politically dictators who have (and continue) to wreak utter havoc on the lives of millions upon millions of humans, priests behaving badly, and it goes on and on. I have seen up close with friends and family, domestic abuse and its toll.
Still, watching that documentary, hearing story upon disturbing story told by people who look like me, my sisters and friends, saddened me deeply. I am also stunned: How does a human brazenly disrupt the lives of so many young girls and women as well as their families and get away with it for so many years? Is one born that way, the way of darkness and depravity? Is it nurture – an abuser grows up immersed in the sewage and consciously decides to repeat the pattern? And then one wonders about the abused – young women who appear to be so easily “trained” to take and accept humiliation and maltreatment from a man? To be so controlled that not even the desperate plea of your own parent moves you?! Bon Dieu.
Everything is within a context, yes? This became crystal clear to me when I saw the movie, Monster with Charlize Theron years ago, and reinforced with every episode of Criminal Minds that I can sit through. The Monster is not created within a vacuum. Circumstances – often violent and sadistic early in life or some serious trauma later in life – come together to produce such a being. This is not to take the responsibility from that individual for their actions. Again, everything is a matter of context. Any one of us, placed within a particularly toxic and “uncivilized” environment, can easily (and quite abruptly) revert to a more basic, “primitive” state, descending way down to the Abyss of our consciousness – saying and doing things we could never even conceived as possible. I am remembering now as I write that this was the lesson – the warning – that the Lord of the Flies (the only book that remained with me well after high school) sought to teach. We contend that we are the “highest” of the animal species. Still, our behavior toward each other repeatedly demonstrates that the human psyche is delicate terrain. Like walking on very thin ice, it does not take much for us to crack and rapidly become undone.
I watched and heard the stories in that documentary – one after the other, incredulous. Wondering how does this happen? Yet, knowing exactly how it happens. You do not wish to place any blame on the abused – especially when they are women (members of your own sex) and where minors are concerned. Still you wonder, what wound was so glaringly infected, need so deep and vast, that the predator could smell it a mile away? We tell on ourselves, my grandmother reminded me shortly before her passing. Energy speaks so much louder than words.
And there but for the Grace? Plan? Will? of God go I. I vividly recall how innocent I was heading to College – a school chosen because I had fallen, at first sight, deeply “in love” with the sophomore who had come to my high school to pitch the University. My freshman year, every time I saw him on campus, my heart literally skipped a beat. I was so hopelessly infatuated with him – it was crazy. So, when a friend from high school asked me to be part of a group of women helping him and his line brothers with the grueling pledging process for admittance into a fraternity – the same fraternity to which “my love” belonged – hell yeah, I jumped at the opportunity! As a member of this group, I met the beautiful girl that he – my crush – was said to be dating. Still, that knowledge didn’t stop me – the smart, geeky, “good” girl raised by the quintessential strong black women – from being in his room one night, alone sitting on a mattress with his head on my lap. He, now a junior; me, a freshman and virgin in every sense of the word. I have absolutely no recollection of how I got in that room nor how I left. None. My memory has never been strong to begin with. Hence, such a gap is not unusual. I do not get the sense that anything untoward occurred. And, so I consider myself “lucky”. I was so vastly and profoundly insecure in College and – looking back, knowing what I know now – clinically depressed. Miles from my smothering, overprotective parents, family and wider community, anything could have happened to me. Anything and anyone. My emotional wounds were bleeding profusely, the perfect prey was I. There but…indeed.
So, who am I to judge?? Not all the women in the documentary who charged that singer songwriter with abuse were teenagers. Some were grown folk – as we say – women thirty years in age and older. The girls, we can better understand and sympathize, their brains are still developing. The women…a little harder to comprehend. Does not age bring wisdom with it? Not necessarily. He was much older – as they usually are. Long ago, I heard someone say that we are all school buses carrying with us all our ages. The Inner Children – along with its pain, trauma and confusion – does not simply go away. Everything is energy. According to The First Law of Thermodynamics, Energy can neither be destroyed nor created. It can only be converted from one form to another. If the negative energy of past trauma, shame, pain, and hurt are not spoken truthfully, faced head on, and transformed constructively, it festers infecting the individual from the inside out and/or enabling destruction via the hands of another just waiting for the opportunity to unleash their own unresolved anguish. It’s a dance, the human interaction.
The idealist in me would have us all first acknowledge and begin to deal with our individual issues and demons, thereby coming as “correct” as is possible to the relationship dance.
I pray for us all what I continue to pray for myself: that we re-member always who and what we really are – Light (one so strong and powerful that it can never be dimmed for long. The courageous women who shared their stories in the documentary and survived horrific abuse are shining and inspiring examples of human resilience.)
I pray that we re-member that we are truly many parts of the Same One – so what you do to the perceived other, you do to yourself.
I pray for a level of consciousness and conscientiousness toward each other, and Mother Earth as a whole, that would render us humble enough to re-consider the notion that humans are the “highest” of God’s millions (perhaps even billions) of species.