Day 11 of the Dear Sister Book Tour: Thoughts from the Road

Modern Times

I’ve been on the road.  Two pieces of luggage full of old clothes and fresh books right off the press.  The books are all the same title.  It’s my book.  It’s a collection of letters, poetry, and prose I put together about four years ago.  It’s taken this long to get it out in the world, and it’s taken this long to get myself out into public spaces to talk about it.

I often struggle with how to talk about rape.  There are so many ways I can talk about it – prevention, healing, justice, trauma, community, global epidemic, silence, culture – that I find myself, sometimes, at a loss for words.  I fill the spaces I’m in with words, yes, but the real words, the ones I have been searching for for a long a time, still, have not yet arrived.  It saddens and worries me.  I hope those words come.  I crave the process that will give me the insights, but I can’t have them now.  I’m still IN it. Therefore I can’t have an insight in what is still occurring.  The process can only be an afterward.  This simple statement frustrates me, too.  I want to have my own words, not the ones on repeat that come automatically during the Q&A.  They are genuine, but those words don’t reveal the complexity I am experiencing. There is so much complexity.

There is a time for hope and a time for brokenness.  Oddly, during this book tour, I’ve found that I can be both; my body can handle being both.  It’s usually the people that populate the world that can’t handle the duality.  It truly is extraordinary, our need to know if we are one thing or another.  “Both” — is countercultural.  Being more than one thing is too much, too difficult to grasp.

But not for me.

There is a joy and brokenness I feel on this book tour. A solemn understanding of the gravity of what I am bringing into the spaces I am presenting or facilitating.  It’s like a permanent twilight in my soul.  A dimming of the day that never happened.  That is what violence and trauma have done to us.  And, still, the joy of meeting the contributors whose work has occupied my life for years now is a wonder to experience.  They bring their pieces to life, to an emotional level of existence that could not be enlivened by the page or screen.  There is something projected by the actuality of a person; their voice, skin, they way their eyes scan their page, and then look up, open their mouths, and tell a story that is true.  A story of violence.  A story of survival.  A story that birthed itself out of their minds and onto the page for the world to consume.

It’s a joy and sorrow I cannot explain.

I keep saying to myself that I’ll find the words.  Maybe the words will come tomorrow.  Maybe the words will come at the next event.  Maybe.

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