connectioning: poetry and art, meditation and healing

don't         already
trauma         anything
those         terrible
implicate                     must
evidence                        her

become                                  protector
battle                                               her

This piece started with a screen cap of a film review that showed up in my news reader. I dotted out all the words I didn't want and was left with the poem (shaped in the caption to be slightly more clear, but it's the same poem).

Usually that's where I end with my blackout poems, unless I add a double exposure to them.

This time, I felt like experimenting, so I kept going. I digitally painted on the page (adding the watercolor and red lines around the words, plus a yellow-green line at the bottom that then inspired me to add more words, words that weren't part of the poem, but which comment on the poem:

"now that I know, I can heal"

"poetry is meditation and healing"

So, all in all, this feels like a digital art journal page. Poeming and art and journaling. I'm pleased with it but more to the point, it felt really healing to create this piece.

Similar to how it felt to create this series last year, right after Yom Kippur (which all ended up being private, except the one I wrote about).

(And it also feels courageous and scary to share it. I don't typically share my journal here. But this is vague enough that it feels safe to share. For anybody who may feel inspired by my sharing. For future-me, who may need a reminder one day.)

I went hiking after I wrote the words above. This isn't unusual; it's the new rhythm of my days. Wake up, coffee, breakfast. Read (mostly online, but I'm getting back to novels).  If I have some time, write, and then I go for my daily hike. I meet R after school and then we come back to the apartment. Some days we go grocery shopping.

M cooks dinner when he gets home, though I've begun doing a teeny, teeny bit of cooking too.

This routine is nested and settled and stable and just exactly what I need, right now.

It's healing.

I am healing myself.

I am finding support (therapy, nature, friends, words of wisdom, art, radical self-care) and I am recreating the life I *should* have had all along. Which is the amazing life I already have, only with less anxiety and depression and confusion and trauma-being-re-inflicted on me over and over, covertly. (And then so shockingly overtly that I finally realized what had been happening all along.)

I don't use that word, "should," lightly. Not even a little bit. And I am not "should-ing all over myself" as Stuart Smally used to say (bless SNL for that sketch, it was both brilliantly funny and also healing in so many, many ways).

I'm not the one who did this, who spun a web of lies around me that created confusion and chaos and depression and anxiety spinning and spinning and spinning.

No, I'm the one who broke free. Who figured out the lies, despite all that deliberate confusion and chaos being spewed at me.

I got away.

(Thank you, thank you, thank you.)

Sometimes we just can't see the spiral until we're outside it.

Sometimes it is feels safer to curl up protectively around the wound.

Sometimes we find out we were intentionally gaslit by someone else for their own purposes.


Amazingly, I still don't actually believe in evil as a reality in this world. But holy fuck, I am closer to believing in it than I have ever been before. My eyes are open now. My head isn't in the sand. How could it be? This world is a fucked up place sometimes.

But it's just too dualistic for me, the concept of good and evil as opposites that exist in real life.

(That's one of my many redeeming rebelliousnesses. I believe what I believe. Someone else being a shit bucket doesn't stop my belief system. Even if they were much, much, much more of a shitbucket than I thought was possible.)

I still think of good and evil as a spectrum.

But oh, damn. Us humans can get really far along on that evil spectrum, can't we? Putting kids in cages and reneging on our alliances, so that our former allies get slaughtered. And that's just the news of the day.

(I'm still unwilling to dwell on it overly much. May all who are hurt be healed. May all who hurt be brought to justice. May all humans turn back towards the path of empathy.)


At Yom Kippur, we Jews collectively try to return to the pathway of goodness. Liturgically, spiritually, we turn ourselves back towards goodness, away from the ways that we have missed the mark. That's the meaning of the word "tshuvah" or repentance, in Hebrew.

Yom Kippur was two weeks ago but I didn't write about it this year, I had too deep a lived experience. (And I went off line all day, which was glorious.) It took me until now to begin to put it into words.

When really, the words that I needed, I have already written.

(Thank you, past self.)

2011: why we need to bring awareness to our asking forgiveness.
2012: using the difficult part of Yom Kippur (fasting) to gain gratitude and use that to help heal the world. (Also, forgiveness as part of not taking things personally.)
2013: asking forgiveness for the ways in which I have been unconsciously harmful. 
2014: turning towards lovingkindness.
2015: turning towards overflowing love (and social justice, which is love in action)!
2016 is a gap year where I was probably too worried about the election to come to write about Yom Kippur.
2017: Atonement. (Wishing there was someone to blame for 2016's election, but knowing we're all to blame.)
2018: unfolding adjustments (life on the road: we spent Yom Kippur in Montreal!)


You can't sincerely apologize if you're still actively hurting someone.

No one can forgive what hasn't ended.

I couldn't forgive what hadn't ended. It's mostly ended now, because I walked away. But it hasn't completely ended, because I am still processing what I uncovered. I'm not anywhere near forgiveness yet, Yom Kippur or no.

And any forgiveness that eventually happens will be for myself alone.

First I needed to forgive my own naiveté, my own complicity, and my unwillingness to take my head out of the sand because it hurt too much.


I let this sit after I wrote it for almost five months. (It's March and I'm finishing this on my new (to me) iMac.)

Eventually, I was ready to start working on letting go of my anger, because I needed to access my grief. and I cried in the bathtub for a what felt like a solid month. and then I was ready to let go of my grief because I had moved through it. this is the work of self-healing, of self-parenting and of going to therapy. it continues, this work, the work of being human.

Meanwhile, I needed time to sit with these (raw) words and make sure it felt safe to publish it here.

I'm retroactively dating it based on when I finished writing it, so that it will be in the correct place in my archives.

(I have a few other pieces I may do the same with, though some of them are likely to go in what may turn out to be my next book.)