Monday, June 29, 2020


The valley is ablaze. Fireworks in undesignated areas. Human stupidity. A blunder. A fiery catastrophe that threatens hundreds of residential structures, prompted the evacuation of thousands. What will be charred? What will remain to call home?

I feel no shame, only growth. It’s hard to know a person well, and knowing me well is hard. For every tale I tell there are a half dozen behind it more traumatic and disturbing than I am prepared to share. K— knows most of these. I don’t keep secrets from her. She’s become a repository for the bleakness I want to empty from my soul to make way for flowers and rebirth. We have misunderstood each other in ways completely understandable once you know the stories we only tell each other. Can trauma survivors survive together without causing each other further trauma? It’s not that either of us is innocent, and we are both victims. You try to blow away the ash and come up against the remains of whatever caught flame. You have to look at the destruction, acknowledge it before you can even begin to evaluate what you can keep and what must be built anew. Neither of us wants to return to the previous structure. We fled because it was about to collapse.

Six months, at least, of struggling to decipher what needed to be addressed. We didn’t even know the house we were living in. And all we had to keep it from being consumed were maladaptive behaviors that helped us each survive in the past. Behaviors that we didn’t identify as accelerants. It’s difficult growing out of the rubble of your childhood. I am reminded of the Thomas Wolfe novel, the Chet Baker album, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” I believe that in trauma recovery one must come to inhabit themselves as shield against threat. In the weeks and months before that I’ve slowly moved my belongings from the burning house inside myself. I’ve accounted for feelings, behaviors, desires, fears, motivations, and come out a stronger, more recognizable self. I am materializing. I’ve seen myself through the smoke. That image/body continues toward a corporeal mode. I believe at this point I am able to make out the faint outline of self-actualization. I am the haunted house of my dreams; shifting rooms and material contents making room for what I need to safely inhabit myself.

And while the point of this entry was to gingerly confess that she and I are trying again, it’s actually an essay about me and what I think I can cautiously negotiate to meet both my needs and desires.

We won’t return to the ruins of the consumed structure. We have an incredible therapist who’s helped see us through to this point in the relationship. Now I need something entirely different, as does K—. Not shared domesticity and dependence. We need a house of worship; a unified church—separate bodies and minds exercising independent mechanisms necessary for union. Without relying too heavily on a Christian interpretation, we are in need of Atonement. Self-preservation in order to contribute to the greater good. It will not be easy. Primarily, because I don’t think either of us has lived what we are attempting to create. This is virgin territory. And fledglings that we still are, I’m certain there are more blunders to come.

It is because of the harrowing nature of the past six months that I have hope. We’ve told our separate narratives and bent our perspectives in such a way to make room for a richer interpretation than either of us could alone. I’ve come through this difficulty for which I have no comparison in my life’s experience. I have new respect for her. I know she has respect for me. I am nervous because I know this won’t be easy, but this bond we share is irreplaceable. I have hope. I trust her. I trust myself. That’s good enough for now. It may be all we ever need to weather the struggle, again with hope, for years and years to come.

This is as much as I will say on social media. It's best if I don't mingle Facebook with relationship drama. I may talk about how we're doing here. But I need to keep what goes on inside the house private for the sake and safety of the occupants.

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