I am really walking the edge of what to share, here. For example, the first words I wrote this morning for this entry were: "Oh joy. A yeast infection."
Is this too much? I don't know that I can tell. I believe so strongly in breaking silences…
I'm thinking about this because I went for a walk on the beach yesterday with my ex-husband. His request. He told me he was grieving, and wanted to talk in person.
I believe it is okay for me to share this, these pieces of conversation because last night, he did. He posted a poem to his Facebook page that showed his generous heart his depth, his musical way with words.
I met him at the Alki Statue of Liberty. It was raining. After we hug hello, he says that he's grieving and he has a few things he wants to talk about but he is not here to criticize me or pick a fight.
This makes me extremely nervous.
Then he says he's hoping that I'll just listen, but if I have things to say that's okay.
"Are you going to say mean things or nice things to me?” I say.
"Nice things," he says.
He says he wants to start with remembering three moments. He asks if I remember sometime early in Forest’s life when we went to a farm party up in the Skagit River Valley. There was food and music and a band was playing. I was dancing. He could see me across the field.
"You were swing dancing, I think… something with a lot of kicks and twists." He says I was dancing with a man in orange pants, a gray fleece and gray hair and I was smiling so wide, a huge smile that was lighting up my face. “And I was happy that you were happy,” he says.
Then he says "There's a picture of you, dancing with your dad at our wedding. You have that same smile on your face, so much joy. I’m sorry that we didn't have that kind of joy. That we never danced together like that."
Then he says "I saw that picture that you posted of you and Ten Crows on Ten’s birthday and you had that smile on your face in the picture. That joy. And,” his voice begins to break a little, "I want you to know that I am so happy that you have found a love that makes you happy like that. I really am, Ella."
His mouth is crumpling a little, and he means it. He does.
We walk in silence for a short while, and then I say quietly "You are an extraordinary person, Michael."
He is, right? I want you to know this because it's important context for the difficult thing he says next. I don’t want you to blame the messenger.
After that we spoke for a while of his grief. He's had some big losses this year. He has been in descent. He says "I am so tired of losing things."
But of his current grief, the one associated with me, he says "I've become accustomed to the process. I know how to let it do it’s work."
He is surrendering to the descent. It is a prerequisite for the rise that follows whatever dark treasure waits at the bottom. I tell him so.
This is all okay to share.
But then, we talked some about Forest. And he tells me, in a way that works slowly up to it, that he wants me to consider as I write this blog that Forest can read now, and so can his friends. He says "I can imagine a scenario where one of his friends sees it and brings it up to Forest at lunch recess."
Then he says, “Forest will defend you because you are his mom. If someone says ‘Your mother is a whore,’ he is going to beat them up. And he doesn't need any more encouragement that direction."
My head is buzzing, those words hanging in the air. “Your mother is a whore.”
Yup. That’s the threat that I feel at my back as I write.
Forest’s dad is right that this could, maybe even will happen if I keep telling the truth about my life.
It may be too late already.
This is the edge. This is how patriarchy stops us.
It tells mothers "Don't leave this narrow, sexless, powerless position or we will punish you. Don’t have desires, don’t speak of your needs. We will call you bossy at work, a shrew at home.
We will call you a whore on the playground."
I am not saying my ex-husband is speaking for the patriarchy by the way. He is speaking for our son…
But this is the edge of change. How will the world be good enough for him if I am, if all mothers are silent? And it's not just my voice, it's my life. Because a silenced woman has less life. And it's not just my life, it's the lives I touch, that we touch… the husbands, the lovers, the partners of the women who are silenced. Because a silenced woman has less sex as well as less life.
Why should my voice be circumscribed by seventh-grade boys?
And, why should my voice not be circumscribed by Forest’s pain?
She says that our children are "wired for struggle." She says that it is not our job to spare their pain, but to teach them that they are "worthy of love and belonging."
I want the world Forest grows up in to keep changing for the better in the ways that have already begun… I want the waves of change toward racism and gender rights and women's power to grow.
I want to grow them.
Plus, things are changing! James told me yesterday that The Huffington Post ran an article on anal sex. The Huff Post! It turned out that is was just mention of a class that Harvard was offering as part of their annual Sex Week. Does the fact that it involved Harvard make it better or worse? I don’t know, but the Huff Post said this:
"We're excited to see one of the nations most esteemed universities focusing on how we can all live healthier and happier (sex) lives. Bottoms up!"
Maybe the world Forest is growing into will be (ahem) wider than we think.
I don’t know. I do know this. I believe that pleasure and a full-throated, consentual, shameless, playful appreciation of pleasure may be the only force that strong enough to defeat the violence virus that threatens our world.
But, it can't be pleasure alone. We also need belonging...
And I'm back on the seventh grade playground.
Shit. I think I'll stop here. And go put some tea tree oil in my twat.
Wait. Is that too much?