Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Category: Begin Here

The Collage revisited

“Writing when Awake is dangerous.” I wrote this piece years ago, while Awake. When you get to the collage, click on it for a close-up.

*****

I agonized about whether to begin this blog.  Not because I had nothing to say, but because I was terrified.  Of what?  I’m not sure.  Probably the concreteness of truth.  Even though I lived with it all my life, putting truth out there in concrete words is different.

The words below are from my journal.  I made the entry on 19 July 2012, about 18 months before I published my first post, Dear Dad.  It’s a one-hour, non-stop writing exercise.  What you see is nearly every word I wrote—reformatted.  I made the collage in the early 1990s.

I’m at my desk, keyboard in my lap, eyes closed most of the time—except to check the clock.  The collage is on the wall just above my desk.  Nothing but bits and pieces cut out of old magazines.  It’s not a lovely work of art, but a crude icon.  It reminds me of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.

* * *

8:53am
Showing up.
Facing my fear and inhibitions.
All my life.
Small, invisible, insignificant, scared,
trying to fit in while desperately longing to stand out—
to be counted as somebody—
to make a difference.
A big difference.

Telephone ringing.
I’m a writer.  First.
Not afraid to let the phone ring,
to close the door,
to do what wants to be done.

Write.
Big.
Bold.
Unashamed.
More willing to live with the
consequences of big and bold,
than small and insignificant—
lost in the noise.

Shout it from the rooftop.
Hit the front pages of the newspaper.
Unavoidable and compelling.
A wake-up call not just for ‘them,’
but for me!!!!
Especially for me.

To tell the truth—
not for the faint-hearted
or for those like me given to
strategic choices of words that mask,
hide and protect the reality of what is—
whether we/I like it or not.

The truth not just about what happened
and is happening,
but the truth about what it takes—
the cost of belonging to the human race.
From the inside out—
not simply about them,
but about me.

Without fear or holding back;
without malice of mindfulness;
and without any agenda but one—
to bear witness in a way that
forges solidarity with others.

I’ve always wanted to belong—
to be normal—rather than strange,
set-apart, holy or the preacher’s kid.
The only way to get there, I think,
is to strengthen to completion
the bridge I can build
between myself and people I may never know.

A bridge of understanding,
of sisterly compassion,
of challenge,
and seemingly unending damage and pain.
A bridge of respect for survivors.
A bridge of honesty about my past
and the people who damaged me
and prepared me for the life I now live.

Am I looking for healing?
When that means acceptance, yes.
If it means pressing a restart button, no.
Things done and internal wiring completed
can’t be undone so easily.

If, however, it means healing
of my self as God’s beloved daughter child,
Yes.
This life was entrusted to me.
Not to anyone else.
Only I can live it.
Which includes/entails telling
the sad and sorry truth about growing up female.

Suddenly feeling drowsy.
Do I want to just stop and start over
on another topic/project?
Yes.
This feels way out of control and out of reach.
So yes, I have a strong desire
to put my head down and snooze.

(I just caught myself not sitting up straight.  Interesting.)

It’s now 9:15 am—
not quite halfway through this exercise.
I need to sit a bit and collect my scattered self.
I am a writer!

Centering Prayer.
Mindful breathing.
Surrender.
This is a practice I need as I write.

9:21am.
Back to it
Not sure where I am except for this:
To belong to the human race takes audacious courage.
Courage to do what doesn’t come naturally and is not always rewarded.
Bottom line:  Which price am I prepared to pay?
There’s a price for me either way.

Still struggling with drowsiness.
I ate breakfast before writing—
and now I’m struggling to stay present.
Feeling a tingly desire to go to sleep and not wake up!
Wakefulness—mindful wakefulness—
is worse than a nightmare.

9:26.
The clock seems slow today.
I need to just sit.  Drink Water.
Keep my body and mind awake,
open and receptive.

Drinking water.  Good.
I’m thirsty.  For what?
For something to calm my heart and mind
that wants to shut down just now.
Something to keep me going.
Alive.  Functioning.  Processing.  Growing.
Eliminating what is poison or no longer of use to me.
Water.

9:31am
The collage comes to mind.  I’m looking at it, getting teary.

