I wrote this to try to express the inexpressible, which is, of course, impossible. One of the hardest struggles after significant trauma is coming to terms with the truth of it all. I’m not done. Interpersonal trauma is so permeated with lies that seeing truth takes supernatural power. It is good to know the truth. But it is painful. Very, very painful. Words become frustratingly difficult to find and use to describe what the process is like – people want to know why the struggle is so, so hard.
With genuine concern and no malice intended, people ask questions that sting: “Why is this taking so long?” “Aren’t you feeling like you’re back to your old self yet?” “Can’t you just __________?”
They want to understand, so I continue to try to explain, but even when I think I’ve found some words that might serve well, they reveal themselves to be pitifully insufficient. Poetry, at least, adds imagery to the words. People have responded with greater understanding to analogy, simile, and metaphor. I started writing poetry for them.
But an unexpected (and happy) consequence of disciplining myself to choose and conform to a structure, format, or meter has been the settling of turbulent thoughts in my own mind. This wrangling of words and emotions serves to corral them, if you will, into manageable bits that are easier to digest and wrestle with. Jeremiah did this in Lamentations. Out of the brutal chaos of horrific butchery and terror, Jeremiah poured out his heart to God in measured, metered, beautifully raw words.
I found that following Jeremiah’s lead has helped begin the process of navigating my own churning thoughts and emotions. Using Lamentations as a model has begun to guide me through the tangled brier of questions and pain. It doesn’t take the pain away – nothing could. But it’s one more tool to use as I seek to learn to manage it and carry it with me.
The order of poetry in the midst of chaos is a gift. The discipline of choosing words and forming thoughts into meaningful expression in the presence of the unspeakable is a gift. The comfort of wrestling with one’s own assaulting thoughts and winning truth, though painful, is a gift.
So I offer this as a gift. For those of you who are suffering – may it help you begin to choose words of your own. For those of you walking with the suffering – may it help you sit in the ashes with greater understanding and patience. And for those of you who have asked me, “why is this so hard?” – may it help you hear my heart. Read it slowly. Take it in. Sit with the words and let them teach you.
I asked for truth,
Detangled lies so I could see,
But vision overwhelms.
Truth shocking dawns
With crack of whip and razor sharp,
Upon my bloodied mind.
Sobs threaten, but
Refuse to come; fear mournful sounds,
Lest someone hear and know.
Through desperate eyes, truth layers on,
One more, one more, one more.
Fast, crashing blows
On opened eyes, relenting not.
Where is the promised hope?
Like lifeless child yet unborn –
A dreaded, bitter birth.
I trusted one
Who ravaged, One who stood nearby.
Both left me bruised, broken.
Desired faith gained numbing pain.
Both leave me full of questions.
The Truth? The Truth?
Wrapped in plastic cling filmed memories?
“What,” I ask, “has mattered?”
What do I do
With truths breaking life to pieces?
What truths to carry forth.
The lessons learned?
What service be for captives trapped?
Useful, always useful?
I want to flee
Fly far away, unseen, obscure.
To heal, and mend, be free.
Truth shocking dawns
These razored shards tear soul and wits.
Ceaseless in its mission.