Alert: this post may contain material that is triggering for some. If you find yourself in crisis, you can call 1-800-273-8255, or visit www.crisischat.org for support.
The “turning of the tide” is an idiom that has threaded itself through my journey; I give the Words themselves ownership because it is only today that I’m beginning to remember, and connect, the ways the phrase has surfaced and dove, dolphin-like, over the course of my Story. It brings the Words War, and Ocean, and Change to my mind, allows them to shake off salt water drips and float in the air so I can look at them in new ways, brings up memories that my Brain has stored for, perhaps, just these moments.
I remember reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin in high school English and discussing Stigma and Sterotypes and slavery, writhing in my new attempt to understanding the suffering of others, of our country, of a people who were dehumanized in the most horrifying of ways and yet refused to be, who rose above their Labels through Song and Words and Community.
The author of the novel, Harriet Beecher Stowe, is an imperfect (thank goodness, for aren’t we all??) model of a female writer who used Words to turn the tide, to impact and in some ways reverse public opinion, raised her Voice to shine a light on something inhumane, something difficult and scary to talk about. It is a complicated, flawed, many-layered Story to think of a white woman writer telling the tale of black slavery, and the Messiness of it is the Beauty.
Looking back, reading that Story I was also peeling back some layers of my own, uncovering some Light and Resiliency and Hope. Now I’m able to connect my story to theirs in some ways, for Stories are all thesamedifferent. It is one small instance when my tide began to turn. It is self-empowerment, as I start to stick my toes back in, shock my Brain Cells by dipping into my Memory Ocean, and dive in to the ways I have been answering my own Big Questions all along.
I also remember watching war documentaries with my father-Ken Burns’ Civil War series with the hauntingly Alive Ashokan Farewell (I had to stop and find this song in my iTunes library before I could continue typing-I’m listening to it as I write these Words-and in the spirit of imperfection, I found I had Labeled it “Alaskan Farewell.”), and a show telling some of the story of the Vietnam War protests that I remember only through memory flashes of tear gas and police barricades. While I’m not certain that the exact phrase “turning of the tide” was used in either of these, I am confidant that, even as a small girl, the notion that the smallest of events can alter the course of history resonated in a deep, mysterious, rumbling way.
Because my Story, all along, has been about warfare, messy and thick with blood and bile. Battles large and small have been lost and won. Until very recently, the casualties were Voice and Trust, relationships and freedoms and jobs and Growth. The fight was raging internally, showing up externally only though razor-clean cuts or bones visible through pale skin, crumpled candy wrappers in the bathroom garbage can, a bottle in a drawer. These were all evidence of daily carnage, the wake left behind as I struggled against myself to save myself. And though I couldn’t see it at the time, each was a separate turning of the tide, a “low ebb” that, when rolled up together, culminated in the motion of Change and Growth that is happening as I type these Words.
For now that I’m writing again, and Memory Diving, the tide is turning in Big, Beautiful, Terrifying ways. And when I say Big, I mean large for me, grand in the sense of my own Story. Because I’ve found a way to turn the internal battle outwards, to shine a little light on ways it is challenging for me to be me in this world. The warfare is different now. I’m speaking my Truth instead of smothering myself in shame. I can bleed safely, release some of my Intense Intensity in ways that free me rather than harm me, ways that are less scary and confusing for those around me.
I’m wildly in awe with it all, in this moment, filled to the brim with panicjoy. Panicjoy is a full-body physical response to Emotions. It is tearful, nauseating, and trembling even as it is grinning straight from the eyes. It is realizing that I’m Alive on this morning, drinking black coffee and in need of a shower, to write these Words. It is an awareness that I get to continue this warfare of Words, that I am Blessed, by Whomever or Whatever does the Blessing, to be in this world, Living and starting to notice when my tide ebbs and flows.