Tag Archives: raw

the raw ones

It’s this one word that keeps coming back to me, one word I can’t disconnect from.

One day a few months ago, I sat curled up in my bed on a Skype date with Aubrey.  Wrapping fingers around a ceramic mug of tea that was almost still hot, gripping it like a tangible shred of the last little bit of my control.  Control over myself, over life, over dreams, over fear.  Maybe over God, if I’m being completely honest.

And I could not meet her eyes, the sweet friend who was watching me from my computer screen.  Dallas and Lima in the same room, Dallas losing it and Lima holding on for them both.  I remember just sitting there for a second, wishing that distance wasn’t what it is and that we could just curl up in my bed and cry together.

See, this year has felt in many ways like dreams buried and dreams planted, and that day was the first that I ever spoke of it out loud.  That day was the first time I said actual words to an actual human, words articulating this nagging feeling that I was supposed to start saying no to being what I’ve always wanted to be–a musician–so that I can start saying yes to being what I’ve always been scared to be–a writer.

And the truth did what it always does, and tumbled out fast and terrifying.

Aub, I can’t write worth shit unless I write raw.

And it all closed in at the same time, and I ugly-cried while I tried to squeak out words, desperate to convey to another human being that sometimes you know what it is that divine hands are trying to drag out of you, but for the love of sanity, you just want it to stay in its place because if it escapes, God only knows what might hit the fan.

Singing, playing, performing, it all lives in this easy, comfortable place for me.  Because I’m comfortable with the fact that I’m pretty good at it.  I’m good at using a pretty voice to sing someone else’s song, tell someone else’s story.  A story that doesn’t really cost me anything, that doesn’t share too much or hit too close to home or leave me with that horrible and beautiful feeling that I just handed another human being my whole heart and gave them permission to eviscerate it.

I’ve spent so much of my life figuring out how to be pleasant and palatable, easy to be around, and lately it feels like that’s being wrenched from white-knuckled hands.  I feel as though I’m finally finding my voice as a writer, and some days I want to give it back and ask for a different one.  Because this voice I’m finding, it pokes and prods and challenges.  It rocks boats and doesn’t always sit comfortably.  It’s not for everyone.  Which feels impossible to me, because something inside me has always wrestled with this misplaced and irrational desire to be pleasing to everyone always.

But I’m figuring out that in truth, that’s not a way to live.

Maybe life is a lot like writing for me.  Maybe to be worth something, it has to exist in unedited abandon.  Unfinished, unrefined, untamed and wild.

I want to be okay with the fact that my voice isn’t for everyone.  I want to be able to love people well, regardless of whether they connect with my heart and my story.

But I also want to find the people my voice IS for.  The ones who mate for life.  The ones who think All of the Big Thoughts and feel All of the Big Feelings.  The ones who have spent life trying to play small and conventional, absolutely terrified of being too much for the people around them.  The ones who live with doubt and chase wild hope.  The ones with dirty hands and gritty stories full of truthful loose ends that haven’t ever tied themselves up.  The ones who experience each of the things at every end of all the spectrums in brilliant technicolor.

I want to find the raw ones.

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breathe and steady and stay

He smirks at me and I feel fire blaze through my veins, and it leaves me shaking cold.

An hour later, I am still shaking, sitting in my office and sobbing like a child, trying to soothe my fight or flight instinct. Because I am fully and completely human, and all I want to do right now is get the hell out of here. Walk away from education without even considering a backward glance and find myself a job that is a whole lot less like sandpaper on my bloody, battered soul than this one is today. Maybe it will pay less. Truth be told, I don’t care. I just don’t care in this moment.

He smirks at me and I feel the full weight of it. I flash back to phone calls and funerals and blood-chilling sobs from a mother who has seen the bullet wounds on her dead teenage baby, inflicted simply because no one ever gave him reason to believe that life is not a war. That he doesn’t have to win, that sometimes winning is just knowing when to close your eyes against offense, close your mouth against all the angry responses lashing out at the flesh inside your mouth, and turn the other cheek.

He smirks at me, and I feel myself recoil. Because I know this pattern. I’ve worked with inner city kids for five years now, so I’ve seen a lot of it. I know that unless something changes, unless someone refuses to give up on him, unless someone teaches him not to give up on himself, he will be one of three places by the age of 21: on the streets, in prison, or in the ground.

And eyeliner-laced tears drip down a clenched jawline in my office because today, I do not want to be the person who refuses to give up on him. I don’t want to be. I am tired, and raw, and wounded, and sometimes people can make you feel so very foolish for bothering to give a shit. I don’t want to be a fool, because I’m human. I want to give up, walk away, wash my hands of it and do something that doesn’t cost this much.

And I can’t. Because even when he smirks and it sets my eyes seeing red, my heart has an irrevocable love for all the dirty, gritty, messy, raw, broken. I shake my head at that love sometimes, and in my weaker moments I shake my fists at the God who wove it into me.

But I breathe, and I steady myself, and I stay. And my heart bleeds sometimes, and anyone who ever uses the phrase “bleeding heart” as a flippant insult doesn’t know how much a truly bleeding heart can cost you, how it’s almost never the easy route.

But I breathe. And steady. And stay.

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