Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Truth and Consequences

Much Madness is divinest Sense —

emily-dickinson-much-madness-image

Here’s another gem from Emily Dickinson, along with my personal response below.

Much Madness is divinest Sense –
To a discerning Eye –
Much Sense – the starkest Madness –
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail –
Assent – and you are sane –
Demur – you’re straightway dangerous –
And handled with a Chain –

c. 1862

Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995

Dear Emily,

Please  forgive me for barging in. You don’t know me and I don’t know you personally.  Still, your poetry challenges me to think deeply. This one, in particular, brings me comfort Read the rest of this entry »

The Lady of Shalott and I | Story #2

The Lady of Shallott

Painting by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917), Tate Gallery, London

In 1983 I began teaching theology at a seminary in the Philadelphia area. Though my office was small, it had a window and built-in bookshelves on almost every wall. The other wall slanted in at the top–taking up precious space and head-room. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Readers | Kickback

I know ‘kickback’ isn’t exactly the right word. But it captures how I’ve been feeling today after posting For the Child’s Sake. I’ve been having stomach punches.

Not literally, but psychically. In my mind and my emotions. Second guessing. Fearful that I’ve said too much. That the wrong people will take it the wrong way.

None of this, mind you, is rational. It’s my hyper-sensitive reaction to speaking truth that’s deeply personal to me.

I’ve had this reaction before. So many times I can’t even count them. In the classroom, in small groups, in one-on-one conversations, and when I make my writing public. Especially if it’s about a sensitive topic. Which, in my world, could be anything at all—especially if it’s about me or people I know.

I’m hyper-vigilant. This means, given the content of my Divide and Conquer post, it takes a massive effort to speak truth forthrightly. And then close my mouth.

I’d much rather word-smith every statement with explanations that eventually deprive what I’ve said of its power to convey truth.

So I spent most of this afternoon ruminating about the post. Running scenarios in my mind about what might happen if the ‘wrong’ people read it, or if I’m ‘wrong’ in my account of what happened.

Yet it isn’t about accuracy or logic or sane precautions. It’s about the habits of my mind that conjure up worst-case scenarios, realistic and unrealistic. They didn’t just show up one day on their own. They’ve been with me since I was a child, and may have helped me survive back then.

Now, however, these habits often work against me. I don’t want people to take offence at what I write. Yet in the end, it may not be clear exactly what I’m trying to communicate.

It’s difficult to be clear, and then let my words sit there. Not softened or ratcheted down. Not edited for niceness to avoid offending people who may take me to task or simply disagree with me and write me off.

So that’s the stew I’ve been working on all afternoon. I think it’s a sign that what I wrote in that post matters deeply to me. Especially because I’ve been there, too. A child in need of an adult ally.

Here’s the bottom line for now. I know I’m a highly sensitive person. I won’t always have another highly sensitive person around to help me through my doubts and fears. This suggests I must be my own adult ally. The sensitive child in me (yes, she’s still there!) needs this ally. So does the sensitive adult woman who’s typing these words right now.

Thanks for listening.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 June 2015

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