The Collage

  • Life can be murder
  • Without Clear Proof
  • The Secret Within a Secret
  • DANGER
  • Somewhere in your house a battery is dying….
  • Lost.  Lost.
  • Failure
  • Stuck in Neutral
  • Defend Yourself
  • Sometimes you can tell what’s missing.
  • Much Less Than Meets the Eye
  • Someone Who Really Likes to Stay in Touch
  • For a Child’s Sake

The collage wakes me up!
Brings tears to my mind [sic].
This is reality.
My reality—about which only I can bear witness.
There’s no prettying up the truth.
There may be understanding,
but in no way is this a pretty picture.
Or a pretty story.
Telling it will not be pretty.
It will be dangerous.
And it keeps telling me it wants to be told!
Not hidden away like some shameful piece of my life.

I don’t like having to tell the truth
about things that may seem ‘sensational.’
They weren’t.
They were the sad and sorry everyday reality
of my everyday life.
Some things can’t be omitted.
To leave them out is to betray myself.
In some ways this writing is a plea for understanding.
This is who I am.
Late start telling the story,
but right on time in God’s economy.
9:51am

Journal entry written 19 June 2012
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 August 2014, re-posted 11 February 2019

My Mother, My Ally?

September 2009.  I’m still working on Week 1 in The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron.  The writing exercise asks me to name the voices of my Allies and Enemies.  Not imaginary voices, but voices of real people who in one way or another encouraged or discouraged my creative self-worth.

My top three Enemy voices
When I was young I never told anyone I wanted to be a writer or an artist. Read the rest of this entry »

My Mother, My Teacher | Part 2 of 2

I’ve never thought of Mother as my primary role model for relationships with men or with women.  Yet she was precisely that, in ways my father never was.

About gatekeepers and me
Gatekeepers:  The bosses. The men in charge.  In my lifetime they’ve all been men.

Their words and attitudes could make or break a woman’s reputation. Read the rest of this entry »

My Mother, My Teacher | Part 1 of 2

I’m still thinking about my confused and confusing relationships with men.  This story is about my Mother and me. It’s also about at least some of my troubling relationships with men. Read the rest of this entry »

Blaming Daddy? | Part 2 of 2

‘Have you forgiven your father?’  A fair question, never easy to answer.  With regard to forgiveness, I aim to become one of the tough-minded Lewis Smedes talks about in his book, The Art of Forgiving. Read the rest of this entry »

Blaming Daddy? | Part 1 of 2

Not once have I blamed Daddy for his beatings and troubling behavior toward me.  In Part 3 of The Air I Breathed, I talked about my habit of constantly blaming myself.  I didn’t like seeing this then, and I still don’t like it.  Blaming myself may have been OK as a survival skill when I was a young child and teenager; it’s not OK now, decades later.

So where am I today? Read the rest of this entry »

The Collage

I agonized about whether to begin this blog.  Not because I had nothing to say, but because I was terrified.  Of what?  I’m not sure.  Probably the concreteness of truth.  Even though I lived with it all my life, putting truth out there in concrete words is different.

The words below are from my journal.  I made the entry on 19 July 2012, about 18 months before I published my first post, Dear Dad. Read the rest of this entry »

The Air I Breathed | Part 3 of 3

Of all the things I listed in my initial observations about Part 1, one troubles me most–my inability to blame Daddy.  I’m used to blaming myself, or at least wondering whether I’m to blame for things that happen to or around me.  This seems to be one of my favorite default modes.  However, given the nature of the air I breathed back then, I’m surprised at my internal response: Read the rest of this entry »

The Air I Breathed | Part 2 of 3

For years I knew Daddy’s beatings and rules didn’t give the full story about how I was groomed to be a victim.  Yet I’ve never spoken publicly about the full story.  I didn’t have a clue how to talk about it safely.  Besides, who would believe my report?  Especially if they knew my father. Read the rest of this entry »

The Air I Breathed | Part 1 of 3

It took more than beatings and Good Girl Rules to groom me to be a victim.  It also took small, calculated and uncalculated, direct and indirect intrusions on my body, my spirit, my mind and my emotions.  I call it the air I breathed.

Beatings have a distinct advantage over the air I breathe. Read the rest of this entry »

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