I Will Be Whole (originally drafted May 2014)

“You’ve canceled a lot of appointments..”

Yeah…you know…work and kids..”  I trail off.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “We need to talk about it. You need to talk about it.”

“I know. We will. I will.”

The contents of my bag are endlessly fascinating. My hair falls like a curtain across my cheeks as I rummage deeper.

“It was horrific and violating and..”

                                                                                                    “So, two weeks then?”

                                                                                                                         But I would cancel that one too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The first coherent thought that came to me when I heard her screams:

Why have I never learned Spanish?

Years of watching “Dora the Explorer” with my children when they were toddlers, two years of high school study, two entire decades of hearing my mother in law chattering with her Nicaraguan family.. these did nothing to solidify the fragments of a foreign tongue, words bereft of meaning floating around my head like fragile soap bubbles. Pop popping into nothingness. Gone.

My back hurt. I was lying in a strange, unnatural position. Almost upside down. I fainted. That was my first thought. Though I’d been living at a stable, healthy weight for several years, a near lifelong battle with anorexia and bulimia had me well aquainted with sudden blackouts. I came to at the sound of a hollow thunk. A stairwell door opening, a bitter rush of January wind slapping me hard in the face. My head too. It hurt. The screamer, dressed in the drab camel colored jumper worn by the hotel’s housekeeping staff, bent over me now crooning gently. Shielding me with her body. I realize that I’m only partially clothed. Attempts to sit up, valiant…. are ultimately in vain, and it’s then I notice my hands. Nails torn. Palms bruised. Polka dots of blood.

I remembered.

Not everything. But that I fought. I remembered that I fought.

(“You should talk about it.”

                                                                                                                    “No. Really..I don’t need to.”)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Weeks later I am walking through a parking lot of sorts. Wooded and dark, I’m looking for my car. And it hits me. I’m going to die. I know it. I see the look that was in his eyes and those eyes are suddenly watching me from… from everywhere.

I’m on the phone, my husband’s voice a salve,

“I’m on my way.. breathe baby..”

But I am breathing. I’m breathing so my head spins and diamonds dance before me. Those eyes. From each tinted building window, in the headlights of passing traffic, through the branches of the dying trees, naked and brittle as I feel.

(“You need to talk about it.”

                                                                                                            “No! …No, I really don’t.”)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My mind speaks plenty. To me. At me. Never silent. If, by chance, I ever visit the elusive state of slumber, it’s jarring to wake. For a moment I feel again the heft of his body, crushing and immovable. My face pressed hard against the floor.I taste the well-worn carpet pilling on my lips.

I’m silent. Then and now.

I surrendered after a minute. Or an hour. A lifetime.

As is the case with so many things, fighting made it worse.

Then and now.

(“You have to talk about it.”

                                                                                                                  “I don’t want…”)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But that isn’t entirely true.

So I do. I talk. Some.

Winter passes,

the ice thaws,

new life strains at creation’s lettuced edge.

With the Sonshine beginning to brush away my bruises, the road ahead seems slightly less endless. Slightly less impossible to navigate.

I will talk about it.

I will tell.

I will be whole again.

The world has darkened, my world, but I don’t have to let it darken me.  I will not live as a victim. Not in fear and not in shame. I will survive. More than that. Thrive.

I will talk about it.

Need to. Have to.

As I write this, a child rolls lazily in my womb. A child whose soul came into being at the very moment I felt my own being ripped away. He is my son. An innocent as I was. The good come out of evil. The unexpected gift that reminds me that as life goes on, so must I.

I’ve never let pain define me.

Who I am is not a recovering eating disorder, a once abused child, or the crazy crosshatching of silver scars that adorn the body of every cutter, past or present.

And I am not a rape victim.

What I am is passionate and quick tempered and more than just a little off-center. I’m moody and introspective, impatient and stubborn. I speak when I should listen and I laugh too loudly and I love too recklessly. I am impulsive and loyal and fierce and altogether too much sometimes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         But

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am not a victim.

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a child of God. I’m a woman, again, standing. The ashes of yesterday cling stubbornly to my skin like melting snowflakes, but I am standing even so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And I will be whole.


About JJ's song

My freshman year of college, my English prof was fond of saying "A writer writes, always." I found him to be desperately profound until Wikipedia became a cultural staple some years later and I learned that was not an original quote, but rather one he had ripped off from that Billy Crystal movie "Throw Momma from the train." I admit this threw me. If you're going to quote a movie (and you're talking to someone whose entire household can quote "The Princess Bride" backwards and forwards), and you're not even going to credit said movie ( "HALLO! My name is Inigo Montoya.."), at least let it be a decent movie. I'm not hating on Billy. I'm just saying..not his best work. Could he not glean some inspiring gem from "When Harry met Sally"? But I digress. I love words. I love them in the nerdiest coke-bottle glasses, pocket protector kind of way. There's such a pure beauty, a ballet of cadence when you're writing and you've hit upon the exact right word producing the exact right sound...sweet, sweet alliteration. The marriage of that rise and fall, auditory ebb and flow of our spoken language creates a type of symphony as beautiful as can ever be composed. (My husband is rolling his eyes as he reads this. It should be noted here that he finds Jim Carrey hilarious. 'Nuff said.) I started writing www.abendingtree.wordpress.com shortly after returning to the real world from months of inpatient tratment for anorexia. I was targeting a specific audience, sure, but also working things out for myself. This branched out organically into purging myself (sorry) of angst related to childhood abuse and self harm, both highly prevalent in the eating disorder community. I still write pieces for abendingtree but rarely publish..such a perfectionist am I that when the aforementioned exact perfect word eludes me, my work will be tabled. Last January though. Last January I was raped. Last January I was raped and beaten up and tossed half naked in a stairwell. Last February I found out I was pregnant. Last September, six weeks early, we welcomed a 7lb. 7oz boy with huge blue eyes and fine, fuzzy dark hair and deep dimples. In him I see how God spared my life. With him I am reminded of when He used this tiny human to pull me from my ever darkening spiral. Watching my husband blow raspberries on his round little tummy and rock him to sleep, nuzzling his neck, I see the love Christ has for us. From our earliest beginnings. Such love. The fondness for Jim Carrey can be overlooked in these moments. Joshua. We named our son Joshua. It means: Jehovah saves. No kidding. How could we name him anything else? (Also, everyone else shot down the name Finn which I thought was super cute.) My newest blog will be our journey with him. It may be slow going, but I've got a start.. Writers lay our offerings humbly before our readers who we can only hope will be moved. Will laugh. Learn. Pray. Hurt. Wonder. Love. Grieve. Eat. LIVE. And heal. I hope at some point you'll do all of the above. Thank you for reading. In His truth. "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." William Wordsworth
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