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Message in a bottle (I don’t know how many at this point…15, I think?)



When love touches our lives for the first time, depending on the circumstances can be light as a feather, as concentrated as a pin prick, or as devastating to us as being t-boned by a semi truck.

Love can be on one hand the break in the clouds after a terrible storm when the clouds part and the sun’s golden rays break through in shafts of heavenly light, and it can be the storm itself.

Love can hurt. Nazareth was right. Love can be brutal.

And like Nadi Bolz-Webber in her book Pastrix makes clear, it hurts in the places in our lives where we didn’t love, or where we should have been loved.

This blog thing hasn’t been some fluffy ‘its been a journey of self-discovery crap’ thing although I was and am and continue to be on a journey of self-discovery, this blog has been a way for me to work through the problems in my head and put them out on paper. And most of the stories I’ve told, the small bits of my life that I’ve talked about, have focused on fundamentalism and my father.  But that isn’t the entire truth.

Last night after watching Tim Burton’s Sweeny Todd for the first (and last thank you very much) time, I walked away feeling terrible about the show, terrible about the theme, and terrible about having sat there and watched all of that tragedy unfurl in the midst of song. To me there was something foul and maybe even obscene about singing like that and then slitting someone’s throat. And then the pies.

But while I was in the shower ruminating over what I’d just watched – a lightning bolt struck me square in the chest. An aha, moment! I was t-boned by a semi of truth and not love.

((spoiler alert))

Sweeny Todd had help getting to the insane and musically talented serial killer that he became. And all in part because of a lie. His wife was not dead and his daughter wasn’t far away and even though terrible things had befallen all three, the worst was the betrayal of the woman who loved him. She lied to him. And because of that lie, he became the dreadful demon of Fleet Street.

And the little kid she rescued from the ‘Italian Barber’ and ultimately from Sweeney Todd himself, loved her. He figured out what Todd was, and wanted to protect her. And she was going to betray even him to his death.

I’ve been hyper focused on my father and the Fundamental Baptist Church and all of its excesses. But what I failed to do was love myself enough to allow myself to be him by that semi-truck a long time ago.

See, like that little kid, I loved my crazy mother. I wanted in my mind and in my heart , to redeem her. Sort of like she’s the wilting flower in the story and in need of rescue. That I sang to her, “Not while I’m around.”

But I wasn’t around, am not around, and she doesn’t need saving.

I did.

Because the truth of it is that yes, my dad beat me. The church reinforced the necessity of those beatings. But through it all, my mother liked to watch. And she often encouraged it to either happen or be the cause of it being made worse.

Suddenly a string of memory launched in my head, scenes I know too well, and behind the raised voices and raised hands was an encouragement for the voices to rise higher as well as the hands.I was overcome.  I had to call for my husband to help me out of the shower.

Yesterday I made the decision I should have made a long time ago. I blocked their phone numbers.

I have to love myself enough, now, to say goodbye. And it hurts. And I’m scared. I am now an intentional orphan.

Today I woke up not like I’d been hit by a train but feeling the feather’s touch of love, this time. Knowing that I have it in my life and in myself. It’s a strange feeling. I feel lighter somehow.

I’ll write more when I can